Is Moving Abroad and Becoming an Expat Worth It?
Is the Expat Life For You?
You’ve decided — it’s time to broaden your horizon. Maybe you’ve got an exciting job offer or opportunity on the other side of the world, or you just want to escape the rat race and start a new life somewhere else.
But then questions start spinning in your mind. How is my life really going to be after such a life-changing move? Will I have regrets? Before you book your one-way plane ticket to your dream destination, you should ask yourself if you really want to move to another country.
Here are a few hesitations you might have when asking “should I become an expat?”
Can I Afford It?
Emigration is expensive. Think of your visa requirements, paperwork, flights, temporary home, bills, car, and everything else you’ll need to basically set yourself up from scratch.
But, consider the cost of living in your new country and compare it with your spending in your current country. For example, when moving to London from the US you can expect to find housing much more expensive than what you are used to.
Depending where you are going, the wages might be much higher in your new country, or the cost of living way cheaper than you are used to. At the end of the day, the costs of the immigration progress might pay itself off.
When you decide to sell your home and all your belongings, calculate the amount of money you will receive from that, to get a bit of start-up money.
Do I Find a Job?
Finding a job might make or break your decision to live abroad.
Research the job market in your desired country. In which parts or cities are you most likely to get a job straight away? Search for jobs on the most popular job boards online and in local Facebook job pages, and maybe apply for a few before arriving.
What Are My Expectations of Expat Life?
Most of the time, life as an expat is better than life in your home country. The weather might be better, life might be more relaxed, you can possibly enjoy the outdoors more in your spare time, and you might live a simpler life. You might earn better money even, and your future may look brighter than if you were to have stayed in your home country.
Ask yourself what you want out of life, and whether life as an expat and your favorite country meets those expectations.
Will I Miss My Family and Friends?
Yes! This is one of the hardest parts of expat life: missing your family and friends, as well as missing out on celebrations and funerals, and being unable to be physically there for your friends and family through bad times.
When children are involved it gets even tougher. You will see your friends and family’s kids grow up in Facebook photos and miss out on celebrating special milestones. Plus if you have children, they grow up with no direct family around them.
You also might slowly lose contact with people who don’t understand your lifestyle or decision to live abroad. That’s okay. Growth and change are a part of life. You’ll always have a few best friends who will stick with you forever, no matter the distance and time you don’t see each other.
Will I Make New Friends?
Yes, you will. Sometimes only temporary as there might be a lot of other expats in your new place, and they might move somewhere else along the way. But you can also build lifelong friendships with people from all over the world.
If you like the idea of knowing someone before you arrive, consider searching online for expat communities.
Will I Be Able to Communicate with People?
When you are moving to a country where you don’t speak the language, daily life can be a bit harder in the beginning. But if you are fluent in your new country’s language, you may still experience communication hiccups. You might not understand some jokes (or just think it’s not funny at all ) or different local accents and slang.
As well, expressing emotions like anger is always harder in a foreign language, than in your mother language.
Try to learn the basics before you move. Do a language course. Most of the time you will learn a new language fast when you have to speak it in a foreign country, and you make new friends who can help you.
Do I Really Want to Go Through All the Required Paperwork?
Nobody will ever tell you that becoming an expat will be easy. There is lots of paperwork, blood, sweat and tears involved. And money.
Even if you are one of the most organized people on earth, there is always one more form to fill out, one more paper to sign and another requirement to apply for. For example, if you live in the UK or want to move to the UK, you now have the impact of Brexit to factor into your planning and decision-making.
It can be overwhelming, frustrating, expensive and very time-consuming, but when you keep in mind that this is all for a better future, you will get there in the end.
Will I Feel Lost?
Expat life can make you feel a bit lost certain times. It’s like juggling two identities — you might no longer completely fit in back in your home country, because of all the life experience you gained as an expat, but on the other hand you might feel you haven’t been fully integrated into your new country either. It takes time to find your ‘home.’
The Verdict on Expat Life
Is being an expat worth it? Expat life is definitely not always easy and isn’t for everyone. You are giving up your stability and everything you have built up in the past. You will get homesick at times, not to mention lonely (especially when you just had a baby, believe me). You have no support of friends and family directly around you. Basically, as an expat you start all over again.
But in return there are so many benefits to being expats. You discover so much more about life and yourself. You get to seek out new adventures, learn new languages and cultures, and have friends from all over the world, who become your family far away from home.
For me personally, the positive things outweigh the challenges along the way, and give me and my family the opportunity to live the life we love.
To follow along on the expat adventures Jo and her family are having, visit their website, Woody World Packer.