Moving abroad is a huge undertaking. So adding another layer by moving to another country alone can seem impossible. But as someone who did it, I know that’s not true!
Between the paperwork, planning, and the act of packing and making that flight – moving abroad solo is no joke. It takes a lot of thought and patience. However, the transformation of the experience of living, learning, and working in a new country is worth it if you commit to the process.
Many travelers end up moving abroad solo. And in a lot of ways, moving abroad alone can be the best decision. So here are ten reasons why you should take the plunge and make that solo move abroad.
Is moving abroad alone hard?
Moving to another country alone can be terrifying and challenging. Homesickness is bound to happen, and you have to find ways to cope to overcome its effects. It is not the easiest, but homesickness gets better once you get past it and find that community abroad.
Also the paperwork, in the beginning, can be a bit hectic. Dealing with bureaucracy in a new country and language is an experience all its own. To this point, do your research to understand the moving abroad process and make it easier.
Is moving abroad alone a good idea?
Moving abroad solo is an excellent idea if you are ready! However, you can kick start that new life abroad with some planning and research to determine if it’s the right decision for you. Read blogs, join travel Facebook groups, and search across social media for people who have done what you hope to do.
I recommend creating a moving abroad checklist. You need a document to keep you on track. Writing down everything you will need will make the transition smoother – guaranteed. Once your mind is made up, the following steps are to implement that plan.
4 reasons moving to another country alone is amazing
You learn about yourself
Moving abroad means placing yourself in a new location mentally, physically, and emotionally. From going through the stages of culture shock to doing mundane activities solo, there is much room for growth. However, it is one of the best parts about moving to another country alone.
As you learn about yourself, remember to be gentle and patient. Moving abroad solo is a new territory, and adjusting will take some time. Whether you uncover new likes and dislikes, each piece of further information is part of the transition.
You learn from others around you
The growth you experience abroad is internal and external. So building that community abroad, you are meeting new people. And if you surround yourself with the right people, you will learn from them too.
One of the best things you can do when you move abroad alone is people watching. Being a tourist turned expat means you need to learn about the culture you’re living in now. So while running errands or having a picnic at the park, you constantly learn from those around you.
You have that freedom & flexibility you value
Moving abroad (by choice) can feel liberating. The biggest step is deciding to make the move and following-through. But for many people who have the financial privilege to move to another country alone, it is an escape freedoms they do not have at home.
For example, when I lived in Spain teaching English with Fulbright, I realized I had no hobbies. All my “hobbies” and club activities were attached to my life at school. Though terrifying initially, I found how much I loved to write – which later became this blog you’re reading. I also took a photography class in Spanish. So use that freedom and flexibility to explore new aspects of your personality!
It can be freeing if you allow yourself to feel all of what it has to offer. The move feels like a new sense of freedom. You have the opportunity to create a new life for yourself. Unfortunately, many people do not get that chance.
3 hard lessons you learn moving abroad alone
You need community
“No new friends” does not work here. One of the challenges of living abroad is building community, and it’s essential to ease your transition abroad. It can be hard to meet people if you do not speak the language. And even if you do, there is no guarantee they want to be your friend.
To find that community, you need to put yourself out there. Join a sports club or take a university or community center. Use country-specific Facebook travel groups to meet other new immigrants/expats. Find local events on social media.
Your understanding of work-life balance changes
When I lived abroad in Europe, one of the advantages of living in Spain was a better work-life balance. So if you are leaving the United States, chances are the work-life balance is better wherever you’re moving to. Many other countries have better holiday breaks and PTO. To be honest, this can be a culture shock for people in the U.S accustomed to the rat race lifestyle.
The ironic part? This adjustment can be difficult. You may think, “this is a good thing.” But sometimes, people who move abroad alone do not know how to unlearn this lifestyle. It can be a shock that the way you’ve been living and working is not the norm.
You may be more resistant than you anticipated. So, it’s important research the work culture to learn more about that balance too. Yet, on the flip side, you experience something better.
You need to know the language
Though you can move abroad solo, you do not want to be isolated. One way to alleviate that isolation is learning the language, which is a huge benefit of living abroad. The language is often a gateway to new experience as well as friends.
Learning the language is also a way to feel more comfortable in your new surroundings. It’s hard to feel like you “belong” in a place if you don’t know what’s going on. Those language classes are worth the investment. Language learning is vital for the cultural immersion and adaptation process. In addition, it can open doors to new friendships, experiences, and work opportunities the deeper you commit to your new home.
3 realizations you have moving abroad solo
You are stronger than you think
Moving abroad solo shows your strength just as much as your areas for growth. First, you must overcome obstacles such as language barriers and cultural differences. And being far from loved ones is not easy. However, going after the life you want is never for the weak. So over time, you realize just how resilient, strong, and determined you are compared to who you were at home.
You have more skills than you anticipated
When you are in a position to try new skills that triggers your fight or flight,. And when you are moving to another country alone, it’s time to show what you can do. So, language learning is the first skill people think of when moving abroad. However, there are other skills to be developed or enhanced.
Mundane activities like grocery shopping require you to learn the names of your favorite products in another language. But navigating a new government, currency conversions, planning frequent trips, finding local events as an outsider, etc. can be all new skills. The soft and hard skills are endless and can show up when you least expect it.
You learn what you do (and don’t) want
I’m a big supporter of pursuing opportunities even if you aren’t 100% sure it’s exactly what you want. Now you might think that’s impulsive, but I think it’s living outside your comfort zone. It gives you space to learn and grow.
For example, when I moved to teach English in Spain I was not certain I ever wanted to be a teacher. Then that year showed me I loved to teach, just not in that way. Teaching English just was not my jam.
I would have never known that teaching abroad was not for me if I had not tried it out! Moving abroad alone is the same. You may go and hate it. You may go and love it. But along the way you will learn all the little things you do or don’t want and find ways to change and adapt. Enhancing your intercultural communication skills, and creative problem solving are all skills you gain from the move. In addition, self-awareness and growth are constant.
You are more confident and independent
For some people who end up moving abroad solo, it is a test of their independence. Enjoying your own company and learning to start a new experience is not something that many can do. However, moving abroad alone shows you the depth and breadth of your independence and confidence in adapting to a new culture.
And in many ways, you realize it is necessary to be more self-sufficient abroad. While having a community is great, until you build it, you need to learn how to be alone and help yourself. You will, most likely, know no one in the beginning. This attitude requires a type of confidence, independence, and resilience you may not know you had – nor needed – before moving abroad solo.
So how do you survive living alone abroad?
Moving to another country alone means the happy moments come with the stressful ones. Making friends, building that community, being patient, and trusting the culture shock process is so important when you move abroad solo. There is no shortcut to making a move either!
You have to give it your all to reap the reward. And while it may take a few months, always remember where you came from to guide you to where you want to be. Good luck, and I wish you the best!
Are you still contemplating that move abroad? Here are some advantages and disadvantages of living abroad.