Expat Lifestyle, Travel Bug and Addiction

travel-addictsmall‘Once an expat, always an expat’, ‘catching the travel bug’ and ‘itchy feet syndrome’ – these are some of the fairly common phrases you come across when looking through expat blogs, forums and global mobility related articles. Indeed, sometimes expatriation moves from merely a one-time international work experience to a nomadic lifestyle, and there are probably good reasons for that…

 

What makes a ‘once-in-a-lifetime expat’ a ‘permanent expat’?

One of the older Telegraph articles brings up some reasons of why expat lifestyle can be addictive. Considering specifically corporate expatriates, the author argues that expat benefit package, pay and status can play an important role in one’s willingness to take yet another assignment.

Although in recent years economic difficulties have made companies reevaluate their overly generous expat compensation, this argument is still valid today. However, in terms of employees working abroad on a self-initiated basis, these arguments are less likely to explain the addiction to an expat lifestyle. Going abroad independently goes often hand in hand with employment challenges, lower pay and probation periods. So what is the reason for self-initiated expats to persist in their nomadic lifestyles?

Probably everything else apart from work and pay that can be summarized under the term expat lifestyle. Both corporate and self-initiated expats may get hooked with living in a foreign culture, experiencing and learning something new, meeting other foreigners, making local friendships, and exploring new places. These are the very aspects that are so difficult to obtain while living back at home, and hence, everything that a person ‘bitten by a travel bug’ would crave for. This is where the addiction is coming from, this is when it becomes difficult to settle.

 

A downside for the addiction to an expat lifestyle?

Generally, the term addiction has a rather negative meaning because feeding any addiction comes at the expense of something else. In this sense, if we talk about travel bug, we may as well realize that it can never be fully satisfied for a long term. Every new place, culture, and society eventually becomes familiar, and with time transforms into ‘home’ that will not satisfy one’s addiction anymore. So the natural solution is to move over and over again.

But at what expense? Maybe at the expense of something that comes with stability?

Take the professional career for example. A global mindset and international experience are naturally valued today more than ever before, and yet, it is difficult to argue that building a professional career is only based on continuous effort and progress in one specific area, direction and location. At the same time, I guess it is also true that moving around and landing a job that fits well into one’s career path in every new place is quite a challenge.

Something that also comes with stability is family, isn’t it? Every expat survey brings up the topic of family challenges, implying that being globally mobile when being not alone anymore is difficult.

As such, there seem to be some definite costs that may come with an expat lifestyle. Naturally there are also benefits. In the end, weighing these costs and benefits is a personal decision that makes some of us move and the others settle down.

84 thoughts on “Expat Lifestyle, Travel Bug and Addiction

  1. I agree with you. It is an addictive lifestyle. I find the diversity exciting as well as challenging. And really feel that I have grown as a person in a way I mightn’t have done otherwise!! Certainly hasn’t been the financial gains in my opinion.

  2. The term addiction might be a bit strong… I would rather use the word “expertise” which makes sense: after all, people with a certain expertise know they can do a certain job well.. being an expat and being good at it requires a strong ability to adapt in unfamiliar environments and perform in spite of challenges… That’s a high level proven qualification of global acumen which is seldom put on a resume unfortunately or – if it were – probably would not be be seen by most recruiters as worthy of note…
    Being good at expatriation requires a unique talent of mental openness to the world’s differences and flexibility but it does come with a price which is seldom understood at the beginning of the cycle: leaving behind friends, connections, colleagues, family, roots, starting over and changing along the way….. the amount of energy and willingness to be a total novice in a new place, asking questions, trying to understand the way things are done, be socially active is great and very exciting in the first assignments.. I do believe that it can become more of a challenge as time goes by… after a 6th or 7th assignment, one expects the unfamiliarity of the new social mapping, but it might not be as appealing as the first assignment, especially with children in tow who go through their own adaptation challenges as they grow older and transit from one school system to another overseas and to the meaning of what “home” really means. Having friends and family all over the world is wonderful and I m grateful for the opportunities and the memories built in different countries and the friendships made and languages and skills acquired along the way. The hard part is the dedication and energy required to keep connections alive as the countries add up and the memories boxes are full of different places and people met, who are not connected across countries or will ever know each other and you are the only connecting point between the differences showing in those boxes. It s like accumulating bits of acting roles… Tremendously invigorating and enriching when shared in international cycles, difficult when the expatriate repatriates back “home” or somewhere to build roots at one point.

  3. Set apart from familiar external influences, some expats stop worrying about pressures to mold and keep the people around them happy. The challenge of living in a new place lets them see themselves as individuals rather than citizens of a specific country or members of a culture. This gives them a whole new internal perspective.

    Great article!! Sebastian Reiche

  4. I have been an expat during my single days, and it was truly like an addiction. I was paid good money, I was experiencing a completely new culture, and I was having a lot of fun. I continued for a few years, but then the family bug bit and I have since become a family man. When I read your post I was reminded of my expat days and I must say you captured great insights… loved this post, thanks!

  5. Nice read and I can relate. I guess you could call it addictive being an expat. More an addiction to the pursuit of personal growth, which we all need to do at some time in life. Mostly for the single people obviously but sometimes us married folk can get the chance too. Thanks for sharing !

  6. Really this is great article. I have been an expat during my single days, and it was truly like an addiction.Thanks for sharing. Keep it up.

  7. A great article full of useful information. The Ex Pat life does not suit everyone and you must consider all the pros and cons before making the leap

  8. I guess you could call it addictive being an expat. More an addiction to the pursuit of personal growth, which we all need to do at some time in life. Mostly for the single people obviously but sometimes us married folk can get the chance too. Thanks for sharing !

