Reality check: if you think of working abroad as little more than an extended vacation, you’re going to find yourself sorely disappointed.
Uprooting yourself for the sake of taking a job in a totally new country represents a massive commitment and an even bigger lifestyle change.
Anyone mulling over a move abroad needs to understand not only what it takes to adapt to such a huge change, but also the fine details of making the move in the first place.
And hey, we don’t say this to discourage you: we just want to ensure that you know exactly what you’re getting into.
As such, here are four questions any prospective expat should ask themselves if they’re serious about such a move. The answers to these questions can clue you in on whether or not you’re ready to take the leap and likewise areas where you might need to do a bit of homework or soul-searching.
“Does My Expat Journey Have a Purpose?”
It’s easy to look at blogs and Instagram posts of expats in far-off lands and think “Hey, I want that!”
Of course, the realities of most expats are much less glamorous and have a distinct purpose behind them.
In many cases, expat journeys are rooted in financial necessity due to hardship and lack of opportunities at home. Whether it’s providing assistance to families through remittance via Remitly or escaping a crushing local economy, going abroad often isn’t a walk in the park.
As such, you should make sure that your journey is backed up by a strong “why” before even considering leaving home.
“Where Should I Go, Anyway?”
There is no “right” destination for you to settle down in: it all depends on your situation. For example, many expats from Asia seek opportunities in the United States for in-demand jobs that they can’t get at home. On the flip side, many American expats find themselves in destinations like Thailand and Vietnam because of their low cost of living.
“Am I In This for the Long Haul?”
Again, you can’t treat moving abroad as some sort of vacation. The phenomenon of expats ending their journeys early is common as opportunities become stagnant or homesickness strikes. You should prepare yourself for a journey that’s going to last years rather than months, especially if you’re focused on saving money or advancing your career.
“Can I Handle the Challenges?”
It’s only natural to focus on the positives when it comes to going abroad, but don’t neglect the realities.
Loneliness. Language barriers. The sheer cost of moving to an entirely new country.
Ignoring these issues doesn’t do you any favors. Instead, consider ways you can be proactive.
For example, maintain realistic expectations for learning a new language and think about how you can use social media to stay in touch with your family. Likewise, start saving now for your adventures down the road. If you’re still as dedicated then as you are today, you’re good to go.
Working abroad isn’t always easy, but it’s oftentimes such a lucrative and rewarding experience for those with the right expectations. Having the answers to these questions on deck can help you plan out your journey accordingly and ensure that you don’t hit any unexpected snags along the way.