Guest Blog – If you are looking to move to Belize, one of the factors to keep in mind (the same concept as picking a career!) should be evaluating if your personality and strengths match those that have been successful and happy here. There are expats in Belize who leave it better than they found it and are a positive influence on the community (and of course those on the other end, which is a group preferable to avoid joining). I went to one of my expert friends for this topic.
1.) Friendly – if you’re going to move to a new place you need to meet new people; without a social network, an expat needs to be able to meet people outside of work and social circles. This is not difficult for most people, as warm countries tend to be friendly and locals are very accepting and eager to chat.
2.) Humility – Regardless of how educated or successful you are at home, you’re in a new sandbox and you don’t know how things work, so be humble and understated and you will make friends much quicker and not fall into the next category.
3.) Humility II – Moving to another country and assuming your well thought out business plan from home will work in your new country can be the kiss of death…different things work in different places and economies, so assume you know nothing —- observe, speak to as many people as possible and figure out what works for your NEW home.
4.) Patience – Goes hand in hand with #3. Don’t be in too big a hurry to start your new business or invest your hard earned nest egg. Take at least 6 months to figure out the best strategy for your new home.
5.) Curiosity – Take interest in other people. Nobody wants to hear your life story from your old life — ask questions and show interest in learning about others and you will make friends quickly, and be appreciated.
6.) Respect – be respectful of your new home – its rules, people, customs and beliefs. Do not try and turn it into your old home. Your old home is not better!
7.) Don’t Complain – although there is a time for constructive criticism, it is best to keep negativity to yourself, and learn to accept the way things are. Different is not wrong, much of the time one simply needs to adapt to a new way and embrace change…which was the reason you are migrating in the first place.
8.) Keep busy – if you are lucky enough to be retired then keep busy by exploring, volunteering or taking on new hobbies (other than drinking at the bar everyday.)
9.) Leave cultural and social baggage at home. If you had a prejudice, bias or rival with a group at home leave it there. You are around like-minded people in your new home so you need to develop new bias and prejudices. (just kidding).
10.) Become a local. It’s easy to gravitate towards people from your old region and culture but your social circle should include both fellow expats and locals. Learn the local language or lingo…the locals appreciate it, you will pay less for things and it may get you out of a tight spot one day!