Is Expat Living for Me? (Part 1: Change)

Over this series of blogs, we will look at a multitude of questions to consider as you think about the possibilities of living a part-time expat lifestyle.  Firstly, let’s look at change.

Seville, Spain, a place I’d like to be a part-time expat one day.

Change.  This word probably describes the expat’s life like no other word can.  To be certain, change is at the core of the decision to become a part-time expat.  Living in another culture, learning another language, adapting to climate and language, learning nuances of your adopted culture, and experiencing all the other myriad of thing inherent in the move will mean that change will be continual for a while.

So, with the reality that if you’re going to consider becoming a part-time expat, change is inevitable, lets’ look at some questions that might help clarify your own reactions to change and perhaps give you some ways to deal with changes.  It is one thing to ask yourself about change, answering this way or that; it is another to answer and then seek ways to lessen the impact or bring a new perspective to the change.  I encourage you to consider the questions I’m presenting in this series of blogs, to discuss them with your spouse or significant partner.  Give them some time and thought.  Wrestle with them.  Some of them will have quick answers; others will take time to process.  What I believe will be valuable is the thinking, the realizing, and the gaining of perspective that will emerge as a result of spending time with these questions.

Let’s dive right in …


How do I handle change?  Do I avoid it?  Do I dread it?  Do I welcome it?   Think of some major changes you have experienced in the past.  What were your reactions to the change?  How did you cope?  What brought relief and peace amid change?  Living overseas takes some major doses of flexibility and adaptability – after all, you are living in a different world.  Do you adapt easily to new situations?

Are you able to switch gears in your mind easily?

Am I eager to learn and grow personally?  Does learning something new or stretching myself intellectually or physically motivate me or discourage me?  The fact is, whether you plan for it or not, you are going to grow if you move overseas.  It is inevitable.  So, how will you face that growth?  Will you go kicking and screaming, or will you run into it with arms wide open, ready to embrace the growth?


The interesting thing is that you won’t be able to plan your growth.  It will just happen to you because of the experiences you will encounter.  Learning?  Yes, you can plan specific things you want to learn such as language or local recipes, but again, most of your learning will take place because of your new experiences.  If you don’t want to grow, and you prefer that everything stay the same as it is now, then moving overseas is probably not a good choice for you.  Unless … you are willing to be willing, and open yourself to learning and growing.  (One more thing:  if you are planning to move overseas and have everything be the same as it is at home, you will only make yourself miserable by moving.  It just simply is not possible to move into another culture and have everything be the same as you are accustomed to.)

But, if you go into this process eager to learn, fascinated by what you will learn about yourself, and excited to embrace change within yourself, you will be rewarded richly.  For significant personal growth and learning, there are few experiences that provide the depth and opportunity that moving overseas provides.



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