Tips for Expat Success

Life as an expat offers challenges not faced by those living in their home countries. Of course these challenges vary depending where you are from and where you move and many things can have an impact on how successfully you adapt to expat life. These are my tips for expat success.


Getting out and exploring your new territory should definitely be a priority. What do the locals have that you don’t? Local knowledge. It is invaluable when trying to fit in somewhere new and granted, it does not come overnight, but at least if you know the names of local places and make your own observations you at least look keen to be a part of the place.

Make friends

Friendships are really important because it is the people that make the place. But don’t make the mistake that many expats make and befriend only other expats. Expat friends are wonderful when you need comfort and reassurance, but although it is tempting to be a bit lazy if the local language is not your own, it really is worth getting to know some local people. Other expats can tell you that things are a certain way but locals can tell you why. When you understand things you are more likely to accept them and I also love to have that extra background knowledge. Local friends can help you enjoy all of the best things about your host country. They can also help you dodge the bits that are worth avoiding.

Learn the language

The benefits from getting to grips with the local language in your host country are endless including, amongst other things, an increased ability to be polite and buy what you actually want at the market. Languages help you interact with others and when communication is so vital to all tasks it is incomprehensible to me that expats might not try to learn the language of their host country. Improved communications increase your ability to absorb and understand alternative cultures too, which helps you appreciate and accept cultural differences.


No two places are the same and if you leave one place and try to transfer your old lifestyle with you to a new place you are likely to face disappointment. Perhaps you miss certain groceries from home, TV shows or your old social life. Whatever it is, there will be a new one waiting for you to discover in your host country. If you dwell on the feeling of missing something it can make you very unhappy.

What are your tips for expat success?


  • thetravolution

    I’m looking to finally make the move and become an expat! I would like to make local friends and learn the language. You’re right, finding expats can be the easy part but any tips on how to make local friends?

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    @Cole – Bus journeys can be good ways to pick up a bit of language too don’t forget!
    @travolution My tip would be to always be open and approachable, that way you are bound to make many friends both expats and locals. Make sure you are aware of local customs too so that you can avoid potentially innocently offending people, a bit of pre-departure research is always a good idea.
    My recent post A year away

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