The dream of living abroad is one that is shared by many people – increasing numbers of people in fact, according to the latest statistics and figures from independent sources, banks and governmental think tanks. But the numbers of people who relocate overseas every year is almost equally matched by the numbers of people who return to the UK having failed to make a go of their new expatriate lifestyle.
In this article we’ll look at securing your dream to live abroad by explaining why some expatriates succeed and why some expats fail.
Why Expatriates Fail
Expectations - many people set themselves up for a fall when they move abroad because their expectations of what their new life will be like are so high and so false! Don’t expect your new personal life abroad to differ that greatly to your personal life now – there’s a clue in that statement in the word ‘personal.’ I.e., you personally are largely responsible for your personal life, and you are taking you abroad with you! On the other hand, don’t assume that your day-to-day working life abroad will be similar to that in the UK. You will be working and interacting with other people from different backgrounds and you will be living in a different culture alongside individuals with a very different take on life.
Assumptions - don’t assume anything – you are making a massive move and taking a massive gamble by relocating abroad. You owe it to yourself and your family to research the facts before you ask them to make a leap of faith and follow you into the proverbial sunset! I.e., don’t assume that you will be able to afford to live on a low wage (although living costs are in line with wages), don’t assume you will be able to find a job, don’t assume you can learn the language easily or even get by without it! Don’t make assumptions; base all decisions on facts only.
Financial Failings - moving abroad is expensive – you have the expense of actually getting there and relocating your family and furniture, you have the expense of property – whether that be in terms of buying a home or putting down rental deposits and so on. You have the expense of getting services set up, a mobile phone, an internet connection. You have the expense perhaps of moving money, buying furniture and a car. No matter how much you budget for, likely as not you will spend more than you expect! What’s more, some people who move abroad don’t factor in the question of getting a well paying job; they think they can find work when they get there or that they will be able to live on savings perhaps. All of these financial mistakes are made time and again and they lead to expats failing to make a go of a new life abroad.
Homesickness - when you move abroad you leave all forms of familiarity behind and this puts a massive strain on you and your relationships. What’s more, you find you miss your old house, your family, your friends and the seeming ease with which you used to live your life. All this adds up to one thing – homesickness. It is not easy for everyone to put their finger on that which is niggling them – but it is often a lack of familiarity and the fact that they have moved outside their comfort zone. You have to think about whether you can cope without seeing your family and having a support network of friends in place when you move abroad. You have to think about this before you move!
Why Expatriates Succeed
• They learn the language
• They are open and willing to change
• They want to move to the new location based on the realities and merits of the location
• They plan
• They research
• They test the water
• They budget
• They are realistic