The road to successful expat-hood is a long, if adventurous, one, with many potential hurdles along the way. The top mistakes expats make often stem from a misguided belief that life abroad is just like being on holiday – so bear the following pitfalls in mind to avoid a sudden date with reality. Expats can be guilty of the following crimes:
Underestimating language difficulties: Sign language and a smile may suffice when holidaying in the sun but not being understood or understanding what’s going on around you can be increasingly isolating long term. Do some language homework before you move and keep up the good work by immersing yourself once you arrive.
Sticking with other expats: Expats can hold on to each other like a comfort blanket at the expense of forging other relationships and becoming fully integrated. While expat friends and groups can be a great help and morale booster while living abroad, remember that making local friends should be a highlight of your expat life.
Expecting too much: Monday mornings are always going to be tough - even if you are working in the city of your dreams. And expat life isn’t just one long vacation. Be realistic when imagining your new life to avoid disappointment when you get there.
Being inattentive about finances: There are lots of costs involved in any move and going to another country can involve a lot of financial reorganisation. Don’t ignore the paperwork, be aware of tax regulations and remember to keep saving.
Constantly comparing: Dwelling on the differences between your old home and your new one can get old –very quickly. Accept that different countries are different, not inferior or superior, to avoid unnecessary cultural tension and labelling yourself as an outsider.
Avoiding these mistakes will ensure your move abroad is fun and fulfilling – and help you gain another language, even more friends and a better outlook on life too!
This guest blog post was written by Expat Explorer, brought to you by HSBC Expat.