No, not the Lily Allen song by the same name, but the innate fear of breaking one’s comfort zones following the initial euphoria of being presented with an opportunity to work abroad.

Having completed my second international move (this time to the Cayman Islands), it has struck me just how many people say “Wow, what a great opportunity, I would love to do that”… yet in reality I would say that less than 20% of people would actually see an international move through to conclusion.

This number is not based on guesswork, working in recruitment we see this happen on a daily basis. Virtually 90% of initial calls to candidates asking if they would be interested finish with a “Yes indeed”, only to be followed up with “It’s not the right time” or “the other half doesn’t want to” or “we have Sunday lunch with my parents every week so we couldn’t leave them.”  For international companies and recruiters this is a constant obstacle to talent.

So what is this “fear“?  The unknown?  New start?  New friends?  Or is it simply too hard? Many of us know and like our routines, the thought of breaking them for something exciting in the sun fills us with images taken from the movies.  Of sunsets on a yacht, playing beach volleyball with a harem of good friends and having a BBQ on the beach.  Yet most people then think “well actually it’s good here, we have the gym and tax and I know where the library is and surely there can be nothing better than Tesco’s?”.  Then thoughts turn to family and even though you have not seen your Nan in weeks, possibly months, how could you possibly go on an overseas adventure? “Of course the money cannot really be as good as here, I’m on a career path, I don’t mind the 50-hour plus weeks and commute into the city”.

I honestly do not understand this irrational behaviour, the only way to really understand if the opportunity is viable is to analyse it like this:

Is the money better? At the end of the day it always comes down to money, the work life balance is only a plus factor but if you’re not better off by moving then the move will never happen.  So that’s your first analysis.  If you are moving to a tax- free jurisdiction I can say you will almost certainly be better off financially.

Safety, work life balance, services, climate, cost of living etc… Honestly these are all secondary to the first question. If you are moving internationally then chances are you’re moving to a commercial centre that will have thousands of reference points on the internet.  Forget them all and ask yourself this “Why are they commercial centres that everyone knows about and if they were bad would anyone live there?”  Of course not. Easy answer – join a forum or ask a local expat, you’ll get a warts and all answer.  Most employers would encourage this.

If you still can’t break the routine of your daily life and are blind to the fact you might enjoy even a three-year move somewhere else, then I’m afraid you might have “the fear”. As for me I’m off to play some beach volleyball and have a BBQ with some friends and enjoy my tax-free spends…

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