Expatriate advice - part 1

It’s happened again.

I’ve just finished a call with an expat, seeking to come back to their home country. Another expat who has proved to be totally unprepared and unrealistic in their expectations.

This person has been working on a different continent to their homeland for just 3 years.  But it’s been enough time for them to forget that the expat perks, are exactly that – perks, and NOT entitlements.  The temporary uplift in their package as part of the expat assignment, does not mean an absolute uplift in their worth across the broader market.

The chances of them returning to their homeland and finding an employer who will pay for their children’s international schools, their rent, their nannies and cleaners and caterers and chauffeured cars, their tax advisory support, their private family medical costs in top rate international hospitals……these chances are slim to none existent.  A reality check is needed. 

The expat package was originally designed as a sweetener to attract top talent – to compensate people for the hardships of being away from home conditions for an extended time, to allow for any potential reduction of "real value" to income, to eliminate negative inflation differences to domestic packages whilst they're working away, and a reward for working in countries/environments that were otherwise unattractive. 

However there’s a number of professionals, who think of an expat package as an entitlement whenever they move countries, even if the move is to somewhere with no danger, no language barriers, no hygiene or safety issues, no cost of living disparity, and with easy access to their homeland.

This thinking is crazy in an age when the globalisation of companies is now a norm, and mobility of the workforce is an ever increasing expectation by employers.  Why for instance, should a Canadian receive an expat package to work in the USA?  Why should a German receive an expat package to work in Austria?  Why should an Italian receive an expat package to work in England?  Why should a Singaporean receive an expat package to work in Australia?

Now, I understand that if the move is going to cause a financial loss due to cost of living or inflationary or exchange rate differences, then sure, compensation of some form is fair. And its great if the employer chooses to give you an expat rather than domestic package for an overseas posting.  But I cannot for the life of me understand how homeland employers could or should have to "weight up" domestic packages for the returning global warrior.

As for this issue on not being prepared.  If you’re an expat reading this, and planning to “come home” we'll publish another post shortly on some tips that will help make your transition back a whole lot easier....