Is becoming an expat for you? It seems that the world is continually shrinking as people emigrate to other lands. For every one person that has moved, according to surveys there are another four who would like to move to another country and join the millions of expats worldwide.
The reasons why people want to move are varied. It could be because they have a job offer abroad. I know someone who is single, in his twenties, and although he had a good job in the UK he took up a similar job in Quebec, Canada. It wasn’t just the job that attracted him to move though, other factors were involved.
With some people they relocate because they are forced to, due to economic circumstances. There may literally be very little work to no work opportunities going in their home country, so they move abroad to find employment. Ironically, although research shows that the vast majority of Spaniards want to retire in their own country, more of them are moving to other countries to find work. In the period from April 2010 to April 2011 the number of Spaniards who signed onto the British Social Security system, after immigration to the U.K. from Spain for work, rose by a huge 85% to almost 25,000 people.
In my friend’s case as well as going abroad to work, he wanted a fresh challenge and to meet new people, discover a different culture, change his lifestyle, and so on. And, if he found it didn’t work out he can always return home to live with his parents, so at least he’d have a roof over his head.
In my own case, Joyce my wife had just retired, and I was coming up for retirement. We had our own home in the UK which we were able to sell, and this allowed us to move to Spain to live. We had few ties in the UK, and the lure of moving abroad was strong with the relaxed way of life, better weather and so on.
But, whether the decision to move abroad is taken because of circumstances at home which is an ‘escape’ from economic conditions, boredom with life, or even the poor weather, or because of the temptation of a new challenge, or a new job, or to go and be with relatives etc in a foreign country, one thing is certain, it must not be rushed into.
Preparation and planning are the key. Too often the dream turns into a nightmare. Returning home can be stressful both emotionally, and financially. With some their circumstances dictate a return home, things that couldn’t have been foreseen. Most people could have, by asking the right questions, avoided costly mistakes.
For example, what do you want to achieve in the medium to long term if you do move abroad?
What do you like about your life now? What are the important things to you? Can you bear to lose the same level of contact with your friends and relatives? Invariably there will be compromises when you move. How much would you miss the community you live in, will you have to exist on a lower income, are you willing to do that if necessary? Are you prepared to put career prospects on hold? What about your health, will you miss having the access to your doctor or hospital?
Will you be able to fit in to a new way of life? Do you have the skills, strengths and resources which will help you adapt to the challenges of a new life? Can you come to accept a slower – or possibly faster – pace of life? Some of what you eat will be different to what you are used to. Can you cope with ‘foreign food?’
Sit down with anyone else who will be moving with you and analyze the above. Don’t be afraid to write it all down, and answer honestly.
After doing all that do you still feel you’ve made the right decision to move? If you are still convinced, feel happy, looking forward to it, then you’ve probably made the right decision.
If, however, you are still uncertain, unsure, have misgivings, then maybe you should think again. Being unhappy at home is one thing, being unhappy in another country is another matter entirely.