Finance & Retirement LIFESTYLE  >  Expat Retirement Series, Part 2: How to Handle Culture Shock

Expat Retirement Series, Part 2: How to Handle Culture Shock

Expat Retirement Series, Part 2: How to Handle Culture Shock
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So you did it. You decided to move to a new country. You rented out your house, sorted, and packed everything that didn’t have legs and then got on a plane. You are going to settle in and give this new life idea a chance.

Now what?  Well, probably a great deal of culture shock. The signs may be insidious or a falling brick wall.  Your life will contain a variety of unexpected challenges.

If you get upset over whether the toilet paper rolls off the top or up from the bottom then the overseas expat life may not be for you. Moving overseas will introduce you to some mind-numbing living choices.  Additionally you may have to do without a staggering number of your favorite goodies.

But wait!  Save that melodramatic gesture.  You will also be introduced to many delightful alternatives.

First among your cultural changes is food. Can one live happily without chocolate chips? What about a favorite coffee or pasta sauce? Since it is something we all need to do regularly food can quickly get to be an issue unless you prepare.

  1. Do a mock shopping trip during your pre-move visit and note the things missing that you really, really have to have.
  2. Bring some with you. Pay for extra airline luggage to get settled comfortably.
  3. Be prepared to be more self-sufficient. Boxed mixes may give way to more cooking. So pack a good cookbook.
  4. Visit all the supermarket chains to check if they stock favorite items.

Experimentation and developing new favorites using local ingredients is going to be part of your lifestyle if you are going to be happy.

Next are usually the issues of household goods and clothes in your new life.  Pillows, sheets and towels you might want new for instance. Every country has up-market department stores but you may not want to pay those prices if saving money as a retiree is important.

Chinese imports are all over the world and that does not always indicate  inferior merchandise. Sometimes these products may be better than you are used to. Goods from Japan in the 1950 and ’60’s were considered garbage but then they started turning out Datsuns and Toyotas.

Your well loved clothes and shoe brands may not be on the local racks or shelves and if they are, prices may make your eyes water. Knock offs and second hand clothes are everywhere so how do you feel about that?

Try these ideas to help in settling in;

  1. When in your new country, before you do anything else, locate a group of expats. They will know what is available and where.
  2. Be prepared to go shopping outside the big shopping malls.  The little shops often have enchanting items at great prices.
  3. Many regions have an equivalent to Amazon/Craigslist but they are different sites and in the local language.
  4. Also look online for services that allow you to buy goods they then ship to you in a partial container load.

Now that this short review of possible traumas has finished, here is a South American wonder you can make to sit back and contemplate the plus/minus tally sheet for moving overseas.

Originating in Peru/Chile, “Pisco” a local grape distillation of the nicest vodka/tequila persuasion.  You can purchase Pisco in bigger bottle shops worldwide, amazon and ebay.

Pisco Sour Cocktail

A robust, full bodied smooth drink for 4-6

6-8 cups ice cubes

2 cups pisco

2/3 cup fresh lime or lemon juice

1/2 cup sugar syrup (or white corn syrup ) Sugar doesn’t dissolve +makes it grainy.

2 egg whites

dash aromatic bitters

Place ice, pisco, fresh lemon juice, syrup, egg whites, in a blender. High speed until it is a frothy slushy drink. Pour into four glasses and garnish with a dash of bitters.   Relax, enjoy and dream of a new life.

Suzie Hammond is the author of; I am Not Sure Where I Want to Be -But It’s Not Here (A Comprehensive System for Finding a New Home You’ll Love ). For her blog, book & FREE Special Report, visit







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