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10 Tips for a successful start in expat role

26 August 2021

If you think expat life is for you there is lots of research to be done to help you pick a company, location, role etc. Consider your core values and goals and use them as a basis to decide on what type of expat role you choose. Read expat blogs, reach out to expats in your chosen business and learn as much as you can about the local culture in your chosen destination.
You don’t have to become fluent in the language spoken in your destination country, but you should know useful phrases that can help you to settle in, establish connections and move around more easily. Don’t assume that your language will be spoken everywhere that you go. There are many helpful apps for learning new languages to get you going. 
Research the culture in your destination to avoid culture shock. Knowing the local culture and customs can help you to avoid awkward situations both in work and out of the office. For example, business culture in Japan differs from culture in the USA. In Japan, bowing is the main form of greeting and people are referred to by first name and last name until instructed otherwise. You can consult your HR team for advice based on your location.
Make sure you and your line manager are clear about what you are there to achieve, how long you have you do it and what resources you have available to do it. Constantly review your progress according to these goals and communicate with your boss about what is going well or where you need help
Every business in every country has its own way of working. Take time to watch and see who stands out as a strong personality within your new team. Observing the normal pattern of working life will let you understand the nuances of how meetings work, how to go about asking questions and whether your team is comfortable working independently.
Before you reach a decision on where to live, get to know where you’re going really well. If possible, arrange a pre-visit with your company. Chat to HR to find out if they have a list of recommended locations to suit your needs. Key things to consider include price range, safety, amenities, proximity to the office, transport and local schools.
Creating friendships either within or outside your business can help to create a support network while on assignment. Many expats experience feelings of loneliness or isolation as they are away from friends and family. Make friends with your co-workers if possible, connect with other expats in the area through social media groups, join a sports team or gym or take up a new hobby to meet new people. 
If your spouse or family is joining you on assignment you will need to take certain measures to ensure that they settle in and enjoy life in their new location. Around one third of expat assignments fail due to spouses or family members not adjusting to expat life. You can find helpful tips on settling down as an expat family.
Remember that moving overseas, taking on a new role and adapting to life abroad will be difficult at times. It will also be rewarding to experience a new culture, see more of the world, advance your career and enjoy new experiences. Feelings of homesickness might arrive but try to push through and set a minimum length of time that you will commit to abroad. Your HR team will be there to help along the way.

Travel insurance will not cover you for prolonged periods of time spent abroad. You will need expat international health insurance to ensure that you are protected should you or your family become unwell on assignment. 


Find out more about Allianz Care expat health insurance and all its fantastic benefits such as the Expat Assistance Program with counselling support, wellbeing content and lots more.