Who wouldn’t love to start a new life in another country? After all, humans don’t live forever. It is important to seize the day and experience as much as we can as quickly as possible. We are creatures of adventure. Subsequently, humanity is also very versatile. You can say we are made to travel. But as with anything fantastic, there are speed bumps. Being an expatriate can be as frightening as it is exciting.
1 – The Cost of Living…
We understand moving for the sake of employment. It is the most common reason expatriates move overseas on a more permanent basis. But what if the bigger paycheck and inflated benefit pack only looks good to you from home?
A lot of areas offer higher pay because the cost of life is higher. Sometimes we fail to consider the fact that making more money somewhere does not equal more disposable income. Additionally, one should keep into account the immense difference in costs between an urban city and its adjacent suburbs. Particularly in places such as the U.K. and other first world countries, the difference is significant.
Solution? Do your homework. Make sure you are not accepting an income that will be devoured by cost of living. You can also look at all the details necessary to try and move close to your employment location, but far enough where you can pay significantly less and if you can make the daily commute.
Naturally, tourist locations are far more expensive. Consider shopping around and getting to know the locals to find pocket friendly locations and bargain stores. If you can lower your daily expenditures by just a few percent, you will remove a significant amount of stress from your life.
2 – Cultural differences…
It is safe to say that an American moving to London does now experience the culture shock that an American moving to Malaysia will. Furthermore, there are some areas of the world that may come with a dangerous element in terms of culture. Some extremist locations in the middle east, for example, might require certain customs or you will simply not be allowed to stay. However, for most of the world, as long as you are capable of being open and understanding, there should not be a problem.
The biggest issues will usually solve itself after growing accustomed to everything in due time. These might include confusion, stress and inability to communicate. This might even occur to Americans in London, as dialect and customs vary more than one might think.
Solution? Study your destination, before arrival. If it is a different language, try to learn the basics. These days one has so much translation technology that it is getting easier than ever.
But most important of all, remember that you are having a journey! Enjoy the adventure and bask in the differences! Culture shock is a temporary phenomenon, it always fades away and becomes your new normal.
3 – Homesickness….
Being away from home causes a series of cognitive conditions which can be stressful and at times debilitating. Expatriates, immigrants and many travelers are chronic sufferers of this human phenomenon. Homesickness causes anxiety, introversion, inability to focus and depression. Thankfully, this diagnosis has been thoroughly studies, and a variety of coping behaviors can be implemented.
Distraction through activity is key.
The first and most common coping technique for homesickness is staying active. If you are away from home, it is common for this to be a result of work or school. In these cases, the cause for your absence from home does not last an entire day, and you will probably be finished with the activity by the afternoon.
Do not allow your days to be empty. Do some research ahead of time and plan activities that will occupy your day. Homesickness is most active when the mind is absent of focus, and is given time to dwell. Fill your days with any activity at all. Even if you find yourself alone, go to the movies, exercise, check out the local attractions, etc.… The key is to forget that homesickness even exists.
In some worse case scenarios, try to avoid areas or things that may remind you of home.
4 – Healthcare…
When going to a new country it is imperative that your health is taken into consideration. Keep in mind, not every country has a comprehensive health system and in most, you require to either pay out of pocket and at the time of service, or have a personal health plan of one type or another.
The best solution would be to find an effecting international health insurance company that not only covers you medically, but supports your wellbeing throughout.
For example, WellAway Limited has many plans for expatriates and travelers. It is unique expatriate health insurance that includes the member support, resources and tools that allow you to focus on settling down in your life abroad through peace of mind. It contains features to accommodate your expatriate lifestyle. Your personal ConciergeCare counselor will help you make medical appointments, get a second medical opinion, use case management services, arrange emergency repatriation and provide clear information about the health care system where you are.
For more information or a quote, visit www.WellAway.com
5 – Relationship problems…
In terms of romantic relationships… It’s common knowledge that long-distance relationships can be tough. For that reason, many would claim they don’t last. This subject is extremely subjective and it assumes that both parties are on the same page but in many situations one party does not want to relocate whereas the other does. The key is, and usually is, communication. Do you both want this? How will this benefit life in general? Naturally, this wouldn’t apply if a couple is moving together which would of course be a better choice. If you are moving with a family, it is important to discuss home life. It is difficult enough for one partner to stay home and look after children, imagine having to do this in a completely different culture? It is important, at this point to plan daily routines, activities and build a support system in your country of destination, for everyone involved.
Family relationships vary from culture to culture. In some parts of the world, offspring leave the nest in their teens and have little communication with their family. Whereas in other cultures everyone grows up together and stays together for their entire lifespan. In a world of video calling and internet, there are a myriad of ways to stay connected. Have a contact schedule for those you want to keep updated and in contact with. Consider sending each other care packages!
In all these cases, make sure to visit your destination a few times before making a permanent move, research as much as you can about not only your destination, but ways that you can stay connected to those you love. Finally, love new people too! You don’t have to remake your life. Rather, extend the boundaries of your old one. All in all, these are only five struggles of the expatriate. There is a plethora of other issues to consider. But in the end, think about how lucky you are to get the opportunity to experience the world. This is not something many people get to experience. Enjoy the adventure!