7 Tips for Savvy Solo Female Expats

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.

Travel documents and money

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:

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.

Should I Use an Expat Recruiting Agency?

Expat Recruiting Agency

Expat recruiting agencies are often a first choice for many prospective expats. This is because new expats are usually not familiar with the expat recruitment process. Such applicants generally prefer a guided approach because it can be quite a daunting process trying to land that first expat gig.

Additionally, a quick search for popular expat locations in Asia, the Middle East, etc. often yield results replete with expat recruiting agencies at the top of the list. It doesn’t take long at all to encounter one of these companies in the course of your expat journey.

Expat recruiting agencies can and do serve a vital role in keeping the expat employment world revolving. They employers fill critical roles in a short period of time. They assist job-seekers in finding rewarding careers in the expat space. And, they bring a holistic awareness to the ins and outs of expat employment.

As with all things I like to approach everything from a balanced view. Making a decision to use an expat recruiting agency should be met with careful consideration. So let’s examine some pros and cons before I give my final verdict on the matter.

Pros of Using Expat Recruiting AGencies

Safety And Security

Working with an honest, reputable recruitment agency may save you a lot of time, headache, and stress when dealing with overseas employment. This is because you don’t have to worry about safety and security issues related to shady “employers”.

There are many suspect characters in the world of expat recruitment. Every job announcement is not what it appears to be. Keep in mind that anyone can post a job advert online if they have the money to do so.

In general, you will find such recruitment ads on shady classified ad listings. However, sometimes they may spring up on otherwise well-known and reputable job boards.

Short of visiting the country and employer yourself, the next best option to avoid recruitment schemes is through an expat recruitment agency. These agencies typically do a thorough investigation of employers to ensure the safety and security of job applicants.

Most reputable expat employment agencies have a long-standing relationship with the employers that they work with. They also have a comprehensive screening process when they intake new employers. The process generally involves a site visit, background check, licensure qualifications, and other measures to determine the legitimacy of the employer.

Access to Expat Employers

Expat recruiting agencies sometimes have access to job postings that are not available to the general public. Some expat employers exclusively use recruiting agencies, which means that that they have little to no direct contact with prospective job candidates. Other employers may only use recruitment agencies for specific jobs within their organization.

In other instances where employers recruit directly and use an employment agency, job applicants may still have some contact with the recruiting agencies during the hiring process. Therefore, using a recruiting agency is a way to get maximum exposure to the expat job market.

Free Guidance and Resources

Expat recruiting agencies are generally a powerhouse of guidance and resource accessibility. Recruiters tend to work with hundreds of employers and job applicants. So they are well aware of what employers are looking for in the ideal candidate.

They often spend time prepping and guiding qualified candidates about how to approach specific employers. Expat recruiting agencies also generally publish a great deal of employment advise to prospective candidates in the form of a blog and/or newsletter. They may also host information sessions or have other forums for educating job candidates.

All of these resources are typically free to job seekers. This is because their goal is to present highly qualified candidates to employers. Therefore, they often provide a host of resources to help you grow and succeed in the job search.

Cons OF USING EXPAT RECRUITING AGENCIES

Salary Negotiation

Recruiting agencies are paid a fee to procure talent for jobs. Sometimes their fees are taken from your negotiated pay and other times they are paid directly by the employer. Either way, you stand to get shortchanged in the salary department when going through a recruitment agency.

If employers pay a significant fee to the recruitment agency, they may offer job candidates less pay and/or fewer benefits to make up for the difference. This means that your potential earnings may be slightly or considerably less than that of a direct hire. Therefore, you do need to be weary of pay differences when you choose to use recruiter.

Employer Prioritization

Job seekers are not prioritized by expat recruiting agencies – the employer is the recruiter’s primary concern. Prospective candidates should never pay a fee to the recruitment agency because they are paid by the employer.

Because the employer often pays hefty fees to the agency, they get most of the recruiters attention and their loyalty. This means that no matter how talented you are, the employer’s needs and desires will always reign supreme.

Fraudulent Agencies

Just as there are shady “employers”, there are likewise fraudulent recruitment agencies in the expat space. Not all agents are what they appear to be. Some agencies may use less than scrupulous tactics in the hiring process such as:

  • Posting bogus recruitment ads
  • Illegally charging fees to applicant
  • Encouraging applicants to be dishonest
  • Making false promises related to pay or benefits

And the list goes on. Therefore, you should likewise be weary of recruitment agencies as you are of employers.

