From where you are right now, the expat life might seem like a dream come true. Who wouldn’t want to embark on a new adventure and make a “home away from home”? Who wouldn’t want to travel the world and learn a new language? And who would say no to bustling new business opportunities that offer career mobility that isn’t usually possible in one’s country of origin?
Truth be told, however, becoming an expatriate isn’t as easy as hopping onto a plane and integrating yourself into a new country. Such a big lifestyle change surely comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here’s our list of the benefits and detriments of relocating abroad—and how to determine whether or not the expat life will be right for you.
- – Lower cost of living. This is one of the most attractive reasons why more people are choosing to relocate. As costs like fuel, property, transportation, and managing a business become less affordable in the Western countries, it may seem more appealing to start life anew elsewhere. Depending on where you go, the price of commodities may be lower, and it might be easier to relax come your retirement age.
- – Burgeoning international business sector. These are also exciting new times to rebuild your career, or even to launch a new business, as a number of global industries—among them, tech and finance—are on the verge of expansion. This might also be a great time to tap into a professional network abroad and foster richer business connections.
- – Wide availability of international services. Nowadays, it’s not hard to procure services that are tailor-fit for the expat life, such as international health insurance coverage from Now Health International. Services like these assure you of the excellent service standard you’ve experienced in your home country. That means that you and your loved ones can acclimatize in the healthiest, happiest, and safest conditions possible.
- – Blossoming local culture. For sure, one of the best things about being an expat is getting to engage with a new local culture. You’ll be able to learn a new language, partake in delicious local cuisine, and go on exciting vacations in a new landscape. The quality of your life will be richer than it was before.
- – Culture shock and cultural barriers. Sometimes, acclimatizing is easier said than done, and you might experience culture shock from integrating into a new way of life. You might have a hard time picking up the dialect, reading other people’s body language, or expressing your sentiments in a way that people won’t deem too blunt or confrontational.
- – Navigating through the systems. Speaking of values, you’ll be dealing with fundamentally different ones from the ones you’ve grown up with. You’ll encounter challenges such as dealing with the hierarchy in your new satellite office, or the demands of paying to a new tax or social security system. Along the way, you might encounter corruption, inefficiency, or a “laissez-faire” kind of approach to these in local politics.
- – Lower standards of living. Though the costs of living might not be as high, there is also a chance that the standard of living has much to be desired. If you choose to move to a developing country, get ready to encounter the large economic disparities between the rich and poor, neglected public amenities, and less reliable public services.
Ultimately, your decision will boil down to the following things: where you’re going, how prepared you are, and how willing you are to make the best of your situation.
Don’t forget that expat life will not always be easy—but many things will make it fulfilling. Expat life can quell your yearning for adventure, and for deeper human connection in places out of the ordinary. Although you will come to the country as a foreigner, you’ll have a chance to make a home for yourself, and share your new life with others.
That said, good luck! Here’s to hoping that you can bring the best out of the expat life.