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The word expat is shortened from expatriate and we are always getting asked “what is an expat?”. It’s not just a definition that can simply illustrate an expat, but in fact a string of beliefs, desires and motivations.

But tacking the definition is a good starting point.

What is an expat? The definition

According to the trusty dictionary, an expat is someone who does not live in their home country. So if a person was born in the United Kingdom and relocated to the sunny coast of Malaga (a personal favourite destination here at Relodream), they would be described as an expat.

The word itself originates back to medieval times. ‘Ex’ meaning out in Medieval Latin, whilst ‘Patria’ means native country. An obvious notion seeing the combination referring to a person who is out of their country; a person that has left to relocate somewhere new.

Did you know: The term “flexpatriate” is given to someone who makes a vast amount of short trips to other countries for meetings, conferences and other business affairs.

Why live in in another country?

Living in a new country presents new opportunities and challenges, although presumably the  opportunities and benefits outweigh the alternative for expats. The definition merely scrapes the understanding to what an expat is. Below are reasons as to what an expat looks for in a new country.

The experience: A change of scenery can do wonders when it comes to quality of life. Jumping into a new culture with different experiences, sites, food, people, and so much more, is reinvigorating.

The cost: It’s usually the cost that’s a motivation for those in the latter half of their lives. Whilst a lot of areas expats gravitate to are cheaper (I had a large lunch today for just €4), the economy is balanced. That means if you are looking to work and get by in another country, you are unlikely to feel the financial benefits. Many expats will have properties generating them income back in their home country.

The weather: In my home country, the weather is considerably gloomy, cold and all round grey! Moving to somewhere in southern Europe for example, allows expats to enjoy warmer weather and far more days of sunshine. That in its own is a common factor to why many become expats.

What is an expat’s characteristics?

In a research study, the two characteristics that were most prevalent of successful expats were ‘open-mindedness’ and ‘flexibility. These terms are not surprising.

To even begin to contemplate moving away from your home country, you’ll need to be ready and willing to face a life full of many differences. What expats understand is the risk and reward, and those that settle into a life abroad have been successful.

And flexibility? Our day to day lives become clouded and we often feel that change is near enough impossible. Leaving that well paid job, or that mortgage that needs paying, are just two examples of what keeps us at bay. Young adults who have yet to settle down, and older adults who have retired tend to be the two demographics that have the flexibility to become a successful expatriate.

Where to be an expat?

Have you been able to relate to the above and are currently on the fence as to whether you should or should not become an expat? Depending on your preference, Inter Nations has put together a fantastic chart that lists the best places to go.

The personal favourite of Spain is rank three on quality of life, and there is a lot of information and forums out there when it comes to relocating and being an expat in the southern European region.

There are a lot of great countries to explore and move to.

Expats understand the importance of doing their research first and good due diligence is part of what it’s all about. Make sure to read our other guides that make relocating a relodream and we hope this has given everything needed to understand what an expat is.

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