expat safety

  Tips to stay safe as an expat in a potentially dangerous location

January 22, 2020


Research crime levels in your destination but also in the area you intend to move to. Be aware that although parts of a country may have high rates of crime, others may be safer. It is also important to understand who are the most common victims of crime in the country you may move to.


Political situation

Is there political instability in the country you are moving to? Are there areas of dispute or conflict? Is the government representative of the people or more authoritarian? How does the general population feel about all the above; are there protests, riots or violent conflict caused by the political situation? Consider how likely this is to impact on you as an expat living in this destination.



What is the economic gap between rich and poor in your proposed destination? As an expat will you be at the same economic level as a large proportion of the population or will you be part of a small group of wealthier people? If it is the latter, investigate whether there may be an additional risk of crime.


Natural disasters

If you are moving from a temperate to a tropical climate, you may need to be aware of the possibility of a natural disaster. Is there a monsoon or hurricane season? How much damage do they typically do to cities and towns? Is flooding a risk? Is the area you are moving to likely to experience earthquakes, forest fires or droughts? 



Although this may be linked to the political situation, terrorism is also worth researching. Have there been incidents of terrorism in your destinations recent past? Do acts of terrorism appear to be isolated or are they part of an ongoing issue? Who are the most likely victims of terrorism? Is it the military, law enforcement, government or the general population?


While bearing all of this in mind, don't let personal safety cloud your judgement completely when it comes to taking up an expat opportunity. There is danger and risk in living anywhere in the world. 

Register with your embassy

One of the most useful things you can do when travelling to a potentially dangerous or remote location abroad is to register with your embassy, so your government is aware you are living there. This allows your embassy to contact you should you need assistance and let you know if there is an unexpected crisis like a natural disaster or serious political unrest. 


Know the laws 

Research the laws in the country you are moving to. In particular research how they may differ from the laws you are used to. Acceptable behaviour in your own country may be against the law in others or vice versa. 


Be aware of crime

When you get to your destination, speak to colleagues or neighbours about the risk crime poses on a day to day basis. Take any precautions they recommend until you have an opportunity to assess the risk for yourself. 


Know what to do in an emergency

Would you know what to do if an emergency occurred.? How do you contact authorities if you are a victim of crime? Is there an emergency phone number to call? If you have a medical emergency, how do you access a doctor or get to a hospital? Is there an ambulance service or do you have to arrange transport yourself?


Research and plan transport options

Visitors to a new country are often most vulnerable while moving from one location to another either by public transport, taxi or private vehicle. Research transport options and mitigate any risk. Be particularly careful if you carry a backpack, handbag or mobile phone as these are frequently targeted.


Protect yourself with insurance cover 

Even with all the preparation in the world, accidents and incidents can happen. Protect yourself with relevant insurance policies. Look after your health and wellbeing with expatriate health insurance. It is also worth ensuring your policy has medical evacuation or repatriation cover included, particularly if you will be working in remote areas.