Making the decision to move far from home is always a big one, especially if it’s for the first time. Perhaps you have no idea what to expect, or you have certain worries of what it’s going to be like.
Which is why I’ve compiled this little list of the good and bad parts of being an expat/living abroad!
This list is meant to encourage and inspire you, whether you’re still on the fence about taking the plunge, or if you’re experiencing a tough season during your travels.
With that said, let’s dive in starting with the, “Pros”.
- You get to experience adapting to a whole new culture/country and slowly meld yourself into a new lifestyle, building a home for yourself.
Seriously, one of the coolest parts of living in a new country is getting to make it your home, and eventually even feeling like a local. I wrote a whole post on : How To Make Anywhere Feel Like Home which has some great tips on how to adjust and fall into life somewhere new.
- Your worldview becomes broadened
Living in the same place your whole life typically results in having a mindset that is very much rooted in what’s around you. Think about it, there’s cultures, rules, views, climate, schooling, and so much more that is different everywhere you go. Often, when we’re used to our home countries, whenever we learn how other cultures differ from us, we tend to think that it’s “weird” when really, we’re weird to them.
Interacting with a new country by living in it is such a perfect way to learn more about the world around you, and how your way may not be the “right” way.
- You meet people you wouldn’t have otherwise
When I think of all the amazing people who have come into my life from these past few years of travelling, my heart becomes so full. Even if some friends were only for a season, they have all taught me valuable lessons, and some I still keep in touch with today despite varying time zones and schedules.
It’s crazy to think my husband and I wouldn’t have met if I had never gone to Australia! And that now Brisbane is our home base!
It really goes to show you never know who you may meet in your travels, but that there will always be a few that really capture your heart and stay in your lives.
- You may miss out on important events
If you’re going to be gone for an extended period, you can expect to miss out on some things back home. It’s sucky at times, feeling like the odd one out in the family because you’re not around as much, but you need to remember why you are where you are.
Something that helps with this is making sure you have enough money for a plane ticket home in case of a family emergency. Having that reassurance that if something does happen, you can find a way back is definitely helpful. Also, don’t feel pressured to try to come back for every event or holiday. Do the best you can with your situation, but also don’t allow others to make you feel guilty.
Although I’ll be spending Christmas in Australia, I’ve been able to be home in Vancouver to visit this past month since my beautiful niece was just born. I knew if I missed out on the newborn snuggles, I’d be crushed, whereas Christmas comes around every year. You win some, you lose some.
- Visas, paperwork, immigration, oh my!
In my opinion, this is the biggest downside to the whole immigration/expat thing. Some countries are better than others, but in general it’s usually a frustrating and at times expensive process making sure that you have all the necessary documents in place.
For instance, I know my husband and I are so lucky that we’re both Commonwealth countries, (Canada & Australia) since it makes the immigration process for me a little smoother. But still, next year I’ll be needing to apply for my spouse visa and let’s just say that price tag and paperwork attached is going to be a serious speed bump. I’ve been dreading it for some time now! (Any tips from people who have gone through that before would be SO appreciated!)
All I can say is make sure you’re not trying to take any short cuts. Get help from an immigration lawyer if you need it, essentially just doing it right the first time can save you so much grief. Read ahead to see what to expect when it comes to your visa, sometimes they ask for supporting documents that you wouldn’t have thought to keep in the first place. Take your time, ask questions, and keep a hard copy of everything with you as you travel.
In my opinion, the good really does outweigh the bad in this list. If you’re nervous about moving, I really encourage you to go for it, if only for a few months. The life experience you gain from living somewhere new for a season is truly special and unique.
It’s scary at first, exciting upon arrival, mundane later, and then finally fulfilling at the end of it all.
If you’re an expat, or have spent time abroad, what do you think of the pros and cons? Agree/disagree? Anything to add? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!