Moving Tips&Tricks July 11, 2022

5 Ways Expat Communities Can Help You Adjust to a Foreign Country

Steven Rogers

Apart from sharing Captain America's name, our freelance writer Steven is also a big fan of moving, history, and geography.

In pretty much every corner of our majestic world, there are American expat communities, and this is wonderful news for everyone who is thinking about moving internationally. It might not seem like a significant thing at first, but knowing that you can contact fellow Americans who have already adjusted to the foreign life means a lot.

Let Us Start From the Basics – What Is an Expat Community?

Expatriate communities are groups of people of the same nationality who have settled in a foreign place. Big cities often have neighborhoods where people from different cultures prefer to settle, and usually, there are schools, restaurants, and other services or amenities which are run and used by expatriates. Individuals move for various reasons, and accordingly, a classification of expatriates can be made:

  • Corporate expatriate – This is the main reason for moving abroad. American corporations expand their business in foreign countries and offer foreign office positions to their employees. This often results in major career advancements, and overall, there are many benefits of relocating because of employment.
  • Cultural expatriate – These people have decided to live in another foreign location because of their love of its culture. Such individuals had started learning the new language even before moving overseas, and they had no problem breaking the language barrier and overcoming the culture shock.
  • Nomads – Nomads simply love to travel and experience different cultures. They often stay for a limited period of time in a single location before finding a home in another. Individuals like nomads are experts when it comes to acquiring documents needed to travel abroad.

Why is this classification important? Well, you will have your own motivation for relocating across the world, and there is no better way of assessing your decision than to talk to a person who has had similar motivations for doing the same thing.

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First of All, Expatriates Can Help You With the Process of Relocation

Before you can begin living overseas, you have to go through the experience of relocation. If you are moving out for the first time, it can get a bit hectic at times since a moving to-do list can be quite long. However, remember that expats have already gone through all this, and they are the best source of information for these issues:

  • They can help you choose a reliable international moving company as packing services are important when relocating internationally.
  • There will be a lot of paperwork, and expatriates can instruct you about what a certain foreign embassy demands, which makes your life much easier.
  • They help you a lot with establishing a relocation budget by telling you what moving expenses are expected.
  • If you are experiencing high levels of moving stress, expats can provide you with much comfort and advice on how to deal with such feelings.
  • If you are relocating with dogs, cats, or other pets, there will be special requirements for transportation and documentation.

Home Possessions Have to Be Transported, and Advice Is Always Welcome Here

Don’t forget that you will have to decide what to pack when relocating abroad and prepare it all for transportation. Also, you might need to purchase auto transport services if you want to ship your car overseas. Expatriates can provide you with many useful relocation tips that can make your move more efficient and pleasant.

A girl looking pensively into a box
Expatriates have gone through all relocation difficulties and can provide great advice

The Best Insight Into the Life and Culture of a Particular Location Is Provided by Expatriates

Before relocating to a different culture, you will certainly want to learn about the way of life. Truth be told, nowadays, a lot of information can be acquired through the internet, but first-hand experience is still the best. People will share their honest opinion on what are the friendliest countries, what cities offer the brightest career prospects, or what places are good to move to with a family.

You Need to Know Whether Your Work Will Be Sufficient to Support All Living Expenses

You have to be absolutely certain that your income will be able to support the cost of living in a particular city. Websites like Numbeo are great for starting research on this important issue. However, you will get much more detailed information when talking to an expat. The internet tends to generalize information a lot, and expats can give you a more precise comparison between gas, groceries in different supermarket chains, public transportation, and other services that will affect your daily life.

Do Expats Pay Taxes? To Answer Shortly, Yes.

The US tax system is based on citizenship and not on the place of your home. Therefore, it doesn’t matter where you work – there will be certain tax obligations. However, as an expatriate, there are specific programs and benefits that the USA offers (The Foreign Tax Credit, The Foreign Earned Income Exclusion, and The Foreign Housing Exclusion). Of course, there isn’t a better way to get acquainted with the US foreign tax system than to speak with expatriates.

Expatriates Can Help You a Lot if You Are Relocating Without Work

Relocating without a job is a common occurrence. Yes, relocations are more comfortable knowing that stable employment awaits you, but that is not always the case. Contacting expatriates is a classic example of networking which is extremely useful when searching for a job. You can learn from them what websites to follow for employment, what relocation questions to ask the employer, and which cities offer the most opportunities. But there is also a high chance that you might even get recommended by expats if you have the qualifications. Nonetheless, here is a useful video on how to start searching for work abroad.

