The decision to move abroad solo or with family takes courage and planning. As a current expat, I took my first courageous step 15 years ago. Today with globalization and internationalization, the steps can be easier, but you still need proper planning and preparation.
I spend 2+ years in my initial outbound expat experience. I repatriated for 2 years and I am now in my 10th consecutive year living and working internationally. The knowledge and experience gained during these years have led me to help others create a smoother path for their journey. Aspiring, new, and continuing expats all have different needs, but planning and preparation are part of the equation for all. Therefore, professional and personal readiness is key to having a positive and enjoyable expat experience and lifestyle. So, to get started, let me share a couple of tips with you.
Live in a place that provides you with comfort and challenges. Comfort in the sense of safety, improved quality of life, and stability in governance. But challenges that will help you grow in terms of language, culture, and daily life experiences. There is at least one country on our planet that will provide the balance you need. As a result of your experiences, you will gain a broader view of the world and humanity.
Discuss your plans with your family and friends and what’s ahead for them. This may include managing time zones for conversation and missing their important events. Yes, I also know that you may not have everyone’s support for your journey, but they could eventually come around. After all, you are now in a place they can visit. Get ready to host and enjoy the shared memories of exploring your location.
It is great to find, take, or be in a job that fits your expertise. And, yes, this is the main reason you got hired. Whether you work for an organization or you are a freelancer, be prepared to adjust to the work environment. Spend time learning, observing, and understanding. You can also learn new perspectives, practices, and ways of managing projects or people. There is value in experiencing different work cultures.
Spend time planning and preparing for your journey abroad. The more insight you gain about your perspective country or region, the better chance you will have at adapting and managing the cultural adjustment. Give yourself permission to miss “home,” but then create a new norm for your life in your new location. Explore the place, make new friends, engage in local traditions, and give back to the community.
Photo by Ross Parmly on Unsplash
These antidotes may sound like common sense, but they are worth the reminder. Many of us get excited about the job, packing, and getting there, but we also need to think practically for a moment. These tips are geared to help you do just that. So, keep the excitement, prepare wisely, and enjoy your expat journey.
**Original written in 2019 and updated in 2022.
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Originally published on the Roseapple Global Blog and in the Expat Chronicles on Medium.
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