Why you should go local during your stay abroad

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Published last week

Adopting the local way of life is one of the steps to a successful move abroad, regardless of the purpose of your stay abroad – whether it is for work study, setting up a business or retiring. Many expats have chosen to go local for a more authentic experience in their new home. If you're not convinced yet, here are five good reasons to switch to the local way of life.

To overcome the culture shock

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Culture shock is almost unavoidable once you have moved abroad. Depending on your origins, what you will come across in your host country regarding culture and lifestyle will without any doubt be different from what you're used to. In some cases, culture shock might lead to homesickness in the first few weeks, but giving up isn't the answer. Recalling all the reasons why you chose to move abroad is enough to help you overcome this feeling of discomfort. Be openminded enough to accept the change and be part of it. Observing the people around you – your neighbours, new friends and colleagues, people in the street or at the park or cafe – will help you understand their culture and way of doing things. In some countries, for example, you might be surprised by people kissing you on the cheek to say "Hello" rather than shaking hands. The other way is also possible! In others, you might be expected to remove your shoes before entering someone's house. In all cases, learning is the key to success. In case you have any doubts, ask the people around you who will be happy to guide you through your journey as a local. Once you've understood and adopted the local way of life, you will be able to assist newcomers in your city. Consider writing a blog to share your daily experiences and things you've learned with people around the world.

For better integration

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There's a saying that "When in Rome, do as the Romans do", and this is without any doubt one of the keys to a successful move abroad. Besides improving your general knowledge, going local will help you adapt more easily to your new country even though some expats prefer to stick to the expat community – which can lead to isolation. If you're planning to make an extended stay, you will feel more comfortable with expanding your social circle and making new friends, so you won't feel lonely at all. However, you have to be ready to go out as much as possible and explore the surrounding neighbourhoods, restaurants, cafes, local markets and take part in events like a local. In this way, you will feel at home in no time. Besides meeting new people, you will be making memories to be cherished your whole life.

Life is cheaper

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The cost of living is an important thing to consider for those looking to move abroad – even though finding opportunities and quality of life at the same time isn't always possible. Even if the cost of living is high, there's not much to worry about if you do things the right way. Expats will tell you that everything gets a lot cheaper than you ever imagined when you start living like a local. For example, if you're used to some international brands and imported products, you can still find similar but much cheaper stuff without having to compromise on the quality. It's less about letting go of your standards and preference and more about giving a chance to local alternatives. Keep in mind that imported stuff tend to be more expensive and wouldn't miss an opportunity to save a few pennies. Buying fresh local produce is also much cheaper than what you will find in big supermarkets. If you're a foodie, once you're done with trying all the chic restaurants, try the local cuisine at the food stalls you can find at every street corner. Soon, you won't be able to do without it! Also, street food is cheap.

To overcome misconceptions

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Everyone doesn't have the same opinion about life in your host country. Your friends and family back home might often ask you how you're surviving in such a different environment – whether it's colder or warmer than where you come from, whether the laws are more strict or lenient, or whether people are welcoming or reserved. It's all a matter of adaptation and once you've gone local, the way of life, culture and traditions will become part of your everyday life. For example, a common misconception that people might have is that living on an island is close to being on vacation all the time. Another is that people living in certain countries are cold and unfriendly. Living like a local will help you overcome these misconceptions and enhance the views of foreigners on your new home.

To introduce your new home to your friends and family

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Your new life abroad might look fascinating to your friends and family back home, especially those who have never set foot elsewhere. What would be your reaction if they told you they would like to visit you or move there in the long run? What do you have to say about life in your new country or city? Going local will help you see the better side of things in your host country and share them with your loved ones. Is there any better feeling than showing them around the neighbourhood, the cafes and restaurants you have tested, places you have visited, and telling them about the local cultures and traditions? It's likely to be a memorable experience both for them and for you.

What are your views about going local during your stay abroad? What would you advise to soon-to-be expats? Feel free to drop a comment below to share your experience.