We all know that moving to a new state or country can be a very stressful event. The reasons for the move can be quite varied. It might be a job transfer, a love-pat experience (following a loved one who is from a different place) or just wanting a change of scenery. Whatever the reasons, a trial run is worth considering.
IS A TRIAL RUN A MUST FOR RELOCATION?
For some people, a trial run might not be feasible due to reasons such as distance. For instance someone moving across the world might not have the luxury of being able to go and check out the new place because they need to work to sustain themselves, or because they do not have the vacation time at work.
If you are able to conduct a trial run, I would recommend doing so, especially if moving out of the country. If your move is closer to home, it might be unnecessary because there are no big issues like language problems or vastly different ways of conducting everyday transactions.
How long should your visit be?
Your trial run should ideally be about 3 weeks or longer. I think this amount of time will allow you to get a feel for your new home and see how things really operate there. The objective is to live like a local. Depending on the distance from home, you would need to allow for time differences, so the first few days might not be as productive. This time frame will help alleviate some doubt and stress.
How to organise a trial run before relocating:
There are some things that you should consider in preparation for your trial period in your new home country. Remember that visiting a place on vacation is completely different than living as a resident. Try and adhere to these points as much as possible.
Your accommodation: Hotel or Short term rental
If you are familiar with your destination from a prior visit, you might have a good idea of what area to stay in. If you don’t, you can narrow down choices on lodging by simply doing a Google search on the internet.
Choose an area that will suit your needs. If you’re being transferred, for instance, you might want to stay in a place that is relatively close to your new place of work. The last thing you need is to have to do your research all over again if you don’t have an easy commute.
I would recommend you stay at a private lodging or short term rental. Airbnb places or VRBO is a good option. Hotels might make you a tad too comfortable and give that vacation mode feeling, and at the end of your stay, you don’t get much done.
Being able to prepare your meals and shop at the grocery store etc, will give you a daily dose of life and will definitely give you an inkling of what your life will be like. You can also try different neighborhoods to see which one suits you best. The beauty of the short term is exactly that. You can stay a few days here and there if need be.
Another important consideration is your budget. See if the amount you have set to spend on a monthly basis will correspond to how much you actually spend. Check out sites such as the Numeo COL page to get an idea of what living costs might be in your choice of city.
Depending on your way of living, you might find that the city might be too expensive for you, or vice versa. This is something l actually discovered when l flirted with living in Berlin, a place everyone considerered, and still consider cheap.
Our trial run revealed that the prices were geared towards younger people who roomed together to save on costs, ate doner kebabs for meals, and paid through the nose for seafood, something that was on our list of “must-haves and can’t live without”.
By the time l added up our expenses, I realized it was not the place for us. We couldn’t beat our reasonable Spain living expenses. Had we not done that experiment, more than likely we would have been miserable and end up moving again.
When to do your trial run:
The best time to do your trial run is after the tourist season has ended. If you’re moving to a major tourist destination, it is common for things to be pricier during the high season. Traveling during the low season will not only save you money on flights but on items and restaurant meal prices.
Live like a local:
In addition to renting a private home, it is also important that you conduct yourself like a local. Make sure to use the time wisely. Visit a pharmacy to check out medication or vitamin costs if you have any. Find out if yours can be bought over the counter.
Look for close-by health centers and hospitals. If you have a medical emergency or chronic medical conditions, you obviously want to be close to a place where you can access help. Is being close to a gym important to you? Scout them out while you’re there.
Find out the cheaper grocery stores to shop at. Figure out which one is closest to you, and how to get there. Do you have to bag your own groceries for instance? Here, in Valencia, if you don’t bring your bag, it will cost you 10 cents for each plastic bag.
Another important factor is the ease of getting around in your future home. For some people, the walkability of the town/city is a must. You might want to be on flat ground as opposed to walking up hills (something else we discovered when we considered living in Budapest. I was not happy with the hills on the Buda side despite the fact that the prices were a bit less. I much preferred the flatness of the Pest side).
Avoid taking taxis while you are checking out the city unless that is the way the locals move. You want to take public transportation as much as possible. Watch and learn how the loclas do it, then emulate them. This will boost your confidence.
Go house hunting:
Take the opportunity to check out what kind of apartments or houses are on offer for rental. Contact a realtor ( just walking in after looking at the window ads might do it) or short term rental specialists for help in setting up viewings.
This will not only let you see what kinds of apartments, but also the quality of furnishings and amenities in your price range. You may find that you need to adjust your budget one way or the other.
This might also help you determine what to do with your belongings back home. Should you bring them? etc. Space might be at a premium. In a lot of countries, built-in wardrobes are not a thing. These are some of the things l talk about my online course, along with other aspects of moving to Spain.
Wifi or No Fi?
While this may seem obvious to some, it might be a do-or-die necessity for others. If you’re moving as a retiree, the need for wifi might not be a thing of concern and are happy with the dial-up speed. However, if you’re moving as a digital nomad, or someone who works online exclusively, you can not live without broadband wifi. Make sure to check what sort of speed you will have in your future home.
Expand your horizons:
Your trial run is the best time to start making contacts with people on the ground. Look for ex-pat meetings that you can pop into. Meetup is great for finding what events are happening in the area. Start to form friendships with people who already live there and can give you solid advice, sometimes things you might not have even thought of.
If you’re moving with kids, you want to do on-ground research as to true cost, the better schools, and how involved you need to be in their curriculums. Are private schools superior, or can they survive in public schools? What language will they be taught in? This might make a difference as far as where you settle on.
Conclusion: Is a trial run a must?
While everyone might not have the chance to do a trial run, any opportunity to do it should be seized upon. It is a highly valuable experience for removing doubts and anguish you might be feeling prior to your move.
Preparation is key in any move for relocation. Using these pointers as a guideline should help make for a smoother transition. No move will ever be completely stress-free, but keeping a good outlook, doing the proper research, or spending a bit to alleviate stress will never be a bad idea.
Are you prepping for a new life elsewhere?