Expats vs locals: who to live with?

So you’ve arrived abroad – great! But now you’re here, where should you live? And most importantly, who should you live with? Living with locals and living with expats are both rewarding in many ways, it just depends on what exactly you’re looking for.


Live with locals if you want to…

Learn the language

Duolingo might have gotten you started, but nothing helps you master a language like speaking with a local. Cooking together, watching television, and long talks over wine are all roommate rights of passage – but this time they have the added bonus of acting as a language lesson. Utilise your roomie by creating a word of the day and sticking Post-Its all over your entire house! It’s a great way to bond and learn at the same time.

Live with expats if you want to…

Go through it together

Moving abroad can be scary and sometimes you just need someone who understands. When you’re feeling homesick – whether it’s for your family or your favourite snack food – your expat roomie will get it. If you’ve struggled with the language all day and just need to speak your mother tongue for a while, your roomie is there. No one expects expats to jump headfirst into a new culture, ease into it with a friend by your side.

Live with locals if you want to…

Get the authentic experience

Living with a local is the fastest way to get a crash course in your new life. No longer will you have to sit, observe, and try to figure out all those cultural quirks – you can head home and experience them all first hand. From dinner etiquette to social faux pas, you can learn way more from asking your flatmate than staring at people in bars.

Live with expats if you want to…

Build a network of people around the world

So there’s a good chance if you’ve moved abroad you like the country you’re living in – but that doesn’t mean you won’t travel anywhere else! Befriending expats means you’re making friends from all over the world. As well as experiencing as many cultures as possible, you’re also building a great global couchsurfing network.

What have your experiences been like when living with expats or locals?

Rosy Parrish

Rosy Parrish grew up in Britain and now lives in Madrid. She divides her time between teaching English, writing about expat life, and befriending dogs in the street.

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