What makes a successful expat

Published:  10 Aug at 6 PM
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Personality traits are all-important to our view of life, with the qualities needed to make a success of the expat life not always the most obvious.

Since humans first stood on two legs and found a comfortable cave for shelter, the need to broaden our horizons has ensured the race’s spread throughout the entire world. Curiosity and fascination with what’s over the next hill has resulted in many different races, and the feeling is still alive, especially in those planning to become expats. The comparatively new trend of living, working or retiring overseas is a result of our deepest racial memories, made easy by the advent of air travel.

Curiosity is one major factor of success as an expat as it encourages leaning as much as is possible about the new country and is never satisfied. Professional advice, joining in with the local community as well as expat groups, going to language classes and more are all important for integration into an unfamiliar culture. The successful expat never stops learning.

Flexibility applies as much to the planning ahead stages of emigrating as it does to adjusting once you’re in your new abode. Moving yourself, your possessions, your family and even the family dog half way across the world isn’t often straightforward, however carefully you’ve calculated each step. Once you’ve sorted everything out and arrived safely, flexibility is even more important, especially when dealing with officialdom and the legalities involved in renting or even buying a new home.

Financial awareness leads to financial stability, whether you’re on assignment with a relocation package or retiring on a pension. Managing your income, however small, is essential, as is making sure you’re not being scammed by your latest ‘friend’. Getting used to a new currency is a challenge for many, and the almost irresistible temptation to convert every price to your own currency doesn’t help you adjust. However, using common sense to shop around for bargains is a good idea.

Once you’ve arrived and settled down, you’re permanently out of your comfort zone, with all that implies. Cultural differences are another learning process and can be fun rather than stressful. Self-awareness is now your best friend and involves knowing exactly what you’re feeling, what you like and what you don’t like. Crafting your own life in your new country is an imperative for success whatever your reasons for emigrating, and ensuring your emotional glass is half-full rather than half empty is the key to being a successful expat.
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