The Verdict

Expat recruitment agencies are a great option for prospective job seekers in the expat workspace. These agencies can provide you with assistance and guidance that may be of use to you for years to come. They can help you land the perfect expat job and start you on your way to a truly fulfilling expat journey.

You can likewise find the expat job of your dreams through other job search efforts. There is really no right or wrong way to seek out expat employment. The ultimate goal is to find the right job that suits your needs and desires.

In order to do so, you need to do your research no matter which direction you choose. As mentioned above, there are nuisances involved in either method you choose to use. The key is to ensure your safety and security while pursuing your passion.

Should I Opt for a Career as a Digital Nomad?

Digital nomad

Living and working as a digital nomad is growing in popularity as internet capabilities expand globally. If you have incurable wanderlust you are in for a treat with such a career move. Working as a digital nomad or virtual expat gives you the opportunity to quench your travel thirst in dynamic and exciting ways.

Now before I dive too deep into this topic let me clarify what I mean by a digital nomad. For definitive purposes, a digital nomad is an individual who utilizes technology as their primary means of maintaining a location independent lifestyle. This could be through employment, entrepreneurship, residual income, or retirement.

For the purpose of clarity, I use the term digital nomad and virtual expat interchangeably throughout this post. However, keep in mind that a digital nomad does not necessarily have to live outside of their passport country. Though, living abroad is generally accepted as a major part of this lifestyle.

Digital Nomad Pathways

In general there are two main pathways to becoming a digital nomad. The first option involves being a virtual employee or entrepreneur while living outside of your passport country. In such a scenario, an expat can work for an organization within or outside of their host country.

For instance, you may move from America to the UK and work as a virtual graphic designer while working for a UK based company. Conversely, you may work as a virtual graphic designer in the U.S. for a U.S. based company and decide to move to Thailand while continuing your employment.

The second option for digital nomads is to work remotely for an international company as a expatriate employee while living in your passport country. Remote or virtual work still gives a person the chance to travel domestically or internationally at their leisure. Though I know that some may not deem this as a “true” expat or digital nomad experience.

However, such an individual may be considered an expat based on their employment classification. This has become more common in light of recent travel bans. This is primarily due to the need for countries that depend on expat labor to find innovative ways to attract and retain such employees. Also, this situation still qualifies one as a digital nomad based on the definition.

There are many pros and cons to both of these options. Deciding to embark on a digital nomad journey is simply a matter of which option is most beneficial for your particular needs.

Pros of Being a digital nomad

Cost of Living

One of the most common reasons that people choose to work as a virtual expat is to enjoy a better standard of living. The average income of a worker or retiree from a developed country can typically go a long way in an underdeveloped or developing country.

This is why many remote employees and entrepreneurs choose to live in foreign countries with a lower cost of living. They can enjoy a higher standard of living while being able save, pay off bills, or otherwise accumulate cash reserves.

Location Independence

Another benefit of being a digital nomad is the ability to be location independent. You can travel to and/or live almost anywhere as a digital nomad. So this option is perfect for someone interested in exploring multiple locations without being tied to a specific geographical region.

More Opportunities

Being a virtual expat opens the door to more employment opportunities. The virtual work space in general has literally changed our definition of when, why, and how we work. So digital nomads are often able to find or create unique and innovative career paths.

Freedom

Being a digital nomad is all about freedom. In many instances you have the opportunity to choose when, where, and how long you stay in a given destination. Depending on your work situation, you may also be able to choose your own schedule. This could mean spending early mornings relaxing at the beach. Or it could mean taking long drives up the coast in the middle of the workweek.

Unique Experiences

Being an expat in general often comes with its share of unique and exciting experiences. Expats tend to spend a good portion of their time exploring and learning about new places and meeting new people.

Working as a virtual expat has the propensity to expand your ability to explore and learn to a much higher degree. Since you are not bound to a traditional office setting you can have the freedom to move around more frequently. This ultimately means more time for adventures and exploration.

