Challenges that expats often encounter while living abroad
Moving abroad is often an overwhelming experience for any expatriate. The unfamiliar landscape, a limited social network, and new cultures and languages can often feel burdensome on many people. There will be challenges and obstacles when it comes to the relocation process. You also have to be patient with the adjustment period once relocated. Many people will react to stress in different ways. Challenges will vary depending on location, cultures, languages, personal mannerisms, and general customs of the country. However, there are a few common challenges faced by expats when relocating.
We have put together a list of the five most common challenges faced by expats. It will aid in your settlement into your new country and allow you to enjoy this adventure. Note that the challenges below are in no particular order of importance.
Challenge #1: Fitting in
As an expatriate moving abroad, there is a big chance that you are leaving an extensive social & professional network back home. It can have a significant effect on someone. Especially if you are someone that places a high significance on these relationships. Don’t fear; you are not the first, nor the last expatriate to have these feelings. Many expatriates do have a fear of not fitting in a new country.
Challenge #2: A language barrier
If you are moving to a country that speaks a different language, settling in and befriending locals can be daunting. It is ultimately unavoidable if you don’t know the local language beforehand. Read all about our advice on learning a new language while living abroad to facilitate the process and jump-start the learning curve for your new life abroad! We do recommend acquiring a rudimentary level of the foreign language before you take off. It will facilitate the entire process of moving overseas!
Challenge #3: Being lonely
Don’t let the fear or the potential of being lonely prevent you from embarking on a new adventure. Don’t even make it impede your decision to become an expatriate in a foreign country. Feeling alone is one of the common challenges faced by expats when they first move abroad. The key is to build strong relationships with the people around you. It will surely take some time, but it is essential to form some bonds with the people and the city. Besides, it’s your new home!
Challenge #4: Finances & money management
Organizing your finances, taxes, and money management can be daunting when you are living in your home country. But adding overseas travel and living abroad to the mix can get complicated. As an expatriate, you will have to decide if you will become a non-resident for tax purposes. Talk to an expat tax expert – do not try to do it on your own. We have a list of some great expat tax advisors at Expat Financial.
You will also have to advise your bank that you will be living abroad. Once in your new country, you probably have to set up a new banking account. Most countries will want to see your visa documents and also some proof that you will be living there. It may be useful to keep your bank account back home as well. Having a bank account in your new host country in the local currency will still be invaluable and probably save you on foreign exchange. You may also have to move your investment account as well. So talk to your investment advisor and tax accountant to see what solution works best.
Challenge #5: Healthcare
Making sure you have proper global health insurance while living abroad. It is one of the biggest concerns that many expatriates worry about when it comes to relocation. Local plans in your new host country may not be up to your standards. Local hospitals may only provide basic coverage. Most expats want to have access to private healthcare both in the host country, regionally, and back home. Have an international health insurance plan in place before leaving abroad. It will alleviate stress with finances, medical aid, and give you peace of mind during relocation. Contact us today to discuss all your international insurance needs!
Yes, I know we said only five challenges, but we needed to add expat safety to the article. As discussed in our expat safety page, personal safety is a very high priority for individual expats and expatriate employers and global mobility managers. The world is safer now than it has been in the past. But today’s security concerns and challenges range from terrorism, bombings, assaults, thefts, and much more. Expats must prepare for the worst when moving abroad. Check out the local security in their new home country through both free and even paid information sources. Even first world countries can be fraught with danger, from terrorist attacks in Europe to mass shootings in the USA. Expat safety should be your priority if you are moving abroad or already living the expat life.