The Brauds have come up with 10 reasons you’re afraid to move abroad and why they aren’t deal breakers.
We often hear, “I would love to travel but I can’t because…” It’s heartbreaking, really. But, take it from us, these universal obstacles are easily surmounted. Since we have already navigated the murky waters of moving abroad, let us remove your fear of the unknown.
1. You’ve got kids
Take them with you. Plenty of people have done this with wonderful results. Children exposed to different cultures receive an unparalleled education. They are more adaptable, diplomatic, and have a much larger frame of reference than children raised in one culture. This will probably be one thing they’ll thank you for once they’ve grown up.
2. You can’t afford to leave your job
Your skills are even more valuable overseas than at home, and quite often the pay reflects that. Even if you choose to spend a year volunteering at a resort, the experience will be priceless. Careers no longer depend on uninterrupted service and you will find that your expat experience may bump you into a higher pay bracket when (and if) you return.
3. You’re afraid it won’t be safe
Mark Twain famously said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” The truth is, most of what we worry about never comes to pass. Life without a safety net is highly underrated, and bad things happen as often at home as they do abroad.
4. You need predictability
The whole point of travel is exposure to a different lifestyle. You will take on new routines and challenges and may even look back on your old way of doing things and wonder how you could have subjected yourself to such monotony. Change is good. You must keep swimming or risk sinking.
5. You don’t know anyone
People love travelers, so you won’t have any problem meeting good people willing to show you around. Introduce yourself to your neighbors when you arrive. Smile and relax and you will be rewarded. When you come across other expats, you will experience instant recognition and bonding.
6. You don’t speak the language
Learning a new language isn’t as hard as you imagine and you can start right now. Take free online classes, listen to podcasts, read books, watch foreign movies with subtitles or find someone to practice with. Your efforts will be rewarded by people who want to help you settle into your new home and you will learn faster once you are immersed in your new country.
7. You’ll do it when you retire
Life won’t be the same by the time you’re ready to retire. Do it while it’s tugging at you and you have the desire. Health, family and your personal drive may change by that time and you’ll find yourself saying, “Why didn’t I do that earlier?”
8. You don’t want to sell or move all of your stuff
Letting go of “things” can be very liberating. Many expats go to the trouble and expense of shipping a majority of their belongings to their new country. Take only what you can’t live without or let someone you trust keep it for you. Sell, give away or donate everything else and buy what you need when you get there. Most of the time, your furniture won’t fit, match or be suitable for your new home.
9. You can’t live without (fill in the blank)
Most people in the world live without Amazon and super stores. Once the reality sets in that you can’t always get what you want, you learn to work with what you have. In countries other than the U.S., you can get fruits and vegetables when they are in season (or pay dearly when they’re not). Your habits will change and usually for the better.
10. You don’t want to lower your standard of living
You may find yourself in a smaller home with fewer things, but you will have traded your current standard of living for a better quality of life. While it’s difficult to imagine having your washing machine in the kitchen or life without a clothes dryer, you will find you have everything you need.
Take it from us: if your heart is tugging at your sleeve and asking for experience abroad, then go. You won’t regret any of the extraordinary life lessons only found by living abroad. If things don’t work out, you can always return home and pick up where you left off. Most expats find that it’s the best move they’ve ever made.
Have you made the move abroad? What are some of your suggestions for those thinking of doing the same? Leave your comments below!
About the authors
Camille Armantrout shares life with Bob, her husband of 23 years. They gave in to wanderlust in 1997, sold nearly everything they owned, and moved to Belize, then China, Guam, Nicaragua, and, most recently, Ghana. They now find themselves at home with a community of friends in rural North Carolina. Her passions are horses, food, and woodsy walks. She writes about her adventures at Plastic Farm Animals – Where Reality Becomes Illusion.
Stephanie De La Garza left the United States in 2013 to follow her dream of working with wild animals in Central America. She has lived in Costa Rica, Panama, Australia and is now a resident of New Zealand. She continues to seek out interaction with animals and humans alike and couldn’t imagine going back to the life she once knew. She blogs at Warm Reptile – Out on a Limb.