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The Way It Is

Layers of Expats
Jay Morley

An “expatriate” (ex-pat) is defined as a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country and culture other than that of the person’s upbringing or legal residence.

According to an HSBC report, over one-third (36%) of expats in Russia earn over $250,000 per annum, over threequarters (85%) say they have more disposable income since moving and over three-quarters (76%) are able to save more since relocating.

The country is seen as a good choice for those looking for financial gain or to progress their career, with 76% of ex-pats moving here for this reason, and just under a quarter (24%) working in the finance and banking industry. The types of occupation as surveyed by HSBC are found in Finance (24%); Construction/ Manufacturing/Utilities (15%); Not stated (12%); Marketing (9%); IT (6%); Architecture/ Engineering (6%); Telecommunications (6%); Other (22%). I believe these types to be too narrow and the survey only asked 33 ex-pats.

We can generalize and easily stereotype the expatriate into roughly eight types. The reasons for becoming an expatriate abroad differ from person to person. Some move abroad to get rich, some move abroad for love and some move abroad to save the world. What type are you? Or what type would you like to be? Maybe one of these or none of these? Read below.

Type 1

Type 2

Type 1: Economic & lucky bastard

This type of ex-pat is living abroad for financial gain or for reasons of career advancement or opportunity. These kinds of ex-pats are usually on a contract for a set period, working abroad for a high-profile international company. Usual types are to be found in accounting, construction, consulting, hospitality, media, design, medical, banking, industry, law, advertising, oil, geology and scientific areas.

They usually have generous benefits including free or cheap rent, free schooling for the kids, free flights and a company driver. If young and single, they do the minimum work and party hard. They can do this as they are “specialists” and know how to play the system. Office rules that would apply back home, don’t usually apply abroad.

If single and male, they enjoy the bountiful fruits of many women and have a great time abroad. They have generous expenses and know how to do creative accounting. The economic type also includes civil servants (state employees) from many countries employed at embassies on set contracts working for the foreign office, visa office or in economic development. These types are abroad as the job requires relocation and regular country moves.

On the other hand, many other ex-pats work very long hours and although they receive good benefits, they earn their pay and have little free time as their jobs are highly demanding and very deadline-driven. Roots are hard to impossible to put down and life as an international gypsy is the norm for these types of expats.

Type 2: The gambler & business opportunist

This type mainly includes men who arrived in the country ten to twenty years ago in order to make money, legitimately or illegitimately and to make money via gambling prior to the change in gambling laws in Moscow. These types are often intelligent and financially smart. They move abroad and invest wisely at the right time and in the right market, making money by good luck, arrogance, good connections and by careful planning. They adapt and integrate well into the local society learning the language, setting up permanent home and often marrying a local woman, sometimes getting through several marriages.

Type 3

Type 4

Type 3: Trailing spouse.

This type can include a wife or husband following their partner abroad. This type does not work either because they have taken on the full-time child caring role or don’t want to work and don’t need to work. The kids are their “career” and full-time job. They give up their careers back home to follow their partner abroad. Their husband or wife is on big money with full or partial benefits. They have a nanny full-time or part-time and stay at home.

They either love their role in this situation abroad or totally hate it, especially in relation to moving to Moscow. They join woman’s clubs and embrace their domestic roles as a full-time job. Some are able to work part-time in between looking after their child or children. Countries of origin are various. This type is usually female, but there are some males in this position known as SAHD’s (Stay At Home Dads).

There are some trailing spouses who want to work but cannot. This may be because of difficulty in getting a work visa, lack of suitable vacancies for foreigners or due to childcare issues. For these people, being stuck at home every day in a strange big city can be life-changing and life-destroying in terms of self-respect and self-esteem.

Type 4: Love hunter

This type has moved abroad to be with a female or male partner. This type is usually a guy who has either met his girl abroad or who found her on an online dating site. The pull of the panty elastic has sucked many guys of all ages into its deep vortex, gripping onto him and never releasing him. He is like a ship lost at sea. Russian women can lock onto many a man with their beauty, reeling them in like helpless fish on a hook.

These guys give up their homes, families and countries to be with their lady. The relationship sometimes begins as lust and becomes love or is a confused combination of the two. Sometimes, these relationships work out, but many fail badly due to an inability to accept and adapt to the new country, loneliness, culture conflict or relationship failure. These types are often romantic, devil-may-care guys and brave at hearts.

Type 5

Type 6

Type 5: The drop-out

The drop-out can be a guy who could not make it in his own country or who fled his own country for personal reasons or for a new fresh start. Often this group of ex-pats move abroad because of a criminal record making it hard to find work back home or they move when they were released from prison for certain taboo “offenses”. They set up a new life abroad and often carry on abroad as they did back home where checks and controls abroad are less strict than in their own country. This group could be sexual predators, political activists, medical fraudsters or financial criminals for example. They work and move abroad undetected with a fresh history often with a new name and an invented past.

Type 6: The traveler

This type is often aged under 30, has itchy feet and is looking for new life experience, adventure and fun. He or she (often he) moves abroad to non-English-speaking countries to work as a teacher, legally or illegally, qualified or unqualified. They work hard and make a good living teaching. Some work as volunteers. Many meet girls/guys and settle down in their host country. This group also includes student exchanges in areas such as language and medical students. Often the country of origin is the US, UK and Canada, but it can be almost any country. Gender types: Male and female, but mostly male.

Type 7

Type 8

Type 7: Sandals & bible

This type is motivated to move abroad to do good rather than for financial gain. They move abroad to work for an NGO or international charitable organization. They believe in holistic medicine, home schooling for the kids and are often vegetarian and religious. They work abroad for a set period of time with set targets and set missions.

Type 8: Other

This type of ex-pat can be a person who moved abroad for a few months for an experience and who liked the country so much that they settled abroad, often marrying a local and staying full time. These people are happy in their new countries, do well and embrace their new country, giving it 100% commitment. They learn the language and speak it fluently often helping other ex-pats with a service or advice free or as a business.

Many of these types have country national links via grandparents or older generations to their host ex-pat country in that they have it in their “blood” as being half or a quarter Russian, Italian, Slovak, Polish for example.

Of course, some people become ex-pats for all of the reasons above and more, there is often no single reason. They move abroad for a few months, years or for good. However, some return home very disappointed from their experience abroad.

Many move abroad simply because they are disappointed by their country and they need a new start and a new life abroad. The Daily Telegraph has reported new figures coming out of the UK’s Office for National Statistics (ONS). The headline figure is a new estimate that 2 million British citizens have emigrated in the last 10 years. Over the same period, the figures show 1.58 million foreign nationals left the UK. In 2006, it is estimated 200,000 Britons left. Although there is some argument over the statistics, this level of emigration is historically high and highlights the fact that moving country has become a reality for an increasingly significant percentage of Britons.

For more information and further thoughts on this and on other expat and life topics see English Dad In Moscow at:

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