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What’s a serial expat? Well, it’s our light-hearted term for someone who spends his or her lifetime as an expat, moving from country to country. Often they are children of expats and hold multiple passports. The world is their home and while it sounds exotic, these are a few challenges they occasionally face:

Challenges serial expats often face

Where do you come from?

This can be a challenging question, especially if you were born in the UK to South African parents, then lived in Australia long enough to become a citizen and are now residing in Hong Kong and about to add another passport to your pile. Nationality and aligning yourself to a country is a tricky subject for serial expats – and the case often becomes ‘home is where the heart is’.

Merci, I mean Thanks

Mixing up languages is often an issue for serial expats who speak several languages fluently. While it doesn’t seem like a major problem, you often find yourself lost for words as you try to find the right phrase to communicate ideas in terms your business and social colleagues will relate to most.

Deciding on holidays

When you originate from multiple countries and have family and friends spread across the globe, deciding on a place to spend your holidays can be a challenge. It’s often impossible to please everyone, so why not head out to somewhere exotic that you have never visited.

What school did you go to?

Now, this can be both an advantage and a challenge. As any job seeker in South Africa and the UK knows – what school you went to, and your matric or A-level certificate is often a pre-requisite for job applications and occasionally holds some sway in companies with established feeder-school networks. But what if you went to school abroad? Often the inability to pigeonhole can be an advantage, as the only criteria you can be judged on, are your most recent qualification and your work experience.

Do lions walk down the streets?

As a serial expat you are often asked ridiculous questions when people hear you come from exotic countries that they have never visited. To a well-travelled serial expat, these questions sound ridiculous, but you need to make allowances for people who are less travelled than yourself.

Where does your accent come from?

As a serial expat, your accent will be hard to pin down and you’ll be regularly asked about it. The upside is that it can break the ice when you are meeting new people and lead to detailed conversations about the countries you’ve live in. Be prepared for the most common (and often the most difficult) question: “But why did you leave that country?” If it was for complicated reasons, try to be diplomatic, country bashing often comes back to bite you.

Keeping track of visas and passports

If you hold more than two passports, it can become tricky deciding which one to show when entering a country. You need to remember what passport you booked your flight with and stay up-to-date regarding the different visa requirements associated with each passport. The one advantage of multiple passports is that you can often jump to the shortest airport immigration queue.

If you’re thinking of immigrating abroad and need advice concerning your finances, contact us today. We’re here to help you unlock your South African wealth and put you on the path to financial freedom in your new home.
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