The #1 Secret to Becoming an Expat

Before you read any farther, let me reveal the number one secret to becoming a successful expat (a fulfilled, content, wealthy expat – however you want to describe “successful” – the secret applies 100%).

One word: Attitude

Yes, it’s just about attitude. It’s not about paying off your debts, not how many friends will throw you a farewell party, or even how much planning you do before leaving. It’s about having the expat attitude.

The Expat Attitude is the mindset that says “I have wanted to live overseas and, dammit I’m going to go.”
Do You Have It? YES, You Do. You have what it takes. Let me help you find it.

Continue reading The #1 Secret to Becoming an Expat

Happy New Year – Setting Goals

Hi all – it’s January 2010. Unbelievable. I feel like it should still be March or April 2009. Anyway – Happy New Year!!

Time to Set the Year’s Goals
Right around now is when I set some goals for myself for the new year. I’m a big believer in the power of setting goals. (Of course, I may not follow through with them all, but I still believe in making them! hahaha )

For example, my 2009 goals were:

    Get more exercise (~2x a week self, group or at a club)
    Start this blog/website (up running and weekly contribution)
    Visit at least 3 countries.

[Notice, for me, I need numbers or details to say whether I meet it or not]

End result?
Exercise: In April, got a mountain bike and rode often in summer. Also doing taichi (“taiji” in Czech) weekly.
Website: I started this website in August; really committing since October.
As for countries, in 2009, I got to 4 new countries. In fact, we spent Christmas in Rome, which made Italy my 30th country visited or lived in.

So, what are my new goals for 2010? After much thinking (5 minutes), here they are:


    Find a (new) job I enjoy (see entry about current job)
    Experience 2 countries to the east of us by car. (Poland, Slovakia, Hungary, Romania)
    Hear somebody say this website directly inspired them to travel or live abroad.

Of course, setting these goals is easy, right? Meeting them takes much more than 5 minutes.

I have a plan of attack:
Find a job:

    Determine where to live (our short list includes New York City, USA or Halifax, Canada)
    Revise my CV (or résumé for the US & Canada)
    Distribute to recruiters & headhunters
    Interview and… Score! For the Win!

Drive to the East:

    Get a booster seat for our 4 year old (now too big for larger car seat)
    Pick week for vacation
    Rent a car, drive and… Score! For the Win!

Hear from Someone Inspired

    Continue to contribute to this blog
    Publish to friends and hope word gets out
    Hear from someone …but how? This depends on You – Let me know!

Happy Holidays from …me

happy_holidayWe (I) here at ExpatYourself Headquarters (my desk at work) wish you a very happy holiday (a very, very happy holiday).

Just some insight into the expat lifestyle:
Tomorrow morning, my family and I leave for Rome, Italy. (In case I hadn’t said, we live in Prague, Czech Republic.)

We’ll spend a week in Rome, returning home on the 26th, Boxing day. For my 4 year daughter, Italy will be the fourth country where she’s woken up Christmas morning to see what Santa left her.

Only an expat kid would consider it perfectly fine to vacation in US, Czech Republic, Egypt and now Italy for Christmas.
Ever thought of doing the same?

Have a great one & see you next year!!!!

“This Isn’t What I’m Used To”

This article isn’t about culture shock. It’s about how we adapt and accept our new surroundings. (culture shock happens regardless)

Let me start with a personal story about my wife coming down to the USA from Canada.
Occasionally, she would utter “Oh, okay, that’s just not what I’m used to back home.” How do you think her more sensitive friends took this? Through a lens of “Canadian vs American”, some friends got offended.
It took some time before she figured out what was the issue, and then quickly learned not to compare.
And the differences between Canadian & American are more superficial and subtle than between say, American and Korean.

It’s important to be aware, not to compare.

I think it’s best explained by examples.

When you say: “Back home, we do it a bit differently.”
They may hear: “Back home, we do it better.”

When you say: “Our politicians could be jailed for attempting that.”
They may hear: “Our politicians are not as corrupt as yours.”

When you say: “Well, if I ever tried that back home, I would get in serious trouble.”
They may hear: “Back home, we respect the law, values & moral principles.”

When you say: “You know, we typically only consider them as pets.”
They may hear: “Damn, you all are savages, but I’ll admit it does taste good.”

Okay, maybe that last example was exaggerating, but I laughed when I wrote it.

My point is, whenever possible, try to think first how you might feel if a visitor said “back home” what you’re about to say.

Well, then, how to compare? Should I never point out that something is done differently?
— Of course you can! The crucial part is having your comparison immediately wrapped with genuine curiosity and a sincere interest in learning more.

When you say: “Wow, that’s interesting! Is that a special tradition?”
They hear: “Well, yes. {smiles} …about 700 years ago, our ….”

Sincerity – the key ingredient
With sincerity, you mean it and it shows. You start to become “one of the gang.”
Without sincerity, you sound like an arse who would sooner colonize the country for own selfish benefit.
Big difference in approach – bigger difference in outcome.

Expats Returning Home to UK, Spain, Ireland


I just read an article listing these 3 countries where expats are returning home in droves:

    United Kingdom

Reportedly, the big cause is the weak pound. No surprise there, the British sterling has been losing ground for months, even against a weakening dollar. What does this mean to expats paid in sterling? It means they don’t make as much locally as they used to AND their salary isn’t as powerful back home as it used to be. It’s a double-whammy that is a risk for expats when earning abroad and sending most of their wages home. (Incidentally, when it works the other way, it really is GREEAAATTT!)

The stats in summary: 37% more UK expats are returning home this year compared to last. For Spain, it’s 39%. And for Ireland, it’s a whopping 75%. ouch.

In short, if you’re from the UK, Spain or Ireland and you got a friend living abroad, then he may come knocking on your door sooner than you think. If you’re thinking of moving abroad, plan better than most or have a sweet package set up before leaving.

Here’s the rest of the article, if you’re interested.

Expats’ Top 10 Countries

You know you want to be an expat, but you don’t know where?
Make it easy on yourself — pick one of the Top 10, according to a massive survey of expats themselves.

  • 1. Canada
    2. Australia
    3. Thailand
    4. Singapore
    5. Bahrain
    6. South Africa
    7. France
    8. USA
    9. Spain
    10. Hong Kong

Oh, and if you’re wondering who was LAST: the UK. Why? Too expensive, arduous commutes, huge unemployment, etc.

An Expat’s Top 10 iPhone & iPodTouch Apps

For you (us) iPod Touch & iPhone owners, here is a great list of what we should have installed on our toys, er…devices. Well, it’s at least a great list to start with. Some of my personal favorites, not listed here include the Facebook app and at least one Tower defense game.

Continue reading An Expat’s Top 10 iPhone & iPodTouch Apps

Uh-Oh … Getting Laid Off?

What, me worry?
What, me worry?

Yesterday was a banner day in my career.

For a few weeks, I have been aware of impending layoffs.

For a few days, I heard foreigners (expat workers) in Prague may suffer most from the layoffs. (That includes me.)

And yesterday, I heard the rest – Yes, it includes me. I’ll be laid off.

So, I thought I would post about it.

Continue reading Uh-Oh … Getting Laid Off?