Have you heard of the 5 Ps of marketing? If you have and can name them all, my hat goes out to you. No matter how hard I try, I always seem to forget one! If you haven’t, don’t worry, just remember the ones below instead.
As some might have heard, I’ve recently relocated to Melbourne. As a self-confessed serial mover, Australia is the 6th country I’ve lived in so far. Having experienced it all over again, I thought I’d share with you some tips on how to settle down beyond borders. That’s what the 5 Ps are all about.
P for… Place
As soon as you arrive, the first thing I recommend you do is explore the new place, city, country you’ll be calling home for a while. Do all the touristic things, get lost – as long as you can be found! – and check out what’s going on off the beaten path. Whilst you’re at it, determine which neighbourhood(s) you’d like to live in and find 1 or 2 places – for example a local cafe – that will become your ‘usual’. Go there everyday to start with. Doing so time and time again will create a routine or pattern which will help you ground yourself in your new surroundings.
When I first got to Melbourne, I did just that. After getting lost a couple of times on my way to the beach, I finally came up with a walk that I now do every morning, rain or shine. It gives me time and space to breathe and prepare myself to face the day ahead. I also found a lovely health shop and cafe where my daily matcha lattes with soy milk have even led to a friendship with one of the baristas!
P for… Personal
Once you’ve figured the ‘out’ it’s time to focus on the ‘in’. The ‘in’ I refer to is your personal space so the apartment, house, castle, palace, whatever works for you. When starting your hunt for accommodation, write down your criteria and divide them into three buckets: the must, the should and the could. With that in mind, start an extensive on and offline research. It might take a while so make sure you have somewhere to stay in the meantime. Once you’ve finally found a place, it’s time to turn it into somewhere that feels like home. As well as the essentials, I recommend that you buy a few special items, ones that make you feel both comfortable and happy. You can think of them as the things visiting friends would look at, smile and say “that’s so you!”. Actually that’s exactly what will happen when you give them and your family a tour of your new place on video call. It might sound strange but it’s a lot of fun to show them where you live, regardless of how little, shabby or pretty it may look. It’s a great and costless way of bringing them into your world and the new you into theirs.
My partner and I were incredibly lucky when we relocated to Melbourne. We had friends here who were about to leave so we ended up taking over their flat. We did want to turn into ours though. So we headed to IKEA which is probably the worst place on earth for couples but the best for affordable furniture… Walking around the aisles, I recognised so many items I’d bought in other countries along the years. Most definitely a case of deja vu! I ended up getting a couple of my favourite lanterns. Somewhat inexplicably, they magically make anywhere feel cosy and homey to me.
P for… People
People had to be the middle word because, in my eyes, it is the most important one. The people you meet in your new place, city, country, will determine the friends you make. And that alone can have a make or break impact on your experience abroad. But how and where can you meet people and make new friends? There are plenty of options actually. First, check in your network if there’s anyone who knows someone who lives in the same place too. Friends of friends of friends is a great place to start! Another thing you can do is join groups based on your interests. Check out the website Meetup and you’ll be surprised how many of them are out there. Once you’ve found one you like the sound of, go to one of their events with an open mind. Though it can be really nerve racking, try to speak to the first person you see and take it from there. Finally, stay open to new encounters anywhere you go. You never know where you could make a new friend, perhaps even on a plane or train…
Since moving to Australia, I’ve had the chance to meet a few friends of friends. With some it gels, with others it may not… But there’s for sure a few friendships in the making already! I’ve also joined several groups – groups about writing, walking travelling etc. Through their events, I’ve had the chance to meet loads of lovely people. A group I absolutely love is GGI (Girls Gone International). If you haven’t heard of it before, it’s a community of girls from overseas that gathers at least once a month over a few drinks. I came across it towards the end of my experience in Shanghai and immediately became a member. I’ve now joined the Melbourne group. It’s a great, safe and welcoming place to start for us ladies.
P for… Paperwork
Boooooring I know! I thought I’d squeeze this one somewhere in the middle so it would go down better. It’s annoying but it’s got to be done and it’s got to be done right. Whatever it is you have to do about visa, banking, phone, insurance, embassy, taxes or anything else, please please please make sure to do it. The consequences are far more painful than the initial process itself, believe me.
Having moved so many times, I’ve got a check list on excel that I always use. If you’d like to use it as an example, don’t hesitate to get in touch. It took an admin faux pas with British taxes when I first moved to London to convince me of the importance of getting this one as right as possible from the start. I hope to have done that so far in Australia… I have to say speaking the language makes this part a lot easier than it was when I got to Shanghai.
P for… Positive
The final P is a happy P. You’ve made it, you’re here, you rock! Once in a while, remind yourself of what you’ve done. Moving abroad is a significant milestone. Be proud of yourself for taking the leap and do your best to keep a positive outlook on the future. There will be tough and even shit times but there will be awesome and unforgettable times too. It is up to you to choose the way you face them and how you rise up to each of the challenges life has decided to throw at you.
I’ve got to be honest, this is something I’ve always struggled with. My default mind set is pessimism. It’s been that way for as long as I can remember. The glass, in my eyes, is always half empty. So when I struggled finding the right words for my book – yes I’m writing a book… can you believe it? I can’t! – I got upset and low. But every time it happened, I picked myself up and kept writing. Because at my lowest, a few years back, I vowed to myself to try to focus on the positive in life. And celebrating the fact of being beyond borders is an awesome place to start!
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And that’s my parting tip for you… celebrate all of your victories, the big and the small! Someone understood what you said in a foreign language? Celebrate! You found your way home without google maps? Celebrate! A random person complimented you on your outfit today? Celebrate!
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So there you have it, the 5Ps of settling down beyond borders:
What did you think about the 5Ps? Did you have another one to add? Leave a comment ~
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