Being an expat is a privilege. To have the opportunity to move abroad whether it’s to study, work, for family or to retire is an exciting prospect that not everyone has the luxury of experiencing. 

However, like everything it can come with its negatives. 

We spoke to some expats and asked them what their major expat bugbears are and a common exclamation was the questions, comments and conversations from locals, non-expats, family and friends that cause them to have to defend themselves or prove that they deserve their reputation. 

So, here are some of the things that people say that make expats roll their eyes in frustration. 

“So, are you fluent in…. yet?”

This question really grinds expat gears because the only people that as the question are people that have never tried to learn a foreign language before. 

People assume that after living in a different country for a certain period of time you just pick up the language, but it doesn’t quite work like that. 

Fluency in a foreign language takes years, a lot of learning and often requires language classes that many can’t afford or gain access to. 

Also, with around 20% of the Earth’s population speak English, with most of those people not being native English speakers, it makes picking up a new language more difficult especially if you’re living in a popular tourist area where English becomes the default language. 

“When are you coming home?” 

Another question that drives expats crazy is “when are you coming home?”, which is frequently asked by loved ones back home. 

Whilst it’s sweet that everyone is eager for their return, expats have expressed their frustration at this question for two main reasons:

  • I have a new “home” now in my new country
  • if/when I decide to return, I will make you aware, you don’t have to keep asking

“Do you miss your family back home?”

More often than not, this question is answered with a resounding, yes. Leaving family behind is not an easy task and being reminded of this constantly when in your new country is something that expats would rather avoid. 

With culture shock and settling in, expat’s have enough on their plate without being made to feel guilty about leaving their loved ones. So, when chatting to an expat, keep this in mind and maybe keep the topic off home. 

“Why don’t you go home as often as you should?”

It’s always good to think before asking this question as there could be a reason why they can’t visit their original home as much as they’d like. 

Personal issues might have played a part in why they have decided to move or work overseas and expats have said that this is sometimes a touchy subject. 

“Have you got travel insurance?”

Questions like this and similar often grate on expats because everyone always assumes that they have forgotten to consider the essentials such as travel insurance for non UK residents and a new bank account. 

98% of expats will have researched until they can’t research anymore and will have everything under control. Although, they appreciate the help, sometimes it’s best to let them learn from their own mistakes rather than interfere.