Sunday, 17 September 2017

Moving to a New Country - Experiences & Lessons

I moved to Malaysia in 2009... This was my first international move to a country I had never even visited before. I had a rough start in Malaysia but once I was settled, it was heartbreaking to bid farewell in 2017 when I decided to move to a new continent and start all over again in Australia (I deliberately use continent to make it sound huge :D). I have migrated to Australia and I am currently living in Adelaide which is the capital of South Australia. It is a small city and though I anticipated that my move would be really tough, I adjusted much more easily this time.

I am a strong believer that God's plans are the best for us! My move to Malaysia and lessons I learned there had prepared me well for this big move. In this post, I will try to list things that would be my tried and tested tips or things to take care of when you move to a new country!

Please note that this post is based on my personal experiences of settling in a new country and it is not a piece of advice on how to migrate or find jobs. 

Here we go:

Research About or Visit the New Destination: 

With so much information on the web, there is absolutely no excuse for not doing very proper research about the country you are moving to. Read blogs, talk to people, gather information and if possible, try to visit the country once before making a final decision. I had seen posters of Malaysia prior to my move and had imagined my place next to the famous Twin Towers but I did not know that I would not be able to afford a place in the heart of the city. In the beginning, I did not like the apartment that I moved into. It added to the homesickness and sadness! But, before moving to Australia, I visited Adelaide before making the final decision. At least, I was mentally prepared for what was to come whether I liked it or not. Not everything was as I expected but I was more ready for it than I was the first time. 

Plan Your Finances: 

Please have a very clear understanding of the finances you need, kind of expenditure you will need to do and accept it as soon as you can. You will not be happy if you keep calculating things (read currency) in your mind. Rents, utilities, prices of white goods etc are all available online. Hubby and I had carefully looked at our financial status before moving to Adelaide. We delayed our plan for a few months so that we could save a bit more as we knew we would need it. We calculated if going with two suitcases is more feasible or should we ship our things. We looked at the cost of things to buy that we would need vs. what it would cost to have them shipped. I am not saying we made the best decisions but we made informed decisions and thus planned accordingly. 

The most difficult thing in a new country is accepting that you are spending way more than you would have done in your home country and yet life seems like a struggle. Never compare your life in a new country with one at home. Each country comes with its own culture and lifestyle - embrace the change as soon as you can; financially and emotionally. 

Connect With People

Try to know some people before you move. Join forums (there are plenty on Facebook) and contact people or find common friends and ask to be introduced. You might not land into 'your kind of' people immediately but you will be happy to have some connections. Remember that you are the one who needs their help and guidance, so you do need to make the first move or second or third. We spent 2 years alone in Malaysia as we did not know any Pakistani there. It still brings tears to my eyes when I remember how lonely our first eid was. I contacted, talked to and met a few people before moving to Adelaide. Even though my childhood friend lives here which served as a catalyst in making the decision to move but I still contacted other people and I still look forward to knowing more and making new friends. 

Be Flexible:  

Continued to the point above, meet all kinds of people and learn to overcome your prejudices and judgement. We all denounce racism but we are all guilty of it when we do it with our own people based on caste or city. I am guilty of it as much as anyone else. I had my own criteria which made me miserable and lonely. I learned that every person you meet teaches you something or the other. This is my favourite lesson and I do not know how to emphasize the importance of it. I have grown as a person by experiences that I had with different people that came in my life and trust me I have had a fair share of experiences which deserve a full post or posts I think. I came close to people and yet a small misunderstanding took them away from me. I had people that I thought I had nothing in common with but they ended up being the best influence. People change and grow - always give them a chance as you would want people to give you a chance. Meet everyone with an open mind and heart and you will be surprised in ways our lives are intertwined and our stories connected with others. 

I did a post on 5 types of must-have friends inspired by my colourful circle in Malaysia. Please do read it here

Walk Away: 

from anyone who gives you a shortcut to get something; visa extensions, work visas, money, anything. Do not meet people if you feel something is not right about them. Shortcuts are never good news.

Also, run away if people are draining you emotionally by constantly being negative about everything. This is the last thing you need. If you can help them without letting their negative energy impact you, please do. Otherwise, if someone makes you feel bad about your achievements - stay away. Run away if a relationship is taxing financially and emotionally. If someone is extravagant and you cannot afford to be, politely walk away. Trust me, genuine people will not force you to spend more than you can or bind you to rules you that limit you from doing something. 

Experience It Yourself: 

Be inspired by what people tell you but always remember that what worked for one may not work for you at all and what did not work for someone may be your key to success. Don't be afraid to try. Take a decision or hold an opinion after trying yourself and not because someone said so. Give a chance to not just people but also to experiences. Buy the lottery ticket first even if no one you know has ever won - you might be the first person! 

Be Thankful: 

Always be thankful for these experiences and your circumstances. Not everyone gets an opportunity to experience life in other countries. It is a blessing (for those who wish to live in a foreign country), so be grateful for it. I know many people who ask me about the process and I wish I could help them but I can't if they do not meet the requirements. No one said it is going to be easy so do not give up on your own dream. Staying thankful and grateful will stop you from being negative and will give you hope to move on. 

It is Okay to be Homesick: 

It is okay to be homesick and feel sad. It is okay to miss family and friends and the love and warmth that you get back home. Cry if you have to but, try to find an activity to take your mind off this feeling. Dwelling in this state will only make things worse. A road trip to explore a new place nearby, a walk around the neighbourhood, a Skype session with friends or family, a good book, shopping spree, cooking a scrumptious meal, watching a movie - take up anything that can take you out from this temporary phase. Remember that it shall pass and one day you will look back all of it and smile :) 

Good luck and let me know if you have anything to add to this! Would love to hear your stories :) 


  1. Loved it! I'm experiencing exactly the same feelings and emotions and trying not to let my prejudice get the best of me.

  2. Very well written! Yes I too am planning to move to Adelaide with my family very soon and I hope I dont get cold feet when the time comes.

    I follow your posts on instagram and love them every bit, this is the first time I actually read your blog post. Hoping to meet you and your hubby some day in Adelaide :-)

  3. Thank You so much! I would love to meet you too! thanks for dropping by and leaving this comment. Ask if you need any help, please!

  4. Very Well written ! I loved reading it ! I can totally relate as we have moved to Adelaide in mid Feb this year after spending 11 years in Dubai! Let’s meet up soon !

  5. Loved this. So very true! I have been guilty of all of the above when I moved to Australia in 2010! You really have a knack of talking about the ordinary in an endearing way! ❤️

  6. So true for even living as an expat. Being homesick is totally real