Managing Friendships as an Expat


November 2022 

Living abroad or at home, we all need to connect with others. Only 57% of expats worldwide find it easy to make new friends abroad. It’s no surprise when you consider expats have to juggle a new role, colleagues, and cultures while maintaining their friendships back home. A natural part of being an expat is making your own network. Expat friendships often act as a ‘new family’ bringing positive experiences and memories into your life abroad. We explore how you can build and maintain lasting friendships as an expat. 

Leaving behind your social group when you decide to move abroad is all a part of the process. The fear of growing apart is only natural when your usual catchups move over the phone. You have to take intentional steps to maintain your friendships as an expat. Plan your calls as regularly or as feasible as it is for you both. With modern-day technology staying connected has never been easier.  


If regular calls are hard to schedule as often as you like. Try sharing snippets of your day, maybe you’re trying a new restaurant or exploring a new part of town. It is the simple things that keep you connected. there is no right or wrong way to stay in touch, you have to find your own rhythm to it. 

Finding new friends as an expat is an important step in settling in, but also in finding a sense of belonging. It takes a lot of effort to put yourself out there and find new friends. Look out for meet-up groups, clubs and events you can join to mix with other expats. Global studies show that only 47% of expats find it easy to make new friends abroad. This shows us that some effort is required to get out there and build your new network abroad. 
A common part of being an expat is having a regular stream of friends moving and returning home. It can be hard to create a strong network of friends when everyone’s circumstances are temporary. This can be one of the biggest challenges for expats friendships. Saying regular goodbyes often bring up feelings of isolation and loneliness. 
Only 45% of expats worldwide find it easy to make local friends. While language barriers and cultural differences are a big part of these challenges.  Having local friends is a great way to feel a part of your new community. Helping you learn a bit more about the local culture. It is not a guarantee, but you are less likely to say goodbye to as many local friends as you will expats. Making it easier to form a lasting network away from home. 

It is inevitable to lose touch with friends in life, friendships take both sides to be proactive and willing to stay in touch. Recognizing when you need to step away will help you free up more time for friends that are serving you. Some friendships are not meant to last a lifetime.


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