Monday, January 17, 2011

Do Expatriates experience hardship?

Does an Expatriate and their family experience any hardship? First impressions can be misleading. Many Expatriates accept an overseas position with high expectations of a better quality life, luxury accommodation, and the excitement of new experiences.


The reality is that many Expatriates are disappointed with the reality versus the expectation of their living and working experience. Once they settle in to their new environment, hardship, over which they have very little control often appear. Hardship is the relative difference in the quality of living a person and their family will experience and the relative impact on their lifestyle when moving between different locations. Factors include-:


Economic Differences: Such as moving from a First-World location with little poverty and high levels of service provision to a Third-World location where poverty may be prevalent and services intermittent or unavailable


Political Differences: Such as moving from a liberal western life style where diverse views are tolerated to a highly regulated life style where conformity is expected


Religious Differences: Such as moving from an environment where your religion is dominant, to a location where your religion is potentially seen with suspicion


Public Service Differences: Such as moving from an environment where water, electricity, sanitation, work permits etc are easily accessible, fast and efficient to one where services are not reliable, where administration requires a great deal of your time in poorly maintained offices potentially exposed to corrupt officials


Environment/Climate Differences: Such as moving from a mild climate to one of extreme weather such as very hot or very cold locations


Personal Safety Differences: Such as moving from a safe secure environment where you can walk the streets in safety to an environment where you require security (armed response, expensive insurance, high walls electric fences etc) and where it may not be safe to walk outdoors alone


Health Differences: Such as moving from an environment where vaccines and health standards have eradicated most disease to an environment where health standards are poor, and life threatening viral outbreaks common


Education Differences: Such as moving from an environment where state education standards are high, pupils are taught in their mother-tongue, and schools are close to home to an environment where state school standards are poor and in a different language requiring attendance at an international school which can be expensive and require daily travel


Transportation Differences: Such as moving from a location where public transport is freely available and efficient, to a location where it is unreliable and may not be safe to use.


In assessing how much to pay an Expatriate, it is important to take into account the relative hardship, in terms of quality of living conditions between locations, and assesses the relative level of difficulty that will be experienced in adapting to a new location.

1 comment:

  1. I can't say that I have any experience of being an expatriate myself but a few years back, a friend emmigrated with her family. It was a bit of a whirlwind to be honest with you. Her parents were worrying about visas, international medical insurance and the like and she was worrying about how her accent would make her stand out, whether she'd be able to make friends, whether she was going to have to sit through another set of exams. I can't even remember how how many times I found myself on the phone to her in the middle of the night because she was desperate to talk to someone. In a way, I think I was her link "back home" until she no longer felt that England was her home.

    And it took a while but it did happen. I'd imagine it can be tempting to jump on the first plane back home but it's best not to make any rash decisions in the first few months. That was when my friend was most upset.