Cons of Being a digital nomad

Infrastructure Issues

The digital nomad space can also present its share of challenges. In particular for those who rely on steady and fast internet capabilities to perform their duties, infrastructure issues can present major problems.

This is especially the case for expats who live in areas that consistently have issues with the electricity and/or internet grid. Unfortunately, such issues are very common in underdeveloped and developing regions of the world. These issues can make the digital nomad life extremely difficult or outright impossible in some cases.

Loneliness and Isolation

Being an expat already comes with its own share of issues related to loneliness and isolation. Engaging on a digital nomad adventure can easily amplify such issues. When you work remotely you typically work in a bubble even if you communicate with your colleagues on a regular basis.

If you spend the majority of your day online while living in a foreign country it is easy to feel isolated. Undoubtedly this contributes to loneliness. When loneliness lingers one can easily begin to experience mental health issues. So this is definitely something to consider especially if you tend to be the loner type.

Visa Complications

Another issue for digital nomads is securing visas for long term stays. Digital nomads who work for organizations outside of their expat country usually have issues securing work or other long term visas. This is because they don’t actually work for an organization within the country.

Therefore, they either have to make visa runs, apply for a business visa, or secure a long-term visa through other means. In most instances, such situations can prove cumbersome and daunting over the long haul. This can easily fatigue even the most adventurous person.

Dating and Romance

Loneliness and isolation can also bring trouble in the romance department. Not being around other people on a regular basis obviously diminishes your chances of meeting someone special. Couple this with language and cultural barriers and you have a recipe for dating disasters.

Though all is not lost for virtual expats, it can be challenging for them to find suitable mates. Dating can be even more challenging for digital nomads who move around frequently. It is very difficult to maintain long distance relationships over the long haul.

Being Misunderstood

When someone chooses not to live a traditional lifestyle, they are often misunderstood by society. While being non-traditional is more fashionable than ever before it is still taboo to break away from some societal norms. Living as digital nomad is one of them.

Your family and friends will probably often question your desire to roam the world. Many of them won’t understand why you don’t want to settle down. So you may often feel like the black-sheep of the family if you choose this lifestyle.

The Best Pathway

As always, my advise for choosing any option is what’s best for your situation. The digital nomad life is the only way to live for some. For others, not so much. You need to do some deep digging to determine if the above-mentioned and other pros outweigh the cons for you.

What are the Best Countries for Expats?

Best expat countries

The other day I came across a video about the best places to live, work, or retire abroad. While this isn’t the first time that I have seen these types of lists or compilations, this video really caught my attention. I immediately started to think “is there a such thing?”.

I know that best locations exist for individual expats or retirees. However, is there truly such a thing as a best expat country for the average person? I started watching the video to determine what criteria was used to rank the countries that were on this list. Within the first few seconds the narrator indicated that the list was derived from data collected from an expat survey that’s conducted annually. I only watched enough of the video thereafter to see the top 3 ranked countries.

Afterwards I thought how misleading and misinformed these types of lists can be for the average person who is considering moving abroad. There are so many factors involved in choosing the right or “best” expat location for each individual. What appeals to one person may be the complete opposite for the next person.

Though I don’t feel that any harm was meant by the title or information presented in the video, I do think that prospective expats should focus more on what matters to them. Expats may be able to find their ideal country by exploring such lists. However, these oftentimes very short lists are in no way representative of the global population.

This is why I typically steer away from presenting the “best” type of anything posts. I even steer clear of these types of conversations during my coaching sessions. Instead, I help my clients focus on what’s important to them as an expat. I first have them complete a comprehensive expat profile survey so that I can gain a better understanding of their overall personality. Then, I have a 60 minute meeting with them so that we can discuss their survey results in more depth. Finally, I customize a list of expat countries that I feel are suitable to their needs and desires.

It is important to keep in mind that we are all individuals with different personalities that can and do shape what best meets our needs. Therefore, it is necessary to approach your expat journey with these objectives in mind. You should effectively “know thyself”. Take some inventory of your own likes and dislikes, and needs and desires. Then, focus on the countries that readily offer the things that are conductive to your wants and desires.

Need more help planning your expat journey? Contact us so that we can get you on the right track.

