Expat Stories

One of the most useful ways to get helpful information and support about moving abroad is by listening and learning from other expats and their first hand experiences of moving to a new country.

So we have compiled interviews from Expats all over the world who have made the bold decision to move abroad.

We hope that by listening to their personal stories you will find inspiration and helpful tips and tricks about how you too can make the move abroad.

So before you know it you will be living your dream life abroad!

1. Brief Description of Self…

Brian, Tanya, Jake and Beth.  We are a family of four with a five year old son and a two year old daughter.  I work in hospitality and my wife is an educator.  We were both born and raised in Auckland New Zealand where we lived our entire lives.

2. Where did you move to and from

We moved from Auckland which is the biggest city in New Zealand to Greece.

3. Who moved with you…

My wife and two young children.  As well as our two cats Pippy and Gus.

4. Why did you decide to move abroad?…

New Zealand is a beautiful country but it can feel isolated and removed from the rest of the world.  Having two children we wanted them to grow up with easier access to the rest of the world and the ability to travel. Additionally the difference between rich and poor in New Zealand was getting wider and wider.  We both grew up on family farms and did not come from a lot of money.  So watching how the middle class was disappearing and my parents lost their farm due to cost of real estate we felt like it was time to look at other locations.

5. How did you go about deciding what country you wanted to move to?…

My wife had some family and heritage that originates in Athens.  We had visited several times and it felt familiar and safe.  Her great aunt had lived there and suggested we try staying for 3 months to see if we liked it.  After doing that one summer we knew emphatically that it was the place for us.

6. What did you do before you moved that helped you prepare for the move abroad?…

We had an apartment in the city and because we had two young kids we had a lot of belongings.  We were not sure what to do with our home and our possessions but ultimately decided to sell or donate almost everything.  We left a few small items and personal artwork and possessions with family but sold everything else.  This was an involved process but honestly helped to make us feel so much lighter on our feet and excited about the move.  The kids hardly noticed all the possessions and toys we got rid of and appreciated the few toys and books we keps.

I also had several job interviews online and secured a job before we left.  It felt great to have something waiting for us.  Also my wife got her teaching credential online and so she was ready to start teaching once we landed in Greece.  The online job gave her flexibility to be with the kids while we were getting settled.

We also reached out to several preschools and set up several viewings for when we arrived.  We did not have our long term housing determined yet so we didn’t want to settle on a school until we found our permanent home.

We also really talked to the kids a lot about what life was going to be like there and showed them a lot of pictures.

7. What was the most challenging part of leaving and moving?… 

Definitely liquidating a house and possessions.  It is hard to know where to start and the tendency is to hang onto everything.  But once you start letting go of stuff you start to immediately feel better and lighter.  However, it takes a lot of time and I suggest people who are moving start months in advance.

8. What actions or choices made settling into your new country easier?….

We really tried to let ourselves slowly explore and not feel like we had to have everything figured out at once.  This took a lot of the pressure off.  We let ourselves explore areas, meander, and take our time in getting to know the area.  We had a temporary house for two months, which I highly suggest because that let us take our time and feel settled while we sorted some things out.

9. What has been the best part of moving abroad?…

One of the best parts of moving abroad has been the amazing location we are now in to travel all over the world.  Within just a few hours we can be in a dozen different European countries that are all so different.  It does not cost much compared to traveling from New Zealand and is so great to see the kids experience new places.

It has also been great to see the kids settle in so easily.  Our apartment has dozens of kids that live close by and everyone plays together in the evening and they have adjusted so well.

Also the reduction in cost of living has been a really welcome reality.  When you have two kids life gets very expensive and now we get to enjoy life without so much financial pressure.

Oh and the food here is incredible!

10. What has been the most challenging part of moving abroad?

It is a lot to juggle moving with two young kids, finding a house, getting our visa and starting a new job.  But every month we would get things sorted out and settled and begin to relax more.

11. What do you wish you would have known before you left or what would you have done differently ?…

It is normal to feel a bit displaced and uncomfortable.  When you arrive you don’t know anyone and everything is more challenging and foreign.  At first this scared us a bit and we wondered if we had made the right decision but we eventually started to feel a sense of community.  So I wish we had let ourselves trust the process more instead of worrying.

12. What person, website, resource or app was helpful when relocating abroad?…

We ended up hiring a relocation specialist who knew a lot about the school system.  Because our kids were going to be starting school soon we wanted to make sure we rented a house in an area that had good schools.  It would have been really hard to figure this out on our own so we hired someone with a lot of experience and had grown up in the area so they knew a lot about the different schools and communities.

13. Please provide any other information, or thoughts not included in the questions above…

A lot of parents worry about moving kids to another country but it has been amazing to watch our kids adjust.  We were worried too, but honestly they adjust much easier than we did as adults.  Now they have their new community of friends and traditions in Greece as well as all their friends and family back home.

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