10 Most Common Problems When Moving Overseas

Written by Russ Gadzhiev, PhD

“Live abroad, if you can. Understand cultures other than your own. As your understanding of other cultures increases, your understanding of yourself and your own culture will increase exponentially.” – Tom Freston


“And suddenly you just know…It’s time to start something new and trust the magic of new beginnings.” – Meister Ekhart


“You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt


If you intend to relocate to another country or have actually done so, you probably know that expats face a lot of difficulties, especially during the first weeks and months of their new life in a new country. In this article, we will talk about the most typical and common issues that expats are facing and we will provide some advice on how to deal with them. It is important to remember that every person who has decided to move to a new country will probably experience at least one of these five challenges. 


Language Barrier


Perhaps the most common problem that often comes up in discussions on expats platforms and social media is the language barrier that people experience after relocating to a new country. Some people may underestimate the importance of learning a new language when making plans to move overseas. They may think that they will rely on the networks of people from their own country who have already moved and settled there. But while your compatriots may help you familiarize yourself with the new place, relying on them long-term may prevent you from immersing yourself in the social and cultural life of the new country. 

Learning the language is especially important if you are moving to a country which is far from yours. So how can you resolve this problem? First of all, fortunately, there are no shortage of free learning tools for learning a language which you can find online. So make extensive use of them. There is no need to learn complex grammar structure, stop by learning new words that will help you get by in daily life. 


Relationship Problems


Although moving to another country has its advantages, there are some important drawbacks as well. All your attention is focused on planning your move, moving, and settling into a new place and you often forget about your family and loved ones. This of course puts a serious strain on your relationships with them. 

There are many things that can potentially complicate people’s personal relationships when they are moving overseas. We also should not forget about the fact that if you are moving overseas with your children, then this will be an additional stressor and something that will be a challenge. Your children can feel a lot more stressed than you in an unfamiliar environment. Of course, making new friends in a new country and adjusting to a new environment at school will be difficult. 


Loneliness and Being Homesick


When you move to a new country and start a new life there It is inevitable that you will have days when feeling lonely or homesick to the point of wanting to give it all up and go back to your country. These feelings may be especially intense if you are moving to a new country alone. While moving with a family may have its own challenges and problematic aspects, moving to a new country all by yourself is certainly a very challenging enterprise. Perhaps, feeling lonely and homesick may be regarded as one of the most challenging aspects of living overseas. 

You have to be mentally prepared that you will experience loneliness quite often, at least in the beginning, because the familiar patterns of life that you had in your country will not be found by you straight away in a new country. In fact, it may take you some time to establish routines and a network of social connections that you will fall back on when you feel down and lonely. 

It is important to understand that this feeling is completely normal and if you feel this way it certainly does not mean that your decision to move overseas has been a wrong one. During your first weeks and months, try to have regular on-line catch-ups with your family back home. Skype meetings every Sunday or Saturday will help you overcome the initial feeling of loneliness. Then, of course, you will have to start making small steps toward getting to know the people around you. Be friendly with people in the local shop and with your neighbors. Be open-minded. Stay positive as this will help people gravitate to you. 


Culture shock and Cultural Misunderstandings


Culture shock is a set of feelings of uncertainty, misunderstanding, and confusion that many people tend to experience when they move to a new country and start living in an unfamiliar culture and surroundings. According to scientists, this is a normal psychological state which usually gets better once the person becomes familiar with their surroundings. 

Every country has its own culture. It is interesting to see that many British people who come to Australia to live automatically assume that they will have no difficulty understanding local cultures and traditions since they both speak English. But the reality is that Australia and England are different in terms of culture too despite sharing the same language. 

The tricky part about culture shock is that even though you may be aware of its existence and be prepared to experience it, it may still be uncomfortable when you find yourself in a new country. Even though you have done some research on the way things are done in the country in which you are now going to live, you may still run into issues and situations, which will annoy or upset you.

What is important is to manage your cultural shock and any misunderstandings and clashes that may arise out of it. You need to accept the fact that there are some aspects of your new country which are completely different from the things that you used to experience in your country. And it is totally ok not to comprehend them fully. It will take you some time to understand and appreciate these cultural differences. 


Financial Stability


Unstable and potentially precarious financial situations are another common problem that expats face. Moving overseas is not a cheap thing to do. It requires responsible and thorough planning. It is also true that when you are moving to a new country it often means that you will not find easily accessible healthcare and other forms of social support you used to fall back on in your country. It is always a good idea to make sure that you have a work contract in your new adopted country. After all, your job is not just a source of money, it is also an important place where you will be creating social networks for your future.

Financial matters become even more pressing if you are moving overseas with children. You will need to think about which school your children will go to and how much money to spend on it. It is always a good idea to consult other expats – on special expat forums and platforms – about the best and most affordable schools in your adopted country where your children could go to. 

If you decide to move overseas and start a new life in a different country, there will never be a shortage of excitement in your life. Your life will definitely change and most likely it will change for the better. Indeed, it takes a lot of courage to make such a bold step – to leave your familiar life behind and embrace the unknown. But it’s important to remember that you need to be ready for challenges that will most likely become part of your life, at least in the beginning. In this article, we have outlined the most common challenges that you may encounter at the start of your journey. Don’t be afraid – every person who has decided to start over a new life in a new country will probably experience some of these. 






Russ Gadzhiev obtained his PhD in history and politics from University of Melbourne. He also holds a master’s degree in International Relations from Moscow State University of International Relations, a top-ranking diplomatic school. Russ is a strong education professional with a history of working in the higher education sector of Australia and effectively communicates with learners from diverse cultural backgrounds. He is enthusiastic about teaching and mentoring, writing, curriculum development, research, information management and public speaking. He is fluent in Russian, English, Spanish and Portuguese. He has lived in Russia, Australia, Spain and Brazil and he possesses first-hand knowledge about the issues that people face when moving to other countries and adjusting to a new culture. 

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