After moving to Dubai over 5 years ago, I can tell you there are certainly a multitude of both advantages and disadvantages of living abroad
Some people find the idea of moving abroad to be a very exciting prospect, and if you’re one of those people, then it’s important that you know the pros and cons before making your final decision.
And it’s a BIG decision.
You’ll find yourself questioning: Is it really worth giving up your home country? Will you still have friends? What will happen if your relationship with your significant other ends?
These are all important questions that need answers before making such a huge change in your life.
Living abroad can be a life-changing experience. It provides an opportunity to learn about other cultures and see the world from a new perspective.
However, moving abroad is not just about exploring new cultures or gaining new experiences; it also comes with some hefty disadvantages as well.
If you want to fully explore all options available to you, read on below for more information on what those pros and cons may entail for you.
Table of Contents
- Why do some people choose to live abroad?
- Pros / Advantages to Living Abroad
- Cons / Disadvantages to Living Abroad
Why do some people choose to live abroad?
Study – it’s an excellent opportunity to be able to experience studying abroad as part of your education. Especially if your studies include a language.
Work – working abroad can often come with excellent benefits, especially if your company requires you to move for them. You may be offered accommodation, a raise and/or yearly flights home.
Retirement – some people of retirement age have saved up their whole lives to be able to move to a foreign country and retire. Somewhere with sun, a great community and where the cost of living isn’t too high.
New country – others just want to experience living in a new country so they don’t end up wondering ‘what if’ if they didn’t make the move.
So, let’s get into it. What are the advantages and disadvantages to living abroad?
Pros / Advantages to Living Abroad
It’s an adventure
Adventure is my middle name! Well… it’s not, actually Ellie is my middle name (not my first!). But moving to different countries can be one heck of an adventure. Get to experience new cultures, new people, new foods.
Even the small things can be exciting and feel like an adventure, such as your first time having a staycation, or pretending to be a tourist at weekends.
Life isn’t meant to be lived inside a bubble. That’s why I think moving abroad is such an excellent way to push yourself out of your comfort zone and really experience life in all its glory.
It opens you up to new opportunities, people and experiences for sure. Yes, there can be scary times when you’re not sure what you’re doing, but that’ll all about pushing yourself to figure things out. You can do it!
Get out of a rut
Before I moved to Dubai, I had the feeling I was stuck in a rut. I was getting up at the same time every day. Getting on that horrific long bus journey to work every day (freezing cold no matter what time of year). I’d get home from work at the same time every day and I would do the same things every evening. There was a lack of excitement.
Not that every single day needs to be as adventurous as the last, but after moving to a different country, I found there was always something new to do, new experiences, different things to do at the weekend, etc. The rut was well and truly gone.
Opportunities to travel
Since moving abroad, I’ve had the opportunity to travel the world, having never really travelled before that. I’ve seen so many cool things and met some great people too. I can’t imagine my life without all of these travel opportunities now.
Depending on where you move to, you could have opportunities to explore a new place for the weekend without breaking the bank. For example, in Dubai I can hop on a quick 1 hour plane ride and explore Oman for a long weekend.
Make new friends
You’re bound to make new friends when you move abroad. Whether it’s your flatmates, your colleagues or even just people you meet through exploring the city. I have met some amazing people here in Dubai and I do believe that my life would be very different if I’d never moved here
When you move to a new country, you find yourself gravitating to friends who have also left their home country to move abroad. So already you have something in common with these people. They’ll help to make you feel less homesick when you first move abroad.
Easier to find jobs abroad
With the world becoming more and more global every day, it’s easier than ever before to find jobs abroad. There are so many opportunities out there as technology is such as vital part of running businesses now, allowing you freedom to work from just about anywhere on earth (with good WiFi)!
I know some people who work for big companies that allow them to move into different positions in their company all over the world. Moving abroad to work, even if it’s not the country you see yourself staying in, can be a great choice because it can open doors to work abroad in another country in the future.
Moving abroad (or even just moving house) is a great reason to downsize and get rid of everything you don’t need or want. When I made the move, all I had with me were a small carry on case, a large suitcase and my guitar. That’s all.
Of course over the years I’ve filled out my apartment, but downsizing to move abroad taught me that ‘things’ aren’t that important and I still live by that. If I had to move tomorrow, the only things I would need to bring with me would all fit in one large suitcase.
Of course there are many financial benefits to moving abroad. For example, in Dubai my rent is half of what it would be for a one bedroom apartment back home and the apartment amenities are much better too: pool and gym in each building.
Many countries offer low tax or even tax free earnings (such as the UAE) so it can be really beneficial to move for a few years and save enough for a house deposit back in your home country or just for your future in general.
Learn a new language
Moving abroad can be a great opportunity to learn a new language and even make friends from those countries where English is not the native language.
Saying that, I moved to Dubai over 5 years ago now and still only know the basics of Arabic, but then again Arabic is pretty difficult to learn. Luckily for me, English is widely spoken here so there is no real necessity to learn Arabic (although I would love to be able to speak it someday).
Depending on where you move to, you might be forced into learning the local language if English isn’t the native language – which is a good thing!
Living in a foreign country, as well as travelling in general, gives you the opportunity to try new foods you might never come across back at home.
At home, you get into the routine of having the same food every day (at least I did) but when you live abroad you tend to take as many opportunities as you can to try the local cuisine and order from new places instead of the same every time.
