10 Tips For Moving Abroad

Moving abroad can be a very exciting and fun experience. But it is also one full of the unknown and this can get a lot of people in a spin. Moving abroad is about discovering things as you go along, you can never fully prepare for everything after all. However there a few things that I have learnt that I wish I had known before making the move. 

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I’m Sara and I live and teach English in Singapore. When preparing to live abroad, I thought I had done all of the research I could and felt ready. While I was, I realized there were a few things I wish I’d known.

In no particular order, here they are.

1. Explore Everything

Since moving, many nights have felt just as fun, if not more fun, than my favorite nights and memories from home. There is something magical about being in a new place with like-minded people.

2. Mind the weather

Ask yourself this question:  Would I wear this in Florida? In the middle of July?

Singapore is located just one degree north (85 miles or 137 km) of the equator.  It is as humid here as the stickiest days of summer. It’s not really the place to bring fancy suede Oxfords or heavy dresses (guilty).

3. Unlock your cell phone

Do this if it’s at all possible. Getting a cell phone in Singapore is not as convenient as in America. While buying a plan is an option (which many people do), there are different tiers of what is available as well as how much is paid upfront for the phone. The other option is getting a small Nokia (old school), or buying a smart phone outright and using a prepaid SIM card.

I ended up buying an iPhone and getting a prepaid SIM card, but it was an expense that I had not budgeted for.


Save as much money as you can before moving abroad. Unexpected expenses will pop up and your budget from home might not be applicable to living abroad.

5. Stock up on essentials

Bring extra of whatever you can’t live without. That might be lotion, a special type of soap, undergarments, or maybe cheese.  For me, that meant beef jerky (a great snack for long flights) and a pillow from home. The pillow took up room in my suitcase, but when I went to sleep those first couple of nights, it made a difference.

 6. Research the culture

In Singapore, people line (queue) up on the left of escalators and walk to the left. And it is polite to hand and receive money with two hands. And respect your elders (that goes for anywhere), but on the MRT, it is considerate to give up your seat to someone older than you.  Some societal expectations will be easily observed, but some are less obvious.

7. Research holidays

To get excited about this change, begin planning your first holiday. Even if it’s far away. This will remind you that this new place you are moving to is special.

8. Be prepared for culture shock

If possible, read up on the new culture. As least then you will be aware of some differences that exist between your home country and your new home.

9. Be prepared for a different level of privacy

The expectation of privacy varies in different countries. In Asia, right after you introduce yourself, someone might ask your salary. Or how much your rent is. Or your age. While to many of us, these questions are saved for closer friends, it is not taboo like it is in some western countries.

10. Bring food from home (if that’s your thing)

Fun fact: checked luggage sits in a compartment in the airplane that is well below freezing. If there’s something you can’t live without, be sure to bring extra in your suitcase.

The best piece of advice I received was that moving to a new place allows a person the ability to create new habits. This is so, so true. You can highlight your favorite parts about yourself because no one knows anything unless you tell them.

Lastly, remember that Skype will keep you connected to home. And even though you’re experiencing a new life, keep in touch with your support system at home. You will need them. So buckle up and get ready for this new, exciting adventure!


Sara MoultenSara is our Singapore expert. Sara grew up on a small island in New Jersey, in the United States. She spent five years teaching English at a public high school before deciding to move to Singapore, a small island-state. This is her first time abroad and in Asia, so Sara is a newbie expat. Follow along as she experiences a new culture and explores Southeast Asia. She blogs at Sara in Singapore and you can find photos of Singapore and her travels on her Instagram @smoult.

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