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Common challenges faced by expats and how to overcome them

Moving abroad is a daunting task in itself, with all the hoops you need to jump through just to be granted your visa. With all the logistical hurdles in your way, you may not have thought of the challenges you could face once you finally arrive. In order to ease your transition into your new home and prevent any regrets, your best option is to be as prepared as possible ahead of your move. 

Even if you’ve carefully selected the country with the highest rating on the world happiness scale, there will still be challenges to overcome. Read on to discover some of the biggest, and what you can do to make them less of an obstacle. 

Culture shock 

At some point, most expats will experience culture shock. Moving to a country with a different culture from your own (even if the changes are only small, such as between the United States and Canada), can often lead to a feeling of isolation. 

The culture shock curve is measured in four main stages

  1. The honeymoon stage is the period upon arrival when everything is new and exciting. You will likely find things that may have bothered you back home to instead be endearing or amusing.
  2. The negotiation stage often appears around the three months, when you take off the rose-tinted glasses and start to see things in a more negative light than you would typically. This is when you begin to miss your family, friends, and the familiarity of your home – often idealizing your life as it was. You may feel irrationally sad or angry during this stage, and find language barriers and other small things more of an issue than during the honeymoon period.
  3. Not to worry, the adjustment stage comes next. In this stage, you’ll learn to adapt to your new surroundings and develop a routine.
  4. And, finally, you will reach the adaptation stage where you become fully integrated into your community, have made friends, and are comfortable and happy in your new home.



Homesickness can make adjusting to a new country difficult. In addition, the added stress of time-zone differences when moving abroad can exacerbate feelings of isolation from your friends and family back home. This in turn makes it difficult to go out and meet people who could help alleviate your feelings of loneliness. 

If you’re struggling with homesickness, start by making your house feel welcoming and lived in. If you’re on a budget, or your move isn’t long term, think simple and frugal by adding some plants, throw pillows, maybe even some curtains, and a rug. Making your house into a home will do wonders to make you feel safe and comfortable. 

Financial identity 

While you might have a strong financial portfolio in your home nation, very little of that is carried with you when you move overseas. You’ll need to open new bank accounts, register for your new nation’s insurance identifier number, and start building your credit score – that’s right, it doesn’t carry over with you. 

These will all be needed if you want to find employment in your new home. In terms of searching for somewhere to live, you’ll need to find somewhere which doesn’t require credit, or allows a guarantor to co-sign with you. 

Have these tips helped? Life as an expat can be tough, but it can also be very rewarding. Don’t forget these three major factors when moving abroad. 

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