What keeps expats awake at night?

Contributed by AES International, 07 October, 2015

  • Homesickness biggest cause of sleepless nights
  • Top tips for those planning a move abroad

Among concerns over snakes, barking dogs and hungry cats, expatriates are most commonly kept awake by thoughts of family back at home, according to a survey by AES International.

The international financial advisory company, which has offices across Europe and the Middle East, asked around 150 expatriates about some of their experiences living overseas.

When asked which three things kept them awake at night, the most commonly recurring answer was that they miss family living back at home. This accounted for around 25% of the answers given to this question.

Following this, job security and pensions/retirement were the next most often cited causes for a sleepless night, both being mentioned in 15% of cases.

Worries about not being able to speak the local language were also high on the agenda – coming ahead of concerns about children's education and tax.

Just under half of those who answered the survey had been an expat for more than 10 years, while a further 25% had been an expat for between five and 10 years. This suggests that, despite thoughts of family at home keeping them awake at night, stronger forces compel many to remain overseas.

Not surprisingly, money seems the biggest lure, with 77% of respondents citing "living standards" or "earning potential" as the two best things about living abroad.


Golf handicap & snakes

There were also those with perhaps more trivial matters on their mind. Three respondents laid blame on barking dogs for nocturnal disturbance, two criticised their bed clambering cats for restless nights and one whose golf handicap plagued him in the small hours.

Perhaps the most worrying was the person whose biggest concern – ahead of "living away from family" and "money" – was snakes. We hope they remedy this soon.


Advice for would-be expats

AES International also asked for some tips and advice for those considering making a move abroad. More than 110 responses were given to this question. One of the most common tips was for people to have an open mind and to integrate themselves as much into the local culture as possible – including by learning the language.

There were sage words from one respondent who said: "Embrace and engage with the country and its people so that you're not an expat island surrounded by foreigners but have integrated into your new home."

Others suggested not treating time working abroad as an extended holiday and saving as much as you can.

Rory Gilbert, managing director of AES International, said: "It is not surprising that family and friends back at home dominate thoughts on a restless night. However, expatriates are a resilient lot and, the fact that three quarters of those who answered have been expats for more than five years suggests many who move overseas do so for the right reasons.

"Integrating yourself into the local culture and society is hugely important as it will make you feel at home. That said, our advice would be to always think about tomorrow – don't get so caught up in the day-to-day, that you forget why you went away, especially if that reason was to earn and save more cash."

Tags: Europe | Other | Middle East | expatriates | retirement | pensions | standards | education | tax |