Creating a Home Away from HomeiStockphoto
Unpacking boxes: Make yourself a new home away from home!
The first weeks in your host country will be crazy. In general, you have to visit many places all around town, like stores and dealerships, real estate and, most of all, government offices. If you know the cheapest, fastest and most convenient way to get around town, it will not only save you some time but also help you avoid unnecessary stress.
Some cities are equipped with an excellent public transportation system. In Hong Kong for instance, you can get almost everywhere by bus or train in no time. Travelling by car is unnecessary and also extremely inconvenient there. You are faster if you use the public transportation system.
Other, especially more rural areas, often have little or no access to any public transportation systems. If you want to live the romantic life and move into a small house by a lake somewhere in Sweden, you will have to buy a car in order to get around.
Maybe you have taken care of this already. Maybe your company has secured accommodation for you and your family or you have found an apartment or even a house ahead of time. In that case, all you have to do is move in, attach your name to the mailbox and put up a “home sweet home” sign..
However, many expats choose temporary housing for the first few days or weeks after their arrival. So if you have spent your first weeks at a hotel, hostel or a temporary serviced apartment, it is now time to look for a place to live.
A local real estate agent can help you search for the right place. This makes sense, especially if you are not fluent in the local language and do not know your way around yet. However, agents usually charge a commission, which can be as high as 3 months’ worth of rent. Alternatively, take a look at classified sections of local newspapers and check housing platforms online.
Property Prices and Utilities
Either way, keep in mind how your choice will affect your budget. You may be confronted with rents and property prizes which will by far exceed what you are used to. In some countries, it is customary to pay a year’s rent in advance or leave a key deposit or non-refundable security fee.
Property prizes are relatively low in some countries, or so it may seem. However, cheap accommodation may not be up to the standards you are used to. And in cities like Tokyo or Hong Kong, spacious housing is rather rare. Ultimately, you will be forced to invest a lot more than you planned to.
Once you have found the right place for yourself and your family, find out how to get it connected to utilities. There is often one central company which is responsible for all utilities. Internet and telephone services are important as well. Most companies have package offers which allow you to get a landline telephone and internet connection at your home for a monthly fee.