In this article we’ll look at 5 of the most common expat challenges when moving abroad and how to overcome them.
Expat life can be full of challenges, from finding housing and jobs to learning the local language and culture. But, it can also be incredibly rewarding. You get the chance to live in a new country and meet new people, and it provides new opportunities and experiences. For those considering a move to another country, it’s important to be prepared for the challenges that come with expat life.
That expat life
Living life as an expatriate can sound like a dream come true for most people. You get to visit new destinations, receive lucrative pay packages, and have the opportunity to explore new languages and cultures. If this doesn’t make you immediately want to get a job abroad and live the coveted expat lifestyle with all of the expat privileges, we don’t know what will!
There is no doubt that the rewards of living and working as an expat are attractive. However, when you move to another country or region it can be a massive change. This brings with it a fair share of challenges. These challenges can depend upon factors like your country of origin, your destination, your situation, and your background. Read on to learn about five of the most common challenges facing expats.
Expat challenges and how to overcome them
This is one of the most common challenges for expats when they move from one country to another. Life can be much more difficult if you don’t know the language. Imagine having a problem in your house and not being able to explain it to anyone!
In order to overcome this you may need to learn the local language to communicate and move around quickly. Though there are many options to learn new languages it can take time. Therefore, if you know you’re moving abroad you should plan ahead and start taking language classes before you go, or practice with popular apps such as Duolingo.
Even learning rudimentary phrases to help you navigate your initial relocation phase to another country can be a huge help.
If you’re still deciding on your destination, then it might be worth thinking thinking about how easy it will be to pick up the language. After all, some languages are more difficult than others. For a smoother transition try to consider countries that speak the easiest languages to learn for English speakers.
Culture shock is the feeling of disorientation that people can experience when they visit or move to a country with a different culture than their own. It can be caused by a number of factors, including differences in language, customs, and values.
The intensity of culture shock can depend upon your expat destination and affects everyone differently. An expat moving from the Western world to an Asian country may find the food too spicy and streets too busy for example. It could also just be too hot! When these factors combine, the experience may overwhelm you to begin with.
Culture shock can lead to a number of negative consequences, such as isolation and homesickness. However, it can also be a positive experience that helps people learn about other cultures and themselves. With proper preparation, anyone can overcome culture shock and make the most of their cultural experience.
The best approach is to be prepared and understand that other cultures are different from your own. Try to embrace the culture and absorb it into your day-to-day life and it will help you settle in a lot quicker. You should also try to identify anything that particularly bothers you and take steps to remedy it. For example, if you can’t drink clean water from the tap, make it a habit to buy bottled water twice a week so that you don’t run out.
As you try to settle in to a new culture, you are also trying to fit in with your new environment, workplace, and social dynamics. Fitting in is always one of the major concerns for expats, as you don’t want to be left isolated with no friends.
To help prevent this you should research well before moving and discover your new culture’s customs and traditions. Your colleagues may be able to help point out any dos and don’ts for an easier transition. It’s also worth joining expat Facebook groups for your destination where you can ask for any advice and just see if anyone is up for meeting up. Making friends with people who have lived there for a while can make a huge difference when it comes to that feeling of fitting in. To find such groups on Facebook, just search for expat + your destination name in the groups section.
Planning, packing, moving, and settling into a new destination is a big undertaking. The process may strain relationships. If you’re moving with your family, settling in a new neighborhood has its fair share of challenges. You’ll need to make new friends and if you have children joining a new school can be a really stressful experience. On the other hand, if you are moving away from loved ones, it can be even worse.
Relocating to another country means you probably won’t see your friends and family as often as you wish. Hanging out with your friends over drinks or a meal, attending your niece’s birthdays, or spending time with your parents are all precious and unforgettable moments that people living abroad can miss. COVID-19 also made the distance between expats, family, and friends feels more real than ever.
Fortunately, social media platforms like WhatsApp and Facebook have made it way easier to stay in touch with people across the globe. Although it doesn’t replace human interaction, a video call can be a great way to stay in touch and make you feel connected to home. Try to schedule in regular calls with friends and family so as not to lose touch, that way they won’t forget about you either!
Access to Healthcare
One of the most important factors to consider when relocating abroad is access to good healthcare. You should check out the public healthcare system in your destination country and try to find out if expats receive the same treatment as locals through the public healthcare system.
You may find that you need to pay for private health insurance. This is applicable to many countries around the world and it’s a case of doing your research for each destination. This page, is a great place to start for this. And if you don’t have one already it is still always advisable to get an international health plan.
Conclusion: Overcome expat challenges
Living as an expat can be a rewarding but also challenging experience. Many digital nomads, expats, and global citizens can all face similar challenges when they move abroad.
Whoever you are, it is important to be prepared for these challenges. Living in a new country, language barriers, cultural differences, and feeling homesick are all expat challenges that can be difficult to overcome, but it is possible with the right mindset and support system.
If you go with proper preparation and an open mind, there is no doubt that you can overcome these challenges and have a successful and enriching experience living abroad. And, if you are an expat facing challenges, reach out to your community for help. You are not alone.