Expat communities are present in nearly every town and city in the world, and when you choose your new country when you decide to work abroad you will find that sometimes the expat communities are larger than others.
Here are some of the pros and cons of choosing a destination which has a large and active expat community to help you to make your decision.
Pros of a Large Expat Community
When there is a large expat community in your destination you may find that it is easier to meet people when you first arrive. There are often activities such as pub quizzes and sports meet-ups to get involved with, so it may be easy to make new acquaintances and feel more at home straight away.
You should also consider the employment advantages that a large expat community may bring with it. There may be opportunities for finding work through your new connections, or even new clients through the expats or their contacts, and some simple networking may be all you need to get your business up and running.
Expats are often the best people to provide you with advice on all things legal and cultural in your new destination. You may be able to find a good English-speaking accountant and lawyer through your new contacts, get advice on opening a bank account, find somewhere to live and become more familiar with local issues.
If you are moving to a country where English is not the first language then it can be very lonely and hard work making friends at first. A large expat community means you can meet people without having to master the language, which is very convenient when you first arrive.
Cons of a Large Expat Community
One of the largest potential issues when there is a large expat community is that you may find you engage in less cultural immersion. An expat community provides you with an instant source of contacts and friends, but you may end up getting caught up in an expat bubble and experience less of the local culture as a result.
You may find that more expats means that there is more competition for jobs. If you go to somewhere with fewer expats you may stand out more from the crowd and your skills may be in higher demand. Even simply speaking English can be in high demand in some places where there are fewer native speakers.
The fear for many people when there is a large expat community is that they miss out on seeing the country as it really is. The reason behind many people’s decisions to go abroad is to experience a new way of life, but if you do not end up meeting local people and instead you spend all of your time with people from the same culture as yourself then you may find that you do not enjoy the experience you were expecting.
Consider the Expat Community when Making Your Decision
It is very important to consider the size of the expat community before making your decision on a destination, but remember that even if there is a large and active community you can always minimise your time spent with other expats if you want to.
Many people find that a good balance is the key, so that you can enjoy meeting up with other expats but still enjoy immersing yourself in the local culture which will lead to a richer overall experience.