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  • Writer's pictureGregory Wade

Have You Ever Thought About Living & Working Abroad?

I spent 8 years leading a $3B business in Asia Pacific (based out of Singapore - ranked as the #1 preferred destination for expatriates per HSBC).  Check out the study here.  My wife and I made the tough decision to uproot our family and leave the comforts of home for a foreign land on the other side of the earth.  We had never visited Singapore prior to our "look-see" yet we jumped right in and embraced the opportunity.  I suppose having a penchant for change helps ... 

Check out the top 10 expat destinations per HSBC at the end of this article

As a family, we experienced incredible people and cultures.  We met and connected with new friends that we've continued to enjoy regardless of location.  My wife and I got to know each other all over again and relished our time together.  The boys played football (real American football) and attended one of the world's most recognized international schools (Singapore American School). When we finally repatriated, my two boys were 17 and 15 respectively.  We all experienced what is known as "reverse culture shock".

As a business leader, I saw the creation of one of the most diverse high performing teams in the industry and the team fundamentally contributed to changing lives in places such as Indonesia (the world's fourth most populated country), Thailand and the Philippines.  The team also contributed to emerging economies leapfrogging technology to adopt new and exciting social media platforms and messaging services like BBM.

We did experience our ups and downs from being homesick to interesting challenges in cultural differences, approaches and values.  We saw it all!  To say that the experience was "second to none", however, would be an understatement.  But ... in order for all to have an incredible experience, we at Populis have put together the following check-list that you will not find online nor from your Global Mobility representatives within HR.


1. Scrutinize the existing expat documentation within your company and question everything Global Mobility presents

2.  Speak with other expats and hear their stories.  Learn from those experiences

3. Insist on a "look-see".  Do not accept an assignment without at least visiting your new home once.  A relocation / migration agent can be an excellent resource.  Insist that your company make the investment in this important support.

4.  Do not feel pressured to make a decision.  Ensure that the move is not seen as a perk but as a sacrifice (even if your destination country is awesome).  You are leaving everything for your new experience.

5. Make a family decision.  After all, the family is moving.  Everyone should have some input (this includes teenagers as it is important to have their buy-in)

6.  Consult a tax accountant on the Do's and Don'ts.  If you are a U.S. citizen, remember that that your allowances are taxable.  For others on tax sharing agreements, remember the structure benefits your company ... not you.

7.  Soak in your experiences and absorb.  If you see something that needs changing, take action and affect change for the betterment of future expats. Don't compare expat packages.  Resist the urge and affect change.

8.  Maintain a strong connection to family both in your new country and back at home

9.  Expand your networks.  There will be thousands of great people in the same situation as you.   

10.  Don't lose touch with HQ and have a plan / insist on a plan for repatriation

11.  Utilize the tools and agencies provided to you by Global Mobility to understand everyday considerations pertaining transportation, language and most importantly ... healthcare

12. Make a commitment to yourself and your family to pursue healthy living.  Invest in yourself.  You will find an overseas assignment provides incredible opportunities to maintain or get back in shape.

HSBC Top 10 expatriate destination countries (2018):


New Zealand









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