Embarking on your Expat Journey

No 10 "RENT" is about increase in cost of living

Ten Ideas to help you with your Expat Lifestyle

I promised you ten ideas from my experience as a Global Mobility Coach when you embark on your Expat Journey. Moving to another country poses a lot of challenges. Too often, we all rely on our employers and hope they will ensure everything is done correctly. 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 think that specific issues do not apply to us. You probably also believe you can outsmart everybody else, correct?

Still, here are ten ideas you should follow when embarking on your Expat Journey

  1. Host Market Salary: Often, the salary in the host country is determined at the “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 understand the currency’s purchasing power yet.
  2. Host Grade and Role: We often accept an offer that does not match our experience level and expat lifestyle. Try to find out what your role entails and address your expectations early. Get a written role description.
  3. Repatriation or Transition Plan: I have seen many assignees who never clearly articulated what they want from 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 specific 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 accompany 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 as you have. Get coaching and find online communities before you embark on your journey. Building up a network in the host country is key to a good expat lifestyle.
  6. Kids and Teens: I can imagine the strain of taking 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.
  7. Parents and older 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 you get injured or die. Learn the emergency services of your companies and their phone numbers by heart so you can call them. Enroll 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 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 in your expat lifestyle.
  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 essential, 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 done special activities.

All the best for your adventure.


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