Why Africa is an Entrepreneur’s Paradise

Entrepreneurship in Africa
Jambiani Beach, Zanzibar, Tanzania

The African continent has been getting a lot of attention lately by entrepreneurs. Many economic forecasters has pivoted the continent as the new frontier for growth in almost every sector imaginable. While the continent still has many challenges, it is growing and expanding in many ways. A number of African leaders are starting to implement polices that make their nations attractive places to do business.

Market Potential

Africa is probably home to the most fertile business prospects on the planet. The continent is trying to catch up with its more developed counterparts. Yet, many African nations still lag behind in infrastructure development. This makes the continent a goldmine for entrepreneurs who are willing and ready to contribute to the dynamic growth of the continent.

Almost every major market has untapped potential on the continent. Only a few business sectors are saturated in Africa. This also makes the continent prime real estate to sell quality goods and services. So for almost any business endeavor that you can think of you can probably find a dozen or more countries in Africa to do business in. Most African nations have fertile ground for sewing the seeds of entrepreneurship.

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Low Start-Up and Overhead Costs

The cost of living in most African countries is much less expensive than the average developed nation. This means that it will cost much less to establish and maintain most businesses on the continent. It is fairly easy and inexpensive to lease or own property in many African nations. Salary and wages are also much less than in most developed regions of the world. This means that financing your entrepreneurship dream on the continent can easily become a reality.

Burgeoning Middle Class

Africa’s middle class is growing at a fast rate. On the other hand the middle class in most developing countries is experiencing slow growth or disappearing altogether. Africa’s middle class represents the rise in professionals and entrepreneurs that are taking the continent by storm. A number of African college graduates who left their home in search of a better life are migrating back home. Many others send money to their loved ones in an effort to help restore the economy of their home lands.

As this trend continues, more businesses now enjoy the ability to cater to more discerning customers on the motherland. Middle class and affluent Africans desire luxury goods and high quality services. This dynamic has created a growing demand for new businesses, especially those that are designed to serve westernized tastes. So now is the time to establish or relocate your start-up or franchise to the continent. Doing so can help you can gain more exposure and realize greater capital potential.

Social Transformation

As I write this post, many African nations are undergoing drastic social transformation. The youths in these nations are not satisfied with business as usual. They are frustrated with the corruption and infrastructure issues that have plagued Africa for so long. And they are doing something about it.

The youths in a number of African nations are beginning to demonstrate against their governmental representatives. They are also beginning to hold these politicians accountable for their actions. They are demanding a better socio-political structure and the entire globe is starting to take note.

Social transformation in Africa

Thousands of people march to Parliament in Cape Town, South Africa, to demand that the President of South Africa, Jacob Zuma, step down immediately because of his corrupt rule on April 7, 2017.

As governmental leaders start to rise to the occasion many of these nations are subsequently experiencing significant socioeconomic development. So if you decide to transition to this entrepreneur’s playground you can easily realize your vision. You can also simultaneously help many Africans realize the social change that they need.

Need more help developing your business plan for African entrepreneurship? Contact us and we will gladly assist you.

10 Things to Consider When Choosing an Expat Country

Choosing an Expat Country

There are many things to think about when choosing an expat country. After living as an expat in three different countries there are many things that I wish I had considered before moving abroad. Although I tremendously enjoyed my experiences, I think very differently about moving abroad at this stage in my life. In fact, I have been diligently contemplating my next move overseas for quite some time now. Though I don’t plan to move right away I have started planning key aspects of my next expat journey.

Here are some things that I consider important when choosing an expat country:

Cost of Living

This is always at the top of my list. I like to live a comfortable life no matter where I am. So I choose destinations that will afford me the comfort level that I desire. It is important for me to move somewhere with a reasonable cost of living. I like having enough disposable income so that I can enjoy my leisure time.

Of course this is not the case for everybody. For some, the basics is more than enough as long as they are in their dream destination. And this is perfectly fine. But either way, cost of living is a very important factor in choosing an expat location. Cost of living impacts your overall quality of life in any given location. So you need to consider your budget and your living situation before heading to you expat destination.

As I have shared before in other posts, I lived in the Middle East for most of my time abroad. The cost of living in this part of the world is similar to that of areas like New York, California, and Hawaii. However, all of my accommodation and transportation expenses were covered by my employer. Thus, the cost of living did not adversely impact my standard of living. Therefore, I had more disposable income to enjoy my preferred standard of living.

