You have just moved to the country you have always wanted to live in and have even got lucky and found a great job which pays better than home. From here there are many manifestations of what expatriation will look like to you. You might even fit in different categories at various stages of your life. A large expat network called InterNations does a great yearly study. Based on their surveys (and my 20 years as an expat) here are 7 types of expats, easily met whichever country you might live in.
Note: one type is not better than the other!
Usually younger adults without family commitments, but great with a great interest in traveling. They might be studying foreign languages and simply visiting interesting places. They might be looking for short-time employment to allow them to live locally for a while and provide some extra cash to move on to their next destination. They love socialising, mingling with the locals and understanding the local culture. They tend to be quite easily pleased when it comes to accommodation and love writing travel blogs, doing volunteering jobs related to animal welfare and the environment.
The Career Expat
With or without a family, this kind of expat tends to be sent by a company with a good package deal which includes accommodation, paid holidays, family allowance, school fees and so on. It’s an expat who works a lot but can also enjoy great holiday destinations which they might not afford if working back in their own country. They socialise at work, have other friends/families over for house parties, playdates, BBQs with the colleagues etc. They are often accompanied by . . .
The Trailing Spouse
The Internations study mentioned above found out that a great percentage of traveling or trailing spouses are women (87%). This might explain the reason why so many expat forums are led by women. They socialise a lot in groups dedicated to mothers/babies/tots/children, with a lot of these groups meeting in the morning whilst their partners are at work and their children in school. I remember when I had my baby, but I also worked, how I longed for a mother-baby group, but nothing was available at the times I would have liked to socialise. I also think that they do a lot of volunteering work in their community or children’s school. They know the best places to go to have a fulfilling expat life. Here is the survey which proves the percentages.
Such expats may be part of any of the above categories, but their main reason for being in that country is love. They are either in a relationship with a local, or even got married to a local and therefore consider that country home. They might have their own property there, speak the local language and integrate in the local community.
The Better Lifestyle Expat
Depending on the country you live in, such expats can be of any age, from young adults, to former executives looking for a quieter lifestyle away from the hustle and bustle of their former office life, to retired people who find the present country cheaper and therefore more affordable. More enjoyable weather is often a factor in choosing their new country.
The Former Students
In the European Union there is a program called Erasmus which enables students to study and develop their academic skills working as interns in various countries. There are companies around the world that give graduates the possibility to gain experience while working and traveling abroad. Many of them might still be enrolled in some post-graduate programs while working hard to build their future resume.
The Back-to-the-Basics Expat
You may have lived as an expat all your life and it’s a ‘trying to remember how to live back home’ situation these days. You may feel like you don’t belong, you feel foreign in your own country, you certainly need to learn how and where to pay the bills, your children might need to learn how to catch a bus after a life of drivers and private cars. It can also be a case of discovering your roots, your ancestors’ history, your parents’ emigration place, or even the country you were born in but never lived. Some people might never find that connection they’re looking for. There are others, however, who feel immense fulfillment when finding their ‘roots’.