Nine Expat Hats: Which will you wear?

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

In a previous article, I shared how I became a serial, nomadic prepat (expat). There are a multitude of expat lifestyles. The choices are as different for each individual as are the styles of hats we might choose to wear. This post will help you decide which expat hat you will wear and what type of expat lifestyle might work best for you.

Which Expat Hat: Scenarios

Let’s begin with the various scenarios to expat life.

Expat Hat: 100 Percenters

What expat hat will you wear? photo by Gwen Hyatt
What expat hat will you wear? photo by Gwen Hyatt

100 percenters go all in, sell their belongings in their native country — the house, the cars and most of their processions—and move.

Sometimes they will ship containers with their belongings to their host country, particularly when purchasing real estate.

100 percenters often select a hat with a fixed brim that can be shaped to their style preference.

There are those that choose to curve the brim up and open to adopt fully the culture and join the community of locals, and there are those that shape the brim in a more downward fashion, choosing the confines of the expat community, speaking their native language and socializing with other expats.

75 Percenters

75 percenters switch their two hats, the one from their native country, and one from their partial expat country. These folks often keep their residence or rent their homes and put possessions in storage in their native country. They live part-time in a new country with temporary or permanent residence status and may or may not buy the property or rent full-time.


Repeaters wear the same head or whatever hat they have worn during past visits, enjoying the familiarity of the culture, people, accommodations, and local amenities. They frequent the same country each year from two weeks to three months or the length of a tourist visa, gradually extending time in the host country as they become more comfortable with their surroundings.

Economic Expats

These folks have worn the same inexpensive and comfortable hat for many years, seeing no benefit in spending money on a replacement. They relocate to a more cost-effective country where retirement funds or fixed income stretches to meet their needs. They prefer a place where they can easily enjoy a better life for half the price than in their native country.

Expat Hat: Serial or Nomadic Expats

There are many types of expat lifestyles photo by Gwen Hyatt
There are many types of expat lifestyles photo by Gwen Hyatt

The nomadic expat changes hats frequently and easily, carrying a packable hat when living and moving to a different country each year or every three to six months.

They are highly adaptable and crave new cultures, languages, meeting people and sensory stimulation.

Expat Explorer

An adventurer or Fedora-style hat for these folks. They love to explore and live-in different countries for two to six months at a time. They often maintain a home or base in their native country. This lifestyle appeals to early retirees and is a type of international roving retirement.

Digital Nomad

The digital nomad is the fortunate worker who has garnered a remote working situation, requiring only a reliable, high-speed internet. Their office is their laptop. They travel light, and live and eat like a local. When the tourist visa expires, they pack up and move on to a new location. The digital nomad changes hat styles and brands, sporting the latest tech logos annually.

Political Escapees

Annoyed and frustrated about the political or economic situation in their home countries, the political escapee looks for a less controlled environment. They wear the local headwear, or whichever hat feels most desirable.

Corporate Expat

Transferred by a specific company, the overseas employee most likely has the benefit of their expenses fully paid, and they can live well with a maid and a gardener. Work visas are usually handled by the employer and are often extended. They are careful of the hat they choose, often selecting the company-approved hat.

As you can see, there are many expat hats and situations to choose from. What expat hat suits you the best? Read more about the different ways to becoming an expat at TCI.

by: Gwen Hyatt