Updated: Oct 13, 2019
I've been blogging on the realness of moving to Cambodia and even living here but I haven't touched on the lessons learned. Figured today, the day after moving into our new permanent home would be a great time.
10 Tips to help you plan your Expat Life:
1. Plan better.
Seriously we over planned and I still think we missed some steps. We looked at every contingency with American eyes and should have been a little bit more open to "interpretation". Carrying extra suitcases because the wife has to have her 10lb box of crystals, 5 bottles of vitamins and a slew of other not needed stuff would have helped us during all the flights, car rides and tucks. And yes, she knows I wrote this.
2. Don't drag it out by touring before hand.
We went to Singapore and Malaysia first because "cheap" me found a great one way deal to Singapore. Surprise, surprise it wasn't cheap due to costs in Singapore rivaling San Francisco or NYC. If I had to do it all over again I would have just come straight here and visited those places after our arrival. We spent more being tourist than was necessary or needed. On the flip side I don't ever have to go to Singapore ever again.
3. It's gonna cost more than you expected.
I think this is true for anyone but more so when you are moving to a foreign country that you think is "cheap". Sure it's cheaper but cheaper is relative when you are having to pay for extended lodging, more western style food while you find local places that won't get you sick, and of course endless transportation. Add in you are feeding three people, at least two meals a day. The kid eats, he gets it from his momma.
4. Have a daily to weekly budget.
We didn't do that because we thought we had it together and of course we were living in the moment. Nope we were living reckless...lol Eating out daily will do that to you and I swear coffee just tastes better in foreign land. Even at $3 bucks a cup. I bought a coffee maker.
5. Be open to changing your plans if needed.
We emphatically stated when looking for an apartment that we wouldn't get one that had a "wet" bathroom. We did. Because that was the one that made the most sense for our family and our now firm budget. And after taking my first shower last night, I'm thrilled we went in this direction. It works. I get it. Wet bathrooms no longer frighten me. Look at all that American dripping away...lol
6. Cook at home.
I can't stress this enough because eating out daily will wreck your budget and your waistline. Well not really the second if you are an American and use to our giant proportions because you will certainly not get them here. We splurged and purchased an Instapot and a great coffee maker. Both have saved us major bucks when it comes to dining out. I know folks say it's cheaper to eat out but that's if you are flying solo, not if you are with family and said family consists of a kid who wants chicken tenders or wings every day.
7. Don't try to bring everything with you.
You can replace it by substituting it for something similar that you find in your new country or by finding out that you just don't need it. The wife struggled with this, hence the extra suitcase above. I on the other hand am a releaser, outside of my kindle, laptop and decent sneakers for these 8.5 size feet I can find anything else. Mind you I have overly sensitive skin and allergies but I'm of the mindset that what will be will be, itching included.
8. Let it go.
Let go of your preconceived notions. It's not going to be as cheap, you aren't going to find the perfect western style apartment that's just like home - if you wanted home, you probably should have stayed there. You will get lost, not everyone will speak English, you will get frustrated and yep, you will sweat. Take each days as it's own separate day and accomplish whatever that day brings.
9. Eat all the food.
Just eat it. And don't believe the reviews on Trip Advisor, seriously don't believe them. Try what appeals to you. Please for everything holy bring Imodium. It has saved me at least twice.
10. Don't expect anyone to bend over backwards for you.
Yep it's your grand adventure and...so what? It's not your tuk tuk drivers adventure or the lady behind the counter at your new fav coffee shop. Let them folks live, just as you are now living in a new country.
Those are just a few tips, I'll update this as time, life and circumstances allow.