Working as an expat is a great way to safely explore the world, especially for solo female expats. This can be the ultimate dream come true for the average, adventurous female. The expat lifestyle provides many opportunities for growth and development. At the same time, solo female expats must be savvy when they live abroad in order to avoid common dangers and pitfalls associated with this lifestyle.
I have encountered many excited prospective solo female expats who were ready for flight, yet they weren’t properly prepared for what they might encounter. As such, I am sharing some helpful tips in this post to help solo females better navigate within expat spaces.
1. Choose the Right Destination
Undoubtedly expat destinations are plentiful and replete with amazing opportunities. There are virtually no limits to where solo females can live and work if they have the right skills and credentials for the job market in a given area. However, that doesn’t mean that every place is safe for solo females to live.
When traveling alone, females are automatic targets in some countries where concepts like the “independent woman” idiom are still taboo. This means that females may find themselves in uncomfortable and dangerous situations at times. That being said, there are likewise plenty of locations where solo female expats are not only accepted, but are likewise respected and welcomed.
This ultimately means that if you are considering working abroad as a solo female, you need to do your homework. Take time to research the location that you are interested in to determine if it is a safe place in general and if it is an amicable location for solo females.
Your research should include reviewing crime and peace indices and other databases that can give you a non-biased indication of how safe an area is. Likewise, read articles and watch videos published by other expats living in the country. Particularly, consult resources published by females who are living on their own in the region.
If possible, reach out to a few expats living in the country to get their input on the day-to-day life in the country. Ask questions about safety and security. Also, ask about the cultural dynamics of females traveling and living alone in the country. Such information can prove to be very helpful in helping you select the right expat destination.
2. Be Prepared
When living abroad, preparation is always vital. You need to have all the tools, resources, and information in order to make the most out of your stay. Ensuring your safety and security as a solo female expat is no different.
When moving abroad for the first time, be sure to have enough money and all necessary documents with you. Even though you are traveling to obtain a job, you should always have enough finances available to you in the event that you have delays or difficulties with getting paid from your employer. Anything could happen that could leave you in a desperate situation.
You should likewise travel with the appropriate documentation to avoid issues with visa clearances and the like. If you don’t have the right documentation you could also face issues with securing living accommodations, getting phone service, renting a vehicle, etc. Not only can such issues spoil your journey, they can also put in you precarious situations.
3. Trust Your Intuition
As an empath, I always encourage others to trust their intuition. Oftentimes your gut will tell you when something is amiss. Listen to that small, still voice. It could save you a great deal of trouble in the long run.
If something doesn’t feel right, then it is probably not right for you. An uneasy feeling is often a telltale sign that you should take a deeper look into a situation. Don’t ignore what your gut is telling you.
I have talked to and heard stories from a number of female expats who have had intuitive insight about potentially dangerous situations. Some of them listened to their intuition, others didn’t. Usually when they didn’t they ended up encountering serious and dangerous situations. In which case, some were raped, robbed, beaten, or otherwise abused in some manner.
4. Regularly Connect with Loved Ones
Stay in communication with your loved ones on a regular basis. If you are known for checking in with your family and friends on a frequent basis, they will automatically know that something is amiss if you deviate from your normal schedule.
So if you maintain consistent contact with a few people, you will have someone who will be on alert if something happens to you. They can contact the appropriate authorities in the event that you get sick, injured, or otherwise become incapacitated. Also, if necessary they can contact the police if you are missing in action.
Likewise, staying in contact with loved ones can give you the emotional support that you need to stay afloat. I have spoken about loneliness as being a disadvantage of living abroad in a previous post. This is something that can or break your stay in a foreign country. So staying connected can be beneficial to both your physical and emotional well-being.
5. Build a Strong Network
Similar to staying in contact with loved ones, creating a network in your expat country can prove beneficial. You will likewise have people looking out for you in the event that something happens.
Typically, your colleagues will know that something is awry if you don’t show up for or report to work. This hedge will cover you during your typical workweek in certain instances, particularly if you are around the same individuals on a consistent basis.
However, if you tend to work in isolation you will definitely need to be more active in establishing a strong network. Likewise, you will want someone to look out for you on the weekends and during break periods.
6. Don’t Make Yourself a Target
Always avoid looking like a tourist or a newbie when traveling abroad. Doing so can easily make you a target for people looking to take advantage of you. So, try to avoid doing the following when living as a solo female expat:
- Going out alone at night
- Flashing money or other valuables in public
- Giving handouts to children or beggars
- Carrying large sums of cash
- Walking in dark alleys or roadways
- Drinking too much alcohol in public
- Wearing provocative clothing or heavy make-up
Undoubtedly some of things can’t be avoided at all times, such as going out alone at night. The ultimate goal is to take as much precaution as possible. Even when you find that you can’t avoid certain activities that may put you harm’s way, exercise caution and wisdom.
7. Don’t Trust Everyone
Everyone is not going to look out for your best interest regardless of your location. So you have to keep in mind that you can’t trust everyone. Take your time to get to know people before inviting them into your personal space.
Don’t invite strangers or people you barely know into your living quarters. Don’t give out your home or work address to too many people. Likewise, be cautious about spending time with people in private spaces or closed environments. This includes both male and female friends and business professionals.
This is one of the most common mistakes that I see solo female expats make. Female friends and business professionals often appear non-threatening. However, such individuals can be just as dangerous as anyone else. Sometimes such individuals prey on women who live alone because they know that they are easy targets. And they know that women living alone are more apt to trust them inside their personal spaces.