from short trips to traveling the world
& living abroad

from short trips to traveling the world & living abroad

When you first make the decision to live and work abroad and tell your friends and family, their initial reaction might not be a positive one. All types of questions probably pop in their heads such as “how will you be able to afford it?” and “where will you live?”

What many people don’t realize is that living and working abroad actually can be great for both your career and your personal development.

Also Read: Why Moving Abroad is Such a Valuable Experience

But, when making such a huge life-changing decision, there are some things you need to be aware of… There’s so much more to moving abroad than just packing your suitcases and hopping on a plane; it takes courage and proper planning to completely uproot your life.

And to add to the chaos of relocating, you also have to endure the constant back and forth in your own mind about all the things you’ve heard about living and working abroad. I’m sure you’ve heard so many different things that you might not know what to believe or expect anymore.

All that aside, you shouldn’t give up on your plan to move abroad just because you’re nervous and scared to do it. In fact, it’s perfectly normal to have those fears. The Huffington Post states that when you make big decisions such as the decision to live and work abroad, your fears can force you to back out of living a life you’ve always wanted. Don’t let that happen!

Life is about experiences and there’s nothing wrong with wanting new experiences… Even if it takes you to the other side of the world.

To keep your fears of moving abroad at bay, we’re going to look at some of the most common misconceptions about moving abroad. This should give you a better idea of what it’s really like to live and work abroad, versus what you may think it’s like.

4 Misconceptions About Moving Abroad

1. Jobs Are Hard to Come By

Living and working abroad - 4 misconceptions

I found a job in the Maldives – living and working abroad

This is an absolute untruth. Depending on what your background is in, you can be an English teacher, web developer, or an au pair! There are a plethora of jobs you can apply for and there are even jobs you can work as a freelancer. So take a sigh of relief in knowing that with your move, you’ll be able to find a job.

Now, a word of caution, before you move abroad, it’s important that you thoroughly research the position you’re taking on because it has the potential to be a job with responsibilities you didn’t expect… some jobs aren’t what they seem to be, so just make sure to do your research. Also, with that, you want to make sure you give yourself enough time to properly save enough money before moving out there.

A good rule of thumb to have with traveling abroad is to give yourself at least two years so that in case you get in a tight situation where you are strapped for cash, you’ll have money to cover you. You can work a second job, start selling all your belongings, and even start a business that allows you to travel and make money while doing it!

Also Read: How to Find the Perfect Job Abroad and 7 Skills That Will Help You Become a Digital Nomad

2. You Have to Speak the Language

Living and working abroad - misconceptions

If this is the thing that’s keeping you from moving abroad then you can take a sigh of relief. You don’t HAVE to speak the language to happily live abroad.

Now of course I do recommend at least learning the basics of the country’s language because it will help you to connect with the locals more easily. But, if you are bad at learning languages or are moving to a country with a very difficult language, please don’t let that put you off.

I currently live in Valencia (Spain) and even here, in a country with a not too difficult language, I have many expat friends who don’t speak the language and are enjoying living and working abroad.

If you move abroad and need to find a job, you still don’t necessarily need to know the language. It just depends on what type of job you’ll be doing, but many international companies work in English and are also a great place to meet other expats.

Of course your chances of finding a local job might increase once you start learning the language. But once you are living in the country you’ll see that you pick up the language quicker than you might have thought.

I like to use Duolingo as a free app to help me learning an new language. But, if you have the time and money of course classes, especially once you are in the country, are the most effective.

And try to hang out with locals as much as you can. Don’t be shy or nervous about making mistakes. Believe me, they will appreciate you making an effort. Just get out there and immerse yourself in the culture!

3. Moving Abroad is Like Being on Vacation Every Day

live and work abroad - misconceptions

I moved to St Maarten twice, for different jobs – Live and work abroad

A lot of people have it in their mind that just because you’re moving abroad, you’re going to be living like you’re on vacation every day. That of course is not the case at all.

But, it might seem like that initially because you’re in such a different, beautiful location. And I love that initial phase. Everything is new and exciting. Yes, it may be stressful at times when you can’t find the things you need and don’t have any local friends yet. But enjoy this phase where you get to experience everything for the first time! Soon enough you’ll start to get settled in and life becomes normal.

But, if you get to visit the location before you actually move there, I do recommend checking it out with “non-vacation” eyes. What I mean is that you have to look at your location for what it is… Forget about all the beautiful beaches or pretty palm trees for a moment and ask yourself a few questions:

  • What do you like about this destination?
  • What don’t you like about this destination?
  • Will you be able to comfortably live here?
  • Is it financially feasible to live here?

These are all important questions to ask yourself because in the end it’s not a vacation; you will be living and working here. This place is what you will be calling home for an extended period of time. So, just make sure you can actually see yourself living here.

4. Your Problems Will All Disappear

misconceptions about moving and working abroad

Although I didn’t like my job, I loved living in Rome

Now nobody will phrase it this way, but have you heard people saying “I just need a fresh start”? That might mean the same. Yes, I love the fresh start aspect of moving abroad. I actually wrote about it in this article about my experiences moving to San Diego. I love using a move abroad as the perfect moment to make changes and form new, healthy habits.

But, just because you’ll be moving abroad, that doesn’t mean that all your problems will go away. No matter how far you travel, the cliché saying that you are still taking yourself with you is true!

Sure, you might not have those annoying bill collectors calling you anymore but you will still have those debts.

And, by moving to another country, you will most likely acquire a new set of problems. Don’t let it scare you off, but be aware of it. Yes, see your move abroad as a great fresh start, but keep in mind that a fresh start is difficult and it will take you time to settle in, to get used to your life abroad and to make the most of it. And, the thing about problems in a different country is that you won’t have your friends and family nearby to console you during your difficult times. This can sometimes really hurt. But give it time and you will meet new friends and build a great network.

Just remember to look at the big picture. You’re starting a new life in a new country… Things might be difficult at times but if you are prepared for that you will make it through that and will be rewarded with a great experience! Even if at some point you decide to move home again…

Also Read: Reverse Culture Shock: What It Is and What to Do About It

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Living and Working Abroad: What You Thought vs What It's Really Like

Author: Sanne Wesselman
A traveler, wanderer, digital nomad, and entrepreneur. Owner of marketing company A to Z Marketing.
I spend most of my time living and working abroad and use this website to share "the good, the bad and the ugly" of traveling and living abroad. Visit the About Me page for more info.