If you are a serial expat you might have an addiction problem.

At home you are just another, ordinary person leading an ordinary life. There’s nothing special about you. Well, we’re all special…there’s just nothing that’s making you stand out from the crowd.

You could study hard and work hard and makes something of yourself, spending years toiling away at trying to rise above the ranks of the ordinary in your country of origin, or you can instantly elevate yourself to rock star status by simply moving to another country.

Think about it. Usually your employer looks after everything. From your rent in quality accommodation to the wage for the live in cleaner and nanny (they aren’t the same person). Then there’s membership at exclusive clubs, children enrolled at exclusive schools, drivers, international flights and lots of high life living because the normal rules of life often don’t apply. And then there’s the fact that you are different. Good different. Stand-out superstar different.

Welcome to the life of a serial expat.

Expats used to be younger travelers looking for adventure. Now expats can be aged in their 20s, 30s and 40s, many of whom have spent decades relocating to exotic locations around the world ensuring they are in a constant state of expatriation and as we all know, expats are special simply because they are not locals.

Some of the most popular expat destinations, according the website Traveller, include South America, Hong Kong and Africa. Relocating to these countries will guarantee you instant celebrity status.

In the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, based on a memoir, Francis instantly transforms her life from ordinary to extraordinary by moving from America to Italy. Image: Buena Vista Pictures

According to Traveller writer Ben Groundwater, you can spot an expat from a mile away. He says it's something about their swagger.

They're owning the bar scene in whichever town they now live. They're calling the bar staff by name; they're dishing out local knowledge to the newbie tourists with just the slightest hint of scorn. They're playing in a band that's got a gig on tomorrow night. They're throwing out phrases in the local language and making sure it gets heard.

In short, they're benefiting from a strange phenomenon: travel makes you cool.

Groundwater says expats are loved by locals and travelers alike because while locals see them as something exotic, tourists look up to them for local wisdom covering everything from where to eat to what to pay for drinks.

The key to expat success? Being a big fish in a small pond.

In the movie Love Actually, normal, ordinary Collin thinks moving to America will instantly elevate him to God-like status. Article continues after this video.

Video by Universal Studios

It's only when expats return home that they realise they're not so special after all.

The problem is that popularity can be addictive, which is why some people end up becoming serial expats. They crave the attention. They have gotten used to it.

We pose for photos with Japanese kids. We talk cricket with excited Indians. We tell tales of home to friendly Vietnamese. We glory in the feeling of being special.

If you do choose the expat life you need to choose the right destination and have some sort of an end game because only one of two things can happen. You either stay so long that you actually become a non-exotic local or you have no choice but to return home.

Or you can do what so many are doing and commit to the expatriate life, mixing it up, changing locations, moving countries every few years and recreating that rock star feeling wherever you go.

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