|Emy Louie, Consulting Services|
For Newcomers to a Foreign Country: The Most Important Factor to Consider When Choosing a Place to Live
One Saturday morning at 8:30 am, I am walking along a major street in León, Nicaragua, heading to take a bus to go to the beach. I pass by a man in his 50s who was sitting on a stoop playing good, loud dance music which caught my attention. For those split seconds, I thought, “I like this music!” I walk by him, and he says, in perfect English, “You want to rent a room?”
I said “no.”
Then, I walked 60 meters (200 feet) forward, and then I slowed down, turned around and approached him, and I said, “Let me see the room.” After five minutes of seeing the room, I said, “I’ll take it.”
In addition to other reasons for why I took the room in this house, I especially loved the location of the house. Now as a newcomer to a foreign country, how important is where you live? Well, it’s very important!
If you live in the wrong area, you can’t get food that you want quickly; you may get sick or weak from being malnourished. If you are not well fed, you can’t move forward in any other activities.
If you live in the wrong area, and for example, if you get bitten and need antibiotics, your illness could set you back for weeks. Nobody likes to be sick. Nobody wants to be sick in a foreign country and nobody like to be sick longer than necessary!
If you live in the wrong area and you are learning the native language, you will have a harder time understanding the foreign language because the locals may be speaking too fast for you to understand. And if there are too many misunderstandings and language barriers, as a worse scenario, the locals could be hostile to you.
Why live in an area that makes it hard for you to enjoy and integrate into the foreign country?
So, do consider these things when you are looking for a place to live in a foreign country or town such as León.
Be close to the nicest supermarket possible. A supermarket gives you more food options, just in case you need those food options.
Be close to a pharmacy, preferably a 24-hour pharmacy.
Lastly, the most critical factor that many people overlook to choosing a place to live is to be close to a language school(s) that teaches the native language you want to learn, which is extremely important. You want to live in a place that is hospital to foreigners, and generally, a neighborhood which promotes bilingual-ness or multilingual-ness is vital for foreigners. The people around will likely help you on your way to learning the native language and will be forgiving to you when you make your foreign language mistakes.
Emy We’i Louie (雷慧妮) is the founder of Friends of Waikīkī National Recreation Area and the author of "Fast Trains: America's High Speed Future.” From 2009 to 2016, she served as the Director of Public Outreach for the US High Speed Rail Association. During this time, she made appearances at its conferences and met people from all over the world.
Emy Louie was born in Hong Kong and grew up in Honolulu, Hawai’i. She graduated from the University of Hawai’i at Mānoa in 1991 and earned a degree in Architecture.
In 1993, Emy Louie relocated to the mainland United States and from 2007 to 2008, she hosted her radio show to interview the movers and shakers of sustainable design and green building. From 2008 to 2012, she taught continuing education classes on sustainable design and urban development to design professionals.
Since 1993, Ms. Louie has been a resident of Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina, USA. She is president of Emy Louie, Consulting Services.