Setting Up a New Expat Life

April 25, 2023 in Ex-pat, Ikigai

New Expat Life

Our new expat life: arriving in our new home 

In a recent podcast interview with Sarah Smutny from Simply in Balance, Karly discussed her last international move and setting up her new expat life.

With Sarah, Karly talked about how ikigai is influential in her life and how ikigai can help the newly arrived expat find their footing in their new expat life.

This podcast gives you practical ways to approach your new expat life if you are struggling to find your way. Sometimes, it is really hard to know even where to start.

Have a listen to the podcast here and let us know what you think!

(or scroll down the page and read the transcript)

Also, Sarah is happy to offer followers of Vibrant Ikigai 15% off on all of her services using the code SLOWANDVIBRANT on her website!

new expat life

In August of 2022, Karly moved to Annecy, France where she needed to pick up the pieces and once again start from scratch.

Setting up your new expat life takes time, energy and patience.

This recent move was a tough one for Karly. Leaving the US - her native country where she has lived only four out of the last 16 years - meant also leaving behind aging parents and nostalgia for life in her home country.

She moved back to France but to a new town where life needed to once again be built from the ground up.

Cultivating your new expat life takes time and effort. Moving abroad presents many challenges as well as opportunities for the newly arrived-expat. Cultivating the right mindset when you first arrive in your new country can make a huge difference in how you show up in the world.

One of the best ways ikigai can help the newly arrived expat is through the structure and guidance we are given when we understand this authentic Japanese philosophy.

When you understand the basic needs for life, and you have them in your mind in a tangible and practical way, you make this the touchstone for how you move about in the world and how you show up in your new expat life.

While we don’t like to say ikigai is a magic bullet when it comes to personal development (nothing is), we do think it is the magic bullet for expats who don’t know where to start as they adjust to their life abroad.

When we move abroad, we are stripped of life’s basic needs and we are forced to rebuild from scratch. Being clear about what those needs are and what steps we can take to fulfill them is a game-changer for how we show up in our new expat life.

new expat life in annecy

Sarah Smuty from the Slow Mundance interviewed Karly to talk about how ikigai is influential in her life and how ikigai can help the newly arrived expat find their footing in their new home and in their new expat life.

This podcast gives you practical ways you can better set up your new expat life if you are struggling to find your way. Sometimes, it is really hard to know even where to start.

Do you need help in your new expat life?

If you have just arrived in your new country or are planning to move soon, we can help. Book your free call with Karly (English) to see how we can guide you as you make this huge life transition.

Click here to listen to the full podcast or read the transcription in the text below.

newly arrived expat

New Expat Life: Find Your Purpose with Ikigai



Hi, it's Sarah's Smuty, your host of the Simply in Balance podcast. I'm super happy that you’re listening in today. In the podcast, we are going to go deep on gut health, anti-inflammatory living, spirituality, self-care and so much more.


Today is again podcast time and I will interview Karly, who is a very, very inspiring person. I got to know Karly recently in Annecy, and we found out in our yoga session that she is an ikigai coach.  I was so intrigued that I directly invited her to my podcast. I find ikigai very interesting and everything about purpose, finding purpose, living purpose so I thought this is the perfect topic for my podcast.


So, Karly, tell us, who is Karly, and introduce yourself.


K: Thanks, Sarah! I'm so excited to be here and yes,  I'm Karly Christ. I am an American, expat, long-term expat, living in Annecy, France. I am an NLP and Ikigai coach, and along with my business partner Chloé Le Gouche, we have Vibrant Ikigai, which is our coaching business where we particularly work with expat women who are looking to have empowering, purposeful, meaningful experiences abroad.


S: Amazing yeah, I see that also in my own coaching. I also work with a lot of expats and this is really a topic, especially for expat women. Because often they are following their partners. It's still a bit like this. Nowadays, even if we say it is this feminist movement, still we still have this a lot. So, we have the same group we are working with.


K: Well, and we are both expats, right?


S: That’s also, yeah.


K: Living out of our country and out of our comfort zone. We know what it feels like.


S: So, how did you come to ikigai by the way?


K: So it's interesting because so when we started Vibrant Ikigai in 2020, we were working with our clients and we stumbled upon the four Circle Venn diagram. And usually, people who have heard of ikigai before, they think of this diagram. And we saw this diagram  and it’s four circles - what you love, what you’re good at, what you can be paid for, and what the world needs. And in the middle is ikigai. And we thought, ah, that's great. That's pretty interesting maybe we can use this as a tool with our clients, and so we started to look deeper into this concept of ikigai. In the course of doing that we found Ikigai Tribe which is the certification program that we went through in our ikigai training.


