Thriving in Your Expat Life


Thriving in Your Expat Life

Common Expat Pitfalls and How to Avoid Them

By John Marcarian of Expatland

Taking the enormous step of moving to a new country can bring with it a mixture of feelings. The excitement of making the giant leap coupled with the anxiety of doing so can be common as the big move looms.

Emotions are rife at such a challenging time but relocating overseas should be one of the best things you’ve ever done.

Expatland is a resource that supports people all over the globe who are embarking on an expat journey, joining a vast, dynamic community. Here we explain how to avoid the main stumbling blocks to successful relocation and how to survive and thrive in your new country of choice.

  1. Preparation is key: If you don’t research your new location thoroughly, it can throw up a number of issues once you arrive. Looking into the medical system, pensions, personal tax requirements, banking services and even schooling (if you need it) before you depart takes times and resourcefulness. But set time aside to research as many aspects as you can because it will pay dividends in the long run. Your first step should be to seek advice of experts on the ground in your new city who will guide you along the way.


  1. Learn the language: If you are moving to a country that doesn’t speak your native language, it’s essential you make the effort to learn it before arriving. Some countries, such as Denmark, make it a requirement of all those relocating there to take language lessons, but not all countries are so rigid. Do your homework. If the majority of your colleagues are going to be speaking French, you may need to show some willingness to do so. Without that you may feel isolated.


  1. Keep expectations real: No-one moves abroad and fits in immediately. Making friends, setting up new routines and embarking on a different career will challenge you. Experts say settling into a new country can take up to six months, or longer, so be realistic about what to expect in your first days and weeks. You’ve made a huge step so accept that at times you may question your decision but in the long run for most people it will be the experience you’re searching for.


  1. Make fellow expats your friends: You might arrive in your new location all set on throwing yourself into the new culture. This is a good thing. However your new work colleagues may not have faced the challenges you are and fellow expats can really help unlock the mysteries of a new school, medical and banking system. The been-there-done-that friend can be essential back up over what may be a bewildering time. In fact, Expatland’s research shows that if you were to group expats together to form a virtual country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world, inhabited by 244 million people, and growing fast. Make use of them. Their experience will be invaluable to smooth your path.


  1. Don’t underestimate financial differences: Taking out a mortgage, writing a will and paying your taxes are complicated enough in your country of origin, but taking these issues abroad is a whole different ball game. Seek financial and professional advice. In Australia, for example, there are strict guidelines around expats buying property, which is dependent upon visas and residency status. It’s worth looking at the Australian government guidelines before you go and speak to your local Expatland E-Team.


  1. Be sociable even when you don’t feel like it: Making new friends can be really hard work at the best of times, but in order to fit in it’s essential to put yourself out there. Accept that invite to the work social or school parent’s night out. A feeling of isolation can be common for expats so building up a network of new friends and acquaintances can really help. Establish a routine. Investigate a sporting activity you once enjoyed back home or enrol on an education The more effort you make the easier it will be in the long run.


  1. Live like a resident, not a tourist: It may be tempting to live like you are on holiday during your first few months. Weekends away in new locations, expensive meals out or purchasing a whole new wardrobe may be great ways to acclimatise to your new home but they are also costly. Unfamiliarity with the local exchange rate and how far your new salary actually stretches could mean you’re pushing your financial limits too soon. Be sensible and make sure your bank balance remains buoyant.


About Expatlandhttp://www.expatland.com

Expatland is a resource that supports people all over the globe who are embarking on an expat journey, joining a vast, dynamic community. In fact, if you were to group expats together to form a country, it would be the 5th largest country in the world, inhabited by 244 million people, and growing fast.

This ‘country’ is thriving, attracting business people, students, educators, medical professionals and many other professionals who are highly driven, socially aware and ‘global’ in their outlook.

Expatland began as a book, written in 2015 by John Marcarian. Through travelling extensively and working with expat clients in his role at CST Tax Advisors.

The Expatland book was just the start. To solve the problem of lack of support for would-be expats, John has launched ‘E-Teams’. The concept, developed based on research using data from the World Bank, the OECD and the International Labour Organisation, is to provide a proactive solution to the problems faced by ‘unsupported expats’ on the move. Through one point of contact, expats can access help anywhere.

E-Teams bring together vetted professionals on the ground in a wide range of international locations, who can deliver the types of services needed by expats. Operating at a city level, they have essential local knowledge and insight. They cut through complexity and drill down to the issues that are relevant to specific locations.

E-Teams are lending their specialist knowledge to refresh and update the Expatland book, writing free-to-download chapters packed with locally-focused advice, tips and case studies.

[Images courtesy of John Marcarian and Expatland]


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