Safety is paramount for expats on a new assignment

Safety is paramount for expats on a new assignment

Safety is paramount for expats on a new assignment

In this 21st century world, crime is literally everywhere, with newly-arrived expats in an unfamiliar country at most risk.

Safety and security rank highly in just about every expat survey, but can’t disguise the fact that violent crime and other disorderly conduct is the norm in these days of fabulous riches for the few and deprivation for many. However, ‘safe’ your chosen location seems to be, it’s wise to check online in local forums in order to prepare yourself for the reality of living overseas rather than believing the hype of advertorials. Researching your preferred location aside, you need to realise you’ll feel insecure in your new country of residence for at least several months, however careful you are to avoid confrontation.

If the world’s press is to be believed, terrorism is a major threat all over the planet, including in your home country, with staying alert even in unfamiliar surroundings the best idea. As regards personal security, making sure you’ve the correct vaccinations for your destination is one way to protect your health. If you’re relocating via your present employer, make sure you’ve medivac insurance coverage as well as a good private health insurance plan. Don’t bother asking your employer if you’re covered for ransom and kidnapping, as he won’t be allowed to tell you and, if your destination is remote, ensure you’ll have comparatively easy access to private healthcare in the nearest large city.

One important aspect of safety and security in a strange land is to know local laws and culture before you arrive. These and their attached traditions vary nation by nation and can often be confusing for new arrivals. The same applies to dress codes, especially if you’re female and intend to visit temples and other religious as well as historic sites. Expats heading to the Middle East should be especially careful as regards modest dress.

As the world’s weather changes due to the threat of global warming, natural disasters such as floods, wildfires, hurricanes and extreme temperatures are becoming far more common than in the past. Tsunamis, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions aren’t predictable, but most vulnerable countries have early warning systems which should never, ever, be ignored – even if you can’t see any evidence of danger. Local news outlets can be monitored, and warnings are often found on your home country’s embassy website.

Checking crime statistics in your destination city is a no-brainer, as long as you differentiate between petty crime and serious crime involving gangs with weapons. Local expat communities are fully aware of the immediate situation as regards where not to go and when, and will be happy to provide a heads-up should things change. As regards personal health-related safety, it’s not always a great idea to shop in local markets or eat unfamiliar street foods. Again, experienced expats in your area give the best advice.

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