Tips for female expats – staying safe abroad
If you’re a woman moving abroad, whether alone or with a partner or family, it’s important to consider the things you should (and not) do to keep yourself safe in a new environment. Life in a new country should be exciting and adventurous, but a new place poses new safety concerns.
While there are no fool-proof ways of preventing all danger, the majority of female expats enjoy a safe and crime free experience. But whether at home or abroad it’s always pertinent to follow good safety rules. Which of these you stick to are completely up to you: but these are internationally recognised by humanitarian and safety agencies as some top tips to help keep you safe.
Here are our top tips for staying safe abroad as a female expat.
- Dress like a local – whether that means dressing more conservatively, avoiding certain colours or patterns, or specific items of clothing. Adopting local customs and clothing rules will help you fit in, and help you avoid insulting or upsetting local people.
- Only use licenced taxis, whether travelling alone or with others. Stick to regulated methods of public transport and take the advice of locals and new friends as to which forms of transport and routes are the safest.
- Know where you’re going before you set out and research the safety of the area. By making informed decisions you minimise danger/safety issues and should feel more confident.
- Meet new people in open, busy public spaces, ideally in the day. It’s important to make new friends and connections, but begin new relationships in safe settings.
- Get accustomed and entrenched in local gender roles – this might include dressing more conservatively and considering local dating rules and behaviour.
- Consider wearing a wedding ring – even if this is fake. This is one of the more controversial tips, but may help you avoid unwanted attention in some locations.
- Be firm but polite when refusing unwanted advances or discuss your husband/boyfriend (real or fake), which ever makes you feel more comfortable. Research the local customs between the sexes before you go so you are prepared.
- Let people know where you’re going, especially if you’re heading out with new people – this could be your new friends and colleagues, or your friends and family back home.
- Learn the language – no matter what the situation, being able to communicate with and understand those around you will help you make more informed decisions and keep you safer.
- Get familiar with your surroundings, so that you can walk around with confidence and purpose. It will also benefit you in confidence and settling in.
- Keep in regular contact with your friends and family back home, and keep them updated with where you’re going and who you’re socialising with.
- Make friends with women in your new home country – they will help you navigate safety issues and become a safety and social network.
- Find a home that you feel safe in – try to visit the property at least once before moving in, and ideally start with a month contract so that you can get a feel for the place and whether you feel comfortable there before committing to it long-term.
- Ask questions – of your new neighbours, the locals in your area, your new colleagues, and of people you meet amongst the expat community, and learn from their experiences.
- Walk alone at night, even if it’s a short distance. Instead, use licences and regulated forms of transport or walk with someone you know well and trust.
- Hitchhike or use unregulated modes of transport, including unlicensed taxis.
- Wear very expensive or showy jewellery that might attract attention – you could unwittingly attract thieves and pick pocketers.
- Leave your drink unattended, ever. This should be a general rule, not just for life in a new country!
- Leave a venue or event alone with a stranger. In fact, where possible try to make plans beforehand as to how you are getting home.
- Give out personal details, such as your address or hotel room number etc.
- Use recreational drugs, even if they are a local custom.
- Do anything you wouldn’t do at home. Just because you’re enjoying exploring a new place, doesn’t mean you should leave your common sense at home.
Over our 120 years of international moving experience we have noted that if you’re culturally aware, with local language skills, you are more likely to feel empowered and secure in your move.
If you’re moving abroad soon and would like more information about how to get more culturally aware before you leave, or to learn the necessary language skills for your new home country, let us help. At Santa Fe Relocation, we make moving home easy for you.