And we learned that actually this diagram has nothing to do with ikigai at all, but it's what led us to understand the concept better. And so once we went through the certification program by the end we were so enthralled by this philosophy that we thought, this is great, and actually we don't want to just use it as one of the tools in our toolkit as we originally thought but we want it to be the main methodology that we use with our clients because we just found it so powerful to our lives.


S: Also, to your lives. So, it made a big impact also on you?


K: It made a huge impact on both of us. It was a total game-changer. We finished and we were just like, wow, this is great. This is a great philosophy and since then everything has changed in how I show up in the world. I'm always going back to the ikigai concept, philosophy and tools that I know. And also interestingly, I've been an expat for 15 years, I moved to Annecy, France in August of this year, I’ve had seven international moves in that time and this is the first time that I've had an international move with the ikigai tool kit on my side. So, in the past, I had all these international moves and this is the first time after coaching and using these tools with expats that I've actually had to do it myself in the initial months of expatriation. And it's made such a difference.


I found myself coming into this experience and showing up so much differently than I have in the past.


 And, even though, you know, I'm a seasoned expat. I've had to do this quite a few times. I already speak French but I haven't lived in this place in France before but I've lived in France before. And even so, this has actually been one of the hardest moves that I've had to make so far.


And I know that, but I don't feel that because I'm using ikigai to help me get through it., I've been going through our coaching workbooks that we have for our clients to bring myself back to basics and it's been so helpful.


 S: Could you give us one example?


K: A component of what I’m doing? What I'm doing yeah so you know when we move, and you know I should say that that ikigai philosophy is really powerful in the expat space. But it's also a powerful philosophy for anybody. It's a positive psychology concept of well-being and it really applies to anyone. But so, in the expat space you know when we move we uproot our lives. We leave everything behind, and we have to recreate everything again. We have to find our routines again. We have to meet our people. The Japanese have a word for this.


It’s called ibasho and that’s our people or our place where we feel a sense of belonging.


And we need to rebuild that and sometimes we get so into the act of resettlement that we often don't prioritize the things in our daily actions that help us to feel grounded and rooted and create the life that we want. So maybe in our previous location whether it was your last expatriation or your home, maybe you had a daily at-home yoga practice or you went to the studio every week for yoga or they were different parts of your routine that you had done for a long time and now all the sudden you get to your new location and it's like,

 oh I don't have time to go to yoga this week I need to get the kids enrolled in their activities or I need pots and pans.


It's very easy to get into this feeling of maybe being overwhelmed by how much you need to do and organize and set up in your new life.


And actually often times as moms, and you can probably relate to this, we're looking after everybody else. We're making sure that the kids are set up in school and they've got their things and they're feeling comfortable because everything's new for them as well. And we forget about ourselves.


And we just concentrate on what's in front of us. And so one of the things that in this move that I've been very conscious about is making time for me. And making sure that I start to,

ithout pressure and without judgment, I start to put in place some of those things that I used to have in my life.


So, fully open, I have not found my yoga class yet! I'm working on that still. I've been here about six weeks so I haven't gotten there yet but that’s okay.


Like I said, I'm okay with that. But I'm taking the time every day to do my meditation to go for my runs, to do the things that I know put me in the right headspace to have a better daily living.


And that really brings a sense of grounding like you feel like you're here.


The other thing that's really important to go back to that ibasho concept is getting out. As you said oftentimes it is still the wives that are following the husbands and that is the case for me. And I run my business from home as do you, and so we are alone in our world. And when we arrive in a new place now we're really alone. We are running our business alone from home and we are in a new place where we don't know anybody and so it can be very isolating and so taking those little steps also to get out.


You know so go to that yoga class so that you meet people, you talk to people, or if you've moved for a job and in your job maybe you start to feel that you're doing as we say in French, metro, boulot, dodo. Your riding the subway, you're going to work and you're coming home and that’s it. And you're like, what am I doing?


Putting one little thing in there that helps you to get out, see people may be other than just who you see at work. But it can also be that you go with your French colleague who is French-speaking, I mean I'm saying French because we're in France, and you don't speak French, but you say, hey let's do a language exchange every Tuesday morning before we start work.


