Expat dilemma: should I stay or should I go?
As expats, most of us will be faced at some point with the issue of moving to another city/country or going back “home” (unless we stay expats forever). We will all go through a whole range of emotions and pressures during this decision-making process. Many of my clients at Expat Nest have described this dilemma as one of the most stressful in their current life stage and they wonder how they can make this decision more easily.
They express things like:
› “I am happy here; everything is familiar now that I’ve finally adjusted.”
› “I have routine in my life; I know my way around.”
› “I have a good job, my kids go to a good school, but I feel there is something missing.”
› “I would like to move to another country; My partner is unwilling to stay here much longer and is only here for me.”
› “I miss home so much but I am afraid that I won’t have such a good quality of life or find an equally good job. I don’t know what to do and what is more important for me.”
Do you find that the more you think about it, the more confused you feel?
What to do? Let’s give some space and time to reflect on the “Should I stay or should I go?” dilemma, which is rarely clear cut.
Take time to reflect
This is one of the most personal decisions you will ever take and no one other than you can give you an answer. So, it is important to take time to reflect.
What are your priorities in life? Family, career, travelling, money, the people you love? What are your core desires? Take a minute to ponder these key questions and then list your responses on a piece of paper.
Spend time clarifying your goals and your priorities. Make this time a gift to yourself and navigate the decisions in your life based on your principles, values, dreams, aspirations and what matters to you the most.
Project into the future
Imagine you are 10 years older and that you could turn back time: would you have stayed or gone? How we would like to be in the longer term can be a compass for the choices we make now. It can help to place our decisions within a larger context. Once your goal is clear, the best choice between the alternatives often becomes more evident.
Clarify the difficulties
Consider the difficulties of staying versus leaving. Ask yourself:
› Is the country you are thinking of moving to safe?
› What will the opportunities for your children to have quality education be?
› What will your career opportunities be if you go?
› What other factors are important for you?
Next, separate those difficulties into those you can do something about and those you cannot influence. This will give you a clear picture of what the situation is now and might be in the future.
Make a list
List how you can obtain support. You may underestimate the help available from friends, relatives, counsellors and others. If you feel that you must carry the entire burden of such difficulties, you will have a heavy load indeed! Nonetheless, self-reliance is an important characteristic to nurture when it comes to decision making. Ultimately, the decision must be yours.
Ask for help
If the pressure to decide becomes too much for you, you can always get professional help. A counsellor or a coach can help you put things in order in your mind and explore what options are available to you, as well as point out any upsides and downsides you may not have considered.
The more alternatives you explore, the better. Also, having a safe place to express your thoughts and feelings can be comforting in itself.
Remember: decision making is a process, which means that there is a beginning, a middle and an end.
In time, your dilemma won’t feel as intense, especially after you’ve taken some time to reflect on what you really want and what makes you happy, and you have made a step-by-step plan on how to get there.
Whatever you decide, I wish you all the best… and may you enjoy the journey of self-discovery!
Now, I would love to hear from you. What have been your criteria in deciding whether to stay or go? What has helped you make a decision in the past?
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Photo: Qimono / Pixabay
9 commentsWrite a comment
Enjoyed the information about the Expat dilemma. By the time the expats reach me for relocation training they have already decided to relocate, your thoughts could have made their decision process easeir. I wish more people would read your recommendations before they make their decision. Thank you for helping Expats.
Thank you so much and glad that you find my article valuable! I appreciate your feedback and indeed I love supporting expats, as the expat life comes not only with blessings but also with challenges.
this article is also raising up a part of my story. Last 5 years a have been thinking and also trying to get back to my “other home”. I even packed my appartment and took the plane there. This lasted only 2 months. No lack, nothing went like I had planned in so much detail, I spent all of my savings to do the experiment and remaing after 2 months with no house, no job, no friends willing to help and no more energy, plus having to meet some extra unexpected reasons of health in my family, i returned back to the country which is “home” for me last 19 years. It was like the universe was working against my decision and will.
Some time ago, I had a series of accidents in my apartment: an overflow in the kitchen, a problem with the heating, etc. I realized that dailing to 2 mobile phonos, my appartment was full of friends, a cousin and a brother who rushed to help me out. I even had the invitation to sleep over to a friend for some days, till the problem were fixed. After that I once again realized tha the priorities we put in our life have a strong impact in where we feel home, how we become happy and who we can remember that after all life is a junction of happy moments.
Thank you so much for your thoughts on “home”
Dear Anna Maria,
Thanks for sharing your thoughts and experiences. I like your examples as well! So, if you could go back time,would still go back ‘home’? Indeed as you pointed out, it is a matter of priorities and what makes us happy. Sometimes, this can be so complicated though ðŸ˜‰
One thing important as expats we need to consider is whats my long term goals.
Also why am I leaving my home country in the first place.
As for me, I left Australia in the first place looking for another country to call home.
For me, this is the Philippines.
However, now after living here 13 years, I’m seriously considering the UK based on a number of important factors;
a) My fiance is a Nurse and Nursing is in High Demand in the UK
b) UK is currently offering Passports to Commonwealth Citizens with UK born Parent
c) As a sole proprietor, I need to generate sales, and being closer to my customers, living in the UK opens a lot of doors for me.
Thanks for your comment and sharing your thoughts. Glad you find my article valuable. Indeed considering what is the goal in the long term can be a compass so to navigate the decisions in our life. What is the turning point for an expat to consider a relocation after 13 years? I wish you all the best!