EXPAT Primer – quod sensus locutionis

Expatriate, most commonly referred to as Expat, is derived from the Latin – ex for leaving – and patria for country. It’s a term that refers to those people who chose to live outside their home country for a period of time….or even for a lifetime.

Expat is offer mistakenly understood to mean “Ex-patriot”. Patriot and patriate, however, are two separate words, with very different meanings. To refer to someone as an ex-patriot could misleadingly connote a  lack of national pride. From my conversations, patriotism often increases among those choosing to live in a new nation. As I was preparing to make my own decision to become an American expat, I found myself doing a good deal of education among others who found it hard to grasp the concept, or meaning, of the word. Interestingly, for many who fall within the category of expats, they are beginning to use a variety of new and more personal terms and descriptions for the expatriate lifestyle, often as an avoidance mechanism for that eye-rolling FAQ, “Now, what is that exactly?”.

Expats are primarily, “Citizens abroad”. Interestingly and somewhat uniquely, however, the U.S. has encountered an increase in those who formally renounce their citizenship, due to the current annual financial and tax reporting requirements, unique among the developed nations of the world.

Finnaccord, a financial services and market research firm, predicts that by 2017, close to 57 million people will be living away from their country or origin. There are a variety of reasons stated in the report. Work opportunities account for about 75%, a large percentage that includes skilled workers leaving home for career or financial growth, or thousands of others escaping unstable economies, in need of a regular paycheck.

Students come next, at about 8%; with retirees, one of the fastest growing groups, at 4%. The rest, about 13% are lumped into what I call a “love and lifestyle” category. Among that group are some of the more interesting personalities I’ve encountered along the way. I hope to be able to feature some of their stories in future posts.

The term expat continues to be the over-arching word to describe those who have left their home country for an extended period of time. It has, however, morphed into a hundred different sub-categories based on the changing and complex landscape of international business, culture and relationships. It’s been fun to reignite my lifetime interest in “other worlds”, those that we read about, but so rarely see in real time . I hope that my experiences and insights will broaden your understanding of the expat experience. At least now you’re better informed to respond to the next person who asks you, “Now, what is that again?”.