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The 7 biggest questions every expat will ask at some point

After living in expat land for over 10 years I’ve noticed that no matter where people are moving, the same questions come up. Naturally culture shock and other things will look a bit different depending on where you are going. But you’d be surprised that the below 7 things are the biggest worries for expats EVERYWHERE! You might agree with these questions, but not be sure how to go about answering them. 

  1. Where am I going to live? One of our most basic needs is the need for shelter where we can feel safe and rest. Naturally you want to have a bit of a plan and an idea of budget before you go, but don’t lock yourself into something you have not even seen yet! The biggest mistake expats make is to sign up for a place to live without even having visited the city or house/apartment before. Yes you need to have something temporary in place when you arrive, but allow some flexibility so you can find the right area and type of accommodation that suits you, your lifestyle and other circumstances. You certainly can do some research beforehand, but what something seems like on paper is rarely the reality. Give yourself the chance to pick a home not just a shelter.
  2. How will I make money? Will I find a job that’s meaningful for me? These two questions often go hand in hand. The basic need to have money to eat and live tend to drive us the most and only afterwards do we think about what we’d find really meaningful or rewarding. Much like with where to live, it’s good to do some research before you go, but in a large majority of cases there is little point in applying for jobs before you’ve even arrived. Come prepared with some savings in case you don’t find a job straight away to give you some space to explore and network. I often work with my clients to help them get very clear in their mind on the type of jobs they’d love to have, the ones that would be ok/acceptable and the type of jobs they’d not accept under any circumstance. Naturally there is some flexibility needed here as every country is a bit different, so be prepared to take a more basic role sometimes to get your foot through the door. At the same time it’s important to not negotiate yourself into a corner where you accept things that go against your key values and skill set.
  3. Where do I start? Ironically this question will often come up after you’ve started worrying/thinking about work and where to live. So in many ways you’ve already started. I always say that the start is way before then. When you started dreaming about the big move. Making sure it’s crystal clear to you why you’re making this move in the first place and if it’s to move away from something you don’t like or towards something you like. That’s what my online program is all about: where to start, what to do and in what order.
  4. Will it even work/is it worth it? This one comes up often and this question of doubt is coming from a deep rooted human need for certainty. In short – there is no way you can know until you do it. The clearer you are on why you are doing this and what tools and tips you have to help you, it will be a lot easier to predict if it can be done or not. Mostly it’s like that famous saying though – “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right”. A big move (much like a marathon or any other physical achievement) is more about your mindset and what you believe to be true and possible, than it is practical and physical.
  5. Will I miss people? Will they miss me? Yes they will. Yes you will. Not all of them, but many of them. Again, if you’re clear on your big why and purpose of the move it will be easier to cope with this one. In my online we go through this one in detail and how to cope with it.
  6. Will I meet new friends? It depends mostly on your own attitude. You will meet new people for sure, but whether or not you allow them to/invite them in to become close friends all depends on what you want. We always attract what we put out there and it’s interesting sometimes to hear about people’s experiences and how some seem to make friends with little effort and others struggle. In the clients I work through this with it’s mostly about getting clear on what they want in a friend and then go about finding places where this person would organically be hanging out.
  7. How do I know if it’s time to go back? This is a hard one for some people. Homesickness and other things might get in your way and make you question things and go all the way back to question 4 again. I always say to never make a big life changing decision on a bad day. You will know that it’s time to go back when even on a ‘good day’ you still feel like it’s not quite right and time to either move on or move back. Remember: a decision is never final, it’s just something that sets the direction until you make the next decision.

Which of these have you struggled with? How did you manage your thoughts and feelings around your key question(s)?

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