So you’ve finally decided to move to a new country and now you’re wondering what things you should be concerned about before you take the plunge. When you’re moving to a country where the culture isn’t too different from yours, it’s easy to transition into your new life. It’s when you’re moving to a completely different country where things get complicated.
Below are the 10 most common expatriate relocation worries:
1. Language Differences
Not being able to communicate with people in the new country because of language differences is perhaps the most common problems that expats face. Say you’re moving to Japan from the United States, you’re going to be worried about the language barrier because most people in Japan don’t speak English.
“How will I buy groceries? How will I use public transport if I can’t talk to people? How will I make friends if they can’t speak English and I can’t speak their language?” These are only some of the questions that might be on your mind. Before you pack up and leave, make sure you learn some basic phrases, but keep practicing the language with your new friends because as time goes on, those basic phrases won’t help you get too far.
2. Adjusting to a New Culture
Culture shock is common among expats. Going to a new place where people do everything differently can be a little confusing, but most people quickly get used to it. Culture shock is actually one of the stages of the Expatriate Adjustment Cycle.
It begins right after the honeymoon phase where expats are fascinated by the new culture and it precedes the adaptation phase where expats become accustomed to their new life and are no longer intimidated by the differences in the culture.
3. Finding New Friends
You’re going to be lonely in the new country if you don’t make friends. When someone moves to a new country, they’re not just leaving their home and job, but also people they’ve known and been friends with for a long time. Many expats tend to get worried that they won’t be able to make new friends because of the language and cultural differences, and also because they’ll be busy with their work.
It’s only natural to worry about the healthcare in the country you’re moving to. What will happen if you get sick or injured? What are the healthcare standards like in the new country? Many companies tend to provide healthcare insurance, but some don’t. Do your research before you move.
Another thing that expats worry about is whether the country they’re moving to will have the medicines they’ve been using in their country. This is especially a concern for expats who suffer from chronic conditions.
5. Leaving Friends & Family Behind
Many expats can’t take their entire families with them when they’re moving. If you have aging parents, you might be worried about them and how they’ll get on in your absence. Leaving behind your friends and family can be difficult, especially if you’ve spent most of your life in that country.
Many expats don’t know how often they’ll get to visit their home and this can be worrisome for them.
6. Cost of Living
One of the most difficult things to figure out is how much money you’ll need to get by in the new country. You usually find that out when you start living in your new home, but you can ask for help from people who are already living there. Expats want to know if their salary would be enough to do the things they want to do after paying rent.
They also want to know about the foreign exchange rates so they can easily figure out if their savings will be enough to help them get by in the first few months.
7. Settling in the New Neighborhood
Expats tend to be concerned about how easy it will be for them to use facilities in their new neighborhood. Will they be able to use public transport if they don’t know the language of the country they’re moving to? What if they want to buy a bicycle for their daily work commute? How easy will the buying process be?
It’s only natural for expats to worry about these things, because we don’t think about these things in our own country, but as soon as we move to a different country, it becomes clear to us how difficult it can be to do even the simplest things.
8. Not Fitting In
Not being able to fit into the culture and surroundings is another concern of expats. You’re probably wondering what the dynamics of your new workplace will be like and if you’ll be able to get along with your new coworkers. This fear can be minimized if you take the time to learn about the new culture. Just do your research before you move and you’ll be fine.
9. Will the Family be Able to Adapt?
When the family is moving with you, you tend to worry what the experience will be like for them. How will the kids make new friends and will they be able to adjust to their new school? It’s not just you who is leaving old friends behind, but your children and your spouse are doing the same so it’s only natural for expats to worry about how their family will adjust to their new surroundings.
10. Failing and Having to Go Back
While not as common as the other worries on this list, failing to adjust to your new life is still a reasonable concern for expats. There’s always a chance that you might not enjoy living in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language. You might not get along with your coworkers or your spouse won’t be happy with change because of which you’ll have no choice but to move back to your home country.
Worrying about moving to a new country is natural, but these things shouldn’t stop you from doing what you want to do. Getting to experience a new culture is an amazing opportunity and whatever worries you have right now will be assuaged when you move to the country you want to move to.
The only thing that you should do is read up on the culture and traditions of the new country so you don’t end up doing something that is looked down upon there. Do thorough research and make sure you never stop studying the language!