*** Our SPECIAL REPORT, What Is an Expatriate or Expat?, has been UPDATED with valuable links. Get it HERE. ***

Expat Life: What if expat life doesn't work out?

Edd:  I was thinking recently about friends from Cuenca who moved back to the States. The list is quite long.

Cynthia:  I’m sure that many of our expat acquaintances over the years have returned to their home country, decided to live in other foreign destinations or, sadly, died.

E:  In our last conversation we touched on something interesting that most people don’t know: the average “lifespan” of an expat is about 4 years. A common fear regarding moving abroad is, “What if it doesn’t work out?” That statistic indicates the concern is well-founded.

C:  Leaving your home country seems like such a radical decision. It's probably surprising to learn that doing so is anything but a “forever” move for many.

E:  That number is an average, so longtimers like us are factored in with folks like a couple we know who went home after less than 6 months! It also includes expats who decide to move on and try other locations.

C:  Once you discover living abroad isn’t as hard as you perhaps thought, it becomes easier to pack up and check out somewhere else.

E:  You’re right. We have friends we originally met in Cuenca living all over the world.

C:  Some of the reasons people don’t continue with their expat adventure are unforeseen. A health condition could develop and receiving treatment back home is preferable. All sorts of family issues might require your return. Or finding out your first grandchild is on the way.

E:  After the early “honeymoon period” when everything is new and exciting, you could discover expat life doesn’t really work for you. Maybe you miss the familiarity of where you lived or the goods and services you took for granted. Especially for those who make no attempt to learn even the basics of their new country’s language, it’s easy to tire of feeling like an outsider.

C:  These are a few examples that illustrate why we stress in our program the importance of taking a scouting trip before making a decision. Staying long enough to get a feel for what it will be like to wake up there 24/7/365 is equally important. Expats leaving Cuenca who say, “It just wasn’t what I expected” sometimes relied heavily on internet research and failed to put boots on the ground before getting off the plane.

E:  So here is the answer to, “What if it doesn’t work out?” We’ve been discussing the fact that becoming an expat oftentimes doesn’t turn out to be a permanent move. If you’ve been considering a relocation abroad, does this revelation mean you should forget about it? Absolutely not. Too many times people talk themselves out of things because the outcome is uncertain. A better question is, “What if it does?”

C:  Look at us, and so many other expats we know who are enjoying a life beyond their wildest dreams. Even that couple I mentioned earlier who left so quickly had one heck of a good time while they were here.

E:  There is no “failure” or “shame” if for whatever reason expat life doesn’t work out. Unexpected circumstances are part of life no matter where you live. Gaining more self-awareness of what you like and don’t like is always a victory.

C:  How else can you achieve what we call the “retirement trifecta?” Lowering your cost of living, raising your standard of living, and preserving or even growing your nest egg? From our perspective, the upside possibilities so outweigh the downside.

E:  That being said, we know living abroad is not for everyone. Aging in place is an appropriate choice if you have the financial resources to do so, and the style of your home and the community where you live supports that decision.

But if you still have a sense of adventure and are willing to dream bigger, then moving to another country for however long is an outstanding option on so many levels—the food, culture, travel possibilities, meeting interesting people. Edd and Cynthia give it an enthusiastic two thumbs up!

Note ~ We have recently updated all of our Special Reports listed at the bottom of the Store page of our website. If you are considering living abroad but are unsure, we recommend reading the report about becoming a Part-time Expat. This idea may be a perfect solution for you!


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