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The 7 character traits of successful expats

By July 24, 2018October 3rd, 2023FinGlobal

The 7 character traits of successful expats

July 24, 2018


In order to ensure an expat assignment is a success, global mobility teams have to look at the personality profiles of their foreign assignees to ensure that they have the potential to take on all the stresses and challenges that relocation can bring with it. These are the seven character traits that are often looked for in an individual and are essential to any expat wanting to move and work abroad.

Global curiosity

A successful expat is one that is curious about the new culture and country they are moving to. They want to meet new people and try new things. They are open to learning a new language and embracing a new lifestyle – whether it is a different way of doing business or a new way of eating.

Attention to detail

Moving abroad is not a simple task. The application for visas alone takes a huge amount of organisation and attention to detail. The successful expat is one that takes the move one step at a time and ensures they have ticked all the financial, tax and visa boxes before they make their move.


A successful expat is open-minded and open to change. They are ready to embrace the differences they encounter in their new culture, rather than rigidly sticking to the way they did things “back home”.

Emotionally intelligent

Along with the personality trait of openness is emotional intelligence or EI. EI is the capacity to be aware of, control and to express one’s emotions and to handle interpersonal relationships empathetically. EI is often referred to as the key to both personal and professional success and is an essential character trait for the expats of today, who have to navigate their way through many different cultures.


Successful expats don’t have a rigid mindset or rigid beliefs. They are prepared to “go with the flow” and embrace new ways of doing things. Flexibility enables expats to embrace the advantages of their new world and combine it with their previous experience to ensure they emerge stronger from their expat lifestyle.


The expat lifestyle is one where you encounter many challenges along the way. From the mountains of paperwork to opening new bank accounts to finding your ideal accommodation – all these processes require time and research. Patience plays a huge role in ensuring your decisions are a success.

Language skills

Even if you are retiring abroad, learning the local language of the country you are moving to can go a long way to ensuring that your move abroad is a success. English may be the international language of business – but if all your co-workers speak and joke in the local language, you are going to miss out on a lot of valuable information, not to mention social interaction. Try and pick up some key phrases before you go and then dedicate yourself to learning a few new phrases every day.

If you are a South African expat living abroad and would like to know more about how you can maximise your finances through financial emigration, accessing your South African retirement annuity and our tailor-made tax solutions for South Africans around the world, contact FinGlobal today.

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