I personally think that everyone should live outside of their home country at least once in their life. If you are wondering “Should I move abroad?” I’m going to try my very best to convince you that you should! Being able to experience life in a new way and being exposed to different viewpoints and languages can change you forever, and if you get the chance to do it, you definitely won’t regret it!
That being said, I know that actually being able to live abroad is a privilege and an incredible opportunity that not everyone can do.
Jake and I have had the opportunity to live in several different countries including the Philippines, Chile, Mexico, Indonesia, Turkey, Vietnam, Thailand, and now France. We’ve spent more time living abroad as adults than we have living in the USA and I wouldn’t change that for a second!
Anyone who knows me (or has read this blog) knows that I encourage everyone I meet to travel or even live abroad. So I wanted to compile a list of every reason I could think of as to why this would be so beneficial.
If you’re looking more for a pros & cons list (there are some things I don’t love about living abroad) then you should check out this post instead.
I also would like to preface by saying that Jake and I understand how lucky we are to be able to live how we do. But also, I want you to understand that we have sacrificed a lot to be where we are.
So many people tell us they wish they could do what we do, but don’t see the things we have given up just so that we can do this.
That’s a whole different blog post, but I just wanted to make it clear that we pay for our own travels and lifestyle and I truly believe that if living abroad is what you want to do, you can do it. Anyway, let’s get started! Here are the main reasons to move to another country:
1. Experience life outside of your home country
Why move abroad? Because some people never leave their home country. In your home country, even in just your home city, there is a specific culture and way of doing things.
You may not know it, but there are societal rules that you follow every day that help you live harmoniously with others from that area.
And if you never leave? You may start to believe, without being fully aware, that your way of life is the only way. Or that what you have seen on TV and heard from others is what is right instead of experiencing the world for yourself.
There is a whole world of ways to live. Each place does things a little differently and there is so much to learn from the different ways that people live their lives.
For example, in America, it is very rare to find a place that does not open on Sundays. Things in America are convenient and easy, even if it compromises the life of the employees and business owners.
In France, it is difficult to find a place that IS open on Sundays.
Although it can be inconvenient, the employees and business owners take time off to enjoy their lives instead of worrying about losing business/customers.
You can find the good and bad in either way of life, but if you never leave your home country, you might never discover a way of life that may be better than yours!
2. Learn a New Language
One of the most incredibly rewarding things in life (according to me lol) is being able to communicate with someone in their native language.
Although I definitely haven’t learned the languages of every country that we’ve lived in, Jake and I have always tried to learn some basics.
For me, a part of living or visiting another place is understanding that you are not the center of attention.
This is not your home. Although it can make things more difficult (which, to be honest, is the REASON to travel and is very literally the reason why it is so fun) I NEVER expect someone in a different country to speak English.
I’m getting a little preachy here, but I think that it is really important when you are traveling or living abroad to become less self-centered. Travel and living abroad can make you a better person as long as you let it!
There is a saying by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe that I find to be extremely true: “He who knows no foreign languages knows nothing of his own.”
It is only after you learn another language that you really start to think about your own language.
Language is something that we use every day without thinking much about it. However, while learning a language, you have no choice but to deconstruct your own and actually learn WHY you say things a certain way and HOW you say it.
3. Push yourself outside of your comfort zone
I love the saying by Clifton Fadiman: “When you travel, remember that a foreign country is not designed to make you comfortable. It is designed to make its own people comfortable.”
I think that every person needs to experience the type of discomfort that comes by living in a place that was not created to make YOU comfortable, but its own people comfortable.
Of course, there are two things that could happen when you do this. The first thing would be to become bitter and complain about the way that a certain country does things.
Of course, it’s totally normal and okay to be frustrated and uncomfortable, but you can’t let that make you think that YOUR way of doing things is superior simply because it is what you know.
The second thing that could happen is you feel the discomfort and let it make you a better person. You become more understanding and patient as well as being able to adapt more quickly to new situations.
4. Learn to love new foods
Although I definitely am not now, I used to be an extremely picky eater. Before I moved to Chile for two years, I had never eaten a tomato or a banana. Now I eat both daily.
Before meeting my husband and moving to Mexico, I only had bean burritos. Now I’ve eaten every kind of taco I can get my hands on.
Each new place that we go to, we try their food. At first, sometimes we don’t like it, but we always learn to love it after a while (except Nepalese food, I’m sorry I never liked that, but it might have been altitude sickness, I don’t know).
Phô and Bun Cha in Vietnam, Gyros in Greece, Massaman Curry in Thailand, Thali in India are all things that I NEVER would have tried before and now they are my FAVORITE foods in the world.
So if you love eating, like I do, living abroad will only fill your life with more incredibly delicious foods that you may have never tried at home.
5. Find out what you need
Before we moved abroad, I don’t think I truly knew what made me happy. Once we decided to move abroad, we had to sell basically everything: all our furniture, cars, most of our clothes, etc.
We only had a few boxes (which are all but gone now) of belongings that we left at our parent’s houses.
Once we stripped everything away (and had to meet the weight limits of a carry-on) we started to change who we were. On our first trip to Dubai, I brought MORE CLOTHES than I brought to move to France. We became minimalists in all sorts of ways.
As we lived all over the world, we started to compare what made us happy in one versus another.
In Bali, we lived close to the beach and had lots of friends from church, but the apartment was small and old. In Turkey, we didn’t have a church and the language barrier was very strong.
We started to realize what we really needed in life in order to be happy (which is why we decided on France, you can go read about why we decided to move here in this post).
We needed fewer things, more beach, a close-knit church community and the ability to speak the language.
6. Try out a new way of living
I mentioned this before but I think it deserves a second point. Once you leave your home country, you can become whoever you want to be! Maybe back at “home” you never took naps because that was seen as lazy.
But guess what?! You could move to Spain and make it part of your daily life!
Or maybe you love the idea of staying at a restaurant or cafe for hours but that would be considered rude or “loitering” in your home country. Head to France (or most of Europe) and spend hours chatting or reading without feeling guilty at all!
You could try out a new way of life and see how it fits. If you love it, maybe stay forever! Or maybe just bring it “home” with you. You don’t have to live abroad permanently to let it change who you are.
7. Possibly Cheaper Cost of Living
Yes, one of my VERY favorite things: saving money! Jake and I have saved THOUSANDS of dollars just by living abroad. In Vietnam, Bali, Turkey, and Thailand, we regularly only spent $800 per month on ALL of our expenses.
In France, we plan to spend about $1500 a month once we get ourselves settled (we’re still searching for an apartment!). Although that is more expensive than what we spent in Southeast Asia, it’s still just a fraction of what you would spend in America.
8. Easy Access to New Places
Want to travel more but can’t afford a ton of expensive flights to and from America (first of all, check out Pomelo Travel, but back to the point) why not just move there? We moved to France so that we could see more of Europe.
You could do that anywhere in the world! South America, Southeast Asia, Eastern Europe, etc.
Plus, flights are much cheaper abroad than they are in America. We could fly anywhere in Europe for less than $100, more likely less than $50.
So we are able to see more places for less money than if we lived in America.
I could literally talk about this all day, but I hope that I’ve convinced you maybe just a little to move abroad. Whether it be for just a month or a whole year, it is definitely worth it!