Expat Life

12 Characteristics of an Expat

Paris Brooke
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Now that I’ve been staying put and living in Germany for a little while, I’ve already began to meet many fellow expats living in my beloved Berlin. It seems to me there are a few common characteristics of the elusive expat (elusive only to those who have never lived abroad). Here’s a brief rundown…

Seize the day: if you're still in bed at noon, you might as well be at home

Characteristics of an Expat

1. Eagerness to learn

 Expats are open minded and eager to learn new things – from culture through to history and where to find the best hair of the dog on a Sunday, expats are eager to learn everything there is to know about their new city, culture, and way of life. There’s (almost) nothing they’d say no to!

2. Not afraid of a challenge

Expats throw themselves into the deep end and they’re not afraid of a new challenge. Relocating to a new city is equal parts exciting and terrifying, but they do it anyway.

3. Open to new seeing, doing, trying things

Expats are about as close to Jim Carey in Yes Man as you will find in the world. Most of the time they’re apprehensive to what you’ve offered them, but they’ll just say yes anyway. After all, how bad can it be!? 

4. Comfortable in their own skin

Expats know who they are, what they like, what they don’t like… they’re comfortable in their own skin, confident but not cocky, and happy go lucky.

5. They enjoy alone time 

 Expats aren’t afraid to spend extended periods of time alone. They value this time as a chance to get to know themselves and ready themselves to meet others along the way. They’re content. They’re not looking for approval. They’re just living – no more and no less.

6. Glass half full

 Expats won’t rain on your parade and mostly, they won’t have a narrow view of life. They’re open minded, optimistic, and up for anything.

7. Happy go lucky

 Similarly, they’re a pretty easy going bunch. They don’t need to make plans to have plans, they’ll be the ones you can call two days prior to say that you’re coming to visit, and they’ll be the ones who are always ready to have a good time. After all… life is unexpected. It’s all a part of it!

8. Why not?

 Many people consider the idea of living in a foreign city as a scary thought – but not expats. You might ask them why? But they’ll mostly just answer why not?

9. Generally likes (all kinds of) food 

 So we know expats like trying new things, but no realm is this more true than food. Expats love trying new food and will soon become addicted to new foods in their new home country – so much so that they rely on them!

10. Likes to meet new people (especially other expats)

 Expats are some of the friendliest people you will ever meet. They’re open to meeting new people and will go out of their way to meet new people in their city and others visiting their city.

11. Will be the first person to recommend expat life

 Moreover, expats will be eager to encourage others to try the expat life. Why? Because they love it so much, of course!

12. Expats are ‘unstuck’

 Expats have plans, like anyone, but they’re not stuck with them. They don’t see too far into the future, they go with the flow, and they’re never stuck anywhere. If an expat is unhappy, they’ll take whatever measure necessary to change that. They’re not stuck in their ways or stuck in any location. If they need a change, they’ve done it once so they can do it again!

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  • expathealthcareonline@gmail.com'
    December 9, 2014 at 1:25 am

    12 true characteristics! But don’t you think that some of the most fun and creative people are expats? I have met some wonderful people over my years of becoming an expat and it definitely comes down to their energy of trying a new experience!

  • illustration@virginiaromo.com'
    November 23, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    True words!
    -An expat for 18 years.

  • clembuttercup@gmail.com'
    Clementine Buttercup
    November 17, 2014 at 6:04 pm

    For me I made an effort not to just befriend people who had come from my home country. It helped that I’d moved to a university town too so there were people from all over the world. I also never passed up an invitation in the early days as I wanted to meet as diverse a range of people as I could.


  • thetravellingchilli@gmail.com'
    Sabine @ thetravellingchilli
    November 12, 2014 at 3:33 am

    I have been an expat for 6 years. I was working in Spain and I really enjoyed it. I had such a great time, met so many interesting and nice people and got to know everything about the culture and the country. It was so rewarding.
    I can definitely find myself in most of the characteristics 🙂

    Great post!!

  • bettyj.ogburn@yahoo.com'
    Betty J. Ogburn
    November 10, 2014 at 12:00 am

    …Heck yes to #2–after all, there’s all that bureaucratic nonsense that we have to put up with!!…

  • lopatinaolga@ymail.com'
    Olga L.
    November 7, 2014 at 3:31 am

    Being an expat is kind of dream for me. It is so exciting, right? Lots of new people in new place and not knowing sometimes where you can be in a couple of months just inspires!
    Cool that you’ve picked Berlin for now – it seems to be so international place that welcomes everyone to join!


  • fabian.ciammaichella@gmail.com'
    Fabian C.
    November 7, 2014 at 12:53 am

    And i’ts november 6 still. 🙂

  • fabian.ciammaichella@gmail.com'
    Fabian C.
    November 7, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Totaly me. 🙂
    Great post.
    I’ll be an expat in April 2015.

  • luc.pilz@gmail.com'
    Luc @ The Wanderlust Scout
    November 6, 2014 at 11:11 pm

    Alone time is sooooo me. I have learnt to be ok with no having something to fill every moment of my life.

    Lucy x

    http://www.thewanderlustscout.com || http://www.skeeterandscout.com

  • awanderlustforlife@gmail.com'
    Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)
    November 6, 2014 at 9:09 pm

    Yes, Yes, Yes!! Just becoming expats ourselves, this all makes sense. The only problem is getting a real 8-5 job. We’d both rather be exploring every part of our new city, country, and continent!