Healthcare

If you have health issues that require special treatment or services you need to ensure that this is available in your desired expat country. If you are otherwise healthy and generally only need routine health screenings this concern is not as urgent. However, you should investigate the availability of preventative, acute, and emergency care services before you move abroad. Getting the right care when you need it can literally be a matter of life and death.

Health insurance is another factor, especially in high income countries where healthcare provision is absorbent. Employers generally cover such expenses for expats. However, you may need to supplement your policy so that you can access private care when needed.

Climate and Weather

Every time I think about this dynamic I recall a story about an African student who studied abroad in America. He was from West Africa where the climate is tropical and warm during most of the year. His study abroad trip was scheduled in December and his flight was set to arrive in Pennsylvania.

December is considered the dry season in his country of origin. The temperatures in that region are generally in the mid to high 70’s in December. So he packed his luggage and dressed accordingly. After arriving in Pennsylvania in shorts and a light jacket he encountered a very unpleasant surprise. He was cold, shivering, and did not have an appropriate change of clothes. Fortunately a stranger came to his rescue and gave him a jacket. Needless to say he learned a very important lesson that day.

Likewise, I tell this story so that prospective expats who have never traveled abroad can learn a valuable lesson. The climate and temperature is not the same all around the world. It is important to think about what type of weather you enjoy when choosing an expat country. You could be pleasantly surprised or deeply disappointed by the climate and weather in a given locale.

Religion

If you are religious you need to consider how you will practice your faith while living abroad. Some countries are more conducive to and/or tolerant of certain religious practices and belief systems than others. In general expat-heavy countries usually tolerate religious freedom among its expat population. But even in the most tolerant nations, there may not be many places for expats of diverse religions to worship.

Choosing the right expat country

For instance, the UAE is a Muslim nation full of mosques and other artifacts related to this religion. As an expat, you are free to adhere to any belief system as long as you don’t proselytize in the country. Even though people are free to practice whatever faith they believe in there are few places of worship dedicated to other faith systems such as Christianity or Hinduism. Usually practitioners of other belief systems congregate in malls, lounges, and other make-shift places of worship to conduct their religious services.

While you can practice your religion in some countries, you may not have easy access to a similar community of believers. Even more, it may be forbidden to practice your belief system in certain countries that don’t embrace religious tolerance. So you definitely need to do some research in this area if religion is important to you.

Entertainment

After the initial excitement of your move has worn off you are going to need a viable source of entertainment. Everyone is different so there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to this issue. You may be fine with taking nature walks or going to the beach every weekend. Or, you may enjoy regular trips to the theater and performing arts shows. There are so many entertainment options that are suitable for different types of individuals.

So you need to think about what entertainment choices are important to you. You also need to research the types of entertainment that are available in the expat country. Depending on your purpose for moving abroad the availability of entertainment choices could make or break your expat experience.

Safety

This consideration if self-explanatory. Understanding safety elements in a given location is vital to your overall well-being. This is especially the case for solo female travelers. In general, international employers will ensure that their expat employees live and work in a safe area. However, they generally don’t control your comings and goings outside of work hours. Therefore, you need to be aware of the general dangers common in the locale.

Transportation

Transportation is a major factor when moving abroad. In some countries you won’t be able to buy, lease, rent, or drive a vehicle as a foreigner. In other areas public transportation may not be easily accessible so you. Either way you need to think about the cost and availability of transportation options when moving abroad.

During my various expat journeys my family and I had a driver everywhere we lived. However, we also had our own vehicle so I drove myself around on occasion. While I enjoyed having a driver I also like the freedom and independence that comes with the ability to drive.

Communication

Chances are when you first move abroad you are going to want to communicate with your loved ones back home. Unless you are using a free calling app your phone bill can get quite expensive. So you definitely need to factor in the cost of communicating with loved ones abroad.

While calling apps are viable options in some regions, they are not in other areas. Some countries block calling apps. Other countries have such poor internet connectivity that it is difficult to rely on calling apps.

Another important facet of international communication is time zone differences. Your family and friends may be 8 hours or more behind the time that you are on. This means that you will have to plan your phone calls very carefully.

