Monday, 28 April 2014

How to futureproof your expat lifestyle

So, you’ve adapted to your new climate, become accustomed to the local culture and acquired the tastes of your new home. Life is good.

But as time goes by, your motivations may change. In our 2013 Expat Explorer survey, Switzerland was the highest rated country for economic growth, with 37% of expats seeing an increase in their wealth after moving but when it came to raising children, Germany and Singapore led the charge. Brazil was the number one expat destination to find love, but in the long-term Asia proved to be the best place to have fun and make friends. 

Taking up roots in a new part of the world is about compromises, but how should expats cope as their lives and priorities change? The answer is to plan, plan, plan. Here are our top three life stages expats need to plan for:

Moving your partner over
For many expat couples being split by continents starts as an adventure.  Work might draw one spouse to foreign climes and regular visits make life feel like a series of holidays. As weeks turn to months, however, expats can find themselves with one leg in their country of origin and one in their new home.  Moving your other half over is an inevitable step to becoming a long-term expat but it is also one of the hardest. Consider the new skills they might need and the length of time visas will take. Remember that moving over might have been easy for you but easing your partner into a new culture could require a gradual approach.

Picture source: Flickr / stevecadman
The best place to live as an adult might not always be the best place for your children to study. For expats living outside the golden education triumvirate of Russia, Singapore and Germany you might take the hard decision to educate children abroad. It’s a drastic option, but for higher education in particular, many expats want to give their children the chance to experience their country of origin – University is the perfect time. As parents to international students you will need to put in extra planning. Application processes are longer, fees are higher and grade boundaries often more challenging. US and UK expats have it hardest and can expect to pay tens of thousands of pounds in tuition fees every year to educate their children in their mother countries.

Wherever you are in the world, retirement is a big consideration. With grandchildren possibly on their way are you prepared for long distance grandparenthood? With more time on your hands perhaps you might even relocate to a social hub like Thailand or move to France for some of the best healthcare services in the world. Do you want the excitement of an urban centre like Hong Kong or the more serene pleasures of rural New Zealand? Get these questions sorted early and your retirement will start without a blip.

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