Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Home comforts? Your native tongue? How long does it take for you to feel settled?

In a recent poll on Expat Explorer, we asked how long it takes before expats feel settled into their new country of residence. The results revealed that there is no clear time limit to complete this complicated change. Not surprisingly, most of the votes indicated that it takes at least a year to feel comfortable in your new home, and undeniably there are a lot of factors which need to be taken into consideration.

Nearly one in four (23%) ticked the 12-18 months category, whilst another 23% of votes show that people only feel settled after 24 months of living in a new country. Perhaps this first peek exemplifies the opinions of expats who have moved to a country where the culture is relatively similar to their country of origin, where there is no language barrier and their professional and social life can become stable quite quickly. Dave Hampton tweeted that he felt settled when ‘surroundings stop being different or exotic’, about 12 months in his case.

On the other hand, the reason for many not feeling settled until after 24 months could be because of a larger ‘culture shock’, and this is the time it takes to finally feel at ease with the day-to-day language and lifestyle of a new country.

As the widely spread results show, every case is different and there are a multitude of aspects to life as an expat which can affect this feeling of being settled. For example:

· What are the reasons for moving and how long had it been planned?

· Are you going into the same job?

· Are you retired or are you starting afresh?

· Do you have family in the country you are moving to?

· Is there an established expat community?

· How old are you and do you have children?

· Does the country you are moving to have the same cultural norms?

· Religious beliefs or speak the same language as you do?

· Are there any preconceptions of you, such as was shown in previous blogs within our Expat Women Series, regarding gender?

Alternatively, ‘does anyone ever feel settled?’, as Andrew Couch tweeted in response to our poll.

We’d love to hear your opinions and stories on this diverse topic.


  1. I agree, there are a lot of factors that can affect the feeling of being settled. I think ones answer also depends on how one interpreted the word "settled" in the poll. I answered that I felt settled in 1-3 months because this meant I knew my way around my new city/country, felt at home in my new apartment, knew where the grocery story was, could get to and from work easily, etc. Of course I wasn't completely assimilated and there were still challenges along the way, but I had a foundation of comfort that made facing all those challenges so much easier.

  2. It ain't easy moving to a new country and trying to adapt to the new environment and culture. It takes courage to do this. You are a champion. All Kiwis are as they are very likable everywhere.
    Have a blog about life in general and about NZ and Kiwis - http://global-kiwi.blogspot.com

    Would be nice to hear from expat Kiwis commenting about life in general.

  3. Now that I am faced with the news that we have to return to our home country, that seems to be the time that I have decided I am settled. 6 months ago I could have easily packed up and said 'ok', now though, I'd be happier even with the prospect of moving on to another different country. I can't help but wonder if I have become rather fond of the adventure!


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