Being safe and sound in your host country is (at least partly) up to you. After all, you are subject to the local laws and regulations, and you need to know what you are allowed to do and what to avoid at all cost. In addition to being a law-abiding expat, however, there are general safety rules you should try to keep in mind.
If you keep an eye on the local news and chat with local co-workers or neighbors, you will get a good sense of security threats and the political situation in your new home. Some countries are very stable while others face safety threats on a regular basis. Adjust to the current safety status and take precautions where necessary.
Other than that, the same rules apply as anywhere around the world. Try not to leave valuables lying around or display your wealth ostentatiously, for this will only tempt thieves. Avoid dangerous corners of your town and don’t walk around alone after dark. If you are a woman, you might also want to check out our article on safety issues for expatriate women. Generally speaking, if you stay aware of your environment and use your common sense, then you should be alright.
Unfortunately, terrorism threats are a reality we all have to live with these days. While everyone might be in danger of becoming the victim of terrorist acts, some European countries are less likely to experience terrorist upheavals than, for instance, some nations in the Middle East.
Nevertheless, even in countries with a higher risk level, it is possible to live a happy and safe life and there is no need to become paranoid. Being cautious, however, is important! Try to be alert when you are in a public place. Always be aware of your environment and of the people around you. Tourist spots and crowded places are very popular among terrorists because they draw a lot of public attention. Try to avoid them if you can.
Is the crime rate high in your new hometown? There are certain measures you can take to feel safe at home. Of course, you should lock all the doors well when you leave the house or before you go to bed. Some places require further security precautions. Again, find out how the locals and other expats are dealing with the situation.
Maybe a solid lock will do the trick. Maybe the area in which you live is perfectly safe and you have no reason to worry. In other neighborhoods, however, it may be necessary to have barred windows and a locked front gate with an alarm system to keep your family safe and sound.
Even though it will take some time until the locals stop perceiving you as a foreigner, sticking out like a sore thumb can put you at greater risk. Have a look at the locals and try to adjust to their style of clothing, their pace of life and their general attitude. This does not only ensure your safety, it is also a good way of showing respect for your host culture and actually getting to know this culture on a deeper level.
Some foreigners who have traveled to your host country before may have left a lasting impression as loud, rude or obnoxious tourists. You should avoid reinforcing this stereotype. Instead, always be respectful towards the locals. Our article on how to make the transition from expat to compatriot offers further advice.