digital nomad during the COVID-19 pandemic

8 Challenges Faced by Expatriates

Your first morning in a new country is filled with excitement and wonder. The sun may have risen earlier and brighter, and the air may smell different. For some, it may be a familiar experience going through something new. If you’re a new-timer, you may be a lot more curious and impatient to explore the city. As you go through your day, you find yourself facing challenges and overcoming obstacles. It’s common for expats to find themselves a little lost, trying to navigate their way. There are many challenges faced by expatriates when they move abroad.

Common Challenges Faced by Expatriates

Depending on where you have moved, the challenges may be big or small. In this article, we will explore the common challenges faced by expatriates.

challenges faced by expatriates


Language barriers are the most common challenges faced by expatriates. If you move to a country where you don’t speak the native language, you may be in trouble the moment you land. Countries like Italy are known to speak only in Italian. Communicating with cab drivers to get to your new home and discussing rental with landlords can all be frustrating if you don’t know the basics of the language.

challenges faced by expatriates

Understanding Cultures and Customs

If you’re moving to a country dense in culture, you may find yourself amidst strict and unique customs. Learning and following those cultures and customs may come across unnecessary, but part of becoming an expat in a foreign country is learning to adapt. It also ensures the longevity of your expat experience. For example, if you’re an expat employee in China, it’s important to know that the local population is superstitious and attach meanings to a lot of things. A white rose indicates innocence and purity in Western countries like the USA, but in China, it represents ghosts and deaths.

challenges faced by expatriates

Housing problems

Housing problems are major challenges faced by expatriates. Some digital nomads and self-employed expats may move to a temporary home that’s closer to the public transportation or work area. In many cases, they may be dealing with crumbling walls, leaky water pipes, and awry repairs. It is advisable to  do your research before you move abroad and check the local rental listings. If you are moving abroad for work, your expat employer may arrange and pay for your housing.

Unfamiliarity with local legal processes, requirements, and laws

Another common set of challenges faced by expatriates are being in a dilemma or buying or renting properties. Every country has its own sets of regulations when it comes to buying properties, and for some expats, it can turn into a nightmare if they’re not careful. Therefore, expats should never underestimate the valuable advice an expert can give.

It’s similar when it comes to becoming a resident in a chosen country. Some laws will require you to register, obtain an ID card, set up a social security system, and pay taxes. It’s easy to overlook when you’re trying to manage everything else. So getting another expat or someone with experience to guide you can be helpful.

Acclimatizing to the local weather

The stark difference can be seen when an expat is moving one continent to another. If you’re from North America moving to Asia, you may find yourself feeling uncomfortable settling in the weather. Hot balmy days and rain are all you will experience. On the other hand, a digital nomad moving from Malaysia to the UK might find the cold, gloomy British weather depressing. Failing to properly plan and prepare necessary attires are challenges faced by expatriates

Earning an income

One of the most common challenges faced by expatriates is earning an income in their new destination. Either you’re doing digital work in Cambodia or running bed and breakfast in rural Italy, but ensuring it finances your expat living is a whole other case. You need to put extra hard work and may not be able to work a 9-5 job like everyone else. It also depends on what kind of expat life you choose to live. Being able to live in different scenic backdrops can be the dream for some, but whatever avenue you choose to work in, it must be sustainable.

Establishing a social network

Similarly, leaving comfort zones such as friends and family and establishing a new can be challenging for expats. If expats are looking to make their move abroad a long term success, they need to integrate into the local community, build a new circle of friends and fellow expats. It’s not easy leaving behind the people you have known for a long time. It is also why expats who move to a different country for career progression get high compensation from employers.

Missing family and friends

It’s now easier than ever to take a flight to a destination you desire. The internet has also allowed for easy Skype, and Whatsapp calls to friends and family. Globalization has made the world a smaller place. Nevertheless, separating from friends and family is one of the hardest challenges faced by expatriates.

Final Thoughts

As an expat, there’s one common challenge you can avoid when it comes to safety and health. Buying comprehensive health insurance ensures you are covered as you overcome all other challenges in your expatriate life. To know about healthcare system in Italy check out our healthcare region page.