Some of my middle eastern favourites that I had never even heard of, let alone tasted, before I moved abroad are hummus, falafel, halloumi, baklava and shawarma!
Grow in character
Moving abroad is a great way to grow in character and improve your self-confidence
Being away from family and friends can make you grow up faster, taking responsibility for yourself much more than you would have done back home where your family and friends are still around to help out.
It may be difficult to adjust at first but after a while if you take the plunge, moving abroad will pay off when you return with so many new skills!
Experience new cultures
Of course there are the obvious benefits of being in a different country that has their own culture – learning about different traditions both big and small that all come together to create beautiful pieces of history. And experiencing these things for yourself helps too because it makes it real unlike looking at pictures in books.
One thing I love about living in the UAE is learning about other cultures from around the world that I would never come across back home.
For example, I’ve met many friends from India, Egypt, the Philippines and Jordan (amongst others) since moving here and learned so much about their country through them as well as doing some travel there too.
You can’t really experience another culture until you spend time with those who live it every day and moving abroad is such a great opportunity to do just that.
Learn to adapt
Moving abroad is an opportunity to learn how to adapt and be flexible with your surroundings
It’s not always going to be easy because we all have our own preferences and becoming accustomed will take time, but moving abroad is a great chance to improve your overall quality of living and embrace your new home.
Cons / Disadvantages to Living Abroad
It can be lonely
No matter how many new people you’re able to meet, there’s no one like the ones who are closest to you back home. It can be expensive to regularly visit them too so it may not even be an option if they are quite far away.
It also takes time to make friends when you first move to a new country. If you think about it, you found your friends back home over time, not instantly. So the first few months after moving can be quite lonely.
The culture shock
With all the advantages to learning about new cultures, it is also important to keep in mind that you might find it difficult to adapt to your new surroundings.
You may find that the culture back home, although it had its flaws, was what you were used to and changing countries will mean changing cultures too. And if you’ve never lived abroad before this can make for quite an overwhelming situation.
Learning the language
Some languages are easier to pick up than others, and some people are able to learn a new language with more ease than others. Learning the language of the new country you’ve just moved to can prove difficult, especially if they use a different alphabet to what you’re used to!
While I’ve picked up a few words and phrases in Arabic, I still can’t write in the language.
A big negative from moving abroad is losing those closest to you back home – family and friends. You may end up losing touch or even worse, growing apart completely. And you must remember that when you eventually do move home, people have moved on, their lives have changed, it’s not going to exactly the same as it was before you left.
New people will come into your life as you make new connections but this takes time and effort on both parts which means starting from scratch again isn’t always going to be easy. And although you might meet many new people at work or through your hobbies, these won’t replace the old relationships you’ve built over time back home.
It can be difficult to find a job as well as keep up with your regular bills. If you’re not working then the money you saved will only go so far and this is especially difficult if you have expensive travel or health costs that need paying for.
In some countries, if you lose your job it may mean that you can’t stay there on a working visa, so you might have to leave the country.
And finding yourself in financial hardship when so far away from home can lead to you not being able to pay bills, running up debt, and losing everything you have.
You’ll get homesick
There’s no two ways about it, you WILL get home homesick every now and again. When it’s a friend’s birthday that you can’t make, a christening you’re missing out on, thinking about your nieces and nephews growing up so quickly while you’re away.
You’ll think about all your family and friends back home and wonder if they’re missing you too. And of course they are! Which can make the homesickness even more pronounced.
Having to get set up
There’s so much to do before you move abroad and just as much to do when you land in your new country.
You may need to arrange a visa, get a new phone, source an apartment, organise wifi and electric supplies. You’ll have to find a new doctor, dentist, schools for the kids if you have them.
Dealing all the various companies and agents to get yourself set up in a new country can be soul destroying!
People may not visit
While they all have the best intentions and say they’ll visit, the majority of your friends and family won’t come visit. It may be that it’s just too much of an inconvenience for them to book time off work, too costly, maybe they’ve been there before and don’t want to go back.
More often than not, if you want to see your friends and family from back home, you’ll have to be the one to visit. In their eyes, you left so you should come back to visit.
Hard to find friends
While there’s always a community of expats wherever you move to, that doesn’t mean that you have anything more in common with them. You may not have the same interests and hobbies. It can be difficult to find friends who you can relate to so easily when you’re in a completely different country.
Not feeling secure
Being at home, you have the security of knowing that if you lose your job or house for some reason, you have family and friends you can call on who’ll be there in a jiffy to help you out.
When you live abroad, you may not have the same security and you may not be able to get on a plane and fly back home in an instant.
Far away in an emergency
There’s always going to times when you live abroad when you need to get home as soon as possible. In the unfortunate event that someone takes ill, or worse, you can’t always be there in short notice.
Especially during the times we’re in at the moment, you may not even be able to fly home in an emergency and that will always weigh on your mind.
Starting life over by moving abroad is always going to be a challenge. But living abroad has given me a new perspective on the world.
On the other hand, it can be difficult to build up social support systems when you live so far away from home and miss out on some of your favorite traditions during the holiday seasons.
It’s important to weigh these advantages and disadvantages of living abroad before deciding if it’s right for you.
Have you ever considered living abroad? Which country would be top of your list?
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