Do You Have What it Takes to be a Successful Expat? – by a reader of this blog

This was originally sent in as a comment on the last post. It’s from a reader who wishes to remain anonymous. He signed his name LEVN.

Before NAFTA was implemented in 1994, many of the Americans and Canadians in the Yucatan were here because they were escaping something — failed businesses, nasty divorces, bankruptcies, alimony, child support.  They were “of a certain age” and wanted to break clean with their pasts, start fresh, and in a place where no one knew of their personal or professional history.

That has changed, and there are now many who are moving to Mexico for business, or to enrich their lives.  But it still amazes me how many people don’t do basic homework: Reflecting about why they want to become willing strangers in a strange land.

It isn’t as if this is rocket science: (subjective) soul-searching, or something as simple as an objective suitability test.  Only you can reflect and meditate on what’s in your heart and your spirit, of course.  But for an objective set of questions that have been developed psychologists and sociologists, take this quiz: It might help you understand if you should be an expat in the first place!


1. My level of education is:

a) Post Graduate Degree and/or TEFL Cert.
b) College Graduate
c) Some College
d) High School graduate

2. I have:

a) More than $5000 in savings
b) $3500-5000 in savings
c) $1000-3500 in savings
d) Less than $1000 in savings

3. My physical condition is:

a) Excellent in both stamina and overall physical health
b) A little out of shape but basically good
c) Fairly good but with a few troublesome health conditions
d) Lacking stamina and in need of regular medical attention

4. I am someone who:

a) Can face any challenge without fear
b) Can get by on my own in most challenging situations
c) Functions best with a companion
d) Is easily frightened by unfamiliar settings or unexpected events

5. I am a person who:

a) Adapts easily to new situations
b) Enjoys the unfamiliar, but prefers my routine
c) Avoids unfamiliar situations whenever possible
d) Must adhere to a strict and familiar routine

6. When faced with a challenge:

a) I never give up until I succeed
b) I work very hard and usually succeed
c) I work at things that come easily and produce immediate rewards
d) I give up at the first obstacle

7. When it comes to solving problems:

a) I use my own resources, logic, intuition and imagination until I find a solution
b) I research the problem and usually arrive at a solution
c) I seek the help of others for solutions
d) I’m not very good at solving problems

8. I’m someone who:

a) Finds lots in common with strangers and makes friends easily
b) Gets along well with most everyone but is slow to form friendships
c) Works well with other people but keep to myself
d) Is shy or prefers to remain a loner

9. In my relationship with my family, I am:

a) Very independent
b) Closely connected but not on a daily basis
c) Very closely connected and rely upon them for support
d) Still living with my parents and rely on my family for everything

10. Where food is concerned:

a) I love to try new foods and will eat most anything
b) I enjoy a wide variety of foods and am not too picky
c) I am very conservative and stick to the basics
d) I am on a strict diet or restrict my intake in some way (i.e., vegetarian, wheat-free, etc.)

11. When I take a trip:
a) I travel well and enjoy all kinds of transportation
b) I prefer comfort and luxury but can tolerate most any type of vehicle
c) I am a little claustrophobic and prone to motion sickness
d) I hate to travel

12. Where honesty and integrity are concerned:
a) I uphold both at all costs
b) I use my judgment and try to be the best person I can whenever possible
c) I frequently bend the rules and compromise my integrity
d) I don’t really have a code of behavior for myself

13. When I find myself in a less than ideal situation:
a) I am always willing to compromise to make the best of a situation
b) I hold on to my ideals until I see that a compromise is the only way
c) I find it hard to compromise and do so reluctantly
d) I do not compromise under any circumstances

14. When life becomes difficult:
a) I try to see the humor in it and keep a balanced perspective
b )I try to solve my problem but not always with the best attitude
c)  I sink into a bad mood for a while but usually manage to overcome the problem
d) I get depressed and discouraged and usually give up

15. When I look back on my life experiences:
a) I feel that I have lived a rich and rewarding life so far
b) Whether good or bad, I learned something from all of them
c) I’ve had ups and downs but am still basically optimistic
d) Nothing ever seems to work out for me

To score yourself to see if you have what it takes to live and work abroad, give yourself:

3 points for every a,
2 points for every b,
1 point for every c,
and zero for every d.

Bonus Points:

I already have a job awaiting me in my destination: 10 points
I speak the local language: 10 points
I have relatives or friends living there: 5 points
I have traveled extensively in other foreign countries: 3 points

If you scored:
More than 35 – GO FOR IT! You have what it takes!

25-34 – You may encounter some difficulty, but you will probably succeed

15-24 – Take a look at your weak areas and get yourself prepared for the challenge

Less than 15 – Don’t even think about it

About BG

Beryl Gorbman is a writer and private investigator who divides her time between Seattle WA and Merida Yucatan Mexico. She has published two works of fiction, 2012: Deadly Awakening, and Madrugada. They are both available on Amazon and other outlets. Also at Amate Books, and Casa Catherwood in Merida. You can read about them in various articles on this site.
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3 Responses to Do You Have What it Takes to be a Successful Expat? – by a reader of this blog

  1. BG says:

    Fabulous. Thank you, LEVN

  2. Rainie says:

    57 for me so guess I’ll stay a while. Interesting survey. Anybody care to take a guess at it’s validity?

  3. Alinde says:

    I found the questionnaire most interesting, but I would like to know it’s source. I Googled the total name, and only found your site. Then I googled similar things, and so far (after not much time spent, I must admit), have only found surveys pertaining to the staying power of expat WORKERS, not retirees. That could be quite a difference.

    The reason that the source is important is that it would shed light on the validity of the results–do responses of a certain score really mean what the survey says it means.

    Forgive me for being so technical, but I majored in Social Work Research, which gave me some introduction into the field of Survey Research methodology. I, too, find this a really interesting topic, so thanks!


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