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Reasons Why Brits Fail To Make A New Life Abroad

Why is it that despite the fact that 99% of expats say that they are happy with the decision they made to move overseas according to a recent survey by NatWest Bank, that every single year almost as many expats return to the UK as leave, having failed to make a new life abroad?

The reasons cited by expats for failing to make a go of it are pretty much always the same – homesickness, language and cultural barriers, financial meltdown for example!  In this article we look at the top ten reasons why Brits fail to make a new life abroad so that you can forward plan to avoid disaster.

1) Homesickness – it is 100% inevitable that after the initial high of having made the move and achieved your dream that you will have at least a moment of dread and panic!  This usually manifests itself in the form of homesickness as all you can see around you is unfamiliarity and challenges and so you long for home where you felt more in control.  This feeling passes for the majority of expats willing to just keep their head down and keep going and meeting the challenges of building a new life abroad.  You WILL have this feeling – so be prepared for it and rationalise that things are not so bad abroad that you cannot cope, and things are not so good at home that it is as rose tinted as you momentarily see it!

2) Language barrier – you can prepare for this so do prepare for this!  If you move to a nation where the first language of the majority of citizens is anything other than English you are going to struggle in many situations if you do not make an effort to get to grips with the common tongue.  Take language lessons before you go – it need not be expensive as you can often get language courses from the library for example.  And then when you have relocated you need to keep on learning!  Don’t give up or put it off because it is difficult – it’s a challenge, yes, but it is something that you will gain so much from.  Make an effort, learn the language before you go.

3) Unemployment – so you think that you’ll find a job when you move abroad?  Are you sure?  Are you moving to a tourism location where the only jobs you’ll find are seasonal, in bars or making beds?  Great if you’re a student on a gap year, not so great if you have rent to pay, a family to support and a pension to save for.  So you want to start a business abroad?  Okay, but have you researched the viability of that business based on local demand for your service or product?  Have you looked into the costs of stocking your venture, the costs of establishing your business and have you got it into your head that even in the UK where there is massive support for those who want to become self-employed that 20,000 new businesses fail every year?  You need to be realistic about your relocation location from an employment point of view before you even think about a move abroad.  This point cannot be emphasised enough!  And say you secure a job before you go, what about if you want to change jobs or your contract is cancelled - are there any other employers in the region to whom you can go for work?

4) Loneliness – when you move abroad you leave behind friends and family and an established support network of people who make your life easier simply by being there!  When you move abroad you have to make a concerted effort to get out and about and meeting likeminded people with whom you can make a connection, forge a friendship and establish a bond – otherwise you will find loneliness taking over your life and swamping you.  It’s not a nice feeling and for some people, it’s enough to send them home.

5) Cultural clash – if you’re moving to live in Turkey it might be wise to get to know a bit about Islam and Muslims and understand that there are regular daily loud calls to prayer for example.  If you’re moving to live in Australia is might be wise to get to know a bit about the sexist males and the regular calls to barbeque!  I.e., each nation, each faith, each culture has its own rituals, its own standards and beliefs.  Get to know more about the day to day culture of the people you are moving abroad to live amongst otherwise you could discover there are aspects of their lives that you cannot tolerate.

6) Financial stress – if you fail to get your finances in order before you leave the UK and run away leaving debt then do not expect your transition abroad to be a smooth one.  Debt collectors can now track you overseas in certain instances.  Additionally, if you move abroad solvent but then fail to take into account how much the relocation will cost and how quickly you will eat in to your savings if you do not have a regular or large enough income, you may well face financial stress.  Financial reasons are the main ones cited by Brits who fail to make a new life abroad.  So, consider this point seriously and get to grip with money matters before you go.  Be conservative in your estimates too!

7) Medical nightmare – not all nations have an NHS equivalent, in fact, it’s safe to say that the majority do not.  So, you need to have medical insurance in place of the right type and to the right level to ensure that all your potential medical needs abroad are looked after.  Basically you need to think about all eventualities from medical evacuation to needing long-term care, and you need to think about these eventualities from a financial perspective.  Get the right level of medical insurance in place and then this issue will not stress you.

8) Disappointment and disillusionment – you are who you are and a move abroad will not change that!  So if there are aspects of yourself or your current life that you think you can escape or change by moving abroad, chances are you’re wrong!  Don’t set your expectations of a new life abroad unrealistically high – after all, apart from a destination change, everything else you carry with you will remain the same.  If you have expectations of the grass being greener (figuratively not literally of course!), you may well become disappointed and disillusioned when your day to day routine still includes having to shop, wash, clean and pay bills.  So, be realistic!

9) Relationship breakdown – making a life changing decision to relocate puts a strain on all concerned and if there were small cracks in your relationship beforehand, this can make those cracks become gulfs you can no longer reach across.  Be aware that moving overseas is very stressful and that it can mean the end of many a previously seemingly happy or content relationship.  Bear this is mind too if you see cracks appearing that weren’t there before.  Try and be supportive of each other, seek guidance and counselling before it’s too late.  Don’t turn to the bottle, other expats or a return flight – try and work through the problems…you owe it to your relationship, your partner and yourself.

10) Death of a partner – unfortunately the death of a partner or spouse is also a reason cited by a number of repatriates forced to return home.  The death can leave the surviving partner too lonely, too financially insecure or just too unhappy about remaining in a property without their other half.  This is of course not something you can plan against – but if you maintain close contact with friends, family and life back in the UK, it will make a transition home that much easier if that is what you decide you want.