When we get ready to move overseas, we often start with the financial side. This is naturally a good start, as it will fund the future we build in our new home, but it’s only one of many sides of relocation.
When working with expat clients, I meet many people who seem very surprised by the other costs of relocation. The family side. The emotional side. The things that live beyond the checklist.
Top 5 costly surprises for expats:
- It’s hard to miss what’s going on back home. Sometimes really hard. Unless we find a way of truly landing in the new place, this can cost a lot of energy and sometimes even our relationship with someone we care about.
- You can’t predict what going to happen next. Much like financial markets go up and down, so do our feelings about where we are and what’s going on. Sometimes one person in a family land and fit in just fine, whereas their partner or family might really struggle. You don’t really now until you’re there.
- Homesickness is completely irrational. It happens to all expats at some point, but it holds little rhyme or reason. It can be emotionally costly as it can push people to make rash decisions they would never normally make.
- Seek a balance between variety and certainty – not crazy adventure or detailed control. When things change around us we respond in different ways. Some people lean towards control and want to be in charge of every single step. Others throw themselves head first in the adventure and surrender that ‘anything can happen’. The more sustainable and resourceful approach lies in certainty in your own ability to handle uncertainty. Many people feel too afraid to trust that they can handle what comes up. Even though we don’t always know what that is (see point 2).
- Taking things for granted. Don’t. When you speak to people back home, meet new friends or get annoyed with your partner, understand that resourceful expat life comes from a place of being grateful for all the different sides of our lives. Imagine if the last time you spoke to a loved one back home was the last time you ever got to speak to them. Would you have said things differently? Even if your team might be spread across the world, make sure to remain on the one team and support each other.
Emmy Petersson is a Relocation Mindset Specialist, supporting expats across the globe to move and land in their new home, as well as moving back home again after a longer period overseas. Emmy is an expat of 13+ years herself, having lived in the US, the UK and her native Sweden before she made Australia her home 5 years ago
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