9 Must-Have Traits and Qualities for Those Looking into the Expat Lifestyle

Although there is no “right” way to live the expat lifestyle, there’s no denying that doing so is a bit more complicated than just hopping on a plane and hoping for the best.

And yes, those who can live and thrive in a new country come in all shapes and sizes.

That said, there are a certain set of personality traits that really help expats assimilate in their new countries sooner rather than later.

Do you have what it takes to find your footing in a new land? To illustrate the common threads between those who have a smooth transition when going abroad, we’ve highlighted the following nine-point checklist.

Keen Attention to Detail

Simply put, living abroad isn’t all fun and games.

From safety and strict budgeting, there’s a lot for expats to manage on a day-to-day basis as they adjust to life abroad. Money is a huge factor toward maintaining your sanity, especially as you try to wrangle a new currency and exchange rates. That’s why many expats rely on services like Remitly to send their remittance payments home without a second thought.

In short, being organized and maintaining a sense of priorities are both game-changers.

Street Smarts

Speaking of safety, expats need to be mindful as they navigate a totally new country. After all, you may not know which areas of town might be rough; likewise, expats are the most likely to fall prey to potential scams since the might stick out from their appearance or attire. Understanding how to read people and situations is therefore a huge plus.


If you expect to adapt to a new culture overnight, you’re going to have a hard time.

Especially for overcoming language and cultural barriers, it takes time to break habits and understand what’s acceptable and what’s not. Comfort will come in time, but not after you make a few mistakes along the way.


Are you willing to dive head first and try new things? Good! Making the most of your time abroad means having a sense of curiosity and saying “yes” to new foods, experiences and people.


On a related note, being set in your ways spells bad news for an expat. Not only should you strive to try new things, but also be willing to endure cultural quirks and experiences that might make you uncomfortable.


Most cultures value respect to a certain degree, some much more than others. As such, don’t be the stereotypical expat or student abroad that’s loud, abrasive and doesn’t treat locals with respect. The key to avoiding cultural misunderstandings is a sense of awareness and reminding yourself that you’re effectively a guest in another country.


Truly appreciating your travels abroad means maintaining a sense of modesty. Especially if you’re in a country that’s much poorer than your own, don’t take your experiences for granted or look down on locals for what they might not have. Instead, cherish the experience and put it into perspective.


At some point during your journey, you’ll be challenged to stand up for yourself or ask for help. You shouldn’t be afraid to do either when push comes to shove.

Strong Work Ethic

Finally, remember that your journey abroad shouldn’t just be treated like a vacation. If you’re working abroad, staying focused in a world of distractions is easier said than done; however, don’t lose sight of why you went abroad in the first place.

Having the right traits and mindset will ultimately decide whether or not the expat lifestyle jives with your personality. If the qualities on this list remind you of yourself, chances are you’re golden.

Post Author: Edward Randall

Edward Randall