I wrote to 18 people whom I consider expert expats.
Some make a living by travelling, others traveled to go make a living.
I asked them all 1 question: What is your advice to an expat?
Here are their replies:
1. “Beware of moving overseas! It’s tough, confusing, disorienting… and ultimately, extremely rewarding. When you move back home, if you ever do, you’ll be a different person than you were when you first left.”
-Chris Guillebeau, The Art of Non-Conformity
2. “Don’t think that living overseas will eliminate all your problems in one go. It may distract you for a while but you’ll likely find that once you’ve been overseas for a while, old habits and patterns begin to re-emerge and you’ll find yourself with all the same problems, just in a different place. Living overseas is fantastic but it’s not a panacea.”
-Lea Woodward, Kinetiva
3. “Get rid of your stuff. Becoming an expat is not only physical, geographical, and logistical – it’s also emotional. Your priorities change. You change inside; when you head home after a long stint abroad and “visit” your stuff, you’ll wonder what the hell made you think it was so important to hold onto.”
-Miss Expatria, a.k.a. Christine Cantera, France Travel Guide
4. “The only thing I can say is to have more cash than you think you need, because surprises will surprise you, and in general I’d just say to dive in, be prepared, and learn.”
-Henri Junttila, WakeUpCloud
5. “For people planning to live overseas long-term (i.e. more than a year)
I’d definitely recommend visiting the country first. In 1999 I moved
to the Philippines with many incorrect preconceived notions. The
culture shock was difficult because I romanticized the country. If I
were going to do it again I would definitely visit first even if it
were to scout out cities and work.”
-Ayngelina Brogan, BaconIsMagic.ca
6. “If you’re thinking about moving overseas, be prepared to be flexible about specific destinations. Personally, I had a situation where I did a lot of research on a city that I thought I would love. After a couple of days of getting there I realized it wasn’t the kind of place I wanted to spend more than a week. Luckily there was a much better option just an hour away. Friends of mine have had similar experiences with different towns or even entire countries. You can increase your chances of loving where you end up if you’re not married to one particular place.”
-Corbett Barr, Free Pursuits
7. “My advice to anyone considering living overseas is: #1 – clearly understand your goals for moving overseas and then decide what you are willing to give up to meet your goals; and then #2 – do your homework prior to going on the important aspects of daily life such as banking, taxes, transportion, schools, etc.”
-Rick Balderrama, author of “The Expat Checklist“
8. “According to me if someone wants to live abroad then they need to be patient with the documentation procedure, to be open with different languages and culture.”
–Manjeet Malik, expat buddy from Prague and kick-ass web designer
9. “Research, research, research.”
-Alison Cornford-Matheson, CheeseWeb.eu
10. “For couples, learn to really listen to and support each other. Each partner will be experiencing different kinds of stress: absence of social network, job pressures, integration issues, questions of self-worth, language frustration, child care, etc. Dedicate time to spend together each week exploring your new city or country, and be open to talking about your fears and frustrations.”
-Andrew Cornford-Matheson, CheeseWeb.eu
11. “Consider what you would want to get from your experience, and whether
you have a genuine interest in the country you’re considering relocating to.
People who have the best experiences as an expat are the ones that actually have
some affinity towards the country that they’re living in.”
-Sharell Cook, India Travel on About.com
12. “1. Be open 2. Don’t drink the water 3. Smile at strangers 4. Don’t say, ‘You should all speak Danish’ 5. Use a condom”
-Peter Fogtdal, Danish Accent
13. “Experience over possessions: belongings weigh you down physically and emotionally so take only what you really need to simplify things drastically. Just do it: outstanding things (job etc.) will fall in place when you get there through your own persistence and no doubt some luck.”
-April Wendy Hollands, le Franco Phoney
14. “It’s probably going to sound obvious, but I think the best advice is to get out and experience as much as you can. Eat foods that you never thought you would, visit temples and museums, speak with the locals, try to learn the languauge, and most importantly, push your comfort zone to the limit. Make your own stories!”
-Newlyweds Nicole and Cameron Wears, The Traveling Canucks
15. “Don’t try to impose your cultural values on others when you live overseas. Instead, try to understand their culture & overlay it on your perspective.”
-Maryam Montague, My Marrakesh
16. “…become an expert on their new country even before they arrive, but also make sure that all those fine details are worked out for housing, pay, visas, etc. It goes a long way in making a smooth transition. Just arrived? Go out! Be a tourist in your new country!”
-Tina Fussell, Traveling Mama
17. “Consider how far away from ‘home’ you’d be and how expensive it would be to go back. Most expats from close families find this aspect really difficult. I have missed every one of my cousins’ weddings because it was just too difficult to get back to England for a few days. I would strongly advise would-be expats to weigh this up in their decision.”
-Toni Hargis, Expat Mum
18. “treat your relocation like a move, not a vacation; to the more philosophic – respect the country you’re from and the country you’re moving to and you’ll feel a lot better about yourself and your choice while you’re there”
-Julia Bryan, Kolo Kolo Mlynsky
Jeff here …I’m feeling left out, so I’ll add number 19. 🙂
19. If you’re considering it, go for it. Call it life-changing, call it rewarding, call it something you’ll “do someday…”. However you call it, until you do it, you call it a dream.
The best way to make any dream a reality is to work on it one small step at a time, every day.
Start taking action. A little action, every day….and before you know it, you traveled halfway around the world.
– me, Expat Yourself
If you need someone to encourage you once or twice a week, I will.
If you need someone to talk you down from that ledge of fear, I will. (ok, it was dramatic)
If you need a friend, I’m here. Sign up for my messages above. Let keep in touch.