Culture

How to Relocate Like a Pro

Relocate to Europe
September 28, 2022

Read time 1 min

With people joining us from six continents and dozens of countries, it’s no surprise we know a thing or two about relocation. 

We understand this can be a stressful time! Reaktor steps in by taking care of your visa fees, travel costs, a month of accommodation, and more, but it’s still hard to anticipate everything you’ll need to do. And it’s helpful to know what can make the experience a little easier.

There are a lot of websites you can go to for basic suggestions. But wouldn’t it be great to talk to someone who’s been through it before? We thought so, too. That’s why we asked some experts — our employees who have themselves relocated — for their advice on major moves.

From logistical to emotional, here are our top tips on relocation.

Patricia Ghiraldelli

Rio de Janeiro → Amsterdam → Lisbon

Give someone you trust official power to sign for government papers (e.g., university, divorce, banking, etc.) in your home country. That way you can handle bureaucratic matters without having to travel back.

Petteri Parkkila

Helsinki → NYC → Amsterdam

Be selfish at the beginning and prioritize your own non-work needs (and be transparent about this with your team/co-workers.) If you’re struggling in your personal life, it will reflect in the work sooner or later.

Cassey Shapiro

Sydney → Amsterdam

Even if you think you’ll leave in a year, make a real effort to learn the language of your new country. It will help you immensely in day-to-day activities and endear you to the locals.

Dave King

London → Helsinki

If  you plan to work from home but it’s taking a while to find a permanent apartment, consider using coworking spaces. They’ll have a more ergonomic setup than temporary housing and you’ll be able to meet other people.

Per Jansson

Stockholm → Turku, Finland

Try to make friends and create a social network outside of work.

Satu Anttila

Helsinki → NYC → Helsinki

Don’t close your bank account before you know if you’re getting any tax return refunds.

Ariel Borges

Porto Alegre, Brazil → Lisbon

Begin documentation for bringing over a pet as soon as possible. In some places (like Brazil), it can take four months to do the paperwork.

Lasse Koskela

Helsinki → NYC → Helsinki

Skis? Surfboard? Bicycle? Leave them at home unless you truly love the sport and can’t wait until your first trip back to bring them over.

Joonas Salovaara

Helsinki → Amsterdam

For the first few months, the novelty of your new location is really exciting. But after that, you might notice a dip in your mood and that you’re running low on energy. That means it’s time to skip a few nights socializing, go for a walk or a run alone, and let your body and mind recover. 

Heikki Honkanen

Helsinki → Amsterdam → Helsinki

Get creative! When I moved to Amsterdam, I used flower trucks to haul my belongings. It was a lot cheaper because they typically drive back empty after bringing in the flowers. Delivering my stuff through them cost just €250/pallet, whereas moving companies wanted to charge thousands.

Ross Goodman

Australia → Toronto → NYC

You may be surprised to find you miss conversing regularly in your mother tongue. Try to find people locally who can speak it. Watching shows or movies in your language is good, too, but a lot of your favorites may be geo-blocked because of streaming rights.

Aaliyah Botes

Pretoria, South Africa → Amsterdam

Plan one fun thing to do each week. If there’s an unlimited transportation pass available where you live, get one and go explore a random town on the weekend. Or use it to escape the city and get into nature. Museum or city cards are also a great way to get you out of the apartment.

Jaakko Juutila

Amsterdam → Turku, Finland

Handling taxes in foreign countries can be tough. You might want to investigate using a tax preparation service that is targeted toward expats. And order your home internet connection as soon as possible.

Anastasiia Rudych

Kharkiv, Ukraine → Poznan and Gdansk, Poland → Lisbon

If you’re bringing your car, be aware of how highway fees/tollway systems work in your new country. You may have to register your vehicle beforehand, get a transponder box, etc.

Phatho Pukwana

Johannesburg → Amsterdam

Stock up on food items you don’t think you’ll be able to find in your new country. Things like spices, seasonings and sauces can do a lot to make a recipe taste familiar. And, they don’t take up a ton of space in boxes or suitcases.

