Is corruption a disincentive to potential expats

Published:  3 May at 6 PM
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Adjusting to a new culture is one of the trickiest tasks facing newly arrived expats although, in the long term, corruption may be the hardest issue to tackle.

The vast majority of expats from the West are aware of corruption in the public sector but tolerate it as it doesn’t affect them directly. However, their opinions may change once they’ve settled overseas, dependent on the country they’ve chosen. It might take a while, but eventually the real world emerges from the dream of great weather, friendly locals and a more enjoyable lifestyle.

Corruption differs from culture to culture and is often based on traditional ways of doing business which differ hugely from the norm in the USA, Europe and the UK. For expats who’ve experienced its worst side, it may seem as though dishonesty is a culturally acceptable genetic inheritance they can’t begin to cope with.

Wherever in the world endemic corruption is found, its modus operandum seems the same and includes not just high officialdom but also everyday transactions and experiences. Overcharging, crimes committed by police and other officials, deliberate attempts to scam, bribery, manipulation, lies and more all strip the gloss from retirement or business life overseas.

For generations, Latin America and the Arab nations have been reported as hotbeds of corruption, although China and Southeast Asia, now more easily accessible by expats, are now catching up at the speed of light. Easily available social media sites, the online international press and the ever increasing number of expat forums now allow anyone intending to emigrate to judge the corruption levels of their preferred destinations.

Would-be expats are now researching corruption through sites such as Transparency International, thus taking into account the effect of culturally accepted dishonesty when making a decision. For example, the website’s most recent Corruption Perception index cites Canada as the Americas’ most honest country and places Venezuela just above Haiti as one of the worst.

Of course, corruption isn’t the only criterion on which to base your future lifestyle overseas, although awareness of its existence can mitigate your behaviour patterns to the extent it will rarely affect you. Emigrating, whether for retirement or working overseas, is a personal decision based on a whole range of positives balanced against possible negatives.
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