Expat vs Immigrant: Is the difference elitist?

We’re often criticized for calling ourselves expats instead of immigrants.

The implication is that we think we’re superior or we must be elitist, but this has nothing to do with it.

We’re happy to call ourselves immigrants in Ecuador, but we’re also expats from the United States and we want our content to show up in Google search results.

What Is An Expat?

“Expat” is short for expatriate, which is an old term that was used to describe someone who worked for a government or corporation and moved abroad to perform a job duty in another country.

However, it has since become a much broader term, and is now used to refer to anyone who leaves their home country to live in another country, including digital nomads, remote workers and retirees.

Fundamentally, an expat is anyone who LEAVES their home country to live abroad.

What Is An Immigrant?

The term “immigrant” has a negative connotation now, especially in the U.S., but it wasn’t always that way. Both North and South America are two entire continents full of immigrants (except for the indigenous people we displaced).

Immigration used to be a sign of courage, fearlessness and adventure. Now, the term is more commonly associated with people trying to illegally enter a country.

We prefer to embrace the traditional meaning of the word immigrant, which refers to someone who moves TO another country.

The salient difference between the words expat and immigrant (and they’re just words) is that an expat LEAVES their home country while an immigrant MOVES TO another country.

That means we’re BOTH expats from the United States AND immigrants in Ecuador. And we’re happy calling ourselves either!

Why We Use the Term Expat Instead of Immigrant

We will continue to use the term expat in our videos and articles for one critical reason: We want our content to be found on Google. It’s that simple.

Our primary audience lives in the U.S. and Canada. If you do a search on Google and type in the term “Ecuador immigrant,” you’ll get a bunch of search results about Ecuadorians who moved to the U.S., either legally or illegally.

If you want to find information about moving TO Ecuador from the U.S. or Canada, you need to use the term “expat” or Google won’t show you anything useful (like the content we painstakingly create).

Therefore, we must use the term “expat” in our content or no one will find us, and we put an awful lot of work into this for it not to be found by people who really want it.


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Hola todos! Welcome to my author bio page! Let's see. Where to begin... I grew up in the country on a lake outside a small Kansas farm town. As soon as I could, I got the hell outta there! Since then, I've lived and/or worked in Kansas City, Washington D.C., Denver, San Francisco, and Ecuador. I started and sold a dotcom, wrote a book about it, started a YouTube channel, and now I write a lot. Amelia and I have embraced the Unconventional Life and we want to help you do it, too!

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