Issues expats face that no one talks about

Issues expats face that no one talks about

Whether you’re living overseas as a retiree or because of a foreign job posting, you undoubtedly know that the expat life is not without its own challenges.

These issues ring true whether the posting is at in a country as developed as Singapore, or in a country in the developing world.


Infidelity between couples is by far the biggest taboo subject among expats communities the world over. The isolation, and perhaps, the idea they won’t easily get caught often gets the better of both expats and the partner they leave at home. For this reason, many expats find it important to be able to take their partners with them on long overseas postings. 

Family problems

Even single expats face pressure from family. There may be unrealistic demands placed on their time or their other resources. Missing the funerals of close family members is a real possibility, and they may not be able to closely supervise the care of ageing family members.  If the expat has children back home, they may very well miss out on important events in their lives.

Racial tensions

Expats may find that they may get discriminated against in their host country, on the mere basis of their appearance or their country of origin. If an expat is in a close relationship with a local, this may cause unforeseen complications if a realistic view is not taken.

Racial tensions can be present in both highly-developed and developing nations, and there may be a lot of subtlety in how these tensions are manifested. For this reason, expats should ideally do their homework and listen to what locals and long-term expats have to say about the subject.


The isolation encountered by many expats can cause them to indulge in things they may not normally do back home. Alcohol and drug dependency, in particular, are very serious issues faced by many Western expats, particularly in Southeast Asia. Food, sex, and gambling addictions are all very real issues brought about the set of circumstances as well.

For this reason, it’s important to be able to engage in positive hobbies and exercise to prevent overindulgence. Healthy socialization should also take priority, so that expats will not feel isolated, hopefully mitigating the circumstances that give rise to dependency.


Getting sick overseas can be a harrowing experience, even in a country with a highly-advanced and developed healthcare system like Singapore. The unfamiliarity of your surroundings can make it very difficult to adjust to your change of circumstances, and the lack of state coverage for foreigners in most countries can make getting sick overseas quite expensive.

Anyone planning to move overseas for a period of a year or more should consider getting international health insurance from a specialized company like Now Health International. This will allow access to the best possible healthcare in your destination country, and at lower premiums compared to less-specialized insurers.


A shocking number of expats have inadequate savings or investments, and many have neither. While expats generally significantly earn more than those who choose to stay home, they may also be more likely to spend more on luxuries and other things that do not offer any long-term financial security.

Expats who send remittances back to family members back home may not also have enough money left over for their own retirements, and thus they can be put in very difficult situations when they encounter an illness or accident or when their contracts end.

Preparing for these undiscussed pitfalls of expat life is key to keeping yourself safe abroad. While you should definitely enjoy life overseas, it’s always best to keep your expectations tempered and realistic, as these situations have proved disastrous to millions of expats and their families.