HSBC’s Expat Explorer research provides great insights into life overseas as an expat. Based on a survey of 4,100 expats living throughout the world during the months of April and June 2010, the research reveals a great deal about the practical and emotional issues that expats face on a daily basis. Here are the top ten expat concerns that arose from HSBC’s research.
1. Establishing a new social network
According to HSBC, 41% of the participants surveyed during the 2010 research stated that making friends and forming suitable social networks was one of their biggest concerns when relocating.
Worries about re-establishing a social life caused less of a concern for those heading to the Middle East and it appears that females are more concerned about establishing networks than males are.Check out our guide to making friends abroad for practical tips on meeting people with whom you share something in common.
2. Missing friends and family
34% of those surveyed as part of HSBC’s research disclosed that they were worried about missing friends and family once they had relocated. This is a common concern for expatriates throughout the world and homesickness does strike the majority of expats at some point. For advice on dealing with the feelings associated with missing friends and family see our article on six ways to overcome homesickness when moving overseas.
3. Career concerns
Next on the list of expat’s concerns was job worries, with 32% of expatriates surveyed claiming that they worried about finding jobs for themselves or their partners, or that their own job may not work out once they relocated.
Finding a job abroad is becoming increasingly difficult. For top tips on finding work overseas take a look at our guide to marketing yourself when you live abroad.
If you already have a job overseas and are concerned about adjusting to a new work culture take a look at our article: Do cultural differences impact your performance at work?
4. Language barriers
The HSBC Expat Explorer survey revealed that 30% of expatriates questioned stated that they worried that language would impact their ability to integrate with the local community. It is true that learning the language of your host county will make life easier and will help you to build a better relationship with the community within which you live. For some great tips on learning a new language see our guide to learning a foreign language.
5. The Relocation Process
Another source of great concern for expatriates was the relocation process itself, with 30% of those surveyed voicing concerns about managing such a major move. It is undoubtedly true that moving abroad is a complicated process that takes a great deal of planning and organization.
For a step by step guide to moving overseas in a stressful manner see our expat manual which contains a guide to planning a move abroad and a handy moving checklist template.
6. Health concerns
HSBC’s survey revealed that 29% of those surveyed were concerned about healthcare, both in terms of accessibility and the quality of provisions that would be available in the host country. This is especially of concern for expat retirees, who are more likely to need expert medical help in their later years.
It is correct that quality and accessibility of healthcare on offer in a host country should be carefully researched and understood prior to making a move overseas. For information about the type of research you should be performing before you relocate, take a look at our guide: 7 Questions About Healthcare Every Expat Should Ask
7. Adapting to culture
25% of expats questioned during HSBC’s research revealed that they were concerned that they would find it difficult to adapt to live overseas because of cultural differences. Expatriates locating to the United Arab Emirates and Asia were those most likely to worry about how they would adapt.
Culture shock is likely to hit every expat at one point or another and it is a normal part of moving overseas. It is important that you acknowledge it for what it is and take positive steps to try and overcome any negative emotions you are facing.
See our Expert guide to coping with culture shock.
8. Standard of Living
Although many people relocate because they are looking for an improved standard of living, the quality of life that will be on offer remains a concern for many expats, with 21% of those questioned as part of the HSBC survey revealing that they were worried about the standard of living that would be on offer when they relocated.
When moving to a strange country it is crucial that you understand the type of lifestyle that you can expect to lead and what the costs associated with living in the host country are. Fully research the cost of living before you relocate and ensure that you negotiate relocation packages that are suitable to the living conditions overseas.