• Karla Fraser

The Transient Life of an Expat

Three Unique Qualities of a Life Abroad

Sumanley Xulx-Pixabay

As an #expat, life can, in many ways, be a transient lifestyle. Being transient could mean moving every few months or every few years. You determine your frequency, be it for your career, adventure or otherwise.


In some cases, being transient comes with the nature of your job/career such as diplomatic postings or disaster relief management. Other times, it is by design by the expat who is seeking new options to live and work outside in multiple locations over a timespan. In either case, the choice of pursuing employment outside your country of origin or the place you consider your permanent home puts you in transient mode.


In a July 2018 press release, Finaccord shared data from its market research study on expat. Finaccord defines expatriates as:

“individuals who establish their residence in the territory of another country for a temporary period that is, or is expected to be, of at least 12 months and a maximum of five years, having previously been resident in another country.” (Finaccord, 2018)


Finaccord reported that there were approximately 66.2 million worldwide in 2017, a significant increase from around 52.8 million expatriates in 2013. Based on the compounded 5.8% rate of increase, Finaccord predicts that there will be around 87.5 million by 2021. Despite various on-going political, economic, and environmental changes, an expat or transient life is experiencing steady growth.


Even with such data, anyone who chooses to be on the move, from country to country, still encounters some unspoken perception about their chosen lifestyle. Thus, being a global wanderer comes with the following assumptions.


1. No Consistency to your Resume

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Your resume can reflect many short-term positions and appear to an employer that you lack commitment. Being transient can mean you are at a position long enough to gain funds to move or you have the right skills or expertise thus, you’re pulled and transferred to another location. You have also opted for being location independent, doing jobs that don’t match your qualification e.g.creating a start-up or bartending which do not align well with past experiences on your resume. By choosing to be a nomad, whether it is for blocks of months or years, you can limit your career opportunities. However, be intentional about the skills and expertise to develop along the way to keep your option as open as possible. Nevertheless, you will have gained and can demonstrate your ability to develop micro-careers along your journey.


2. No Permanent Home

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Many people will consider you lost or unsettled because you are challenged in explaining where you live. Your lack of a permanent address is interpreted as you are homeless, but you are not. You have a series of temporary addresses for the length of time you reside in a location. Some family and friends will understand and adjust to you maintaining a transient life. However, the majority think you are at least slightly deranged and in need of help. As a nomad, you have chosen to reject their notion of a fulfilling life. You choose to march to the beat of your own drum and have the courage to strike out on an uncharted path. You are lost, but not astray, and you would not have it any other way. After all, can you really expect to make any profound discoveries if you’re not lost?

3. No Sense of Reality

Marc Olivier Jodoin/Unsplash

After embarking on an expat journey, you can find yourself having the desire to return to the place you called “home” before you started the transient lifestyle. The act of moving, living, and embracing a new location for an extended period of time can be exhilarating. Your family, friends, or even strangers will comment about you not living in the “real” world and that you should return and settle down and join them in the “real” world. However, your transient experiences are as real as their being in one location. You have found flexibility, freedom, and experience in your moves because you take a less-traveled path in life. As a result, you are hooked and addicted to life-changing experiences along the path. If you should leave this lifestyle, it will cost you years of cognitive therapy to manage the withdrawal syndromes.


The journey of a transient life is your pursuit to grow and deepen your life experiences. You stepped outside the norm to define success which includes travel and experiencing life in the world one location at a time. Your transient lifestyle has redefined work-life balance and quality of life to include cultural adaptation, being outside your comfort zone. By creating new meaning to the quality of life, it also includes being resourceful, experiential learning, and navigating uncharted waters if needed.

A transient life as an expat - be it months or years - provides you with an increased worldview for humanity. It is essential to note that expats choose this lifestyle for a variety of reasons. - financial, educational, or environmental. None is more important than the other. As an expat who has embraced this lifestyle, you have learned to explore your passion and merge it with a lifestyle that gives you constant exposure to the world each day and in each location.

References: Finaccord. (2018, July 12). Global Expatriates: Size, Segmentation and Forecast for the Worldwide Market [Press Release].



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-- Karla A. Fraser, The Transient Life of an Expat, Roseapple Global, LLC. Originally published in the Expat Chronicles on Medium.

Roseapple Global provides expat coaching and guidance for individuals or groups. We serve all aspiring or continuing expats and specialize in assisting higher education professionals. We also offer to consult for student-facing units of higher education institutions internationally. Our services focus on developing or improving the administrative and operational areas of your departments. We help you unlock your potential, maximize your ability, and equip you with resources and tools for your journey or your student-facing unit. Contact Us

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