Measuring the Australian Expat Continuum

In Chapter 3, we speak of the Expat Continuum.  This is a similar model to the one used by corporations to measure their Capability Maturity.

The Expat Continuum has five stages:

  1. Basic
  2. Reactive
  3. Planned
  4. Aligned
  5. Integrated

A question was recently asked in a Facebook group that highlights the difference between an expat operating at Level 2 (Reactive) and another expat operating at  Level 3 (Planned).

“Hi Australians, I have a rather specific question. My Australian license has expired since I’ve been living in New York and I can’t renew it until I am back in Aus.  Does anyone know if they offer a temporary license while you wait for your new license to come in the mail? Heading back to Aus in a few months and don’t want to spend 7-10 workings days without a license. Thanks.”

What stands out with this question is why someone who is living in New York still has the need for an Australian license?

It may not be Maslow’s Hierarchy, but it is an important model for many expats.

It could be for purely sentimental reasons, but according to the NYDMV, you only have 30 days after 90 days of living in New York before your Australian license is invalid (see DMV link).

For any expat who is illegally driving on an Australian license, this identifies them as operating at Level 2.  They assume the risk of driving on an expired license, rather than investing the time to get a New York driver’s license.  

Worse still is the expat who believes that the law does not apply to them.  Lying to the Police about your time in New York, or why you are driving on a (technically) expired license will make a bad day, go very quickly to worse.

The expat operating at Level 3 (Planned) on the other hand is always looking to retire risk.  They take the time to visit a DMV, get a permit, sit the drivers education class, and then pass a road test.  They have a New York license, which is also accepted in Australia, and yes you can rent a car in Australia on a NY drivers license as well!

If a person who has spent more than 30 days living in New York, took the time to get a New York drivers license then: (i) He or she would not be driving illegally on an Australian license (ii) His or her  expiring Australian license would not be an issue and (iii) They can drive legally in Australia on a New York license, while the Australian license is being renewed. 

Taking a DIY approach to Tax, Legal and Immigration matters is also the hallmark of an expat operating at Level 2.  Taking legal advice from public social media is akin to the proverbial lawyer representing himself.

Everyone starts at Level 1, but how quickly you move through Level 2 to Level 3 on the Expat Continuum is dependent on whether you would choose to assume unnecessary risk, rather than taking the time to retire the risk.  It is this attitude to assuming (or ignoring) risk that separates the two levels.

This attitude to risk is not limited to expats.  Businesses make these decisions about risk on a daily basis.  There are numerous examples of CEO’s operating at Level 2 who do not see the need to retire business risks.  It is not always a financial decision, and in many cases it is a cavalier attitude to business processes.

If you are doing business with an Australian in New York, ask to see his or her New York driver’s license.  This will save you a ton of due diligence before doing business!

Click here to read “Moving to the US for Aussies” from the beginning

About The Australian Community

The Australian Community is a 501(c)(3) Public Charity and its Mission is to connect Australian living in the United States through social. professional and charitable initiatives.

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