Asia has truly become the 21st century land of opportunity, offering businessmen and women the chance to make their fortunes and world travelers a continent where they can explore rich cultures. The Philippines, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, and China are all major hubs for American expatriates, with thousands of U.S. citizens relocating there every year.
If you feel your future lies in the East, before you relocate there be sure that you understand the differences in lifestyle you’ll need to adjust to when relocating to Asia. Even some of the most seasoned travelers find themselves unprepared for an extended sojourn in Asia, so a little homework and preparation is important. These tips can help:
- Pick up some language skills – While you don’t need to get off the plane in Beijing speaking perfect Mandarin, it does help if you have a few basic language skills when relocating to a foreign country. Use Pimsleur, Rosetta Stone, or other language tools to master some foundational aspects of the language local to the area where you will reside.
- Be prepared for secondhand smoke – Most Asian countries don’t have the puritanical aversion to cigarette smoke that the U.S. has. Asia has one of the highest rates of cigarette use in the world, and smokers are found indoors, outdoors, and everywhere in between.
- Do the math – If you’re relocating to Asia to work, be sure that you understand the pay scale in the country where you’ll be residing and its cost of living. Do not assume that it is cheaper to live abroad, as prices can be quite high in some parts of Asia. Also be aware of local housing and property ownership laws, particularly in countries such as China, Vietnam, and Thailand, where laws and traditions concerning real estate are much different than those in the U.S.
- Don’t get shocked by electronics differences – If you plan on bringing your favorite American electronic devices with you when you move, you’ll need to make accommodations to safely power these devices. Most Asian countries use a higher voltage in their electrical outlets than is used in the U.S., and you’ll need to purchase a 220 to 110 converter to safely power your smartphone, tablet, or other electronic gear intended for use in the U.S.
- Be open minded – When moving to Asia, be aware that you’re entering a culture that’s thousands of years old and quite different than ours. Be open to different ways of thinking and experiencing the world, and don’t be afraid to adopt new customs and habits. It’ll broaden your view of the world and make your stay abroad easier and more rewarding.
- Embrace the ex-pat community – You’ll have an easier time coping with homesickness and frustration at local customs or inconveniences if you have a group of individuals with similar experiences to lean on for support. Get active in local ex-pat groups and befriend other ex-pats online.
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