 I mean, even better if you go to a language class. And not being judgmental. So that's what I'm doing right now. I’m being compassionate with myself but I'm also giving myself little pushes of motivation and looking at what I know from ikigai and how I bring greater well-being into my life and trying to do that every day even just a little bit to feel like I have life here. 

You know, that I am getting settled and I've integrated (in my new expat life).


S: And you have “a  life”.


K: Yes. Exactly.


S: It’s interesting that it’s very different than what you see always. The, “what you like, what you do, what you love”. You know, the four little piece of the pie.


K: The Venn Diagram.


S: Yeah, so actually it goes much deeper, ikigai. Actually, much more into the personal life instead of only being linked to business.


K: Yes, and you know, I mean, I mean you know the Venn diagram so on the one side it was what brought me to the ikigai concept and also my coach and Mentor has told me that he's grateful for it because it also is what brings a lot of people to him and then he's able to show them the real Japanese understanding of ikigai.


 A little background on that. It was basically a Spanish astrologer who created the Venn diagram but in the middle, it was proposito or purpose so it was the purpose Venn Diagram. And then Dan Buettner gave a TED Talk where he talks about ikigai and longevity and Okinawa maybe some people have heard of the blue zones.


Dan Buettner did the Blue Zones, and in Okinawa, it's not true now, but at the time they had some of the longest-living centenarians in the world who are also women. I should say, the longest-living people in the world were women in Okinawa at this time.


And he talked about that and then this British entrepreneur and business coach heard the Tedtalk, saw the Venn diagram, and then just took the word ikigai and put it in the middle. So it's a Spanish guy, and a British guy, and an American guy that now everyone thinks this concept is Japanese. Which, it's not.


And for the Japanese, ikigai never has to do with earning money.

If anything in this Venn diagram is especially not true the one that's particularly not true for the Japanese concept of ikigai is what you can be paid for because you would never pursue your ikigai in order to get money. Sometimes it ends up being a benefit and oftentimes it is, but it's not the focus.


With this spectrum that ikigai is for the Japanese, you're right about these four circles. There's no nuance in there. Where ikigai for the Japanese is even hard to define let alone putting it into circles. You know, we often like to have definitions of things and I often get people that ask, what is ikigai? What's the definition of ikigai?


And it's like well, let's talk about it. It's a conversation and it's not actually a definition. The closest that we've gotten to is the reason you get up in the morning. That's as close as we can get. Your ikigai is the reason you get up in the morning but it's so much more than that. The four circles are great questions, and they are good contemplation questions, and they can help you to get closer to finding greater purpose in your professional life and as a result in your personal life.


It's just not the authentic, Japanese philosophy.


S: But it is still very good in the sense that it catches people. It’s so simple. And everyone can understand it so well. A child would understand it, let’s say.


K: Yep and that’s true too


S: And that makes it also attractive because people think, oh great, I can find a solution in a very simplistic manner.  And that’s why they’re also attracted to this and then they find you and then you can go deeper with them. It is kind of the hook.


K: Yeah, and it’s also a good opener for building self-awareness.

And starting on a path of greater personal development. If you stop and you think about these four circles, you know, that's great. It is a good way to advanced whatever it is you're trying to achieve.


S: Yeah, but ok how does it actually work? Let’s say you have a new client you coach with your ikigai program. So how does it look like when you take somebody in and what does the journey then look like with you?


K: Okay so first we have two services that we offer. One is a two-hour group workshop where we discuss the ikigai philosophy and it's kind of the overview. So, you get to go through the different components that we cover in the one-to-one coaching but simplified.


Then we have the one-to-one coaching where we take all of that and we go deeper in the 1-1. 

And what we use is actually, there is a woman, a Japanese psychiatrist and linguist. Her name is Kamiya Meiko or Meiko Kamiya if you say it in Japanese, and she wrote the Bible of ikigai.


And in the 1960s, she worked with lepers in Japan so those with Hansen’s disease, on her dissertation. And while she was working with those lepers she started to question ikigai deeply. And so, the results of that research are in her book, Ikigai Ni Tsuite. In that book she came up with eight needs of ikigai, so eight things that people need to have in their life in order to experience a high level of well-being or a high level of ikigai.


Those 8 things are what we use in our methodology so that is our program essentially. We use Kamiya Meiko’s eight needs of ikigai.