  9. I do agree with “if we talk about travel bug, we may as well realize that it can never be fully satisfied for a long term”

    so traveling for lifetime is the best and nice solution 😀

    nice share !

  10. Looking to embark on the expat lifestyle myself. The climate where I live is cold and wet so I’ve been looking into moving to Spain which is warm all year round. The good thing about working from home is that I can move anywhere and take my work with me. Although lying on a beach in Spain might not be so conducive to work!

  11. Well who wouldn’t want to be addicted to travel lol. I would love to travel the world and maybe backpack china and europe! That would be my dream but a dream that would cost 10’s of thousands of dollars lol

  12. I have only dreamed of living the expat lifestyle. I relish the thought of moving from one place yo the next unencumbered.
    But alas…I am anchored by my family whom I love dearly. But it is still a nice daydream for me.:)

  13. I agree that this article is talking about expat lifestyle is so addictive.Thank you so much for the sharing, very nice article and great information.

  14. Great article, Prof Sebastian. Someone must do something different to refresh the brains, and expat lifestyle is ok ’till someone find what he is looking for in his deepest soul

  15. The challenge of living in a new place lets the expat see himself as individual rather than citizen of a specific country or member of a culture. This gives him a whole new internal perspective

  16. Thanks for your article on the traveling industry. I would also like to add that if you are a senior taking into account traveling, its absolutely crucial that you buy travel cover for retirees. When traveling, retirees are at biggest risk of getting a health care emergency.

  17. I have never travelled out of the UK not had the time but this is a great article and who knows i might take a trip somewhere. Thanks for sharing

  18. Hey Sebastian.
    Nice post. I saw how expats who worked in a company I worked too, loose all their comodities because all the economic presure and problems over the world. Expat experience is awsome.
    Thanks… your post just remember me some situations I went Through.

  19. Really Great article.It is an addictive lifestyle. I find the diversity exciting as well as challenging. And really feel that I have grown as a person in a way I mightn’t have done otherwise!! Certainly hasn’t been the financial gains in my opinion

  20. Thank you so much for the sharing, very nice article and great information.The challenge of living in a new place lets them see themselves as individuals rather than citizens of a specific country or members of a culture. This gives them a whole new internal perspective.

  21. Don’t think I could ever live the expat lifestyle. I love to travel and do it as often as I can but I like to have a permanent base too. Somewhere to come home to. Can’t imagine upping sticks every so often to move to a completely new place. To me that’s the definition of stress!

  22. i think you could call it addictive being an expat. More an addiction to the pursuit of personal growth, which we all need to do at some time in life. Mostly for the single people obviously but sometimes us married folk can get the chance too. Thanks for sharing !

  23. A global mindset and international experience are naturally valued today more than ever before, and yet, it is difficult to argue that building a professional career is only based on continuous effort and progress in one specific area, direction and location

  24. Nice post, I think you could call it addictive being an expert. For some kind of personal growth, you need to do at some time in our life. Mostly for the single people naturally but sometimes us married folk can get the chance too. Thanks for sharing!

  25. I find the diversity exciting as well as challenging. And really feel that I have grown as a person in a way I mightn’t have done otherwise!! Certainly hasn’t been the financial gains in my opinion.

  26. very nice article and great information.i was reallry happy to read this.The challenge of living in a new place lets them see themselves as individuals rather than citizens of a specific country or members of a culture.

  27. Thanks for sharing !.i think you could call it addictive being an expat. More an addiction to the pursuit of personal growth, which we all need to do at some time in life. Mostly for the single people obviously but sometimes us married folk can get the chance too.

  28. I saw how expats who worked in a company I worked too, loose all their comodities because all the economic presure and problems over the world. Expat experience is awsome.
    Thanks… your post just remember me some situations I went Through.

  29. Nice post. I saw how expats who worked in a company I worked too, loose all their comodities because all the economic presure and problems over the world. Expat experience is awsome.
    Thanks… your post just remember me some situations I went Through.

  30. Your Article is really too good. I am Impressed. Thanks for your article. It is very helpful for us. I will recommend to my friend to follow your article. thanks
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  31. Unfortunately, from personal experience, my company has drastically decreased the budget used for any type of travel. Anything extra that I use to receive is no longer available. Really a shame in some cases, and accommodations have become sub par to say the least.

  32. Amazing Post Sebastian. Pampered to read this one. Traveling is in my blood. Waiting to get more posts like this. very nice article and great information.i was really happy to read this.The challenge of living in a new place lets them see themselves as individuals rather than citizens of a specific country or members of a culture. I have been an expat during my single days, and it was truly like an addiction. I was paid good money, I was experiencing a completely new culture, and I was having a lot of fun. I continued for a few years, but then the family bug bit and I have since become a family man. When I read your post I was reminded of my expat days and I must say you captured great insights… loved this post, thanks! Thanks again. Lovely Life Vines

  33. Great post Sebastian. I agree with you. I believe that travel develop addiction, but good and positive.Traveling is addiction for many peoples like me.

  34. A debt of gratitude is in order for sharing !.I figure you could call it addictive being an expat. Increasingly a dependence on the quest for self-awareness, which we as a whole need to do sooner or later in life. For the most part for the single individuals clearly however some of the time us wedded people can find the opportunity as well.

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  36. Nice post, I think you could call it addictive being an expert. For some kind of personal growth, you need to do at some time in our life. Mostly for the single people naturally but sometimes us married folk can get the chance too. Thanks for sharing!

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