Although as expats we all have our own experiences, there are several shared thoughts and feelings which are common among us.
Through time, you come to understand your new country, its culture, and as well as the learning curves such as the tax and healthcare systems, not to mention navigating the day-to-day challenges of simply knowing where to find or buy this item or that item.
When you become an expat, you start a new life which, among many things, includes a new job and a new circle of friends.
If Only It Were That Simple
However, even after you've made yourself at home in your new home, your former life doesn't suddenly just disappear. There will always be bonds, memories, and attachments.
As happy as you might be in your new country and in your new life, it's natural to wonder at times if you made the right decision to leave your homeland. You miss people and things. Being tor, it seems, is part of being an expat. There are, however, certain things which make life abroad easier.
The Most Welcoming Countries for Expats
Earlier this year, InterNations, the world's largest network for expats, revealed the results of its 2017 Expat Insider survey.
Based on the insights of nearly 13,000 expats from 188 countries and territories, Portugal was seen to be the most welcoming country for expats followed by Taiwan, Mexico, Cambodia, and Bahrain.
Feeling welcome by your new country makes the move, including the one away from home, easier.
Among the reasons these five countries were seen as welcoming is the ease in which expats said they were able to make friends with locals. An impressive 94% of expats living in Portugal said they were satisfied with the attitude of locals towards foreign residents. Feeling part of the local culture is an cruciual part of feeling at home.
When to comes making friends, 48% of all expats surveyed said their social circle was a mix of expats and locals, 33% were mostly friends with other expats, and 19% said they had mainly locals as their friends. Developing a network of friends both for socialising and for support is one of the most crucial things for all expats.
Settling In and Feeling at Home
Just how easy you settle in can depend on many factors including the culture and its people. When it came to the ease of settling in, the survey results showed Bahrain was number one followed by Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Oman, Philippines, Uganda, Cambodia, New Zealand, and Portugal.
Portugal was ranked number one among expats for its friendliness and for making expats feel at home in the local culture. Costa Rica, Bahrain, Mexico, New Zealand, Malta, and Spain also ranked high.
So, Why Do We Move Abroad?
There are many reasons why people decide to move abroad and become expats. 12% of expats surveyed reported they moved because they found a job while another 12% said they moved because of relationship (i.e. for love).
Other reasons for moving included being sent abroad by their current employer (11%), seeking a better quality of life (8%), looking for adventure or a personal challenge (7%), and to study at school or university (5%).
When many of us make the decision to move abroad, we do it without really deciding how long we're going for! When asked how long expats saw themselves living abroad, 5% said they would stay less than a year, 16% said
1-3 years, 15% said 3-5 years, 18% said more than 5 years, 29% said possibly forever, while 18% were undecided.
Life and Work
Being that work is one of the most common reasons people move abroad, a key factor to work satisfaction abroad is a good work-life balance.
The Czech Republic ranked first for its job security, with New Zealand in second for its healthy work-life balance. Bahrain, Luxembourg, Malta, The Netherlands, Germany, Norway, Denmark and Sweden rounded out the top 10 for best country to work abroad.
While work is very important, our overall quality of life is even more so. Portugal, again, was ranked best among expats followed by Taiwan, Spain, Singapore, Czech Republic, Japan, Austria, Switzerland, Costa Rica, and Germany. The top 20 also included Denmark, Canada, Sweden, New Zealand, Finland, and Malta.
What About Home?
Every expat wonders about what life is or could be like back home, and for some, the curiosity becomes too much.
However, of those who did return home, a staggering 53% – including 61% of those aged under 35 - said they missed their life abroad.
The survey revealed that among the reasons expats returned home, the most common were family or personal reasons (32%) as well as career progression (20%). Only 4% of expats reported they returned home due to financial reasons.
On life as an expat, maybe Italian journalist and author Italo Calvino said it best when he said, “The ideal place for me is the one in which it is most natural to live as a foreigner.”
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