Embarking on your Expat Journey

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I promise you 10 life-saving rules from my experience as a Global Mobility Coach when you embark on your Expat Journey. Moving into another country poses a lot of challenges. Too often we all rely on our employer and hope that they will make sure everything is done properly.

When we get an indication that an international assignment could have challenges because we talk to other expats, we might not take those so seriously or we might think that certain issues do not apply to us. You probably also think you can outsmart everybody else, correct?

Still, here are 10 rules you should follow when embarking on your Expat Journey.

  1. Host Market Salary: Often the salary in the host country is determined at “peer” level. However, it might not be very transparent what that exactly means. Often there is room for negotiation. Familiarise yourself online with the cost of living especially for rent. Try to budget your spending in the first months as you might not have a good feeling for the currency yet.
  2. Host Grade / Title and Role: All too often we accept an offer that does not totally match our experience level. Try to find out what your role entails and address your expectations early in the process. Get a written role description.
  3. Repatriation or Transition Plan: I have seen many assignees who never clearly articulated what they would like to get out of their international assignment experience. They also do not know how the experience would lead to a new role in the home entity. Formulate a plan for your repatriation before you go on the assignment.
  4. Immigration, Tax and Social Security: Usually assignees see those three areas as burdensome administration. However, mistakes in immigration, social security or tax can be costly. Follow the instructions from your employer closely. Make sure you have understood what the assignment conditions are in these three areas. Do you know what is expected of you and when you have to meet certain deadlines? If you are not getting supported by your company seek external help.
  5. Life Partners & Spouses: Many of my assignees discuss the assignment with their life partners and spouses and rely on their consent to come along with them. Often though I get the impression that the decision is a wish of the assignee and the other partner has to decide to come along to maintain the relationship. Often this puts a high strain on the relationship because in the host country your spouse or life partner is on his or her own, does not have a network and even worse does not have a meaningful job like you have. Get coaching and find communities on the internet before you embark on your journey. Building up a network in the host country is key.
  6. Kids and Teens: I do not have children myself but I can imagine the strain of having to take your child out of school and moving to another place since I was one of those children too. It is hard and your children might need more attention than usual. Often they have to learn a new language and make new friends. Work with your spouse/life partner through the issues, find out how easy an international education will be in the host country, discuss with other global parents and most importantly listen to your children’s needs too.
  7. Parents and elderly family members in the home country: Before you embark on your journey consider what to do in family emergencies. What can you do if your parents need help or have an accident? What about your old auntie or uncle who was always there for you and is all alone now?
  8. Emergencies in the host countries: We all believe that we will live forever but there are moments in our life when we are suddenly in the middle of a bomb attack, civil unrest or exposed to a natural catastrophe such as a Tsunami. Have an emergency plan ready. Discuss with your partner and friends at home what to do in case of you getting injured or dying. Learn the emergency services of your companies and their phone numbers by heart so you can call them. Enrol on their websites.
  9. Global Mobility Experts: Accept that there are professionals in the field who support expatriates all the time. Seek their advice and support. Be nice to them! We usually have very good relationships with our assignees. We know a lot about your personal concerns. For us, an assignee is a human first. So if you are nice to us we will gladly help you through all your topics and hold your hand when the going gets tough.
  10. Make friends for life: In our global world today it is easy to feel at home in most places once you have established some meaningful relationships and once you have had a chance to see the country you moved to. Work is important but remember: Work will always be there. The moments you will remember later are those you have either shared with people, been to places or doing special activities.

All the best for your adventure.

If you find this post helpful please share it with all your expat friends.

Angie Weinberger

The Global Mobility Coach
Angie Weinberger


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