Living abroad can throw up a few curve balls. Expat problems out there are no reason not to follow your dreams for moving abroad, and they are often not insurmountable. However, it is often better to be prepared and know what expat problems to expect. This post also serves to show you that you are not alone when you face expat problems. Others are out there going through the same experiences, so hang on in there. You can also read my other posts about how living abroad changes you and what living abroad teaches you.
10 Expat Problems You May Face:
- Daily tasks take twice as long: You need to allow longer time to translate bills, work out what on earth you are purchasing in the grocery store, or getting through the doctor’s automated booking system on the phone. I’ve now become allergic to booking doctor appointments and much prefer to do it “out of hours” when the phone options come in English too. My Swedish is much improved but you just can’t ask an autmated phone menu to talk slower!!
- Language barriers: Get used to the fact that if you have children, you will be using them as mini dictionaries as they soak up the new language a lot faster, leaving you trailing behind in their wake. Your new friends also learn to communicate in this new language. It is “Swenglish” in our case. It is in an attempt to help you with your effort to learn their language but also actually get a conversation and some understanding out of you!! Although you may move to a country where many speak your native language (like we have), you still need to make an effort to learn their language too.
- You’ve lost you support system: If you have children and a partner, get prepared to spend time taking your children on dinner dates! Your baby sitters disappeared as soon as you stepped onto that plane. But no fear, if you are as lucky as us, you will meet fabulous new people that will step up to the challenge….it just takes a while to build a new support system back up again.
- Your future can be a uncertain: You thought lack of job security alone was bad enough. Add into that you might need visas or work permits (that need regular renewals), or an event such as Brexit and you will realise just how even more precarious a future can be. That is until you are eligible to take more control and apply for citizenship.
- Driving Licenses: Are they valid where you are moving too, and how long can you drive on your old one if not? If you are relying on a car for food shopping or being the mum taxi. This is something that requires immendiate attention.
- You will miss things: We have a very effective Cadbury Creme Egg, Marmite, and spray furniture polish smuggling route between the UK and Sweden 🙂 Work out what you will REALLY miss and make sure there are pirates willing to help!
- Putting your feet in it: You are moving to another culture and another way of living. Learn about it and make it your business to know what is appropriate. Then embrace it!
- Missing family & friends: You may be leaving behind some much loved people. However, on the bright side as well as snail mail, we now have devices with the wonderful capabilities of Skype and FaceTime. They have the disadvantage of sometimes making you look truly hideous, but the advantage of keeping in touch with loved ones has never been easier.
- Money juggling: Financial record keeping not your strong point? Never fear. You will soon become accountant level, as you juggle accounts in 2 countries, with people using both accounts for birthdays and Christmas. Perhaps you will even have spreadsheets detailing your finances in two countries if you’ve left behind a house with all that entails!
- It’s an emotional rollercoaster: Expat grief is a very real problem. If there is more than one of you making this move it is likely that you will experience the ups and downs all at different times too. Acknowledge it, support each other or find support, and work through it.
I have chosen to highlight expat problems in this post, but we have had plenty of positive experiences along our journey too. You can read about this is my first year and second year updates. This post is more about the points to consider in order to be prepared when you hit expat problems. Living abroad is such a positive experience even if it is only a short term move. It broadens horizons, increases life’s opportunities, and you get to experience other cultures.