Moving abroad and especially moving to the other end of the world is a life-changing experience and can be incredibly rewarding. But there are both positive and negative consequences. And while there are many facets to it, these seven were the most prominent to me.
On the grand scale of things, this post is a bit more on the personal side as I can only tell you what it was like for me. The ways your life will change if you move abroad will most likely be the same, but the situations described will tell you of my own experience. I want to give you a glimpse into the reality of leaving everything behind and starting a new life in a new country.
If you are contemplating a move, you should be aware of both the amazing and negative sides. You should know what you can expect and what it could cost you in a non-financial way. Moving to the other end of the world can be rewarding, but it is easier if you know what to expect.
There are many reasons to move temporarily or permanently. Some do it because of a job or for their education. Others are fulfilling their dream of a digital nomad lifestyle.
The first time I moved abroad was for my university degree. And let me tell you that it was not an easy decision. I struggled with it for several months even after I had set everything in motion. However, I certainly do not regret it as I love how the experience changed me and my life. But the seven things I list in this post are things I wish someone had told me before I embarked on this life-changing adventure.
Hopefully reading this will help you with your own move and prepare you for what is to come.
The Difference between Moving Abroad and Longterm Travel
I have traveled for several months, moved hundreds of kilometers away from everyone I know, and lived abroad. And let me tell you, that it was moving abroad that had the greatest impact on me. It put me into a new situation and in comparison moving 600 km felt like a nice trial run with security features.
Based on my experience I would say that they are completely different. Moving to another country means that you have to set up a life. You have to establish yourself at a new location and form long-term connections. It means officially registering at an address after renting an apartment or buying it. You have to open a bank account and in some countries, you are obliged to get a local health insurance. There are many things you have to do and that list grows with visa requirements.
While traveling allows you to live day by day, you will not be able to do the same. So please do not assume that moving abroad is similar to your experience of long-term traveling. It will certainly make it easier if you have already spent several months abroad as you will know what it is like to be away from everything you know. But this is not a trip you can end by simply booking a flight back home.
You will never fell 100% at Home again
At least this is the case for me and many expats I know. While moving away 600 km to a new city in Germany had little impact on me, the decision to move abroad impacted my life greatly.
When I left Germany, I felt at home there. The place I grew up was still home and Munich could not compete with it. But the minute I arrived in Australia, everything started to change. I loved my life there and by the time I had to leave, it felt like I was leaving one home, for another one. It was incredibly bittersweet.
Once you reach that point, being in one locations just means missing the other. And I do not know which one I would choose if it came down to it.
For a while, this feeling can be very confusing. Especially if you usually describe ‘home’ as the place where your loved ones are. It is what I did and when I first called Sydney my home I felt incredibly guilty. I felt disloyal towards my family and started blaming myself because I loved living in Sydney.
But in the end, I realized that there was no reason to feel that way. It is natural to associate home with a place where you love living. And having more than one place that feels like home just means, that you will now always have a home away from home. A place that you will miss while you are at home.
After moving to the other end of the world, you start to realize that home is where you feel happy and free. That home is a place that can be anywhere in the world.
You miss important Events
If you are thousands of kilometers away from the place you were born, you will have no choice but to miss events. You will get to attend other events in your new home, but you will have no choice but to decline invitations to events and important moments.
Some of them will be happy ones like weddings, babies or even parties. But sadly there will also be live changing things like illnesses and deaths.
For me, the latter was the hardest to accept. When you have spent your life close to one person and loved them with all of your heart, it is hard to come to terms with the fact that they will no longer be there when you return home.
I asked myself how I would react and what I would do if my grandmother was to die after I had moved to another country. And if I am honest, I can only say that I was not prepared when it happened. I always felt like I would see her again and like I would be there when the time to say goodbye comes, so not being there was devastating.
It is undeniably the worst side of moving abroad, but this situation is something you have to try to prepare yourself for. Especially if you move to the other end of the world and traveling back home can take several days.
If you are lucky it will not happen, but sadly there are no guarantees. So always know that you might be seeing your loved ones for the last time when you board that plane.
Please know that I am not telling you this to make you feel bad about moving to another country. I just want you to think about it before you move, so you are prepared if it happens. It might make it easier.
Some Friendships will end
Real friendship will survive the distance thanks to today’s technology. And I am sure that you already know this because you have friends around the world. But some connections are bound to break once you leave and no longer see the person. It is a painful experience, but it will happen. And oftentimes there is no way to predict which friendships will survive to move.
Before I left for Australia I used to be part of a group I really cherished. All of us were from different cities in two countries, but we met up at student conferences quite regularly. But over time communication with more and more members of the group seized and these days, there are only three people I still write with every now and then.
Moving abroad means that your life will change and so will the life of your friends. And once you are no longer a physical presence in a person’s life, it will take a lot more effort to keep the friendship alive.
Life has a different path for every single one of us and if you choose the one less traveled by, some will not follow. But the good thing is that you will learn who your real friends are and who you can rely on even if thousands of kilometers separate you.
You Bond with People that are in a similar Situation & Become Friends with Locals
In today’s age of globalization, you are bound to find other expats wherever you go. And while part of the adventure of moving abroad is meeting and becoming friends with the locals, it is important to connect with those in a similar situation.
