Pitfalls and problems of being an expat in a strange land

Pitfalls and problems of being an expat in a strange land

Pitfalls and problems of being an expat in a strange land

Whether you’re living overseas due to a foreign relocation or as retirees, life isn’t always as you’d like it to be.

Life challenges occur without consideration of lifestyle or location, and can create havoc in even the best-organised expat households. Ranging from infidelity and other family issues through racial tensions, health, finance or even addiction, the only way to deal with them is to face them head on, take advice if necessary and try to avoid any negative career effects. The only problem is that the majority of expats would rather give up and move on than discuss their issues with others in the same community.

One of the most, or maybe the most taboo, subjects for discussion in the vast majority of expat communities worldwide is that of infidelity, especially when the two people involved have left their significant other and their children back in the home country. This is the main reason the majority of expats offered relocation prefer to take their spouse and families with them on an overseas move.

Of course, single expats aren’t exempt from the pressure of family matters, especially when there’s real trouble at home. The need to take care of or at least provide finances for elderly family members in ill health can cause bad feelings on both sides, and missing out on family funerals due to pressure of work is another hurdle it’s almost impossible to jump. Another cause of ill-feeling in the expat world is racial tension, unavoidable nowadays almost everywhere on the planet rather than just in underdeveloped countries. Doing the necessary homework before arrival gives a good few clues as to how to deal with this, and talking with long-stay expats can help a lot.

One ever-present danger associated with life as an expat is that of addiction to alcohol or drugs, usually a product of loneliness and isolation in an unfamiliar land. Expats in Southeast Asia seem especially vulnerable, with gambling and sex addictions also very real issues. Health problems can ruin even the best expat career strategies and medical standards overseas often aren’t all they seem to be, even in private hospitals with correspondingly high charges. One major problem, especially for expats whose job uses the English language, is the lack of communications skills found in hospitals in developing countries.

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