I looked at Meeting other expats when you move to a new country? and thought the goal of an expat may be just the opposite: instead of binding yourself with the citizens of your own country/culture/language, an expat should build tight relationship with locals of the country you are living in.

My question is how to decide where to invest my efforts. Obviously, the options are:

  1. Finding expats from your own country;
  2. Building relationship with local citizens;

The most apparent reasons for finding expats is that they can provide with some help to a newbie. They may assist finding accommodation, job, etc. Finally, they are holding your own culture, they read same books you have probably read, they understand your jokes, and so on.
The most evident drawbacks is that quite often, "long stayers" may cheat on "newbies", like in this case of real estate cheating.

On the contrary, locals are actually forming the vast majority of the society you are living in. Unless your immigration was somehow forced, it was your voluntary decision to move there, and socializing with local citizens may provide with greater benefits.

In most cases, every expat will develop in both directions, but finding the key factors to decide where to invest your time looks an important question to me.

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    I don't think this is possible to answer objective. Many expats don't want to integrate; they just want cheaper real estate, nicer weather, or have other "selfish" reasons for living/retiring in another country. Others are all about meeting new people and cultures. Your personal taste and opinion are really the only things that can answer this, I believe.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 8, 2014 at 22:02
  • @Flimzy You are right, it would be hard to answer if I have asked, "what do I do" — namely, it would be "too localized" and "opinion based". This is why I asked it in accordance to Good Subjective, Bad Subjective: (1) it would help many users, not only the OP; (2) it would be "why" and "how" to decide, not "what" to decide; (3) it would be backed with facts and references, not opinions and taste. Well, in any case, if you consider this question is bad, feel free to vote it down or flag it. Or maybe edit it to narrow down. Apr 8, 2014 at 22:18
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    I understand, and appreciate your attempt to make it as objective as possible, however I think it's still too objective. The reasons for wanting one over the other are just as, if not more vast, than the number of unique expats. And there's hardly a binary answer--I have many expat friends and many local friends. And the reasons for each are as unique as each individual friend.
    – Flimzy
    Apr 8, 2014 at 22:32
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    of course I meant to say "still too subjective"... if a mod wants to correct that, I would be grateful. If not, I trust everyone understands. :)
    – Flimzy
    Apr 8, 2014 at 22:49
  • This would be a far more interesting question if it were a bit more specific and practical. Something like, "Is there a polite way to ignore fellow expats in a small expat community you don't get along with?" As @Rimzy pointed out, there are definitely multiple ways of going about it simultaneously, and no choice is mutually exclusive.
    – jmac
    Apr 9, 2014 at 14:55

1 Answer 1


One piece of advice is to characterise individuals along more axes than just their nationality. Whether you are talking about expats or locals, it is as important to understand their backgrounds, social status and interests, as it is to understand the colour of their passports or skin.

Let's say that you are a French doctor, emigrating to Vietnam. At first blush, all Vietnamese will "look the same"TM. After a while you will appreciate that socialising with a Vietnamese doctor is a very different experience from socialising with a Vietnamese bus driver. The same applies to expats you may socialise with. Hanging out with a bunch of ex-military guys who are there for the sex is very different from hanging out with a bunch of environmentalists.

Especially in the early days, you will be offered more advice than you ever asked for, and that advice can colour your view of the country. So it's important to characterise where the advice is coming from.

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