Seven Habits of a Happy Expat

by Judy King 29. March 2010 15:08

bernabe painting Judy’s Note: I recently stumbled onto a great website and blog – Global Coach Center. This week the post that caught my eye lists Seven Habits of a Happy Expat. The more I read the more I realized that while the author’s experience is with life in Europe, these tips are universal.

Don’t just read these ideas…print this page and keep it handy for frequent reference. Following just this handful of tips will make a huge difference in your life.

Ever wondered what makes some expatriates happy and others not so happy?  Here is my take on it: THE WINNING SEVEN™ or 7 Habits a Happy Expat.

1.  Happy expats are intensely curious. Coming to another land is always interesting.  You get to learn about the culture, you get to experience a different way of life, you get to try new foods, and maybe even new sports and new hobbies.  A whole new world opens up for you.  Being curious around this new world leads to happiness.

2.  Happy expats accept others as they come, they don’t judge, and they don’t try to change people to their liking. No matter how much things may bother them and no matter how much they may disagree, a judgmental attitude never gets anyone anywhere.  Accepting that things run the way they do is the key to happiness.

markets1-oven 3.  Happy expats look at everything as an amazing learning experience. Someone once said that “life is always offering us new beginnings, it’s up to us whether to take them or not.”  I don’t remember who said it but it’s an empowering way to look at what’s available to us at every moment of every day.  And especially to those of us who get this incredible opportunity to not only travel but also live in different places.

4.  Happy expats find opportunities wherever they are and they don’t lament those they’ve left behind.  Life of an expatriate consists of one move after another.  Sometimes we know when that move is coming and sometimes we don’t (in these days of “the crisis” many of us will move suddenly).  Opportunities that were open to us in one place may not be available in another.  But remember “life is always offering us new beginnings…” There will be new opportunities, so do you want to spend the time lamenting about what you left behind or do you want to spend the time listening and looking out for what’s opening up for you?

5.  Happy expats know that feeling sad at times is part of the game. A happy expat doesn’t mean a giddy-at-all-times expat.  A happy expat means also an expat who knows that being sad at times is part of the expatriate experience.  Being sad about leaving friends behind; being sad about leaving your family far away; being sad about quitting a job or changing a career … this list can go on and on.  The difference between a happy expat and an expat that’s not happy is that for the former the sadness is something that’s natural and something that doesn’t take over your life and makes a victim out of you.

dancers with adult small 6.  Happy expats share. Sharing means so many different things.  It may mean sharing with your friends and family when you are sad – going through the stressful times alone is no fun.  It may mean sharing with a coach – a right client-coach partnership will undoubtedly make your expatriate experience richer.  It may also mean  sharing your experience with others, helping those like you find the best facets of their expatriate journeys.

7.  Happy expats stay clear of criticism, sulking, and stonewalling.  It is so very easy to blame someone else in your misfortunes.  It’s easy to say that everything around you is horrible; it’s easy to sulk in your misery when you’ve convinced yourself that it’s not up to you; and it’s easy to put a barrier between you and the place you live in.  Yet there is no way you are going to be happy where you live, if you consistently engage in criticism, sulking, and stonewalling.  Staying clear of those attitudes will help you be happier.

Copyright © 2010 by Global Coach Center. at

Judy King is publisher of Mexico Insights—Living at Lake Chapala, a monthly online magazine for people interested in Mexico's Lake Chapala region, in the state of Jalisco.

Judy, a 19-year resident of Ajijic on Lake Chapala's north shore, conducts weekly newcomer's seminars and shares her expertise about Mexico in her ezine at, and in the "Mexico Lindo" column of the Lake Chapala Review.

Judy also is a speaker for local organizations and visiting tour groups about the Lakeside area about Mexican customs and holidays.


3/30/2010 6:08:31 AM #

These habits of a happy expat almost seem to be sequential steps - at least that has been my experience. I breezed though  numbers 1 through 4 but then got stuck on #5 for quite some time. I'm happy to say I've toughed it out and am moving on to  numbers 6 and 7!

To number 7 I would add that it is equally important to avoid other expats who fall into the habits of criticizing and sulking.

Eileen Mexico |

3/30/2010 10:50:19 AM #

Good Article, Judy.  Good suggestions for non-expats also.

Mic United States |

4/3/2010 2:15:59 AM #

Great article as always, thank you for writing such helpful stuff on a regular basis.

James McHenry United States |

5/16/2010 6:46:27 PM #

Hello, I feel this site is competent, I stumbled across it in Google and I'll note it!
Sharolyn Holliday writing from Columbia.

bus hire United States |

Comments are closed

About Judy King

Judy King

Hi There — Welcome to my little corner of the world. I'm Judy King and I live in the centuries-old village of Ajijic on the north shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico's largest natural lake.

I've lived here full time since 1990, and... [ more ]

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