Money (That’s What I Want) — Or: #2 A penny saved is a penny earned
Two out of five expats are worried about their future financial situation, especially retirement provisions. Unsurprisingly, this applies especially to expats in their late 30s: many people are now raising children and worry about balancing their family’s present-day needs with saving money for the future.
Living and working abroad has some financial long-term risks: due to a spotty record of paying social security contributions in your country of origin, your chances at getting the maximum state pension are probably slim, and plenty of private pension plans are bound to one specific country. Unfortunately, not all expatriates are senior executives who often have an annual household income of 100,000 USD or more — which the average person moving abroad can only dream of.
Happy are those expats who have chosen one of the best destinations for the “money-savvy”, which the Expat Insider survey has also identified: expats in Ecuador, for example, are most satisfied with their financial situation and their household income while profiting from the best-rated (read: lowest) living expenses worldwide. Those living in Thailand and Hungary are especially content with the affordability of housing for expats.
Obviously, you can’t just up and leave for Quito, Bangkok, or Budapest to join the ranks of the financially lucky ones. But there are some things that everyone can do to save a nice nest egg, no matter where they live.
Get started by taking a good long look at your finances. First, take meticulous note of every single expense for the next month. Second, while you’re busy tracking that, make an overview of all your assets and liabilities worldwide. That will at least give you a good idea of where to begin.
The Lonely Hearts Club Band — Or: #3 Be awesome on your own
The third most-cited problem of the expats surveyed was their relationship status — or, rather, their lack of a relationship: 38% of expats didn’t only bemoan their singledom, but also agreed that expat living makes finding the love of your life difficult.
True, it might seem that way when you are inundated with invitations to weddings you’ll miss (on account of living on another continent) or cute baby photos in your Facebook feed, right after your last date told you they have accepted another assignment and will be moving to Shanghai soon.
So what can be done about that? Apart from envying those blissfully happy expat couples in destinations such as Costa Rica or Malta, who report complete satisfaction with their romantic life. If you’d like to overcome that secret twinge of envy, the most helpful advice is probably this: what would you do with your life if you were 100% sure that you will never ever find that special someone?
At first glance, this attitude might look defeatist. Actually, it forces you to rethink your priorities — career, international travels, hobbies, extended family, volunteer work, etc. Once you decide to go actively looking for Mr. or Ms. Right, it reminds you to save some time for all the other things that matter in life.
This approach could also help you find the right kind of person: there’s no point in dragging yourself to one pub crawl after the other, in the hope of meeting that special someone, when you would rather get up early the next morning and explore the country side, or go on a stroll through the city’s art galleries. The most important thing is to get out there and do what you enjoy doing, maybe join a group or club to find others who are in a similar situation and share your interests — and just be happy doing what you love.
No matter which issue you identify with the most, maybe we can help you a little along the way. We can’t move your family halfway round the world, send you a winning lottery ticket, play match-maker, or even switch off your “snooze” button, but perhaps other expat comminities members can come up with helpful ideas, provide good cheer, or offer moral support.