Four Ways to Feel More at Home Abroad
I just love making a comfortable temporary home. When I was backpacking around South America back in my college days, I always brought along pretty scarves and photos to give hostel rooms a personal touch.
Now that I am on my fifth home abroad with a potential move coming later this year, I wanted to share some things I do as soon as I get into my new house to make it my own.
1. Make it feel more homey
Photos. When I first moved abroad to Shanghai, I printed out lots of pictures of family and friends and got some cute string and photo clips. All it took was a few hooks and I had a beautiful wall full of people and places I love.
Pillow covers. Pillow inserts can be easily obtained anywhere in the world, so I always pack a few nice pillow covers to transform ugly sofas and make them more comfortable.
Tapestries or wall hangings. These pack small, hang easily, and can transform ugly bare walls. I have a number of tapestries and wall hangings of different sizes. Tapestries can also double as tablecloths, light blankets, or bed coverings depending on your need.
Plants. One of the first things I do when I am moved in is to find the nearest plant shop, and get at least one nice plant for each room. They are inexpensive, good for the air, and liven up dull rooms.
2. Shop smart
IKEA. I never know how long I will stay in one place, so I want to have nice but inexpensive furniture and household items. IKEA is great because resell very well when you move later. In both China and Thailand I have been able to have items delivered and put together for me for a super low fee (and zero frustration).
Local Markets. When we lived in China we found beautiful painted ceramic bowls at a local market by our house. Take some time to wander around local markets, you might be surprised at what you find (and how inexpensive things can be).
Secondhand. As soon as I know where I'm moving next I scour expat Facebook groups (or WeChat groups in China) for people who are moving and looking to get rid of things. I've gotten everything from elliptical machines to furniture to appliances in great condition this way.
3. Explore your new neighborhood
The first thing I do when I move to a new place is explore the neighborhood. Find a favorite convenience store, coffee shop, and restaurant. You can stop in them often so the workers or owners get to know you, and always be really friendly. Smiles go a long way!
My husband and I also like to take walks in new neighborhoods (or leisurely scooter rides if the area is not conducive to walking) so we can get to know neighbors and start feel more at home in the new area.
4. It always starts in your mind
If you want to make anyplace feel like home, you will want to start with what is going on in your mind. Choose positive thoughts on purpose, like "I can't wait to make this city home" or "no matter where I go, I can create a home I love."
These thoughts will make you feel excited and confident in your new home and life.
Another way to get more clarity and positivity is through coaching with me! You can start by booking a free discovery session. We will get clear about what you really want, pinpoint what is holding you back, and set you on the course to create your dream life abroad. Book here: https://calendly.com/jenknight/free-session ♡
Hi, I'm Jen! I am a US expat and have lived abroad for six years, first in Shanghai and now in beautiful Thailand.
I always strive to learn, grow, and be the best version of myself, and I'm so grateful I get to spend my days working with amazing expat women like you:
Women who are smart and want to reach their goals, but need help overcoming stress, overwhelm, and other obstacles so they can create their best lives abroad.