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A Guide For Expats Moving Abroad

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Do you know the three most common obstacles for expats moving abroad? Language barriers, building friendships, and access to good healthcare in many places.

Moving to a new country can be a thrilling experience, and if you’ve been in lockdown due to Covid-19, a change of scene is probably just what you need. Being able to experience a new culture and immersing yourself entirely in the experience can not be taken for granted, so while there are risks and challenges, the move is worth it.

No matter where you decide to move to, there will be new experiences – which you’ll enjoy. There will also be instances that worry you and can not control. Overcoming these obstacles, whether big or small, can feel like quite the task at the best of times, but there are means for doing so, including those that we will recommend within this piece.

Language Barriers

When you move to a different country – even if it’s the same language as your country – there will be times when you feel like an outsider.
This is an obstacle we feel most expats will experience in their new country at some point or another. For example, misusing a word can be uncomfortable. Did you know thong in Australia is footwear, also known as jandals or flip flops? The same word in the UK is a piece of underwear – you can imagine how embarrassing it would be to get this wrong.

If you’re moving to a country with a different first language, even when you have a basic understanding of it and make an effort to learn enough to converse, there will be language barriers, and that’s just what you need to accept. Even if you spend years in a new country with a different language, you’ll feel like an outsider in some situations while conversing with locals.

Focus on learning as much of the first language as you can as soon as possible. Start with learning helpful phrases for the critical essentials like ordering food and supplies and securing rental accommodation. For example, not all countries have the same laws for rental properties. In Malaysia, for example, cukai tanah in English means land tax or assessment rates.

Land Tax or Assessment Rates

Assessment rates are critical for establishing rental costs, something you would want to know as soon as possible. Understanding terms like this and other property taxes should you choose to buy before you make the big move will make the process run a little bit smoother and ensure you are in your ideal home in no time. Language barriers can affect more than just your finances in your new home. This takes us to the following section.

Building Relationships

Making friends in a new place is always daunting. Putting out the initial hand of friendship can cause a lot of nerves and anxiety at the best of times but can be all the more challenging when language and cultural barriers are in the way. Expats might find themselves struggling to build relationships with those around them and are in search of ways to overcome this often-isolating obstacle.

Overcoming an obstacle like this can feel easier said than done; you cannot make people your friends if they do not want to. That being said, you should do what you can to put these feelings at bay and embark on what is sure to be a beneficial experience. Find social groups in your area that you can connect with, including those that might host or be run by fellow expats. From here, you can slowly and gradually build your network while also connecting with other people through those you met here.

Making an effort to build relationships with those around you will ensure you have a support network to rely upon during life’s most challenging moments. Rest assured, you will be feeling much less isolated in your new home when tackling an obstacle like this.

Access To Healthcare

While this will not apply to every expat reading this, it will undoubtedly apply to some. Healthcare is universal in many places, and you will be able to access the treatment you need when you need it. That being said, this could also pose something of an obstacle to expats, for there are different levels of access in different places. For example, in Spain, ex-pats can get access to State healthcare. It’s mostly third world countries like Somalia, Vietnam that doesn’t have state healthcare for expats.

The big exception is the USA – therefore, make sure you understand what you’re entitled to and what you need to pay for so you have access to the proper healthcare when it’s needed. Whether this is by having the right health insurance policies or the funds necessary to pay for said treatment, overcoming an obstacle like this is doable, even if it might not feel that way initially.

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Contact the appropriate departments in your new home country for more information about what you must do before your arrival. It might also be worth asking other expats in your situation what they did to overcome something like this too.

Moving abroad is enjoyable when you’re fully prepared. Don’t just turn up and expect to get accommodation when you need it. Learn the local language and ensure you have adequate healthcare insurance if the country you’re moving to doesn’t have state healthcare for expats.

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