YouTube video

Advice When Searching for the Right Neighborhood and a Housing Option Is More Than Helpful

Again the internet will be the starting point, but an expat can provide you with the clearest idea of what a certain neighborhood is like. This is especially important if you are moving to a big city. Amenities, public transportation, and safety are some of the aspects that have to be assessed, and a person who already lives there certainly has the most genuine information.

Also, if you are having trouble finding the right house or apartment, again, individuals who have already gone through the process can help a lot. The best thing you can do is compare the prices with expatriates who are renting or who have bought real estate and determine whether the prices are reasonable or high. Moreover, you can even ask someone to inspect a certain house or apartment in person if the pictures on the internet are not convincing.

This Is Even More Important if You Are Moving With Children

When moving with children, you have to be certain that a particular neighborhood is appropriate, meaning that it is safe above all. Also, information about educational institutions is equally important. Finally, you will want a city to have places which can be enjoyed with children, and there is no better way to find out about these things than to ask families who have already relocated.

The Easiest Way to Meet New People Is to Hang Out With Expatriates

Making foreign friends abroad is not an easy process for everyone. If you are a more introverted person, it is a good idea to meet fellow Americans first. Later, they will introduce you to their foreign friends, show you where all the fun activities are, and what are the nicest restaurants and clubs if you want to experience the nightlife.

Friends enjoying a barbecue
You will quickly find friends among the expatriate communities

Here Are Some Interesting Facts About American Expat Communities Across the World

It is always good to know as much as you can about this topic as it will help you decide where to relocate. Here are some interesting facts.

Where are the biggest expat communities?

The biggest American expatriate community can be found in Central America, in Mexico, with a population close to 800,000. The second is Canada, with a population of around 270,000. When it comes to Europe, the United Kingdom and Germany are quite popular. As of lately, Portugal, Ecuador, and Singapore have become popular to live in as well.

What is the best country to live in as an expat?

It depends on what you are looking for. Spain has become one of the most wanted countries for Americans because of the wonderful coast, but also because of the relatively easier process of obtaining a work permit. Germany has been for some time now a popular destination because of its food and beer, but most importantly, because of its efficiency. The German Autobahn is unparalleled. Recently, South Korea has also become the choice for many Americans. South Korea is unbelievably modern (especially the capital city, Seoul,) and it is a heaven for freelancers since it has the fastest wi-fi connections.

What country has the most expats?

If you were wondering where are the largest expat communities, according to recent research, Qatar, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Jordan, and Singapore populations have high percentages of expatriate communities. Singapore is also one of the more popular destinations for Americans.

What is the safest country for expats?

The majority of the safest places for expatriates are located in Europe. Scandinavian countries are ranked highest (Denmark and Finland especially,) but Austria, Switzerland, and Portugal are pretty good when it comes to the crime rate. When it comes to other continents, Japan, New Zealand, and Singapore boast high levels of security.

What is the cheapest and safest country to live in?

Although much will depend on your income, according to many, Portugal provides the highest quality of living for the lowest amount of money. First of all, healthcare is cost-effective, which is a dream for all Americans, and secondly, housing is quite affordable. But most importantly, the quality of life is outstanding, and that means that safety is on a high level as well. You will have access to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world, and the climate is overall one of the most pleasant as well. And let us not forget about Lisbon, which is one of the most interesting cities on our beautiful planet.

What is the easiest country to move to?

Neighboring Canada is by far the most accessible place for living as it has unbelievably friendly immigration policies. However, countries like France, Spain, and Mexico are also very accessible to Americans (especially if they work in the tech industry). Nevertheless, paperwork is required, whatever location you choose for relocation, and you should be well acquainted with all policies and regulations before doing anything else.

Spain, Mexico, or Whatever Place You Choose for Your New Home, Help From Expats Will Be Available

It is comforting to know that when moving to a new foreign location, there are American citizens already living there. They have already gone through all the trouble of adjusting to the foreign environment. Life, due to adaptation, will be difficult in the beginning, but with the help of expatriates, you will be able to overcome all cultural differences much easier. Hence, if you are relocating, try to get in contact with them, and if for some reason you are unable to do so, you can always listen to podcasts, watch Youtube videos, and read blogs.

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