    You posts seem to keep coming out in a way that I see it and think, “I was JUST thinking that!”. So, thanks for writing!


  • cher.petrichoraffair@gmail.com'
    November 6, 2014 at 6:34 am

    huh that is very interesting! I didn’t know what an expat was till I saw this post and I’m very similar to these 😀 I would love to see something new and different 🙂

  • rachel.bale@hotmail.com'
    Department of Wandering
    November 6, 2014 at 6:20 am

    Yep, that’s me! Becoming an expat is definitely the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and, at the same time, also the most challenging.

    Our expat meet up the other week was such fun!

    Prague looks beautiful — enjoy every minute 🙂


  • thisoffscriptlife@gmail.com'
    Jennifer @ This Off Script Life
    November 6, 2014 at 12:46 am

    Numbers 10, 11 and 12 are especially true for me and my expat friends. Life has changed in ways I never would have imagined. It’s a challenge, but it’s been one of the greatest experiences of my life. I’d recommend living abroad to just about anyone who has the opportunity. After all, why not?

  • beer_svenja@yahoo.de'
    November 5, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Love this post. Living as an exact can be difficult but I love how basically every single point in your list fits me and most of my expat friends.

  • bluequeen1377@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 9:41 pm

    As an expat I can tell that these are spot on! It’s absolutely true: I love being an expat, experiencing a whole new level of travel and seeing new things–being able to nearly experience the lifestyle of the country you live in.


  • lamb_4444@hotmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 8:16 pm

    I love this. So true, I totally see these qualities living as an expat. I wish everyone would experience the feelings you feel abroad. http://www.eatallovertheworld.weebly.com

  • litonkrl@gmail.com'
    Clipping Path Outsource
    November 5, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Excellent shearing! Thanks Brooke.

  • alissaloxton@hotmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 6:15 pm

    Ohhh I see so many of these characteristics in myself it makes me so happy that I can take credit for these by having become an expat! Although I’ve been one pretty much since I was out of the womb, it’s a whole different thing doing it on your own, and I’m now an expat in my 4th country, New Zealand!

    21 year old travel blogger

  • larina.tek@live.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Having lived in Canada for 2.5 years I can relate to every single one of these points! 🙂

  • sophiehboisvert@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    I found myself nodding to a lot of these. In particular I think an eagerness to learn and being ok spending a lot of time by yourself are two key factors to expat success! But I also think it’s important for expats experienced and new to know that they won’t always feel high on life – there are of course lower moments, but it’s the way you work through them that really counts 🙂

  • marissa@chicdarling.com'
    Marissa @ Chic Darling
    November 5, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    So true! Expats have to be open to new adventures- thats essentially what being an expat is all about.

  • nancydavolio6@gmail.com'
    Best holiday destinations
    November 5, 2014 at 4:26 pm

    It should be do anyone of them. nice blog. thanks for sharing nice views.

  • drinkingandblogging@yahoo.com'
    Amanda Beth
    November 5, 2014 at 3:15 pm

    This list reminds me I need to experience living in a foreign land. Adventure is calling my name!

  • thetravelixir@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 2:04 pm

    You are living my dream! I hope to be an expat in Germany (or really, anywhere in Europe) one day!

    Check out my blog: http://www.thetravelixir.com

  • lifestyingit@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 11:59 am

    totally relate to these points 🙂 great post! Good luck in Germany!

  • amber@travelandpictures.com'
    Amber Primdahl
    November 5, 2014 at 11:40 am

    I loved the life of being an expat when I lived in Denmark. There is a certain thrill in emerging yourself fully in another culture. I’m glad you’re enjoying yourself in Berlin 🙂 It’s always fun to meet other expats!


  • mishfishh13@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 10:38 am

    I met a bunch of expats at a Couchsurfing event (you should check them out) and they’re an awesomely open group of people! It’s one of the reasons why I was considering Berlin as one of my permanent homes.

  • karen@littleblackshell.com'
    Karen Farber
    November 5, 2014 at 9:39 am

    I love this!! I am all of these things except for liking all food, I’m still working on my changing tastebuds. I need to be an expat, NOW


  • info@traveling-lady.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 8:53 am

    12th point is the best !


  • marieking32@gmail.com'
    Marie @ Marie Away
    November 5, 2014 at 8:50 am

    Talking about expats is an interesting thing because I’ve met expats of all sorts: young and single, introverted and shy, family-oriented people with children, older couples, older singles, academics, partiers. But, I think you’ve managed to cover a lot of common traits. The most important thing is a genuine sense of curiosity about the world. With that motivation, anyone can live the expat life!


  • meg.casson@hotmail.com'
    May Casson
    November 5, 2014 at 8:23 am

    Thanks to your inspiration my boyfriend and I are moving from the Gold Coast Australia to Canada next year to live work and travel!

    http://www.kindoflovely.com || AUS Fashion/Lifestyle

  • Petra.chappell@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 8:19 am

    As expats ourselves we totally agree to all these things! Especially that expats are willing to try anything and are super friendly 🙂 If any of your followers are expats in Vancouver BC, get in touch!
    – Petra & Shaun @ http://www.theglobalcouple.com

  • andreaata13@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 7:53 am

    Fingers crossed that I will be an expat one day and fulfill my dream of teaching abroad in Europe! Great post! http://lesvoyagesdumonde.wordpress.com/2014/11/04/no-money-will-travel/

  • thetouristoflife@gmail.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 7:53 am

    I can see myself in all these characteristics.. unfortunately I am not an expat… yet;-)