A lady in an airport. What is an expatriate?

What is an Expatriate?

Have you ever met someone who’s from a different country but lives in yours? Maybe they’re working at a local company, or perhaps they’re studying at the university. They are expats, but what is an expatriate?

What exactly does that term mean?

Let’s break it down.

What is an Expatriate/ Expat?

An expatriate, or expat for short, is simply someone who lives outside their native country. 

They’re like global citizens, choosing to call a place other than their homeland “home” for a while.

But Aren’t They Just Immigrants?

Not quite. 

While both expatriates and immigrants live in a country that’s not their birthplace, there’s a key difference. 

Expats typically don’t plan to stay permanently. 

They might be there for work, study, travel, or other reasons, but eventually, they usually head back to their home country.

Their stay isn’t long-term but short-term, that is up until they finish what they are doing.

A call to action for flexi personnel expatriate services, what is an expatriate.

Why Do People Become Expats?

There are as many reasons as there are expats!

Some move abroad for exciting job opportunities, seeking new challenges and experiences. 

Others might relocate for education, pursuing degrees or courses not available in their home countries. 

Then some simply want to explore the world, soaking up different cultures and ways of life.

Common Types of Expatriates

Expats come in all shapes and sizes, but here are a few common types you might encounter:

Corporate Expats

Who is a corporate expatriate?

A corporate expatriates move abroad for work.

Their companies often transfer them to another country to manage projects, build relationships with international clients, or set up new offices.

Companies may also send expatriates abroad for reasons such as: to transfer skills, expand into new markets, maintain corporate culture, develop leaders, fill skill gaps, promote global integration, and leverage local market knowledge.

They are sent on international assignments.

Student Expats 

As the name suggests, these expats are students studying in a foreign country. 

They could be there to pursue undergraduate or graduate degrees, language courses, or specialized training programs.

Some become expatriates by getting scholarships to enable them study in a foreign country.

Retiree Expats 

Who is a retiree expatriate?

These are people who choose to spend their golden years in a new country, enjoying a different lifestyle or a warmer climate. 

After having worked for many years, they prefer to rest in a new place.

These retiree expats often settle in places known for their expat-friendly communities and affordable living costs.

Adventure Seekers 

These expats are all about exploring. 

They might move from country to country, working odd jobs or freelancing to fund their travels. 

They’re always up for a new adventure and aren’t tied down to any one place.

Benefits of Expatriate Assignments

Now, let’s talk about the perks of being an expat:

Professional Growth

Expat assignments often provide unique opportunities for career advancement. 

Working in a different country allows individuals to develop new skills, broaden their professional networks, and gain valuable international experience.

Cultural Immersion

Living in a foreign country exposes expats to diverse cultures, languages, and customs. 

This immersive experience fosters cultural awareness, tolerance, and adaptability, which are invaluable qualities in today’s globalized world.

Personal Development

Moving abroad can be a transformative experience personally. 

It challenges individuals to step out of their comfort zones, overcome obstacles, and become more self-reliant and resilient. 

Expats often return home with a greater sense of independence and confidence.

Expanded Perspectives

Expat life encourages individuals to see the world from different angles. 

Living in a foreign country exposes them to new perspectives, ideas, and ways of thinking, fostering creativity and innovation.

Global Citizenship

By living and working in different countries, expats become global citizens, bridging cultural divides and promoting cross-cultural understanding. 

They play a vital role in building connections and fostering cooperation on a global scale.

A call to action for flexi personnel expatriate services, what is an expatriate.


So, there you have it! 

An expatriate, or expat, is someone who lives outside their native country, whether temporarily or long-term. 

They come from all walks of life and have their reasons for leaping into the unknown. 

While expat life isn’t without its challenges, it offers a world of opportunities for those brave enough to embrace it. 

Who knows, you might even become an expat yourself one day!

We offer a wide range of expatriate services.

Want to learn how we support expatriates for international assignments?


What is an expatriate?

An expatriate, commonly referred to as an “expat,” is an individual who resides in a country other than their native country, either temporarily or permanently, typically for work, study, retirement, or lifestyle reasons.

What are the reasons people become expatriates?

People become expatriates for various reasons, including career opportunities, job transfers, education, adventure, retirement, or to be with family members living abroad.

What is the difference between an expatriate and an immigrant?

While both expatriates and immigrants live in a country other than their native one, the key difference lies in their intentions and often the duration of stay. Expatriates usually relocate temporarily and may eventually return to their home country, whereas immigrants typically move permanently and aim to establish a new life in the host country.

How can individuals prepare for expatriate assignments?

Individuals can prepare for expatriate assignments by researching the culture, customs, and language of their host country, seeking advice from other expatriates or professionals with experience in that location, attending cultural training programs, and establishing a support network both abroad and at home.


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