Three reasons to become an expatriate

Growing up I never had an opportunity to travel and see the world.  I was born in a country that didn’t let its people go abroad  and thus I was effectively cut off from anything that lay beyond the borders of my homeland.  Naturally, as it is with all human beings, the prohibited became an fascination — and I wasn’t, of course, the only one fascinated with seeing what lie beyond.  Most of my generation was just as infatuated as I was.

When I finally broke free and moved to another country, I had all the freedom in the world.  I could travel, see new places, experience new things, and learn.  Travel was no longer prohibited yet the fascination stayed with me.  To this day I am happier when I find myself in a completely new territory with adventure, things to explore, and change to experience.

Later in life, when I learned about values, I realized that my fascination with the “abroad” was the direct result of values that I held and hold dear to this day.  Values such as adventure, newness/change, learning/growth, and challenge are central to my feelings of fulfillment.  And those values are the ones that I was seeking to honor when I embarked on an expatriate lifestyle.

And so here are my reasons for becoming an expatriate in no particular order:

(1) Learning and Growth. Expatriate lifestyle offers you an unmatched opportunity to grow.  Yes, you can read about most places in books, you can watch programs about them on TV, and you can even travel to most places for a vacation.   But you’ll never learn as much about a country and its people as you learn living in their midst.  So, if you have a particular hunger for learning about different places of the world, this might be a reason for you to consider becoming an expat.

(2) Challenge. Surely things can be challenging anywhere, but living in another culture takes the concept of challenge to a whole other level.  So, if you thrive on being challenged to the brim, if you enjoy overcoming difficulties, and if you find yourself being bored in you current place of residence, expatriate lifestyle might for you.

(3) Change. Many people have trouble tolerating change, but I am certainly not one of them.  I even have to move furniture around in my house in order to change something.  I thrive on change — change feeds my creativity, it empowers me, and it creates possibilities.  So if you feel that change is something you crave, becoming an expatriate will definitely help you find it.

What other reasons to become an expatriate are out there?  Any thoughts?

People who enjoyed this article, also read:

What do expats look for?

7 Behavior Choices of a Happy Expat

International Partnerships — How tricky are they?

Copyright © 2009 by Global Coach Center.

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13 responses to “Three reasons to become an expatriate

  1. Thank you for this terrific post. I would like to add to point number two, that even if you don’t enjoy challenge, but want to master the art of successfully resolving challenges, as well as to learn how to overcome adversity, the expatriate life is the best teacher you will be able to find.

    Taking this one step further, if you want your children to learn to enjoy challenges, take risks, problem-solve in the face of adversity, giving them the gift of an expatriate life will prepare them well to enter the world they are growing up into.

  2. Excellent post! It just shows that there are as many motivations to live abroad as there are expatriates.

  3. Yes, nice article…..

    I have lived/worked outside of the USA for 20+ of my 45 year career and wouldn’t have had it any other way…..

    In all my travels, I have NEVER lived in a place that I didn’t find something to like…..

    Dr. PDG, Jakarta, Indonesia

  4. Great article I love to find out about new cultures and there is nothing better than full submersion into one. This can be intimidating for a 1st timers however there is always great literature to prepare and I have also found InterNations ( ) which is a website and an offline club for Expats useful to help integration into a new environment. However I would like to stress that is important to get a balance between a support network without removing yourself to much from the local culture. I don’t agree with those that move to a new country and then surround themselves in a community made up of people from their own home land. Honestly embrace the challenge and go for it you will find the experience wonderful.

  5. Good Post,

    I will add the fact that you should get ready to experience the cultural shok of your life in every aspects of your professionnal and personal life.

    I agree with the person who said that you should not surround yourself with your countrymen. Iam telling you better had your own experience based on their recommendation if not you will not benefit from your expat experience.

    Also, think twice about your future plans when you are there. You get meet some business opportunity that could change your enire life.
    Enjoy being expatriate


  6. I currently live in Panama and am about to move to Ecuador. Reasons for leaving “home” are as unique as each person is different. For me it was to see the world more accurately than was offered by a regulated press and to live more simply. While Panama offers a Miami like experience in the city, get a few kilometers outside and you step back in time. Clean healthy food, water and air as well as a government that doesn’t have the time or interest in controlling every aspect of your life.

  7. I look back on my 8 years as an ex-pat in the Middle East with enormous affection. In this time I raised two children, was able to have a rewarding career re-structuring and improving organisations and we built a fantastic network of friends from around the world. Now back in the UK, my children have a wonderful global perspective and would love to turn my perspective to find another overseas position.

  8. Pingback: Success: what does culture have to do with it? « “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What was your expatriate experience like?

  9. I live in ECUADOR and it is a wonderful country. Its people are so nice and kind, they will give you the most warming welcome. I have put together a helpful fact sheet, and also an article on Ecuadorian manners and customs

  10. Pingback: Lack of the familiar — an opportunity to create? « “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What was your expatriate experience like?

  11. Pingback: A to Z of Successful Expatriation™: A is for ATTENTION « “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” What was your expatriate experience like?

  12. Pingback: Featured Post: Reasons to Live Abroad | Adventures of the Directionally Challenged

  13. Awesome post! I like it so much that I just featured it on my own blog. =D

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