Start over graphic

Starting from scratch as an expat

A little bit about me and starting from scratch as an expat

Start over graphic

The truth is, being an expat comes with a lot of challenges as I have mentioned before when writing about overcoming challenges as an expat and even finding your people as an expat.

And one of the biggest challenges we also end up feeling is starting from scratch as an expat because we have moved to a new country, because some friends have moved away, because we ended a relationship or so many other reasons.

What did I do when I felt like I was starting from scratch?

Girls with coat on the mountains

The first time I moved away from my home country – Portugal – I moved to Edinburgh.

And it honestly felt like starting over with my life, like truly starting from scratch in:

  • Finding friends because I didn’t know anyone
  • Starting a new job where I had no idea what to expect
  • Finding new hobbies
  • Moving to a new apartment

And for a while there, back in 2018, I was feeling lost like I didn’t really know what to do.

What I did was focus on what could I do to enjoy more my life, what I could do to find new friends, what I could do to understand my job better, and what I could do to even feel less lonely.

When did everything start to change?

Everything started to change when I started having more of a sense of having my own home.

I started feeling more comfortable in my own apartment, I started making more friends and I found a gym I absolutely loved.

However, being my first expat experience and having no professional support be that from therapy or coaching, I have to say I didn’t have the resources I am about to share with you.

These resources are what truly helps me when I feel like I am again starting from scratch, which can eventually happen in any stage of our lives when something changes completely and we feel like we need to start over even though we never truly start over.

But more around that is below.

Listen to expats stories on starting from scratch

What can you do when you feel like you are starting from scratch?

Even if right now you feel like you are completely starting over, you don’t even know what to do next, let me tell you this – you have overcome so many things in your past that helped you become more resilient and by taking small steps, you will be able to overcome whatever is happening right now.


If you have read some of the previous blog posts about finding friends as an expat or even overcoming challenges, you might know by now that everything starts with self-awareness.

When we are truly connected with ourselves, we can see how we feel and how we are thinking and that is the first step to being able to be more intentional with our lives.

Connecting with your future self

Now that you have realized how you are thinking and feeling, let me ask you this.

What is it that you truly want in your life?

If you close your eyes and envision your future self, what would the life of your future self be like?

Connecting with your past self

Sometimes, we can feel like we are starting from scratch when friends move away and we need to make new friends, or even when we go through a breakup and now we want to find a new partner.

And we feel like we are starting over once again.

But, let me ask you this, what if we are not?

No matter what it is that we are doing right now, we can always look back and ask ourselves, what can I learn from my past that helps me right now?

Maybe it is your resilience.

Maybe it is how you can always turn a situation around.

Maybe it is how you found friends before that will give you ideas of what you can do now.

Yes, we want to be in the present, but the past is full of lessons for us to take with us to the present to help us create the future we truly want.

Anticipating obstacles

The truth is, challenges will come our way, that is for sure.

And one thing we can do about it is to ask ourselves, what could go wrong in this new part of my journey?

And how could I overcome it?

Remember reconnecting with your past self?

This is where it can be super helpful.

Because you can ask yourself, how did I overcome similar challenges before?

This will probably show you that no matter the challenges that life has thrown at you before, you ended up overcoming everything to be where you are right now.

Identifying bright spots

One of the best things we can do in our lives is to identify what is going well.

The more you write, daily, what are the tiny moments that went well, the more your brain will end up focusing on those.

And you know what that does?

That shows you that no matter the challenges that you are going through right now, you can always find bright spots in your journey.

And this ends up increasing your resilience and your self-trust that you can overcome anything.

Tiny action

Notebook with action plan written

So now, after all of this, what can you actually do when you feel like you are starting from scratch?

The reason why this is the last topic of this post is that the first thing is not taking action, the first thing is connecting with yourself, understanding how you feel and how you think and what you actually want.

And then, then it is the time to take action.

Taking action in this scenario involves:

  • Connecting with your past self
  • Connecting with your future self
  • Identifying bright spots
  • Identifying possible obstacles

Listen to more practical tips on feeling like starting from scratch as an expat

What does this all mean?

The goal of this post is to help you reflect and to help you take action at the same time.

I have been where you are and it can seem like it will always be the same but the truth is you can take action in your life to create a different outcome.

You might not have control over the outcome of your life (a topic for another time) but you do have control over the action you take to move towards the goal you have.

The important thing is knowing what you want, connecting with your future self, learning from your past self, and taking action to move forward.

Reach out

One of the main parts of my job as an expat coach is helping expats with all these steps, with reflecting, with connecting with themselves on a deeper level and learning the skills to overcome any challenges life throws at them.

If you want to know more, click below and book a discovery call!

How it is to work with me

Wondering what do I help expats with and how does it all work? Click below to know more!

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