You finally did it. You packed your bags, got on a flight, and made your way to a brand new country. You’ve now earned the coveted title of expat.
You also have no friends, no job, and no idea what’s going on.
You have two options: First, you can flounder your way through with no guidance. Second, you can use social media to build the life of your dreams.
Option 2 sounds a lot better, doesn’t it?
When you’re an expat, social media becomes so much more than just a place to showcase your life’s highlights. It’s where events happen. It’s a place where friends are made. It’s also a place where jobs can be found, and so, so much more.
Here’s how to use it to your full advantage in your new home:
Maybe you’ve had “The Book” since middle school, but now you actually need it.
Take it from someone who knows, I’ve relocated three times with no prior knowledge of the locations. In fact, I owe almost everything to the Facebook groups I joined along the way.
If you’re in a major city, take five minutes and simply search “[Your Location] Expats” and you’re bound to find at least one group with a few thousand people.
These people will likely speak English and will certainly be ready to answer your questions. If you’re in a smaller town, join the groups from a nearby city.
Even if you never meet up with anyone, it’s a great resource to have at your fingertips to get a feel for the area from the people who’ve been there the longest. Very often, these groups include friendly, English-speaking locals, so you’ll really get the inside scoop.
Most of these groups have fairly strict rules about what you can and can’t post. However, if you don’t find what you’re looking for immediately, you can refine your Facebook search until you do.
Top Facebook Groups to Join
- Housing/Flatshare. Use this for finding a place to live with decent people you can actually speak to before you move in;
- Jobs. Companies and individuals post here when they want employees, just be sure to check it regularly as opportunities come and go fast;
- Free Stuff. Expats are always coming and going, so these groups are rife with plenty of secondhand furniture and clothes;
- Women’s Groups. Many cities have women’s only expat groups which are extra friendly and supportive; and
- Travel Groups. Especially for women, groups like Host a Sister could provide you with opportunities to go on international adventures with other expat women.
In addition to joining groups, you should pay close attention to special events. Many cities offer everything from festivals to professional workshops to art classes — and they can all be found on Facebook.
Don’t worry if the attendance count is low. It’s not always an indicator of how many people show up. Have a little faith!
Ah, Instagram. It’s every traveler’s favorite way to show off. Oppositely, it could be your favorite way to find new destinations. Perhaps you used to spend hours scrolling and pinning to see the exotic places your favorite influencers have traveled to, but now, you can too!
Bookmark posts that feature cool stuff you want to see, but keep your expectations in check. One gorgeous photo on Instagram doesn’t mean an entire city is always worth visiting or calling home.
Therefore, it’s crucial that you do your research to prevent buying an expensive plane ticket only to find out that a beautiful staircase is the only cool thing in a 50 mile radius.
My favourite way to use Instagram is as a stepping stone to find travel blogs that cater to your specific tastes.
The outdoor girl that’s always at the top of a mountain with her cute dog? She probably has a hiking blog that details how to get to that same view.
The foodie who posts pics of the most stunning food you’ve ever seen? They probably have a map of the city’s best restaurants on their website.
The totally amazing woman who travels all over the world sharing her travel tips, favourite places, and awesome products? Yup you guessed it, that’s Alex, the editor of this very blog. Look at you, you’re here now! Aren’t blogs great?
If you don’t have the time to read full blog posts every day, check out Youtube for travel vloggers.
Just know that you may have to sift through some fluff to find the good stuff. Search for accounts such as Prague’s Honest Guide, a local Czech who tells you the truth about the city. He’ll tell you what’s a ripoff, places that are safe after 10pm, and other gritty realities that commercial vloggers tend to leave out.
If you’re an expat, freelancer, or like to change jobs frequently, keep your LinkedIn up to date. Recruiters are always on the prowl, and even if you’re not currently looking for a job at the moment, you’ll always get new messages when you update my profile.
Trust me when I say don’t close any doors!
One last piece of advice: don’t be shy. Your new home is full of people who felt or feel exactly like you do now, and reaching out for advice or sending out an invitation for drinks is completely normal.
You never know — a stranger you invite out for a drink for your 25th birthday could end up being your best friend for life (also take that lesson from me).
<style=”text-align: center;”>The moral of the story is this: get online, get social, and get going!
Interested in moving abroad? Read more expat and international travel travel tips here.
Want to connect with other likeminded travelers? Apply to join the East Coast Contessa Pinterest Group boards here.