What You Need if You Want to be an Expat – Part 1


At a minimum, the following fifteen assets and attributes are essential for a successful and rewarding experience abroad: a college education, adequate finances, good physical health, courage, adaptability, perseverance, resourcefulness, congeniality, independence, an adventurous palate, a love of travel, a code of integrity, a willingness to compromise, a sense of humor and a genuine desire to live life to its fullest. Each attribute plays a crucial role in your ability to thrive and succeed in unfamiliar and challenging surroundings.

Here are first 5 of the 15 assets attributes.

College Education

Although it is possible to find employment abroad without a college degree, your probabilities increase exponentially if you have one. A degree of any kind is better than none at all, and for teaching English, the best credential is a BA or better in English with an ESL certificate. Many employers specifically require that a job candidate meet certain criteria, and those employers who do not insist upon it are still more likely to hire those individuals who do. Of course, many individuals without college degrees earn a perfectly good living as freelancers, but they are the exception to the rule, and they typically have some other means of staying in the country, such as a spouse with a work visa. In general however, freelancing may not meet the country’s government standards for procuring and maintaining a work visa. The bottom line is: If you want to get hired by a reputable establishment, stay in school yourself and get your diploma before you head off on your adventure.

Adequate Finances

For some adventuresome spirits, the idea of relocating to an underdeveloped nation is a tempting way to escape the struggles of making ends meet here at home. A place where a month’s rent for house with a servant costs less than dinner and a movie in the back home. But remember that underdeveloped economies are commensurate with underdeveloped salaries. So it’s important to set aside some financial reserves for extracurricular travel, or for when your paycheck falls short of your monthly bills, and for your return airfare when you’re ready to head home.

And for those sojourners headed for cosmopolitan destinations, remember that the cost of living in a large city can be equal to or higher than that of most U.S. cities. So, if your dream job awaits you in someplace like Tokyo, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Berlin, Florence, Cairo, Hong Kong, or Sydney, you’ll need to bring along enough money to sustain yourself until you find work, and to set yourself up in a modest apartment until the paychecks start rolling in.

Of course, in a perfect world, you’d have a job, an apartment, and a company car awaiting you when you get there. Actually, it’s not unheard of.

Good Health and Stamina

Unless your job includes a company car, you will probably have to rely on public transportation for the daily task of looking for work and for traveling from home to your new job and back. This often requires a great deal of walking to and from the train stations or bus stops in all kinds of weather. Many countries are hot, humid and rainy in the summer, and depending on where you are, it is cold and may even snow in the winter. So, unless you have a generous salary for an apartment in an ideal location, and an expense account for taxi fare or the use of a personal car, you’d best be in good physical shape for walking or bicycling at least part of the way wherever you go. Bicycles are usually quite common and affordable, and provide good basic transportation for errands and commuting to and from the train station. Therefore, the ability to walk or bicycle to and from your local destinations is a minimum requirement. And, of course, if you hope to enjoy any amount of recreational travel, good physical stamina and vigor are a must.

Many countries also have excellent health care systems, with fairly adequate social and cultural support for foreigners. Be advised however, when it comes to health, the local ideology may differ significantly from western medical practices, and the challenge of explaining one’s symptoms and figuring out exactly what ailment you have and what kind of drugs a doctor has prescribed can be somewhat bewildering. There are often a limited number of clinics in the metropolitan areas with native English-speaking doctors who specialize in treating foreigners, but they are few and far between. And those individuals with ongoing health conditions that require medications such as insulin, thyroid supplements, antidepressants, and even women who take oral contraceptives, would be well advised to make special arrangements for them in advance.


Your chosen destination may be one of the safest and most culturally advanced civilizations on earth, and English speakers may be common. Or it may be a quaint little town where everybody knows each other. But for a first-time visitor, any foreign destination may also be like nothing you ever imagined. Even the most innocuous and commonplace occurrences can be profoundly disturbing if you’re unprepared for the experience.


Most countries have unique lifestyles and customs. And undoubtedly, you will want to familiarize yourself with them before you go. But it doesn’t end there. Once you arrive, you will discover that there are subtleties and protocol that will make it not only possible, but highly likely that an unwitting foreigner will commit a faux pas at almost every turn. Over time, however, with an eye for nuance and an ability to adapt, you can learn how to behave appropriately in most every situation.

And then there are the furnishings and paraphernalia of everyday life. Things like bedding, appliances and cooking utensils. In public places, there may be unusual telephones, mailboxes and vending machines. Not to mention that most of the signs will be written in the local language with no English translations.

But, if you maintain an open mind and a willingness to adapt to your surroundings, chances are you’ll survive quite nicely.

Settle Comfortably in a New Country

At Asia Expat Guides, we understand that relocating to a whole new country is very challenging. You might feel very overwhelmed as there are tons of other things you need to prepare prior to your relocation. That’s why we are here to help you in your relocation and ensure a smooth transition from your home country to host country. We provide FREE consultation service for many aspects of your relocation, including advices on expat accommodation, education for your expat kids, expat visa, banking and insurance, pet relocation, and so on. We also provide expat guides service so you can get familiarized with your new city as soon as you land.

Just get in touch with us and we will be happy to answer your queries!


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