I believe that everyone should live abroad at least once in their life, but I think it’s a really big decision and one that needs to be thought out thoroughly before.
I’ve unfortunately watched many people move abroad too quickly only to figure out after a month or two that their move wasn’t what they expected. These people are quickly back on the next flight to their home country and it kills me because they become so defeated.
It’s hard to have a huge dream only to find out that you are unable to make that dream a reality. I don’t want that to be you.
Here is what you need to consider.
Why Do You Want To Move Abroad?
The abroad lifestyle is glorified in a way it shouldn’t be. It’s easy to get swept away by pictures of sun tanned travelers smiling as they zipline through the jungle or traipse around European cities. You need to be aware that behind those photos are people just like you.
Although I travel often, my life is still filled with the same struggles you have. I worry about money. I deal with student loans. I have to clean my apartment and pay bills. Whatever struggles you face now will follow you wherever you go. Maybe your problems will be surrounded by a different scenery, but they will still be there, and not only that, you’ll have to deal with a whole new set of problems.
Before you move you really need to think about why you want to go abroad. If your reasons are escape mechanisms, you need to deal with those things first and then consider moving abroad.
For example, if you think you want to move abroad because you hate your job, first try a new job. You have to consider that even if you move to another country you will need to work. Find something you love to do and THEN move abroad and do it.
I made this mistake when I moved to Germany. I moved for love, adventure, and my desire to be my own boss. Instead I ended up teaching English. I thought that was the tradeoff I had to make to live the lifestyle I wanted. The result was me being unhappy for four years. It wasn’t until I started this site and became my own boss that I became truly happy.
Now, I’m not telling you to go become a blogger. I do this because it suits me. I love writing, being creative, and being my own boss. Maybe you love designing clothes for your cat. Well, get your cat clothing business off the ground first and then deal with the challenge of moving abroad.
This applies to everything in life. Are you in a horrible relationship? End it and then move. Do you hate your apartment? Try living somewhere else first, and then consider moving.
I hate to break it you, but loneliness and living abroad go hand in hand. You’re not going to have butt loads of friends waiting for you when you arrive in a new country. You’re going to have to work hard to meet new people. Your friends and family from home may only be a phone call away, but with time differences you will likely find you can’t talk to them as often as you are used to.
Please read my tips for making friends in a new country here (these tips were recently featured in Though Catalog by the way). My ideas will definitely help you, but it still won’t be easy.
It took me about a year when I moved to Germany to make good friends, not just people I’d go to bars with, but genuine “I think you’re my spirit animal” kinda friends.
You Will Miss Home:
I didn’t think it would happen to me. I adjust to things pretty easily and I had lived away from home for several years before I moved out of the US, but let me tell you, I was so homesick at first.
I was that crazy person in the corner at parties drunkenly crying because I wanted MY friends and family around me. I had never been like that before, but living in a new country brought a whole level of crazy in me I was scared to know existed.
Missing home is something that never fully goes away. Four years and two countries later I still miss my family and friends constantly. I don’t want to move back there just yet, but that feeling will never fully go away.
Time To Grow Up:
When you move abroad you have to grow up fast, like freaky fast. All of a sudden you have to navigate things like visas, finding an apartment, health insurance, a job, and all that other adult stuff, but in another language.
You can no longer depend on your parents to help you, because they can’t help you when they know nothing about how things in your new country work. You are quiet literally on your own. This is when it becomes really important to make friends in your new country. People who have navigated through these things already will surely be able to give you better insight than anything you can find online.
Moving abroad is not cheap. You have to pay for your flight and everything involved with setting up a new life.
I moved to Germany with two suitcases and to Costa Rica with one. That meant even with renting a furnished apartment I had to buy things like bedding, kitchen stuff, towels, etc.
Which, by the way, I’ve found since moving abroad that I am extremely particular about bedding so I typically buy sheets in the US and bring them abroad in my suitcase.
You also need to pay to set up things like a new cell phone contract, health insurance, train passes, etc. These up front costs add up fast.
If you are planning on moving without a job already set up you should have AT LEAST $6,000 set aside to sustain you for the first few months.
Running out of money is the number one reason I see people move back home after a few months of living abroad. It’s really important to make sure your finances are in order first.
If you have student loans, car payments, credit card debt etc. you really need to consider how you are going to pay for these things. If you are serious about moving abroad I recommend selling what you can in your home country to help pay off some of these costs.
I hope this list helped you to realize what all goes in to this abroad lifestyle. It’s not all sunshine and rainbows, but with careful planning and consideration, you can set up an amazing life for yourself filled with new experiences and lots of travel.
Best of luck, and please write to me in the comment section below if you have any questions. I’m so happy to help you out!
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