Family

If you are moving with family members then you definitely need to consider their needs and desires when selecting an expat country. They may have preferences on the type of terrain, climate, weather, entertainment choices, etc. that they like as well. Choosing a destination that you all agree on will make the journey more enjoyable.

If you are traveling with children you need to plan for their education. You need to consider which options are available to them, especially in the early phases of the move. It is not uncommon for new expats families to have trouble getting their children enrolled in school at first. This is especially the case for those who arrive within a couple of weeks prior to the start of school. It can also be complicated for those who arrive in the middle of a school term.

Also if you are travelling with family you need to determine if your employer will pay for their relocation expenses. Some expat employers pay for round trip plane tickets for you and your family members to arrive in the country. They also give you annual round trip tickets (or cash in lieu) to travel back home every year. This is a great perk as it makes travel less expensive for your entire family.

On the other hand, there are some employers who only pay for employee travel. Even worse, some don’t reimburse for transportation to and from the country at all. This can make your journey a lot more expensive. So do your research to determine if moving to a specific country is a viable option for your family.

Proximity to Home

The last consideration that I want to share is the destination’s proximity to your home base. This may or may not present a problem for you. Some people desire to be closer to home so that they can have easier access to their sick or elderly loved ones. This way if they have to make an emergency trip it won’t take too long or be too costly. Other people want to be as far away from their home base as possible for a number of reasons.

Need more help planning your expat journey? Contact us so that we can assist you.

Is African Repatriation the Solution for Disenfranchised African Americans?

Is African Repatriation the Solution?

The sociopolitical climate in the U.S. has finally come to a proverbial and literal head. With racial tension brewing at every corner of the country many African Americans are feeling more disenfranchised than ever before. Not only has the recent death of George Floyd resulted in nationwide protests, it is causing many African Americans to wonder if the U.S. is the best place for their well-being.

Discussions about African repatriation have always been a part of the African American narrative since the abolition of slavery. Since this time the repatriation conversation has been the centerpiece of many pro-black dialogues throughout the nation. The aftermath of a series of recent killings of African Americans has only served to heighten this conversation.

If you are considering this as an option for escaping the systematic disenfranchisement and disparities in the U.S., be sure to consider the following before you make your move.

Ethnic Identification

Ethnic identity is not an issue for the average African. Most Africans are very familiar with their tribal lineages and a number of them still adhere to the traditions of their tribal heritage. With the proliferation of DNA testing made widely available to the general public, a number of African Americans are also starting to learn more about their African heritage. As such, African repatriation can provide African Americans with the ideal environment in which to learn about, embrace, and practice their African heritage.

Some African Americans who have lived in an African country have reported feeling a closer connection with their roots. Present company included. Being on the continent has a way of making one feel whole or complete in terms of understanding who they are. In which case, African Americans don’t feel alienated or as disparaged when they are able to live among people who look like them.

On the other end of the ethnic identification spectrum is xenophobia, which is quite prevalent in a number of African nations. Xenophobia is effectively dislike of or prejudice against foreigners. In African this concept is most often displayed among black Africans from different nations. And it generally has to do with economic attainment.

It has become increasingly common for Africans from various nations to migrant to other parts of the world in search of a better life. This includes migration to other African nations. In which case Africans who immigrate to other parts of Africa may be able to secure better employment and other opportunities than the Africans living in the nation. This practice has resulted in tension, hostility, and violence against these immigrant Africans.

Conversely, the vast majority of Africans would probably welcome African American repatriates to their nations at first. However, it is likely that feelings of camaraderie among Africans and African Americans would soon diminish in the wake of economic advancement of African Americans living on the continent.

In many instances it is easier for African Americans to acquire better paying jobs and higher social status than Africans in certain African countries. If this occurs on a mass scale due to more African American repatriating in large numbers, it is likely that African Americans will also start feeling the impact of xenophobia in Africa. In which case, African Americans could experience the same disenfranchisement that they are trying to escape in Africa.

Economic Sustainability

Most African nations are ripe with business opportunities since many of these nations are in the infancy stages of development. African Americans who repatriate to the continent will not face a shortage of ways to invest in Africa. Almost any business will be viable in many African nations because of the dearth of development across the continent. In this way African Americans could enjoy many rights and privileges as profitable business owners who are able to contribute to the economic growth of African nations.

