Becoming a Resilient Expat

May 8, 2023 in Ex-pat

resilient expat

Resilient Expats

The life of an expat can be described with various adjectives: exciting, challenging, adventurous, isolating, transformative, unpredictable, lonely, uncertain, empowering… to name a few. The words in this list that give a more positive feeling invoke ideas of the traveling expat whose world is their oyster and every day is full of adventures around the globe.

The other adjectives noted here are the harder, more deeply personal words that tend to describe every expat’s reality at some point - from the newly arrived to the aptly seasoned. We all get this mixed bag of expat experiences.

What starts to create the nuance for expats within these words revolves largely around a very important trait in the expat space - resilience.

Depending on the individual's personal experiences and perspectives, and their level of resilience, we can start to see which expatriations are more successful than others. 

This is to say, of course, the more resilience you build and nurture, the more likely you are to have an enriching and positive expatriation.

resilient expat

Resilience as an Expat

A resilient expat is someone who possesses the ability to adapt to new and challenging situations, overcome setbacks, and maintain a positive outlook in the face of adversity. Resilient expats have a strong sense of self-awareness, emotional intelligence, and a growth mindset that enables them to navigate cultural differences, language barriers, homesickness, and other challenges that come with living in a foreign country.

More broadly speaking, resilience is considered an innate and learned trait. Some people may have a natural disposition towards resilience, while others may develop it through experiences, practice, and intentional effort. Research has shown that individuals who have experienced adversity in childhood or early life may develop a greater capacity for resilience as a result of those experiences. 

However, resilience is not limited to those who have experienced adversity in their lives, and it can be developed at any point in life.

Everyone has the ability to develop resilience.

Expats often face numerous challenges and stressors. Resilient expats are better able to cope with these difficulties, maintain a positive outlook, and continue to succeed in their new environment.

A resilient expat therefore typically exhibits flexibility, a positive attitude, resourcefulness, patience, and perseverance. This is demonstrated through their ability to adjust their behavior and expectations to fit their new environment's cultural norms and customs.

 They are able to focus on the opportunities and advantages of their new surroundings rather than dwelling on the challenges. A resilient expat is able to find solutions to problems independently, and they recognize that building relationships and integrating into a new culture takes time and effort.

expat resilience

Resilient expats are able to bounce back from setbacks and stay motivated despite obstacles.

Resilience is often cited as one of the most crucial traits for expats to possess in order to have a successful expatriation.

Research has found that expats who possess high levels of resilience are more likely to:

  • Successfully adapt to new cultures and work environments.
  • Maintain positive relationships with colleagues and locals.
  • Be able to manage stress and avoid burnout.
  • Develop a strong sense of personal and professional identity in their new environment.
  • Overcome setbacks and continue to achieve their goals.

Moreover, expats with high levels of resilience are better able to manage their emotions, which is essential in cross-cultural interactions. They are more likely to understand and appreciate cultural differences and to communicate effectively with people from diverse backgrounds, which is crucial for building positive relationships and achieving success in multicultural environments.

Resilience is a valuable trait that can be developed and cultivated over time. 

Some of the ways expats can develop resilience is by practicing self-care, building a support network, staying positive, and maintaining a growth mindset. Here we give you a few tips to develop your growth mindset:

  1. Developing a Support System: Building a support system of friends and colleagues can help you cope with stress and adversity. Seek out people who share your interests and values, and who can provide emotional support, encouragement, and advice when you need it.
  2.  Practicing Self-Care: Taking care of yourself physically, emotionally, and mentally can help you build resilience. This includes getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and engaging in activities that bring you joy and relaxation.
  3. Embracing Change: Resilient expats are able to adapt to change and see it as an opportunity for growth. Embrace change as a natural part of life and try to view challenges as opportunities for learning and development.
  4. Taking an expat coach: Coaching can be a powerful tool for building resilience as an expat. A coach can help you develop a range of skills and strategies to cope with the challenges and stressors of living and working in a foreign country. 
empower yourself as an expat

When you work with us at Vibrant, we concentrate on building your resilience as an expat.

We at Vibrant also had to learn, develop and nurture our resilience, so we know what it takes to reach a high level of resilience. 

Here are some of the ways we, at Vibrant, help our clients cultivate their expat resilience:

  • Self-awareness: We help you develop self-awareness, which is a key factor in building resilience. We’ll help you identify your strengths and weaknesses, your values and beliefs, and your triggers for stress and anxiety. This can help you better understand yourself and how you can cope with the challenges of living abroad more effectively.
  • Coping strategies: Moving abroad can seem stressful and sometimes overwhelming. We will help you develop coping strategies to manage stress and anxiety. We will help you learn to manage your emotions and maintain a positive mindset.
  • Maintaining a positive mindset: We’ll help you bring to focus the positive aspects of your expat experience. Using the positive psychology approach of ikigai, we will identify what is important to you, bring into focus your daily joys, and how to nurture them, while cultivating a positive mindset through negative thought reframing, gratitude practice, and focusing on solutions rather than problems.
  • Goal-setting: Setting goals is also an important part of building resilience and a key part of coaching. We can help you set realistic goals and create a plan of action to achieve them. This can help you focus on the things you can control and make progress towards your goals, even in the face of setbacks.
  • Accountability: We will provide you with accountability and support as you work towards your goals. They can help you stay motivated, track your progress, and celebrate your successes. This can help you build confidence and resilience as you navigate the challenges of living and working as an expat.

With resilience comes the ability to maintain our emotional well-being and adapt to new situations, even when faced with significant challenges.

Living abroad as an expat can be one of the most amazing times in life. The amount of change and growth that we experience is exponential, as we learn to navigate situations far from our comfort zone. We come face-to-face with ourselves, and we explore our unparalleled freedom. 

Approaching your expatriation with clarity, intention and purpose, you see not only change, growth, but transformation.  

Our clients report feeling more confident and empowered to tackle the challenges of expat life, a deeper appreciation for the cultural differences of their new home and supported to weather any challenges that arise within the unpredictability of expat life.  

Building resilience is not a one-time achievement, but an ongoing process that requires patience, practice, and support.

In our expat coaching, we help you develop the tools and mindset to navigate the challenges of expat life while embracing the opportunities for growth and transformation that lay ahead.

Approach your expatriation with clarity and joy and be prepared for whatever comes your way!  Don’t struggle alone.  Let us help you!

Book your free call today and see how our expat coaching can help you become a more resilient and happy expatriate.


Karly and Chloé are certified NLP and Ikigai coaches. Vibrant Ikigai offers bilingual workshops and 1:1 coaching services to help expat women thrive in their lives abroad.

Contact us today to set up your free discovery call !