Getting your temporary, expat home feeling like a personalized domicile can be a tricky endeavor. It requires a happy medium between not giving a damn and doing way too much. If you are moving abroad and shipping your home goods along with you, this really isn’t an issue at all. But if you are moving with just a few suitcases like we did, it helps to begin with a strategy.
How to Decorate Your Expat Home:
Act quickly on the functional stuff, then take your time with the details. It’s best to get things up and running as soon as possible in your expat home. It will help you feel like a normal human being after all the upheaval of a big move.
Buy Right Away:
I think this one goes without saying.
Using your bed as your multi-purpose furniture will get old quickly. At best, it will slowly rob you of your dignity. At worst, it can erode the peaceful environment of your bed and disrupt your sleep.
Silverware, Plates & Glasses
Even if you are mostly eating take out, it will be nice to have a few inexpensive plates and glasses right away.
Pots & Pans
If you will be doing any cooking, at least a saucepan and skillet will get you started. The quicker you have your kitchen essentials, the more likely you are to eat a health home cooked meal.
If there is a shower curtain provided, replace it with a new one as soon as you can. Nothing will make you feel like a stranger in someone else’s home like using a random shower curtain.
Even if bedding is provided in your furnished apartment, you’ll be more comfortable on linens of your own choosing.
Acquiring hangers quickly will allow you to unpack and create some order from the start.
Towels are essential, but easy to forget. Pick up a couple on your first shopping trip.
Laundry Basket or Hamper
You’re going to have dirty clothes right away. Address this one pronto.
Dining Table & Chairs
If your dining furniture is not provided, eventually you may want to eat somewhere other than the couch. And if you plan on entertaining, a dining table in also a nice touch. It’s not essential. For example, it’s customary to eat on the floor here in Saudi. Still, you can have a well-considered dining area, with floor cushions, if you want to embrace this approach.
You will at least have overhead lighting of some sort. You can make do with that or add lamps for some softer light sources.
Whether you live abroad or in your home country, never rush buying a rug. Good rugs can be expensive and finding just the right one for your space can take some time. You may find the perfect rug went you least expect it. Also, though rugs can totally transform a room, they aren’t essential. If you’re going for minimalism and pure function, you can make do without the extra rugs.
Artwork & Accents
Just like a good rug, you don’t want to force it with nice artwork & accents. Keep your eyes open and sooner or later, the right things will find you. And be creative about what you can use as artwork. We have a zebra skull (a little morbid, I know) from a hike in Ethiopia hanging in our living room. It’s a nice organic touch and cost nothing.
End Tables, Trolleys & Storage
Live in your space a little while and pay attention to your habits. This will reveal to you where you need another table or where don’t have enough handy storage.
The addition of servingware will depend entirely on how much you entertain and how formal you want to get. These things can all be acquired slowly or not at all.
A couple of trays will help organize the chaos of knick-knacks and small items in any room. Do yourself a favor a pick up a few nice ones after you’re all settled. They’ll also pack away easily went you move to a new location.
This is another thing that requires some time in a space to figure out. Most people need a hook by the front door for jackets and bags and a hook in the bathroom for towels and robes. For other locations, pay attention to where your clutter piles up and add a hook there.
From experience, I can say this is a good way to get started, but I’m sure I’m missing some biggies. What would you add to the list?