Their service to the country would be greatly valued and they would most likely be greatly respected by individuals in the community. This is especially the case if their business provides job opportunities to locals.

While many African nations are perfect for business-minded African Americans, those without the economic means or the know-how to develop a business may not fair so well in Africa. In general, African Americans who desire to repatriate to Africa should secure their economic situation before moving to the continent as I previously discussed in my post about expat life in Africa.

Otherwise, they will probably find themselves competing with Africans for some of the better job opportunities in the country. African Americans must also keep in mind that the pay scale shifts greatly from the U.S. to Africa. It is unlikely that the average westerner will be able to maintain their same standard of living based on income generated from the African economy.

The exception to this general guideline is individuals who are able to secure employment with non-governmental organizations or multi-national companies. In which case many of these individuals remain in subordinate positions to western organizations, which are basically the same strongholds that they are trying to escape.

Lifestyle

African Americans would have the opportunity to enjoy a natural, organic lifestyle in virtually any African country. Much of Africa is developing or underdeveloped in terms of industrialization. There are few manufacturing plants or large corporations that line the streets of any given African metropolitan area. Instead, there is plenty of natural beauty and untapped wilderness that often translates to a peaceful and nurturing experience for the inhabitants of such nations.

In general, Africans aren’t bombarded with the heavy burden of racism on a daily basis as are African Americans. While white privilege is still alive and well in many African nations, the vast majority of African nations are predominantly inhabited by black Africans. This means that though most African governments operate under colonial rule Africans don’t experience the same type of overt oppression as African Americans. In this way African Americans could possibly experience fewer health disparities related to toxic physical, mental, and emotional environments when residing in Africa.

While many African nationals enjoy a natural, holistic way of life they likewise suffer from infrastructural disparities. A number of discussions about the black experience in Africa often neglect the stain that colonization left on many African countries. Africa is not underdeveloped on purpose – this is purely by design.

African nations are not able to participate in capitalism in the same way as the rest of the world because few of them aren’t developed enough to do so. This means that they lack adequate housing, education, healthcare, and other essential systems to maintain a quality standard of living for the majority of their inhabitants.

While African Americans will probably be able to make more money than the average African while living in Africa, African Americans will still suffer the same infrastructural issues as the rest of the nation. African Americans will most likely have to travel abroad to seek out quality healthcare services or pay extra to live in standardized housing when living in Africa. In which case they will still experience similar lifestyle disparities as they did living in the U.S.

Summary

African repatriation is not a decision to be made lightly. Even more, it is not a decision that will most likely end the sense of oppression that the average African American feels in the U.S. African repatriation or relocation to any other part of the world is definitely not a panacea for racism, discrimination, and marginalization. Disenfranchisement exists at some level in every part of the world. And oftentimes black people are on the receiving end of such disparities.

However, when approached with sensibility and practicality African repatriation may be a viable option for some African Americans. As I have pointed out life in Africa has both pros and cons. There are many African Americans who can enjoy a prosperous, privileged life on the African continent. Though, this is definitely something that needs to be thought through with careful consideration.

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4 Ways COVID-19 Has Given Me a Deeper Appreciation for My Expat Journeys

Expat journey gratitude

Being at Home

When I first embarked upon my expat adventures, I had no plans of returning to the U.S. My goal was to perpetually live abroad though I wasn’t married to any particular country during that time. I simply loved the thrill that I got from exploring different parts of the world and I knew that international travel would forever be part of my life at the onset of my first expat adventure.

However, I was forced to move back to the U.S. in July 2018 due to some major health complications that my husband was experiencing at the time. So I reluctantly packed my bags and headed back home so that my husband could get the help that he needed. Fortunately, my husband has recovered and is doing much better now.

While I still miss being an expat, I realize that we came back home just in time. We had no idea that a global pandemic would hit less than two years after our return. Though, I am greatly empathetic toward expats who are experiencing precarious situations. My heart goes out to anyone who is suffering in any way due to COVID.

Being in our home country has many advantages in situations like this. One of the most important benefits of being home is that we are closer to our extended family and friends during this time of uncertainty. This gives us easier access to a support system that we would not have readily had access to if we were still abroad.

