Moving to a new place – what Frommer’s and Lonely Planet doesn’t tell you.

With every move to a new country, state, city, or wherever, it takes time to make the transition, but so far, coming to Israel from America has not been too difficult of an adjustment. Nevertheless, it does take some getting used to…and successful and smooth transitions are perhaps determined most by how QUICKLY you adapt; you have to do your best to stop thinking about where you came from and enjoy where you are.

Actually, post-undergraduate years, the longest I’ve lived in any one place has been the last 3 years I spent in Irvine, CA before coming to Israel. Apart from that, I have been on the move almost every year or two years for well, probably the past decade (sometimes I can’t believe I can count in decades!).

There really needs to be a guide book about moving to a new country. I haven’t found any, and Frommer’s or Lonely Planet only tell you about how to be a tourist and not so much a resident. Maybe it’s a rite of passage to experience a lot of stress in moving to a new place, but I say, why not minimize the stress of that by preparing yourself for the transition so you can actually enjoy it and that way, the transition is not as scary or shocking to the system.

From my experience, here are some tips to ease out of and into any new situation, be it the next city over or to the other side of the world. Feel free to take or leave any of it, or leave me your experiences and tips in a comment, but here’s what I’ve learned about moving to a new place:

My life for 6 months and 3 seasons in 2 suitcases and a backpack. On the way to Israel with a pitstop in London.

1. Bring basic necessities to sustain you for at least 2 weeks. (This cuts out the stress of being a royal mess and not being able to take a comfortable shower after schleping around suitcases, boxes, etc. into cars and up stairs, down halls, and every other possible maze to get yourself and your stuff to the new place. You feel much happier if you can clean yourself up after a long day of moving. If you have the ability to pack a roll of toilet paper, do that too. Pick up a travel pack of antibacterial wipes from the local Target and give your new place a once-over before unpacking everything else. Bottom line is, the more basics you can pack that doesn’t exceed weight/size restrictions/limitations, try and bring as much as you can with you and pack those last to make sure they’re easily accessible as they’re the first things you can use when you get to your destination to start setting yourself up for your new life.)

2. Take a stroll around the neighborhood and find the closest markets, banks, etc. (I suppose you can always give yourself a GoogleMaps tour, but if you don’t have that luxury, it’s time to use your feet (or bike, car, etc. if available) and get your bearings about you.)

3. Survey what’s in the local markets for your easily consumable foods and life staples – water, bread, yogurt, shampoo, toothpaste, etc. (In Israel, I couldn’t read any signs and have no idea why it says 1.5% or 3% on the yogurt labels, but just throw your “must have nonfat or 2% or only greek yogurt” thoughts out the window and just be happy you identified which items in the dairy section are yogurt. If you made a mistake and bought cream cheese, cottage cheese, or sour cream before you found the yogurt, it’s ok…just laugh a little and know that the 50 shekel investment was all part of the learning).

4. Take a break from feeling like you have to understand everything and stressing about the transition. Absorb the culture for a few days, eat out at the local restaurants with some new friends you may have met, then reevaluate what you need as far as necessities and then enjoy the adventure of finding that one pot or pan you need to cook some real food in and one good knife and cutting board. As much as you might not want to spend your money on kitchenware, you have to figure out for yourself how to do this so you don’t break the bank by eating out all the time (unless you’re one of those special people who happen to have untold wealth hidden away…but that’s not so much my reality). So, remember to budget for the higher costs of eating out a lot within the first week or so and don’t stress about having to do that and give yourself a huge pat on the back on the first day you’re able to make yourself a home-cooked meal, even if it’s your own assemblage of pita, hummus, cucumber/tomato salad, and later, adding pasta and meat to the menu).

Now that’s not to say that this American gals’ move to Israel hasn’t been without its adventures and that I haven’t gone through some culture shock…but I’ll have to save that for future blogs on the moving series. Stay tuned. :)


    • Emily
    • August 25th, 2012 9:13am

    Proud of you Pegs! (and maybe you should eventually write that book on relocation)

    • Ann Chen
    • August 26th, 2012 11:06am

    Hi Peggy!
    Sounds like you’re really having an life-expanding experience!! I love reading your travel/moving-in synopsis! I remember making similar transitions when I lived in Austria and Taiwan. I’m assuming that you figured out that everything shuts down on or before the Sabbath so you might want to stock up on essentials. Hope you’re making lots of local friends- it’s just great to be immersed in the local culture!– Ann

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