I have relocated to two different European countries over the last six years and I have worked out a few ways to make the transition easier. There are a number of things you can do before you move to ease the process. Start thinking of the move as an adventure even if you are reluctant or apprehensive about it. A positive attitude at the start can really be an asset especially if you face set backs or stressful situations associated with the move or at the start of your time there.
Firstly get a feel of your new city by getting hold of a few guide books. It may sound a bit old school as the Internet is a wealth of information but you can easily get bogged down in the sheer volume of information available. A great start for me is to get the top ten book for your city and the Lonely Planet Guide. The first gives you a quick snapshot of the main tourist and cultural aspects but the second goes into much more, honest detail about the city, specific neighbourhoods and local culture.
Start looking at basic level websites, for example the main tourist board website, and search for any blogs written about moving to the city or living there. Bloggers will welcome and encourage interaction with their readers so they can be a big help. Once you feel you have an idea of the place you can read more widely but I found that too much too soon can muddle me. There are also forums you can join for example Meet Up groups where you can virtually meet people before you move. I found contacts I met via a Meet Up group extremely helpful when I first moved to Berlin. For further tips on relocation visit the HiFX Expat tip page which I will be contributing to next month.
If you have the time and finances, it is a great idea to take a trip there for a long weekend and operate a little like a tourist with an agenda. Go into a few supermarkets to see what kind of food they sell and what the prices are like but at the same time try and soak up some of the local culture. If you have time, take a walk around the neighbourhoods you think you might like to live in and get a first impression.