Based on my experience I would say that becoming friends with people in a similar situation is the best thing to do. After a while, you will get to know locals, but it is always good to have someone that can relate to your situation with its amazing and negative sides.
While moving abroad means losing friends back home, it also allows you to form lifelong friendships. Living abroad bonds and you will laugh about your early misadventures in a new country with your group of friends years later.
Getting injured or sick is different if you can only call your Family
No one ever wants to hurt themselves, but it happens every now and then. And let me tell you that this is a downside of moving to the other end of the world. As independent individuals, few of us want to have to rely on friends too much, so it is always easier if one’s family is close. Asking family members for help is easier and it feels less like disrupting their life.
I think most of us have had our mom make us soup when we are sick and it is hard not to get used to that loving care. And despite all progress in logistics, it is highly unlikely that our loved one can send us the food of our childhood once we have moved abroad.
Getting injured while living abroad can also make you feel lonely. Especially if you are unable to join group activities for a while. Something as simple as a broken leg can make you feel cut off from those around you.
If you and your group of friends made plans before you hurt yourself, they will and should still do the things without you. And sometimes that means you only get to see pictures of the glow worms in an old tunnel that you really wanted to see instead of going there with friends.
Luckily the situation resolves itself as the injury heals, but for a while, it can cut off a large part of the face-to-face interaction you are used to.
And if you are like me, you will still be slightly annoyed at yourself because you missed the glow worms after you broke your knee while surfing.
You can reflect on your Life
Being away from a situation can allow you on what your life in your home country was like. Did you actually like it? What do you hate about it? Is there anything you would like to change?
Moving abroad means that you can reinvent yourself. That you can be who you really are. Just ensure that you do not use this to run away from things as whatever you try to escape will catch up with you. However, it might give you the necessary distance to deal with things in a healthy manner. By reflecting on your life, you might be able to let go of old burdens.
Self-improvement through Reflection
After a few months in Sydney, I started to compare my life there to my life in Germany. And I was shocked when I realized how different it was. I was still the same person, but my habits changed as I saw that there was a better way.
In my environment in Munich, I was constantly pushing myself to do better and to do more. I was involved in an incredible amount of activities. And when I realized that this had changed, I saw that I was previously doing it in an unhealthy way. I was putting too much pressure on myself and not taking enough time to enjoy the little things.
My new home came with a different mindset and those around me had a different attitude towards work. And I adjusted my own attitude when I saw that their stance was better for me than my previous German mindset.
And while I cannot promise that you will see a large change like I did, it is definitely a positive experience for everyone. Reflecting on your own life by comparing two parts of your life can help you let go of negative emotions, reaffirm what you appreciate, or lead to other results. But in the end, whatever you realize will change your life.
I talked about this a lot with people that moved abroad and so for I have only heard of positive realizations. You just have to be open to whatever you realize and go forward with that new knowledge about yourself.
You become more Confident
Even when I lived hundreds of kilometers away from home, I always had the option to go home for the weekend. I think I went home at least every two or three weeks and I spend a large part of my semester breaks at home. If I had any issues, I could always count on the fact that my family would be able to support me. In the end, I was only about 6 hours away.
Moving abroad meant that this was no longer possible. I actually had to rely on myself, as the only means of support were kind words.
There are things such as the time difference and work schedules you have to work around, so you have no choice but to do things on your own. And then you will realize that it works. That you can do more than you thought possible.
I was living on my own and paying my own bills years before my move to Australia, so this was nothing new. And yet it felt completely different as the security net was gone. There was a shift from I can do it on my own to having no choice but to do it on my own.
The very idea of this used to terrify me. But in the end, there was no reason to be afraid. It is much more about realizing that you can deal with things on your own, than doing it alone for the first time. It is a shift of mind that empowers you and boosts your confidence.
My Resume: Would I move to another country again?
I do not regret my decision to move to Sydney. I love how my time there changed me and who I became. And a very large part of me still regrets that I had to leave my new home. Given the situation, it was the right decision at the time, but my heart still pulls me back to Australia. It is and always will be my home away from home, and I hope to end up there again.
Some of the things I faced while there were incredibly hard and I never want to experience them again. But for the majority of my time, I was living my dream of an amazing life abroad.
I can only advise you to make your decision wisely and to figure out if the time is right. If your heart tells you ‘not right now’, you can always move abroad in a year or two. And if it says ‘go ahead’, you should go for it. It might be daunting, but taking a chance, and thereby changing yourself and your life for the better, is rewarding.
In the end, I can only say that I know that I will move abroad again. As it is, my heart is already split between two places, so I might as well add more places that feel like home. And something tells me that I will eventually end up in Sydney again.
Further Readings: What others say about moving to the other end of the world & living abroad
If you want to read more about living in another country, I can only recommend reading these posts as well. They all have a unique point of view on moving abroad and I think that it will give you a good idea of what it is like.
Melis Living – What Home Means to Me
Planning a trip soon? Check out these useful websites and resources that I use to plan my own adventures
Roundup: Expat Life
More about Expat Life
If you are interested in expat life, these posts about living a nomadic life might interest you.
Have you ever moved Abroad?
If so, was it a temporary move or do you plan to stay there forever?
Where did you move to? And how did it change your life?
Or are you currently planning to move to a new country?
I’d love to hear all about it, so let me know in the comments down below!
Planning to Move Abroad?
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