Biggest Expat Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Biggest Expat Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Traveling abroad to begin a new life is one of the biggest adventures you could ever experience in life. The feeling derived from learning about new cultures, visiting iconic places, and advancing your career is second to none. While many people willingly leave their countries in search of greener pastures elsewhere, some are made to relocate according to the needs of the company they work for.

Expatriates can enjoy various benefits such as more pay, better working and living conditions, safer environment and less stress. However, there are expats who have found themselves in one trouble or another due to certain mistakes and bad decisions.

A list has been created to show you the biggest mistakes made by expats across the world and the things to do to avoid making these common errors. Here they are:

Insufficient research and preparation

While spontaneity seems very appealing, it can be a recipe for disaster. Failure to carry out thorough research and preparation before moving to a new company could land you in big trouble. Once you are sure of where you want to go, make use of the internet to research and learn all you can about the new place.

Things to research about include culture, transport, education, and job opportunities. It will also help to have a little grasp of the language. Before leaving, ensure that you have all the necessary documents required before and after migration.

Failure to visit the city before moving

Surprisingly, most expats fail to visit their future destinations prior to the migration. There is no better way to prepare for a change in environment than a visit before hand. It shouldn’t just be a onetime thing too. These visits should occur multiple times – at least twice – before moving.

Pre-visits like these serve as an avenue for you to familiarize yourself with the city, its locals, and their way of life. Proper research can also be carried out and could go a long way in helping you avoid unnecessary future headaches.

Poor budgeting and excess expenditure

This seems like a no-brainer, but unfortunately a lot of expats still fall into this hole many times during their transition. Most of them do not create a reasonable budget for themselves and this could contribute to spending too much money within the first few weeks after their arrival.

When preparing a budget, never forget to take into account an increase in the cost of living, visas, taxes and permits. In other words, allocate a certain amount of money to compulsory miscellaneous expenses. It also helps to have a funds transfer source on standby and ready for use at any time.

No healthcare plan

Unknown to many, the failure to have the appropriate healthcare plan could leave you with little or no health package in case of an emergency. If an expat with limited health package falls ill,  he would most likely have to spend a lot of money on healthcare. To avoid this, ensure you have proper health insurance no matter where you go.

Take your time to carry out proper research on the healthcare package and policies available in the country you are moving to. With enough information, you can select the very best out of all the available plans. Bear in mind though that the cheapest plans are not necessarily the best. Another useful method is to look up the health insurance package available in the company you will be working for.

Taxes problems and financial errors

Either deliberately or unknowingly, many professionals have failed to file taxes both home and abroad for various reasons. To avoid getting into trouble, it is advisable for you to meet the requirements according to the rules of your home country and new residential area. Make a report to the tax authorities regarding foreign income, bank accounts, and investments.

Seek the council of tax experts. Tax experts can provide you with information on the tax benefits available to expats. Financial advisors may also be of immense help on such matters.

“Running” to a new country

There is an alarming increase in the number of people moving into new countries for the sole purpose of avoiding one problem or the other in their home countries. Most times, the effort turns out to be useless as some problems have a way of following them to their new residence making it even harder to solve in a foreign country.

The best thing to do is to solve all problems before moving to a new country. Being an expatriate should be about improvement and not escaping problems. Always remember that having problem-free mind will grant all the peace you need to move forward in life.

Lack of a backup plan

Things have a way of going wrong at the most unexpected times. The effects could be catastrophic for those who do not have a contingency plan. As an expat, it is best to have extra funds, a place to live abroad and a reliable means to return home if things get out of hand.

Never divert all your funds into one foreign investment. Cases have been recorded of expats becoming stranded and homeless in foreign countries. These cases are mostly due to bad planning and lack of a reliable backup plan.

Mingling socially with fellow expats only

When in a new environment it is a normal human instinct to feel drawn to people who share common similarities with you. It is the same for expats in countries like Spain and France with many expats. Some of them tend to interact with other expats only.

No matter how difficult it is, endeavour to interact with the locals as much as you can. A good way to make friends in a foreign city is to frequent their bars and initiate conversations with the locals.

Life as an expatriate is never a walk in the park. But you can make the best out of it by staying on track and avoiding costly mistakes like the ones listed above. Always have all these information in mind and you will remain on the right path to becoming a successful expat.