I am trying to move a wordpress installation to a new server. I usualy create a new database using phpmyadmin on the new server, import the sql file from the old server, then install wordpress but this time I need to do it with the .xml export feature instead as I have no access to the new servers phpmyadmin. The part I don't get is that if I am supposed to import the .xml file in the new wordpress dashboard, how can I possibly get access to the new dashboard without first installing a db to allow a wordpress installation? Maybe I am missing something.
The only thing you need is an empty database.
This can be done in different ways and almost every hosting company offer one or more ways to do it.
phpmyadmin is just one of possibilities, not the only one.
Companies that don't offer this feature, usually create one or more db(s) for you, giving you the login details for it/them.
After uploaded all wp files by ftp, just point browser to the site address.
You will see an installation screen that ask you to insert the empty db details, an username and a password, and the db table prefix.
It's a good idea change default 'wp_' prefix with something else and use an admin username different from 'admin' with a strong password.
Note that if the new database name and table prefix are different from the original install, this is absolutely not a problem.
After that, you can login using your just created credentials and import the xml file.
This will require to install the wordpress importer plugin, but the procedure is easy and totally automated.
Note that if the original posts are created by users not present in this new install, you will prompted to assign posts to an existing user or to create a new user.
Note that some data (like theme/plugin settings and others) can be not included in the xml file so you have to set them again.