Not everyone will be happy about you moving overseas to become an expat. Your parents, children, grandkids, and friends may feel anxious about your move. The longer you are gone, the more they may feel deserted and left behind. Staying in touch regularly will help maintain strong relationships with your family and friends. Thankfully, modern technology makes it easy to keep in touch with loved ones.
Here are five tips, plus apps & websites that can help bridge the distance.
Expat Tip 1: Schedule Calls
When I first lived abroad, in Italy for a semester, I scheduled calls with my college sweetheart. I’d anxiously wait for his call by the phone in the hallway of my apartment in Florence. The calls were expensive, and each lasted only 30 minutes.
With so many apps to choose from, chatting with your family is both easy and FREE! Some apps I use for video and voice calls include FaceTime, Skype, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Google Hangouts.
When I couldn’t be at my best friend’s birthday at a karaoke bar, she called me on FaceTime so I could sing with her. On my birthday, another friend sent me a voice message of her daughter singing “Happy Birthday.”
Expat Tip 2: Write and Text
Who remembers the tissue paper of airmail envelopes? I remember sending them to my parents and college buddies when I studied in Italy and traveled to Europe in the late ’90s.
Now, we email or text instead of sending letters. While many people think it’s impersonal, texting and emailing are great ways to keep in touch.
Texting couldn’t be easier and again—FREE! Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and iPhone-to-iPhone texts are sent via data rather than cellular service, so texts are free.
Expat Tip 3: Blog
If you’ve got more friends and family than you can keep up with, start a blog. There are tons of free blog sites to choose from: Wix, Yola, and WordPress are a few that I have used. They’re easy to set up and design even for you Luddites!
Write posts regularly so your friends and family feel connected to you. Weekly, bi-weekly or monthly, your loved ones will look forward to your stories and photos.
Expat Tip 4: Social Media
Unless you’re living under a rock, chances are you have at least one social media account. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or Snap Chat. All the kids are doing it so I suggest you do too. If you’re not connected via social media, you will miss so much.
If you’ve got kids and grandkids, it’s the only way to communicate with them. Stop resisting and get on board!
Expat Tip 5: Plan visits
Everyone will want to visit you if you’ve moved to Italy, Paris, or Puerto Rico. If you’ve moved to Latin America, South America or Asia, chances are you won’t get many visitors from home.
Usually, the onus is on you to schlep all the way back to your home country to see everyone.
Planning a trip to somewhere in the middle also works. If your friends are on the West Coast but you’re in Colombia – meet in Miami.
The airport is a major international and domestic hub so flights are plentiful and affordable. I usually plan a month-long visit back home. It’s enough time to visit everyone I love and it doesn’t interrupt my life in my new home country.
It doesn’t have to be hard!
Separation by distance is difficult, but keeping in touch is easy. Plan regular calls, stay connected via social media, messages, and texts, and share your stories and life events. Make a concerted effort to communicate. They may not even realize you’re gone!
If you are already an expat, which strategies mentioned have worked best for you? And Pre-pats – will any of the aforementioned be a strain or a breeze for you? Share below.
by: Rachel DeSalvo