Samuli Karjula

Amsterdam → Helsinki

If you have kids, instead of an international school/daycare, consider enrolling them in one where they can learn the local language. It opens up a lot more possibilities for them to make friends, go to the movies, visit museums, and the like.

Lauri Boren

Helsinki → NYC

Have honest conversations with friends and family about the realities of your move, such as: how often will you talk? Will it be on video chat, phone, text? How will time zones affect it? How frequently will you visit home? How long can you stay when you go? If you’re in a relationship, make sure it’s in a good state before relocating.

Cassey Shapiro

Sydney → Amsterdam

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t make friends with locals right away. Often in cities with larger expat populations, the locals feel like making the effort is a lost cause because many times expats aren’t planning to stay permanently. But persevere! Getting to know the local community is a great way to learn about the city you’ve moved to.

Natalia Harakka

Helsinki → Madrid → Amsterdam

Housing sizes vary considerably from one country to another. It’s very possible your favorite couch and other large furniture won’t fit in your new accommodations, or that narrow stairways and doors will be a problem when moving it. It may be easier and cheaper to sell your old pieces and buy new when you’ve nailed down your housing.

Eytan Manor

Tel Aviv → NYC

You may want to keep using apps and online services (such as banking) back home that require a local phone number. There are a few ways to handle it. 1.) Use an old phone or a burner phone. If you get a new SIM card, activate it before you leave, because you probably won’t be able to do so abroad. 2.) Use a trusted friend’s or family member’s phone number. Just make sure they know and that they don’t use the same service with that number, or both your accounts could get messed up!

Timo Rantalaiho

Helsinki → Buenos Aires → Helsinki → Buenos Aires → Helsinki

Reading material in your language might be hard to come by — even at the Amazon store — so you may want to bring some. Small children’s books in your preferred language could be especially valuable.

Patricia Ghiraldelli

Rio de Janeiro → Amsterdam → Lisbon

Start getting recommendations for people like doctors, hairdressers, vets and mechanics right away. It may take some time to find one and you don’t want to get desperate!

Laura Serafim

Florianópolis, Brazil → Lisbon

Look into temporarily forwarding your mail. Depending on where you are, there are some services that do it internationally for a fee. The first few weeks of your move, there may be some important documents you want to receive sooner rather than later.

Petteri Parkkila

Helsinki → NYC → Amsterdam

Get your routines going as fast as possible — whether that’s signing up for a gym membership, locating a café that serves your favorite latte, or finding some local musicians to jam with.

Lasse Koskela

Helsinki → NYC → Helsinki

Babies can be pretty picky about their formula, so you might want to have some of their preferred brand available until you can find a local one that agrees with them.

Satu Anttila

Helsinki → NYC → Helsinki

Bring something small that you can see or use every day — like a coffee mug — to remind you of home.

Elina Andstén

Vantaa, Finland → Amsterdam

In addition to getting any required vaccines, make sure your medical life is in order. Go for your physical/wellness checkups before you leave. Renew prescriptions and get enough meds for the first few months abroad. It may be a good idea to get prescriptions in English to show your doctor in your new country. Get any bigger issues (cavities, wisdom teeth, etc.) taken care of back home, too.

Joonas Salovaara

Helsinki → Amsterdam

All the little things in your life that didn’t used to take any energy now require lots of brain power. Reading a letter takes 10 extra minutes because you need to translate it. At the grocery store, you have to spend time figuring out if you’re buying milk or yogurt. Everyone you meet every day is relatively new to you. So, be extra compassionate and accepting towards yourself.

Switching your country, your job, all the people around you, and possibly your main language is most likely the largest set of simultaneous changes you’ll ever experience. But our team members were able to make a success of it and enjoy the ride. We know you can, too! 

To assist Reaktorians coming from afar, we’ve prepared an Amsterdam Relocation Guide  (with more locations on the way), complete with checklists to help guide you through the process.

Are you interested in joining Reaktor from abroad? We’re always looking for talented individuals with curious minds and infectious energy. Some of our offices even pay for relocation, including visa sponsorship, all insurance, travel costs, temporary accommodation, and more. Check out our openings.

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