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Pros and Cons of Being an Expatriate

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Are you sure you aren’t missing home already? How about the local foods back home? Your friends and family-do you miss them? If you sample about ten expatriates, about six of them will tell you they miss home and their country. To some, it isn’t easy living away from home. But for others, it is a blessing.

Who is an expatriate? An expatriate is a person who has voluntarily left their home country to adopt a new residence in another country. Some people leave their country to work in another country due to so many factors including better working conditions, the desire to taste and adopt a new culture, among others.

Many of the people who travel abroad to work do not go there on their own will. They do so based on directives of their employers. A worker who is sent to work abroad without being seconded has an expatriate status and there is no time limit to this status.

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Though some travel with the intention of going to work, they face harsh conditions and sometimes regret ever going. If you want to stay on the safe side and ensure you are fully protected from some of the harsh treatment meted out to foreigners abroad, then you can do so by taking out insurance before you leave.

According to European legislation, expatriation means losing entitlement to social security in your home country. You will have to register with your host country insurance system. Cover levels can be quite different from one country to another and sometimes happen to be inadequate.

This means that all links with the home country’s social security system are withdrawn once expatriation begins. An employee may be expatriated from the beginning of his task abroad if the employer has not chosen other options. On the other hand, an employee can also end up being abroad on an expatriate status once the maximum period permitted for a secondment has been reached.

While some people feel good to work outside their country, others experience the opposite. Though there are good sides associated with being an expatriate, there are negative sides attached to the status too.

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The good aspect

Once a company has branches in other countries, some employees will definitely have to move to those countries. As far as an employer is concerned, sending employees abroad on an expatriate status is often much cheaper than secondment. The cost, together with that of any obligatory local contributions, is often economical.

Also, expatriates who relocate purposely to work are able to earn income for themselves. There is good news especially when the currency of the country where an expat is working,  holds more value or has a higher exchange rate than that of his home country. In this case, the expat can work, paid, and when he returns to his home country, he wouldn’t have to worry about exhausting his money anytime soon.

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Some few years ago, a friend, living and working in London for ten years returned home. She told me how she wanted to build a house and I started laughing. Do you know why? I thought for someone to teach for some time in London wouldn’t have the income for the type of mansion she wanted to put up.

Lo and behold, her dream came to pass. She later explained to me how she could make enough money to raise the building because the pounds sterling she brought from the UK had a greater exchange rate as compared to our local currency

Another positive side is the opportunity to learn and participate in others’ culture. In most countries outside one’s home country, you’d have to learn to speak their language, eat their food, and live like them. You will do all these because you do not want to be an outcast. You also get the opportunity to participate in whatever activities go on trying something new and different from what you’ve always known.

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The ugly side of being an expatriate

Loneliness is one downside of being an expatriate. If you are unlucky and you happen to find yourself in a hostile country where most citizens see foreigners as enemies, then be prepared to be on your own. What happens when you fall sick in someone else’s country? That was exactly the question I asked myself when I was supposed to travel abroad for my first degree.

Due to the fear of being lonely and away from my family and friends, I refused to go and had my first degree in my own country. At least, here in my country, I can talk to my family about my problems. Who will I talk to if I travel abroad and get into trouble? I’m not saying that I’m troublesome but as humans, many unexpected events are bound to come our way.

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As an expatriate, you will no longer have access to your home country’s social security cover. Though there are some countries that allow transfers and accept social security cover, a majority of countries do not.

Expatriates are usually covered by the local scheme. Reimbursements like Pension and unemployment benefit transfers are only possible if you are moving from one E.U. member state to another. Outside the E.U., benefits obtained in the home country generally are lost once expatriation occurs. What then happens when you don’t fall into this category of expatriates?


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