There are a few things you need to consider before actually starting your life as an expat. Some expats are sent by their companies and do not get to choose the country they will relocate to, but for those who do have a choice, there are a few things that you may want to consider once you’ve made up your mind about living abroad.
You may think that you’ve done enough research and you may have had a blast in the country you’ve been living in for a holiday or two, but you’ll be amazed with how different the experiences are when you’re a tourist as opposed to when you’re actually living there. Here are a few suggestions on the main things that are major factors in terms of working and living overseas.
Weather is a pretty big factor in any one’s living situation. If you’re someone who likes sunshine and blue skies then London may not be the city for you. If you like sunny days, the sunniest countries in the world are the US (particularly in Arizona), Egypt, Sudan, South Africa, UAE and Northern Australia.
If you’re more like the brooding poet type or you really enjoy singing in the rain then South East Asian countries like Myanmar, Vietnam, Thailand, The Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia are perfect for you. In South East Asia, there are only two seasons so if you like the idea of 3 months of sunshine and 9 months of rain, check these countries out and find out the perfect place for you.
It will be useful to do some research about the worst kind of weather a country has to offer before you move. Take your time in finding out if there are major calamities in this area or if you can really handle a totally different type of weather. The weather can influence someone’s mood greatly, so you really have to take weather into account when you are choosing a country for relocation.
Some countries have more holidays than most; for some, a lot of national holidays and vacation leaves are good, but for others it’s an awful waste of time. If you are looking for a place to start a business or outsource services for your growing country, then you might want to avoid countries with too many national holidays and too many vacation leaves. You don’t want to be a party pooper by making people work during a holiday, but you might also be losing money on your business by giving away too much holidays especially if you are planning a business that is very dependent on the workforce.
If you are not planning to start a business overseas and you are simply looking for work experience outside your own country, then take as much holidays as you can get. Getting national holidays will allow you to travel within your new country of residence or nearby countries. The countries with the most vacation leaves are mostly European countries like Italy, Belgium, France, Spain, Germany, Portugal and Austria.
How you like the local food in a country should always be a factor when you move. If you like savoury food, rice and noodles with lots of flavours and spices, Asia is the best choice for your palette. If you enjoy spicy food head to India, Thailand and Korea, but if you’re not a big fan of rice and you dig spicy food, South America is the next best thing. European countries have the best hearty and healthy food. North America is the go-to place for sinful goodness and big servings. For a blend of cultural flavours, South Africa is a good option for gastronomic delights.
You also have to consider the food that is available in the country that you are moving to. When you’re living overseas you cannot rely on fast food chains, you have to learn how to adapt your preference to what is available. So really think about the kinds of food that you cannot live without and see which places can accommodate your cravings.
Some people like living on the edge and prefer places where it’s not too safe. Others love the freedom you get from safety. This is something that you should never take lightly. If you are thinking of living overseas with your family, then safety should be your main concern. Take time to research on the safest countries in the world and also keep track of the current events in your final choices of countries. Health is also a factor, make sure you have the proper insurance coverage for expats and research the best ways to stay healthy while living abroad.
If you are not relocating with family, then try places which are not too safe because it does have a tendency to be quite boring. Try looking for neither countries which are on the safest nor the least safe in the world; instead, go for the countries with the most soul. Some countries or cities have more life than others and this has a lot to do with culture, history and the people. If you are young and looking for an adventure abroad, look for places where you can really gain a lot of experiences and way beyond your comfort zone. Take this chance as an expat to re-define your life instead of playing it too safe.
Culture is always a good thing to experience when you are starting your life as an expat, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any type of culture will be good for you. Again, you have to consider your goal when you start your expat life. Are you starting a life abroad to gain experience or is it for a business perspective? If you are moving for business then you should be mindful of culture in considering the country where you will be living. First, will you be able to communicate well with the locals, if you start a business, local communication is a major factor.
If you are moving to a country you have to know a little bit about the local culture and you have to at least appreciate it. You are the expatriate and you should always be able to adapt to the local culture, but that also doesn’t mean that you have to change entirely, which is why choosing the country is important. You have to take some time in researching the culture of the countries you are considering to move to, so that you will know if the cultural practices and the language are tolerable to you. It’s not good to always be guarded or uncomfortable, you go out of your comfort zone for experience, but you don’t necessarily have to live outside it to say that you can handle it.
The work culture of a country is also something you should pay attention to. In Japan, punctuality is a major part of business, in Spain and Italy most businesses still follow the culture to take “siestas” or afternoon naps where offices and shops close down for a long lunch. If you enjoy hard work then countries like South Korea, Czech Republic and Germany should be the top choices for you.
The thing you should consider the most in selecting your country of expatriation are the immigration and taxation policies. Before putting countries in your final list of choices, check if they have a reputation for being tough on immigrants and the chances of getting a job or starting a business in that certain country. You don’t want to run in blind without knowing what’s really in store for you in that country. This is where you really feel the difference between visiting the country as a tourist and staying in the country as an expat. Also consider your communication with the rest of the world. Check the internet availability and other means of communication that will be important in your life as an expat.
Find out all the things you need to know about the basic lifestyle of an expat in the country including all the documentations that you need along with that. If you can, try to look for jobs before you even move to the country, that way you will be able to have more time and options when you arrive. Stay updated on the expat trends and where most people are moving to these days and why. This way you will have more accurate input in your decision making and you will have everything you need to make an educated (as well as satisfying) choice when you pick your country for expatriation.
Expat Lifestyle, Living Abroad, How To Be An Expat