This is not my first time. Moving to a new country I mean. Since I left home for university in 2010, I have been living in five different countries, and nine different cities. I moved quite a lot around the UK, that’s why. And although I should be used to it by now, there are still ten thoughts I always have when I move somewhere else.
1. How on earth am I gonna move all that crap?!
Not my first rodeo indeed but still making the same rookie mistakes. So after I finished university in Edinburgh, I really thought my next flat would be my maybe-not-forever-flat, but at least for-some-years-flat. So I started to get things to make it feel like home. But, I had to move twice for new jobs and had to pack all the stuff with me every time. Clothes, I can give to charity. Books? Same. But everything else? I can’t toss everything all the time, what a waste. So I end up packing boxes and having them sent to my new address. Every single time. But as I accumulate more things, there are more and more boxes. And what about the cat?! I can’t really have the poor thing shipped overseas, can I?! So I had my mum come over to London via the Eurotunnel to help me move all my stuff and the cat! Kids, learn your lesson, if you’re not gonna stay there, do not get things.
2. How do I find a place that is ideally located, cheap and pretty?
I have lived in 5 countries, including my birth one. France, New Zealand, Italy, the United Kingdom, and currently, the United States. And every single time, it is the same thing! What I want a studio flat that is close to the city center (or a tube station), that is nice inside, furnished and of course, not too expensive… What a dreamer am I. Although this was achievable in France and Italy, it sure was not anywhere else I have been living and I always had to downgrade my requirements. So, I ended up flat sharing with many people, neither far nor close to the city center, sometimes in a dodgy (yet quiet) area, and paying a lot of money. Maybe I’ll learn my lesson and stop hoping for too much! Except in NYC, my husband and I are sharing a studio flat.
3. All the administrative things I have to do
Changing city is one thing, the only things that change are your address and whatever reason you had to move for. When you change country, you’ve got more to do! You need a new bank account, a new phone number, maybe a state ID card, etc. It might seem so easy but actually, each country has different requirements as to what gives you the right to open a bank account or get a phone number. For example, you need a new flat that you can only pay for with a local bank account, however the bank requires a local address to open an account… Or in Italy, you need a phone number but they won’t give it to you if you don’t have your Insurance Card, that you can’t get if you don’t have a local address, but to get a flat you need a bank account and to open said bank account, you need said Insurance Card… see where I am going? Aren’t we stuck? Have we given up yet?
4. Registering at the Embassy? Where even is it?
When I moved to New Zealand, our university strongly advised us to go register with the French Embassy, just to notify them that we were here. I didn’t. As a result, I missed the craziest party ever for the 14th of July. Shame. Not that getting invites to parties is the only perk of being on the Embassy registry, no. Your country of citizenship just needs to know where you are so that they can help should you need it (i.e. repatriation). They can also help you settle in your new country but it will also make it possible for you to vote in your country’s election, from abroad! It took me three different countries before I actually went to register at the French Embassy even if it’s super far away!
5. I guess I need a new GP…
OMG I have been so bad at this. So, so bad! Kids, do not do like me! I had a GP when I was in high school and when I moved away for university, we had doctors, a gynecologist and more at university. It was free, convenient, fast, so no need to register with a GP, right? When I moved for my study abroad, the university either had an infirmary, or I just didn’t bother registering with a GP. I know I should have but I am never sick and I ended up not needing a GP until very recently. Because, yes, when I was looking for contraception, I had to go to a GP or to a walk in NHS center (in the UK) which are always busy, often closed and don’t all do birth control. Same for the smear test, I was not registered with a GP so did not get to do one.
6. How does public transport work here?
In life, there are 3 things I am afraid off: pigeons (they’re gross let’s admit it, flying rats), crocodiles (fast on land and in water… basically they win all the time) and buses… Yep, buses. It is just that I have had bad experiences of buses that never announced the next stop, meaning I never knew when to get off and making it a very stressful journey. So when I land in a new city, I check first if they have tubes (sorry, Subway, I am in NYC now), trains or trams. If none of those options are available where I live, no way I am talking the bus, I find an alternative. Like a bike. Which worked wonders in Manchester. What about when doors don’t open in the bus and you can’t get off?! Buses are scary! The transport system is actually easy to get in NYC, London or Lyon. You’ve got a pass, you top it up, swipe it at the gates, that’s it. Edinburgh just does buses and Turin trams or buses… so I walked or rode my bike there!
7. Why is *insert name* so f*cking expensive here?!
If I was in London, I’d say “Why is the tube so f*cking expensive here”. In Turin everything was pretty cheap, same for Lyon. Wellington was okay actually. In Edinburgh or London, I’d also say, “why is renting so f*cking expensive here?”. But I am in NYC now and… OMG… I could say that about so many things! Data plan ($40 come on!), food ($10 for guacamole, really?!), wine ($16, wtf), groceries, etc. Oh and also, add tax after! Transport is actually cheaper than in London but I still need to figure out whether your ticket works for an hour no matter how many different trains or buses you take (i.e. in London, Lyon or Paris), or if you pay every time you change transportation. I guess I am too new to the Big Apple to actually know my way around things and I might get great at spotting deals, who knows!
8. I don’t know anyone here, how do I make friends?
I have found that the older you get, the harder it is to make friends. Especially if you are at this stage of your life where you’re neither a student nor a young parents. At uni, you’ve got plenty of opportunities to make friends. I’d say the same when you pick up kids from school. But when you’re a young grad who just landed in a new city? Even if you work, it is much harder to make friends… Getting along with your work colleagues is one thing, but do you want to hang out with them, talk about embarrassing things and have them see you drunk? Not so sure… I guess if you are a blogger, you can meet up with other bloggers for brunch, photos and shooting. But otherwise? Well, you have to force yourself to get out there I guess and it is a lot of work… like any relationship actually!
9. Where do I even go for groceries?
When looking for a new place or moving in a new city, the first thing I google is where are the supermarkets around me. Whether big or small, I need somewhere I can go get food! Then come the decision to pick a store amongst the many google map suggested. And then to actually go check it out. But what if inside is totally different to what you’re used to? Why is going grocery shopping so different from one country to the other? Why do US supermarkets have a 1000 different types of nuts? Do you even need that many different nuts in your life? How do I choose? What do I pick up for dinner? How overwhelming… I am kidding. Seeing all the vegetables so neatly arranged according to colors was super satisfying I must say. Almost Instagrammable.
10. Do I actually need to leave the flat? I can probably live as a hermit, can I? Outside is so scary…
I mean you know… outside is scary… and nowadays, everything can be delivered to you straight to your door so why bother, am I right?! Leaving the flat is so much effort after all and talking to people? Actual people? Is it really necessary? Well, I guess the first few days you can avoid it, just so that you adjust, but then… if you want to make the most of your stay in this new city, yeah, you better kick yourself in the ass and get out! You’ll see, it’s gonna be fun and so worth it!
What thoughts do you have when moving to a new country? Or city? Have you moved around a lot? Have you lived abroad? What is the most confusing or overwhelming thing you had to face when moving abroad?
Thanks a lot for stopping by. I hope you liked this post.
See you soon,
*The dress and jackets featured in this post were gifted to me.