We have eight sessions of one-to-one coaching over four months. And this does include the bonus of the workshop because we like giving the overview, so you understand the concept and then you move into the one-to-one coaching.


 But then depending on what your issue is, what your objectives are, what your goals are, what your background is and what you hope to achieve in one-to-one coaching, that's the lens, that's the filter that we use to approach those needs.


So, for example, I'm working with someone right now who is looking to change jobs and trying to figure out which is the right avenue. So, as we move through the coaching the focus is always going to be in the professional life but with the filter of ikigai and bringing satisfaction to life and to work.


S: I think I would have some of my clients to recommend to you. I also have clients that struggle with their professional perspective. And then we, of course, go into this, and we talk about it. I also infuse a lot of life coaching in my coaching but often it’s not enough time to handle everything in depth in all the areas. It isn’t enough to talk about nutrition and gut healing and life coaching. Sometimes there is time, but it depends.


I had one client, she’s working in the IT industry but deep, deep, deep inside she wants to be a bookstore owner, but she's afraid to do it. Maybe being afraid of what other people will say, also thinking financially, you know all kinds of fears are coming up there.


 That’s why such a workshop, I think would be great. And she would be very, very grateful. I will tell her about it.


K: I mean, switching, becoming an entrepreneur, there's a lot of blocks for people. She wants to do something completely different. And so that's what we do, we work through the blocks but we're also at the same time, because the approach is coming from a place of positive psychology, we're also really working on looking at and building awareness of strengths and passions and getting that concentration so that it becomes clearer and then you think, oh I can, I can actually do this. Because I'm good at this, and this and I love this.


And you know, bringing that awareness to ourselves is a huge part of the entire coaching. And self-awareness is so important in any kind of coaching.


So yes, working on job transitions like that is a great one. We love working with these clients.


S: Beautiful, thanks for sharing all of this with us it's so so so inspiring and I’m happy that we met.


 I can certainly also envision some kind of collaboration with you in the future. Let’s speak about this.


K: Yes, what did we say, January maybe?


S: Because you know I think this combination of finding your balance in your body and in your personal life plus professional life, it is in every sense life-changing.


K: Yes, and you know, a huge source of my ikigai is food and cooking and so it's perfect.

And my business partner is vegan as well and she also loves food, and, I mean, half the time we talk about ikigai and the other half of the time we talked about food!


S: Oh, that’s great and super important. Because when you feel in balance in your body then you have a lot of energy to do things. Because if you feel like, honestly speaking, crap and bloated and ugly then you also don’t go to these social meetings in your new city. And you don’t have any energy. And no energy to build your tribe. And then you hide at home because you don’t have any energy.


That often happens.


K: And as we said, the energy, we need so much energy as expats. We have to put ourselves out there all the time. We have to meet people; we have to put in the energy to make friends and build our social network. So having our body be in a good place where we're actually putting nourishing food into our body, we're not bloated, our digestion is working and we're taking all that nutrition and energy to actually push ourselves forward


S: It is just another piece to the puzzle!


K: yes!


S: Okay so thanks a lot again and where can people follow you?



K: So, we are Vibrant Ikigai. You can find us on Instagram @Vibrantikigai_expatcoaching.

Our services are available in French and in English. We are also on Pinterest, LinkedIn and Facebook.


S: Do you also offer a free first call or something to get to know you?


K: Yes, two things that we offer, we have a free discovery call that you can book with Chloé in French and in English with me. You can do that on the website. That’s a 30 min call to talk about goals and objectives for coaching and how we use the philosophy for your needs, and then we also have a free downloadable workbook that you can get on the website as well.


Five essential steps to feeling ikigai in your life.


It kind of gives you a little kick-off into the ikigai world and there are some good contemplation questions to get you going.


There are also “6 tips for making your expat landing smoother.”


S: Amazing so, let’s finish this podcast with one last phrase from you. Say something you want to tell our audience, like one sentence.


K: Be kind with yourself, have compassion and do your best to show up as authentically as you can.


S: With these words have a great day or night whenever you're listening to this and

 see you next time


K: Thank you, Sarah

Karly Christ

Karly is a certified NLP and Ikigai coach with over 15 years of expat experience on four continents. Vibrant Ikigai offers workshops and 1:1 coaching services to help expat women move through the ups and downs of this exciting global lifestyle.

Book your free call and let's chat about how I can help you live your best expat life!