So, you’re thinking about moving abroad.
But you’re just not sure yet whether it’s the right decision.
For one reason or another, you’re being held back by a variety of factors. If you’ve stumbled upon this article, chances are you want to hear another person’s perspective on what it’s like to live abroad, especially when facing doubts.
Let’s first start with reminding you of this: What you’re feeling is 100% normal.
Any major life decision, no matter what it is, will come with a certain level of doubt or question. This is not only normal, but it’s also a good thing that you are carefully considering your choices. After all, you’re right to have many questions- moving abroad is a huge change! And although it is an incredibly exciting change, it can at first feel rather scary or intimidating.
The feeling of doubt is normal. What you don’t want is to let that doubt evolve into consuming fear holding you back. Sometimes, we are our own worst enemy. And the truth is, you won’t really know what it’s like to live abroad until you’ve done it. But this doesn’t have to be scary… it can also be super, super exciting. If you have the means to move abroad, it might just end up being one of the best decisions of your life. You never know unless you try though, right?
The best thing you can do is to consider all variables. So, to do so, let’s go through some of the ‘doubts’ you might have, with suggestions on how to overcome them.
Feeling homesick is a totally natural part of moving abroad- and you’re right to be thinking about it. It is something you’ll have to deal with if you’re someone who is close to your family and friends. But there are ways to make it work.
Know how to book plane tickets well in advance- you can score really good deals if you can organize your trips ahead of time. And knowing that you have trips planned in the future not only gives you something to look forward to, but it can give you a sense of comfort knowing when you’ll be seeing your loved ones next.
Facetime! We’re lucky enough to live in a world where we can connect with people virtually. You can talk as long as you want on Facetime- and now there are even cool things like Netflix watching parties, etc.
You’ll make friends. And you’ll create your own sense of home, which in the end, will feel really rewarding.
Culture shock is something you might face when you move to a new country. But it doesn’t have to be a bad thing. A lot of people view this adjustment as scary. They fear failure, a loss of control, or feeling like an outsider.
But you can also embrace a different mentality- experiencing new, foreign things is also fun, exciting, and creates an adrenaline rush. You're broadening your mind and expanding your worldly experience. You’re exploring new places, trying new food, meeting new kinds of people.
No one expects you to be perfect.
One of the most common fears people have when moving abroad is the fear of being judged as a foreigner. The truth is, you’ll find that most locals wherever you go will actually be quite kind and helpful if you allow them, so don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.
Also remember that you’re not the only foreigner- there are expats from all around the world. It can be comforting to realize that you’re not the only one in your shoes! There are plenty of opportunities to make new friends abroad, who can relate to the experience of moving abroad.
Are you afraid because you don’t speak the language of the country you’re considering? Or maybe you can speak the language, but you’re not very confident in your proficiency?
Language is one of the biggest setbacks for people considering moving abroad. And it’s understandable why! Imagining yourself trying to navigate a country where you don’t always understand what everyone is saying, sounds intimidating.
But what most people don’t realize is that this is actually not as big of a roadblock as you might think it is. Firstly, if you are considering any major city, these are going to be very multinational, which means that there is going to be more than one prominent language existing. There are going to be a lot of expats, who also do not speak the language. So, you will not be the only one, and you will meet plenty of other expats who can communicate with you in your language! There will also be many locals who speak more than one language.
Moving to a country where you don’t know the language can actually be a great thing. It forces you to learn a new language in the best way- by being completely immersed in it! You’ll find yourself learning new words and phrases much faster than you would in a typical classroom setting, seeing as you have the opportunity to actually practice it in real life settings every day.
If you want to feel more prepared ahead of your move, a great thing to do is to learn some key phrases and words to help get you by. You can use platforms such as Duolingo or Babbel to teach yourself some basics. Having these basics under your belt will already make a massive difference in your ability to fulfill basic daily tasks such as buying groceries, introducing yourself to someone, or ordering your morning coffee.
Having the funds to move abroad is of course a valid concern. Before you move, it’s a good idea to organize your finances and decide whether or not you can afford the country you’re considering moving to. It’s common for people to imagine moving abroad to be very expensive- which, in some cases, it might be. But for the most part, moving abroad doesn’t actually have to be that expensive.
Just like you would in your home country, you can always find ways to live an affordable lifestyle abroad. Your lifestyle is really what it comes down to. If you want to save money, you can look into affordable housing options (perhaps outside of city centers, for example), discounted annual transportation tickets, and affordable supermarkets. If moving abroad is what you really want, money doesn’t have to be what holds you back- there is most often a way to make it all work as long as you do your research.
Saving up funds ahead of time can be a great idea, as well. If you know you’re moving abroad, create a savings account and you’ll feel much more prepared!
You might be wondering: Where will I live? Finding an apartment abroad is daunting. And truthfully, the process of looking for accommodation is not always a fun one! But, when you do find that perfect apartment, all of that stress very quickly transforms into excitement.
There are a few options for finding housing abroad. First of all, the best thing you can do is to start searching as early as you can. Depending on the city, it may take some time to find a place, so the sooner you start looking, the better.
Try asking around your community. Chances are, someone you know, or someone they know, might know of a place you can either rent or stay at. You’d be surprised at how often this works out for people! Even if you don’t think you know anyone who could help, it doesn’t hurt to make a simple post on social media- you never know, people may have connections you didn’t know about.
Look on Facebook. Sometimes Facebook can be a great place to find housing. If you’re considering moving to Paris, for example, you can search for ‘Paris housing’ and you’ll find tons of groups dedicated to people who are looking for accommodation and landlords who are looking for tenants. There are groups like these for every city, so have a look! But be careful- there are scammers out there. Never send money online, and don’t give out any super personal information.
Check out the local housing websites. Probably the most effective method is to do some research on which websites are the most popular for finding housing for your destination. Usually there are a few choices, and you can keep checking these every day for new listings.
Getting a work visa
Getting a work visa is something that can cause a lot of stress. Most people don’t even know where to start, especially if you have never moved to another country before. While each country’s visa application process is different, with any destination you should start by visiting the government visa page. For example, the France visa page is France-visas.gouv.fr
Once you’ve located the visa page, through a simple Google search, it should break down for you exactly what steps you’ll need to take. The #1 rule to follow is to apply as early as you can! You never know how long a visa will take to process. As long as you apply early enough, you’ll be fine. Once you understand the visa process, it’s really not as bad as it seems. And you’ll feel so excited after submitting your application!
Making the Wrong Decision
This is what it all boils down to.
People are afraid that they are making the wrong decision. They are afraid that they will make this big move, leave all their family and friends behind, and then regret their choice once they discover that living abroad wasn’t what they expected.
To be completely honest, there is never going to be any guarantee that you will love living abroad. But if there is something to be known, it’s that you’ll never find out if you don’t take the leap. For some, the feeling of the unknown is unsettling. But for others, this feeling is actually quite exciting. The only way to know is to take a chance and discover this for yourself.
No matter what happens, nothing ever has to be permanent. If you’re someone who is interested in moving abroad, you can always move around until you find the place that feels like home to you. If going on such a journey alone feels overwhelming, maybe talk with some of your closest friends, bring up the idea of moving, and see what they think! Maybe they, too, will be interested in starting a new adventure, and you could even think about getting housing together.
If any of these above factors are stopping you from taking that leap to move abroad, just remember all of the points made in this article show that any and all of these obstacles can be easily overcome. If moving abroad is what you want, you can make it happen, so don’t let that feeling of doubt hold you back.
For all who are considering living abroad or who are searching to work abroad, Next Station is here to answer questions and help guide you in the right direction. Simply reach out and a member of our team will get back to you.