You may or may not be aware that Facebook has groups all over the world that have been set up by expats, for expats. There are groups based in nearly every capital city where expats have relocated. They’re dedicated to offering all types of advice for people living abroad.
If you are an expat who is interested in finding a group near you, you type “expat” and the city, or country you’re interested in, in your Facebook search bar. You should be aware that there are pros and cons to being a part of an expat group on Facebook. Let’s take a look at some of them.
The Advantages of Joining an Expat Group on Facebook
If you’ve just arrived in a new city, a group dedicated to expats could be just the thing you need to get acquainted with your new city. When you join one, you’ll be able to post and ask questions about anything that interests you. There are lots of good points about expat groups on Facebook, some of which are:
1. You Get Useful Information About the City
An expat group on Facebook usually provides useful information about the city you’ve arrived in. Many expats have their own stories to share and are willing to help other fellow expats.
You may have questions about the law, housing, prices, and the best restaurants to eat at. Most expat groups have a lot of members, especially if they are based in a capital city, so when you ask a question, you’ll likely get a lot of answers.
2. Upcoming Events
When you come to a new town, there are likely a lot of events happening around you, but you may not be aware of them. Some expats like to share news about what is happening in their neighborhood, information about concerts, job-seeker fairs, galleries that have opened, and even farmers’ markets. This could be a fun way to get acquainted with your new neighborhood.
3. You Become More Aware of Dangers
Many expat groups share information about potential dangers and malicious activities in their town. Many also share information about scams. For example, they might share information about criminals on the loose, robbers, or potential threats in the neighborhood. Because these groups are large, sharing useful information on them can help others become aware of what is out there.
4. You Might Get Crisis Advice
Most of the time, people use expat groups to ask for advice. Expats like to share their experiences and offer recommendations, such as where people can get access to lawyers, where to find a locksmith, or how to file a police report.
If you join an expat group, you can expect to get information about the law, government policies, what to do in times of crisis, and your rights when something bad happens. You will also be able to ask questions about visas, the types of documents you need for applying for housing for example, and other information that pertains to your stay in your new city.
5. You Get Information About Real Estate
Expat groups may also provide you with information about accommodation, such as flats and housing laws. Many expats utilize the groups to let people know of potential changes in tenant laws. These can include things such as rent increases, legal loopholes, and your legal rights when it comes to reporting faults or shortages.
6. Lost and Found Posts
If you’re part of an expat group, you’ll likely come across some lost and found posts. Many expat groups have a focus on community and neighborhoods, so if you lose something, you can ask the group for help to spread the word. Likewise, if you find a lost dog or cat, you can utilize the group to spread awareness.
7. Work-Related Information
While expat groups are not for posting job advertisements, they do provide advice about your rights as an employee. There are often FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) sections on the group’s page where you can find information related to work and career.
Some groups may include information about working visas, notice periods, nondiscrimination policies, HR, and other useful content so that you become fully aware of your rights in your new country.
The Disadvantages of Joining an Expat Group
While there are many good things about joining an expat group on Facebook, there are also some things you should watch out for. Always be mindful of the fact that everything you read in an expat group should be double-checked.
This is especially important if you are seeking legal information. Apart from being aware of Facebook scams, here are a few things you should also expect to experience in an expat group:
1. Lots of Trolls
Unfortunately, expat groups on Facebook are also places where trolls like to hang out. While there are ways to deal with trolls on social media, you should be aware that some expats use the groups to bully others. This may come in the form of pretending to know better, spreading rumors, ganging up on somebody who has come in search of help, or twisting someone’s words around.
Whichever form it takes, be aware that expats can also spread negativity and hostility, especially if there are no anti-harassment policies in place.
2. You Don’t Get Expert Advice
If you are seeking some serious advice, it is best not to go and ask the expats. On the slim chance that you may actually get expert advice from the group, be aware that there are a lot of “experts” without the credentials to back up what they’re saying.
While they might mean well, getting expert advice on Facebook groups is not something that is advised. Especially because you don’t know the people in these groups personally.
3. You Might Get Unwanted Messages
If you post in expat groups, there is a chance that people will also try and reach out to you via a private message. Sometimes, you may get messages from people you don’t want to talk to. There are privacy settings on Facebook that you should review, especially if you are receiving unwanted messages.
4. You Get Exposed to Scams
Like with any social media platform, there are a lot of scams lurking about. On a Facebook expat group, it could come in the form of fake offers, thieves luring people in to steal from them, malicious threats, and even identity theft.
There are also a lot of people out there who are pretending to be someone else. All these instances could lead to an unhappy outcome. This is why it’s important to always assess the situation before you go ahead and hand over any private details.
Expat Groups Are Not Expert Groups
It’s important to remember that expat groups on Facebook are there to help people get acquainted with their new cities/countries. While they do offer advice and helpful hints about settling into a new place, the advice on them is just as good as the advice on internet forums. This means that it is largely based on opinion.
If you do decide to join an expat group on Facebook, be aware of potential misinformation. Always seek expert advice if you are dealing with something serious.
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