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FAQs for Living and Working Overseas:


Written by a former Peace Corps Volunteer living overseas since 1989

The Expat Guy: FAQs for Working and Living Overseas

How do I find a place that fits my lifestyle?

Assure your social survival

Much like checking out the financial situation - you need to carefully investigate the social situation where you hope to go.  A lonely life overseas is no fun at all.

Ask, Ask, Ask

Again, go to discussion boards (see the Resources page) and ask about lifestyle issues.  Are the local people friendly or xenophobic?  Will you find yourself isolated or quickly absorbed into an active local or expatriate community?  If you are gay or single and seeking a dating scene - ask about it.  It is much better to be upfront and find out - than to be committed to a year of loneliness.

The author lived for three years in a smallish community in Korea, but because of friends, had a great social life.  Others find themselves in small towns, lonely, isolated, and quite unhappy.

It might be best, with your first job, to avoid smallish towns or cities, particularly in countries where foreigners are not quickly accepted or where there is not an expatriate community.

The Expatriate Community

As much as we would all like to live in, adjust to, and be accepted by the people of a foreign culture, it is often more difficult than it might seem and it can take some time.  The local folks have, after all, seen a fair number of people just like you come and go over the years - they may well wait a year or two before warming up. 

So, a strong expatriate community can provide good support during your initial days, when you don't know the language and need to sort out your living situation. 

Fresh in a new community, it can even be difficult to figure out where to find food that you are familiar with.  Other issues that you might need help with: getting a telephone, cable or satellite TV, a computer and/or Internet connection, driver's license (some jobs will require this), a car or motorcycle.  Even getting drinking water delivered to your house can be problematic.  These are just the beginning issues - what about going to immigration and getting a resident visa, a work permit and whatever else may be required on that side?

Often your employer or coworkers can/will help you with these issues - but not always.

Ask on the boards about the kind of support you might expect to find in your new community.   Also ask about any lifestyle issues you may be unsure about.

Lifestyle

Balance your financial needs/wants with lifestyle issues.  Particularly if you are single and/or gay. You can earn/save a lot money in Saudi Arabia - but your life might not be enjoyable.  South and Central America, Eastern Europe, and parts of Asia sometimes have active dating or "alternative lifestyle" communities, but sometimes, also, pay poorly.

Go to the discussion boards and ask about lifestyle.  Do it as frankly as you would ask about wages.

As with most things in life, find a balance of what fits you best and will keep you happy.

It's better to know - before you go.

 

 

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