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Additionally, we don’t have to worry about other nuisances involved in expat life right now. Since we are home, we qualify for and have access to job, business, and other forms of governmental assistance, if we need it. We don’t have to be concerned about passport, visa, contract, or other document renewals and/or fees during this time. We don’t have to worry about the possibility of being stranded outside of our home country for extended periods of time. And, we have access to a strong, viable healthcare system and healthcare insurance scheme among other things.

Don’t misunderstand me – I still wholeheartedly support expat life. Yet, as amazing as being an expat can be it also has its disadvantages during both good and bad times. This shutdown has just made me truly appreciate being home for these and many other reasons.

Being from a Developed Country

Until now nothing has made me more appreciative of the comforts, amenities, and luxuries that are available in the U.S. As my son and I were taking a stroll through the almost deserted walkway in the back of our house a few weeks ago, I began to marvel at just how clean and inviting the space was. This is by no means nothing new as our neighborhood is always immaculately clean and beautifully landscaped. Even more, our community is normally filled with the laughter of young children, the barking of dogs, the thunder of little bodies moving around the playground, or the peaceful quiet of daybreak.

But what dawned on me this day was not the absence of these sounds or activities, but instead the absence of such scenery in other parts of the world. I have lived in and traveled to some of the most destitute parts of the world where living in a clean, safe community is considered a luxury. The majority of the population in these countries lived in extreme poverty and in very depressing environments.

I am definitely not saying that the U.S. is always clean and safe because we likewise have poverty, homelessness, and crime. However, there is a stark difference in the everyday environment in developed versus developing parts of the world. And, it is heartbreaking. So in that moment I started to give thanks and praise for the many comforts that I have enjoyed throughout my life as a U.S. citizen living in America and abroad.

Being Able to Travel

As the saying goes, “you don’t miss your well until the water runs dry”. And indeed the travel waters have ran dry over the past few months. My family had a few trips planned for this summer that are now forgone wishes. Fortunately, we were planning to purchase our plane tickets the week after COVID was declared a pandemic but we weren’t able to because of the virus. So we didn’t have to deal with complicated cancellation or exchange policies. However, we are dealing with an impending thrills-free summer and possibly winter and spring too.

Though this is not the ideal situation, I can easily cope with it because of the many adventures I have had through my expat journeys. I have amazing memories and beautiful pictures of some of the most exotic places that I have visited around the world. These thoughts and images are enough to pass the time during the next few months or so.

Undoubtedly these cherished memories have given me plenty of reasons to be grateful for my past travel experiences on every level. Not only I am appreciative of the tangible benefits I have experienced by being able to live in and travel to different parts of the world, I am also thankful for the myriad of mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits that I have reaped from my expat journeys.

Mentally, my expat travels have changed the way I view the world and how I think holistically. I am no longer an American citizen (except according to my passport) – instead I am a global citizen. I am concerned about how everything impacts the world at large because I know that the world is united by one common thread.

Emotionally, I am better able to cope with difficult situations because of my travel experiences. If you travel abroad enough, you will inevitably experience hardships and difficulties that you have very little to no control over. So you learn to cope – the sooner you learn to do so the better. At this stage in my life I can adjust to almost any situation. I didn’t even flinch when COVID was declared a pandemic. I simply started making plans to adjust and deal with our new reality.

Spiritually, I have grown and shifted in so many ways because of the things that I saw and experienced while I was living abroad. I learned so many things about religion and spirituality that changed my entire belief system. To dig into it now would be a disservice to my experiences so suffice it to say that I am immensely grateful for the spiritual lessons that I learned during my expat experiences.

Being with My Family

I am very blessed to have a wonderful husband and two amazing children whom I was able to share all of my expat experiences with. I always had someone by my side during my expat journeys so loneliness was never a major issue for me during that period of my life. However, as awesome as my family is I tend to take their compassion and love for granted at times.

COVID-19 has made me realize the value of having constant companions by my side through thick and thin. Unfortunately, there are many single people who have been shut in by themselves throughout this lockdown. While they may have family and friends, they live by themselves which can make being inside for weeks or months at a time very lonely and depressing.

So I am most appreciative of having my family with whom I can laugh, cry, giggle, scream, and simply just be with.

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