To expat or not to expat: 3 tips that can help you decide

In today’s day and age expatriates are not only those sent abroad by their companies.  They are also people who decide to retire abroad; people who decide to move overseas on their own (although they might be called immigrants but more about that in another post); people who go to another country to study or volunteer; etc, etc, etc.  All of them have one thing in common: they somehow decided that living outside of their home country borders will be a good thing for them.  How does one decide that?  What can be helpful to consider before taking the plunge?

The tips I will list below may not fully apply to each category of expats but they will be helpful nevertheless.

Tip 1.  Consider the “why”. What is calling you to move abroad?  What’s driving your desire to relocate?  Is it the friends who keep telling you to do it and the grass just always seems greener on the other side?  Or is it the feeling of newness and adventure that’s calling you forth?  Are your reasons purely financial?

Discovering the motivation behind the thought of moving is your most important step to undertake before making any decision.  When you discover your motivating factors, you zero in on which of your personal values you’ll be honoring and which ones you may be neglecting. Making sure your values do not suffer in the process of your relocation is instrumental in making your move a happy one.

A simple process of making the decision based on values (as opposed to pros and cons process that most of us use) is the following:

  • First, identify your values.  What’s important to you in life?  Aside from food, water, and shelter what do you absolutely have to have in your life to make it worthwhile?  Make a list of those values (or if it’s difficult for you to give those values names, look at the list of common values at Global Coach Center site and pick the ones that ring true for you).
  • Second, chose the ten values that seem most important.  Imagine you are moving and you are only allowed to take 10, what would they be?
  • Third, draw the following table on a piece of paper and rate your chosen values on a scale of 1 to 10 (10 being the best)
Value If I move, I’ll honor this value at the following level (from 1 to 10) If I stay, I’ll honor this value at the following level (from 1 to 10)
Example: 

Adventure

Family/Grandchildren

Learning/Growth

 

  • What are you discovering?  What are your values telling you?

Tip 2.  Investigate. Learn a few things about your own cultural blueprint and about prevalent cultural blueprint of the country you want to move to.  This learning goes beyond the traditional clichés and the do’s and don’ts – in fact, this learning will help you see how compatible (or not compatible) your cultural habits and values are with the cultural habits and values of the majority of people in your host country.  If your compatibility is close to zero, you may be looking at years of frustration – so why do it?  You might be better off selecting another country if you set your mind on moving.

Tip 3.  Conduct proper reconnaissance. You are about to make a very important decision of your life, so consider spending a few months simply living in that country as a try out.  Feel what it’d be like for you to become the resident of that country for good.  Connect with other expats – those who are there for a short and a long run.  What are you learning that can help you decide?

Tip 4.  Don’t make this decision alone. Friends, family and an army of well-wishers will have their opinions about your desire to move.  And although they’ll be dong the best they can to be impartial, their advice will still contain at least an iota of how-will-that-impact-me thoughts. Besides, other people’s advice rarely fit when we are about to make a really big decision in our lives.  So find someone who will help you tap into your own wisdom — find an expat coach.

How have you made your decision to move?  Please share.

People who read this post also enjoyed:

Expat coach — where art thou?

Third Culture Kids — what’s in the “programming”?

What do expats look for?

Copyright © 2011 by Global Coach Center.  If you’d like to reprint this, please do so but make sure you credit us (with a live link)!

About these ads

5 responses to “To expat or not to expat: 3 tips that can help you decide

  1. Great tips above! Thanks for sharing. One way to investigate without actually having to go to the country would be to watch Expat Eye videos. Unique videos that cover topics relevant to expats wanting to find out more about their new home.

  2. globalcoachcenter

    Thanks, Camilla, for suggesting your resource. Expat Eye videos are definitely something to watch before deciding. :) It’s not the same though as really going to the country and experience living there — so, if one has the resources, I’d say — watch the videos and still go to check it out!

  3. Definitely, couldn’t agree more!

  4. For those of you who do wish to relocate overseas permanently, (and are not doing it for express financial reasons) what about the affect your moving permanently will have on your family? I know one should do what is best for themselves but for the mothers/fathers/sisters/brothers left behind give a thought to them. This is especially traumatic when little children are moved, their extended family sees them maybe once a year if they are lucky. The usual family connection is actually lost. The family members left behind often suffer bouts of depression. Remember also, what goes around, comes around.

  5. Excellent post and interesting comments. I was an ex-pat turned immigrant for over 30 years and with hindsight, an ex-pat coach would have been very welcome and helpful at times! Many of the concerns that you mentioned are also valid for any type of relocation, even from one state to another here in the U.S. I agree that it is essential to honor your personal values and when considering a move overseas. Thanks for sharing!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s