Is it Sensible to Move Abroad During a Worldwide Recession?


Even though the worldwide recession has and will continue to impact upon immigration figures there is no doubt that economies in countries around the world do require, and always will do, experts in certain fields. Even though investment in certain business arenas and countries around the world has fallen away, there is still a need to look at the long-term picture for both governments and for expats.

There are opportunities to move overseas every day of every month of every year although you need to take an opportunity which best suits your lifestyle, your hopes and ultimately your financial situation. You need to make the most of your positive points while obviously being aware of any potential downsides because the chances are when you do move overseas it will not be 100% as promised “in the brochures”. The recession may well have impacted upon immigration figures but ultimately free travel around the world and the opportunity to re-locate will always be there.

Read the complete and recommended article here >>>

Expatriate Relocation, Culture Shock and How to Deal With or Avoid It part 2: You and Your Family


Expatriate failures are still a factor of considerable importance, with reported failure rates between 16 an 40%.  If not the sole variable, technical competence is usually the prevalent determinant used to decide whom to send overseas. It is noted however that this is not necessarily the most determining factor to expatriate assignment successes. The other way around it shows in the most important factors for expatriate failures which are:

  • Inability of spouse to adjust to the new environment;
  • Inability of the expatriate employee to adjust to the new environment;
  • Other family problems;
  • The personal or emotional maturity of an expatriate employee;
  • Inability to cope with the overseas responsibilities (which are usually larger).

Personal factors to consider whether or not you may be suited are:

  • Do you have sufficient stress reduction skills: an ability to recognize potential conflicts and circumvent the negative reactions that could come with them?
  • Do you have the ability to replace the home activities you find pleasurable with similar or otherwise suitable activities overseas?
  • Are you technically competent enough do accomplish (if necessary) tasks with little or no help and remain confident?
  • Are you willing and able to develop longer lasting personal relationships with others hist country nationals?
  • Are you willing and able to speak the language of the host country fluently and as often as possible without fear of being incorrect, sounding silly or stupid as part of your genuine wish to understand and relate to your overseas environment?
  • Do you understand the importance of non-verbal communication (body language and facial expressions) in the host country?
  • Do you respect and have empathy for others?
  • Are you a non-judgmental type of person that rather waits to gather all relevant facts before bargig in with an opinion, stereotype and/or incorrect decision?
  • Are you open minded and able to make correct assumptions about the reasons or causes of certain behavior of your overseas colleagues, are you able to anticipate how your overseas colleagues will likely react to certain situations?

If your company is not assessing these matters you certainly should have a good look at them yourself. While a lot has been published on the financial costs, the personal, relational and family costs may be way more important. And when it comes to families, here are some factors to consider:

  • The level of of marital stability;
  • Responsibilities (real or perceived) for aging parents;
  • Chemical dependencies of anyone within the household;
  • The emotional stability of your family members;
  • The learning abilities and more important disabilities of your children;
  • Teenage children and potential behavioral issues;
  • Family ties with the community and other family members that are not going overseas;
  • How strongly are your family members and especially the children attached to certain extracurricular activities;
  • The cohesiveness of you and your family.

If not offered through your employer already, cross cultural training and  perhaps one or more exploratory trips to the destination country.

Below an interview that is probably very telling on a basic level of what may be coming to you.

This is not to say that expatriation is not something to do but most of all a call to you to prepare well before you go.

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Expatriate Relocation, Culture Shock and How to Deal With or Avoid It part 1 Introduction


‘Culture shock’ is a term used with different meanings. However, when used in relation to expat relocation,  it usually refers to a process of coming to understand and adapt to cultural differences manifested in daily life through interaction and/or situations. It is a process that affects people of all walks of life to a more or lesser extent. Language teachers, managers, sportsmen, spouses and children; each will end up dealing with it in the course of international relocation. It is important to learn to recognize it and how it affects you so as to avoid or minimize the potential negative side-effects of the relocation.

Relocation abroad is a huge step. The changes and contrasts in the simple things such as the language, food, TV, weather, shopping and socializing are but a small part of the overall relocation process and associated culture shock. The more deeper differences in customs, mentality, culture and world view as well as interpersonal interaction that have a more profound effect.

Experts have claim that there are stages of culture shock:

  • Stimulation: the first stage of relocation is commonly filled with hope and excitement. A new world is opening up. The ‘culture shock’ is less prevalent and replaced by a positive perspective and enthusiasm. You are in the discovery stage. Interaction with the host culture is primarily passive. In general and speaking from experience it all feels like a holiday or outing still.
  • Culture Shock: people start to interact with the host culture actively; through work and in day to day circumstances. The differences in behavior combined with the stress of adapting to a new daily routine shows signs of dislike and criticism of the host culture. Symptoms of culture shock start to appear: homesickness, boredom, weariness, irritability and even hostility towards the host culture. This is sometimes described together with the previous stage as the settling-in period which can last longer or shorter, depending on the person involved. 
  • Adjustment: after settling-in, an understanding and empathy with the host culture starts to develop. People feel more comfortable with their routines and surroundings. A working knowledge of the language or slang starts sliding into daily life.
  • Enthusiasm: the host country becomes ‘home’. The effects of culture shock lessen as a genuine enjoyment and appreciation of the new location develops. Elements of the host culture’s behaviors and mentality are adopted/integrated and rather than to criticize, certain areas of the host culture are preferred to the native culture.

Prior to relocation, it is important for individuals, couples and families to learn as much about the new host country as possible. I speak from experience when I say that this is one of the most important aspects I overlooked myself when moving from the Netherlands to New Zealand. If this is not done through a relocation briefing, then personal research is a requirement. Try to find out as much as possible about people, culture, social norms, work ethics, religions, language, food, entertainment and accommodation.  Preparation goes a long way!

Too often expats are selected in a hasty response to the need to fill a new or unexpected position abroad. While the selection process should fall into the domain of a well-informed intercultural trainer or human resource professional, more often than not it is senior management deciding who to send, and tending to choose the most technically competent candidates.  However, the qualities that
make candidates a success at the home front will not necessarily make them an international success. Relatively high failure rates exists at all corporate levels. Studies of failure rates vary between  grossly 15 to 50 percent of failed expat assignements leading to early returns.

In the next part we will have a closer look at some of the factors that lead to these expat assignment failures.

Affordable Expatriate Health Insurance