Even though there are reasons to say no to living abroad, there are more reasons to say yes! Whether you want to live near a beach or mountains, moving abroad is a field of opportunity. Understanding the advantages of living abroad can help make that “yes” easier.
I won’t lie; it seems daunting at first. You have to plan your entire move abroad and even plan how you will work abroad too. These steps include getting a visa, passport, filling out paperwork, and booking flights. And if you have a family, you do this multiple times!
With all that work upfront, what are the advantages of living abroad? What kind of benefits do you get from living abroad? So many questions, so much to unpack (literally and figuratively). Keep reading for a breakdown of why you need to live abroad and the benefits waiting for you upon arrival.
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So, what are the advantages of living abroad?
You can learn a new language
Immersing yourself in a new country is thrilling. Of course, if you go to a destination where you speak the language, you do not have to worry about this. But for those who do, it is an inspiring feat. Mastering a language takes hard work and dedication. Living abroad provides the opportunity to immerse yourself in a new country. But, you have to take control of it.
Learning a new language only adds to the adventure of living abroad. It is, arguably, the most significant benefit of living abroad. Not only do you feel a personal sense of achievement, but it helps you adapt. In addition, new language abilities help you build community. Coming to a new country as a tourist is one thing. However, becoming an expat fluent in the host country’s language is something better. It is a right of passage for many who want to stay abroad long-term in their chosen community.
You meet new people (socially and professionally)
Meeting new people is such an exciting experience! It is also one of the top advantages of living abroad. Making friends abroad can be a struggle at times. There is a lot of buy-in from locals and expats necessary to build a new community. Yet when you do, there is comfort in having people that support you.
Aside from building a personal community, you can also create a professional community. For those who have aspirations to stay abroad permanently, you need to network. Yes, it would be nice to have opportunities fall into our laps. But this is rarely the case. If you are working abroad, whether in-person or remotely a co-working space, those professional settings matter too. Solidify that community of support too.
You have less responsibility and more freedom
Obligations, who? Moving abroad on your own can be the reason you need to prioritize yourself. This point may or may not apply to everyone. Having to move a family abroad is another branch of living abroad. So again, everyone’s situation is different.
However, for the solo traveler who decides to drop everything and move, this is for you. Living abroad means relinquishing some of the responsibilities that were necessary at home. Expats can often explore new interests and hobbies with this newfound freedom too. Moving abroad can make you a new, blank canvas of learning and opportunity.
You understand that “right” and “wrong” are complicated
Living abroad changes and pushes you to do new things. This experience includes learning that everything is not as simple as it seems. What you think is “weird” may be normal to someone else. For example, a food that you never eat is another person’s favorite cuisine. As you live abroad, you begin to unlearn ethnocentrism and those thoughts of your culture being “right” and others being “wrong.” It is enlightening.
Just remember that the “right” way or “wrong” way to do things is blurred. Cultural differences exist for a reason. Not because they are wrong, they are just different. When you live abroad, you overcome the culture shock and participate in new-to-you customs and traditions. You slowly unlearn and realize we are not as foreign to each other as we think.
You feel the difference of traveling as a tourist and living abroad
Everyone wants to “live like a local” nowadays when most of us are forever tourists (and that’s ok). But you do have more depth when you live abroad long-term. Whether you feel like you have the local experience depends on how you adapt. You will be surprised at how some expats still live their lives as tourists. But, on the other hand, there is nothing wrong with knowing where you stand in a community.
However, as a long-term traveler, you will notice differences the average tourist will not. As an expat you learn why things are designed in certain ways. These lessons can go deeper than any Google search or Instagram caption. The longer you live in a destination, the more you know its nuances that add to the breadth of your experiences.
You become more flexible and carefree
Most of us take ourselves way too seriously (myself included). Staying in a country that is not ours shakes that up and is one of the advantages of living abroad. Traveling is already an unexpected experience when you are gone for a few days. As an expat living abroad, you will be gone for a few months or more.
Living in another country teaches you to be prepared to be unprepared. You may think you know something one day, and it completely changes the next. Does this happen often? Maybe not. But living abroad makes you worry less about things you cannot control. After all, you are in a country full of cultural differences. Indulge in it responsibly.
You learn new parts of yourself
Many people say that traveling helps them “find themselves.” To an extent, this is true because you do learn lessons from living abroad. But that phrase has a negative connotation. It is often used as an excuse to culturally appropriate a country and its people. That is not what I am referring to here.
Living abroad simply sheds light on parts of who you already are with the gentle nudge of a new environment. While traveling can do that too, it deepens as you are living and learning in a country. You adjust to new customs you struggle with at the beginning. You trust the process. So being exposed to cultures different than yours changes your perspective and what you thought you could do.
