5 Mistakes Expatriates MakeJune 20th, 2013 by The JetSetter Team | Comments Off on 5 Mistakes Expatriates Make
Making the decision to live in another country is a big deal. No matter how much you detest your present living conditions, yanking up roots and heading halfway ‘round the globe is one of the most severe stressors imaginable – perhaps next to finding out your daughter is dating Justin Beiber. Realistically, there is little chance that a move of this magnitude will go perfectly, but avoiding the following mistakes might head off a nervous breakdown.
Don’t Confuse Vacation With Reality
Don’t be one of those expatriates who think that just because you had a great time in a tropical paradise on vacation, it’s a perfect place to live. There’s nothing perfect in this world and you still have to put food on the table, gas in the car, and take out the trash, even in paradise. This is not to say that living in a tropical paradise is a bad idea. Just be sure to don your reality glasses first.
Do Plenty of Research
When it comes to researching your prospective host country, more is almost always better. You need to know their laws, customs, how the public transportation and education systems work, and more. It would be a great idea to talk to expatriates already living there. If you can’t find any, maybe that should tell you something.
Don’t Buy a Property Too Soon
There’s no perfect number but it makes sense to us at Jetsetter that it would be a good idea to rent for a year before jumping into a property deal. That gives you a full cycle to experience all four seasons, the major holidays, and the general ebb and flow of life outside your front door before pulling the trigger on a permanent arrangement. Maybe you only saw a neighborhood in the off-season and the bumper-to-bumper traffic all summer makes you crazy. Or maybe rainy season flooding leaves a herd of angry poisonous snakes in your garage on a regular basis.
Learn the Language
Learning another language is not easy, but the alternative is to only mix with other English-speaking expatriates and rely on awkward hand gestures to buy vegetables at the local market. This one’s a no-brainer. For a richer immersion experience, learn to converse with the locals!
You’re not on Permanent Vacation
We’ve made this point before but PLEASE don’t fall into the trap of living on permanent vacation, even if you can afford it. It’s dangerous to underestimate the value of having a direction in life. Sure, hanging out in bars until 2 am, doing the limbo until your back cracks, and waking up face-down in a pile of vomit on a stranger’s bedroom floor might sound like fun right now, but is that really what you want to do for the rest of your life? We sincerely hope not.
As an international traveler with some experience, Jason Hartman has seen his share of unsuccessful expatriations. Take heed of these warnings and be one of the successful ones! (Top image: Flickr | rcbodden)
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