The BIG Jump — Should You Move Abroad?
Moving abroad is exciting, but is the grass always greener on the other side?
We always ask people considering what we call “internationalization” to define WHY they want to take that step and whether or not they are personally ready to take on the challenges involved.
That’s why the title question of this article is an important one. For some people, adapting to a foreign culture with different customs (and perhaps a different language) will come easy. For others, however, it can be a frustrating and ultimately fruitless experience… As a vacation, no problem. But as a place to live? Not so much.
So let’s take a few moments and explore the reasons one might consider “pulling up stakes” and heading overseas. After that, we’ll talk about some of the challenges to be faced.
Reasons to Move
New Experiences: It’s a big understatement to say someone living abroad will enjoy “new experiences”. In fact, chances are almost everything in your adopted homeland will be new — from the way you buy groceries, to the way you get from point A to point B, to the language you speak! (Parlez-vous français?)
Meet New People: It also goes without saying that you’ll meet a whole new set of people abroad — both locals, but also expats who, just like you, have gone overseas to enjoy the benefits of thinking outside their home country’s “boxes”.
Learn a Foreign Language: The best way to learn a foreign language is to immerse yourself in it as much as possible. Living smack dab in the middle of a city, state or country where said language is the common tongue is obviously a great place to pick it up.
Make New Business Contacts: For the entrepreneurial or career-focused among us, moving abroad can open up a whole new world of opportunities. From our observations, people with the “cajones” to leave what is familiar and jump into an unknown land tend to be more successful.
Challenges to Face
Of course, not everything will be a picnic. You may have to deal with:
Loneliness / Isolation: By far, one of the most common challenges of moving to another country is the sense of loneliness and isolation… especially for people who aren’t all that outgoing in the first place. After all, you’ve just left your friends (and perhaps family) to go to a strange place where you likely don’t know a soul. Then there’s the cultural barrier, which might make it hard to develop friendships. There could even be a language in the way as well. Of course, this can all be mitigated by getting involved with a strong expat community and local activities that bring you in constant contact with the natives.
Cultural Confusion: Quite frankly, first contact with another culture can be a little strange, particularly if you’re used to a certain way of life and conduct. Many expats find it’s the little things that tend to drive one the craziest: a different standard of service, not being able to find your favorite food at the supermarket, or even the perceived “standoffishness” if coming from a more “friendly” culture.
Financial Difficulties: If you move abroad without sufficient finances (or a job to go to), the experience might not be the most pleasant. That’s not to say having no money is a bad thing, but it’s much more enjoyable (and easier) to have a few bucks stored away… instead of spending your time trying to eke out a living while you’re supposed to be soaking up the culture.
Family Challenges: If you have a spouse or kids in tow, managing the needs of the family can be quite a challenge. Younger children generally adapt quite quickly to a new culture, but teenagers can often struggle a bit. It’s important to consider their needs before making the move.
That said, the purpose of this brief article is not to discourage anyone from fulfilling their dream of days spent on sandy white beaches… searching in the jungle for some famous treasure… or just learning and experiencing the nuances of a foreign culture.
Rather, it’s simply to start a discussion and to get you thinking about your possible move. Because remember, moving abroad is a “big” jump (but also one that can be fun and rewarding!) So, what do you think? What are some of the other reasons for or against moving overseas? And, if you had to do it all again, would you?
International Man is a useful service that helps new and experienced freedom-seekers, investors, adventurers, speculators and expatriates enjoy the benefits of the international lifestyle. We do this by offering a regular stream of practical and actionable information and resources on the three elements of the IM “Internationalization” Triangle http://www.internationalman.com/about-im: Asset Diversification, Income Diversification and Personal Diversification. You can learn more about us at www.internationalman.com.