Though it could be this grand epiphany of your entire being, it is just you being pushed outside your comfort zone. It is such a glorious feeling because at the end of the day, no matter where you go, there you are. And sometimes, where you end up going can show you new sides of who you are. No cultural appropriation is necessary.
You are more conscious of who is an “expat” and “immigrant”
Talk about a hot topic! In expat Facebook groups, there are often lively discussions about who is what and why. And rightfully so. Expats vs. immigrants is never a discussion that will go away anytime soon because it is necessary. The power, privilege, and politics of traveling deepen the more people you meet from all citizenships and nationalities. Your perspective broadens.
With that broader understanding, you also have more compassion and empathy. Lots of travelers and expats come from more affluent countries where they do not interact with immigrants. Since being an expat is essentially a glorified immigrant, one of the advantages of living abroad is this shift of appreciation for immigrants. So again, living abroad changes you; and if you let it, you will be better in the end.
You attain a deeper perspective on politics and privilege
The more you travel, the more you realize that travel is political. Our social identities affect our travel experiences and access to travel privilege. Therefore politics affects how we live abroad. For example, being a Black woman shapes how I move through the world and the experiences I pursue. Likewise, someone with a disability has a different perspective than me as a non-disabled person. All of this is attributed to the politics of travel.
Then, there is governmental politics. As expats we have to stay engaged with what is going on at our old home and our new home. You become more informed about what is happening and get the bubble of your media. You grow from a national to global consciousness of the world.
You can live within your means better
Along with these benefits of living abroad, the power of choice is another one to include. And with that choice, many expats choose to pick a location in their price range. Costs in your home country may be increasing to an unlivable amount. If you pick London or Hong Kong, you may end up paying more. However, there are many other places you can consider to enhance your quality of life.
You are exposed to new types of dating
Ahhhh, of course. One of the most talked about advantages of living abroad is about finding love. Even though a special person can be hit or miss, living abroad offers a new perspective for expats. Chivalry is not dead everywhere, and all dates are not “Netflix and chill.” There are nuances everywhere.
Dating culture in other countries is fascinating. The concepts of chivalry and “what is a date” can differ drastically across borders. There are a multitude of cultural differences in dating abroad. Companionship is natural, and as you build a community of friends, you may find something more. It is up to you to seek it out or let it happen unexpectedly. And always be safe and enjoy!
You can travel more often
The advantages of living abroad would not be complete without this point! One reason to travel that binds all expats is our love of traveling. Physically moving yourself to the country you want to travel to increases your chances. Access to travel in-country or a neighboring one is also an opportunity for more slow travel. Thus, your concept of “domestic” or “international” gets turned upside down. From there, you can create your adventure.
You enjoy the little things
Since you are living in a country that interests you now, the most mundane things become amusing. Going to the grocery store in a new language means new words to add to your repertoire. People watching in a park becomes an opportunity to understand your surroundings. Slowly you begin to appreciate the small things in your routine you did not notice at home. Every day becomes a new day to be more grateful for even the most minor experiences.
What about the pros and cons of living abroad?
Though there are advantages of living abroad, of course, there are some cons too. No destination is perfect. No country will have sunshine and rainbows every day. That is unrealistic. There will be challenges you have to face, and it is up to you to overcome them. Here are some pros and cons of living abroad.
Pros of living abroad (more mentioned above):
- More traveling
- Enhanced quality of life (ideally)
- More freedom to be yourself
Cons of living abroad:
- Being away from loved ones
- Missing anniversaries, birthdays, holidays, etc.
- Struggling to build a new community
- Challenging to learn the language
The pros and cons of living abroad are distinct from each expat. We all have unique personalities and travel styles that will affect how we live abroad. What may be seen as an advantage to some is a disadvantage to others. For more pros and cons of living abroad, check on this post to get all the tips and details.
Is living abroad worth it?
Living abroad changes you, and that change is worth it. As someone who has done it, I say absolutely! Moving abroad taught me so much about myself and what I want. It also reminded me of what I have too. If you have the means and opportunity to live abroad at least once, do it. You will never know the impact unless you try it for yourself. Because if you do not want better for yourself, who will?
Moving abroad not solve all your problems
I want to reiterate that living abroad will not solve all of your problems. If anything, they will transplant some and exacerbate others. Running away is not going to automatically make your life better.
Life does not work that way, so do not set yourself up for failure from the jump! It will not end well. Our problems always have a way of catching up with us anyway. So get the necessary help before you go or when you arrive.
Living abroad is not only for 20-somethings
As a 20-something traveler, I believe there are advantages of living abroad at any age. Seriously. We are never too educated, too old, or too seasoned of a traveler to go abroad again. There is so much we have to learn and unlearn in the world. So be off and experience the benefits of living abroad. For better or worse, it is an experience you will never forget! Take all the photos, pursue new experiences, and live vicariously through yourself.
Looking for opportunities to help you live abroad? This list here can help!