Pros and Cons of Living Abroad 2024 from an Expert Expat

by | Last updated Mar 4, 2024 | Live Work Play Travel, Work Abroad Backpacker Jobs, Work Online + remote & nomad Life

I have travelled the world all my life thanks to my dad who worked for an airline. But it was when I was in my 20s that I left Australia and first moved abroad on my own. I had had a bad day at work, resigned, and one month later found myself standing at Heathrow Airport about to start a UK working holiday wondering what to do next as I hadn’t weighed up the pros and cons of living abroad.  

What ultimately started as a scary experience become one of the best experiences of my life. I soon had a job, a place to live and met new people. And found that moving abroad and living as an Australian expat abroad wasn’t as scary as first thought. 

If you are thinking of heading overseas to live and work abroad in another country, I would say ‘just do it’. But I know, being an expat overseas isn’t for everyone. So before you make the leap, check the pros and cons of living abroad following so you can make an informed decision of moving to live in a foreign country.

 

Pros and Cons of Living Abroad – at a glance

 

Pros of Living Abroad

 

  • Adapt to a new life
  • Experience a new culture
  • Learn new languages
  • Try different foods
  • Meet new people & make life long friends
  • Get work doing something you’ve never done before
  • Travel opportunities
  • Make unforgettable memories
  • Personal growth
  • Gain skills for the future
  • Get new travel opportunities
  • Start afresh
  • Discover Your Passions
  • Freedom

Cons of Living Abroad

 

  • A lot of paperwork + Expensive
  • Packing up and moving sucks
  • Culture Shock
  • Language Barriers
  • Expensive
  • Homesickness
  • Loneliness
  • Finding work can be hard
  • Tax implications
  • Where will you live
  • Adapting to new rules and a new life

 

Pros of Living Abroad

 

Learn to Adapt

 

One of the biggest pros of living abroad, and why I have put it first is learning how to adapt. At home you know what to expect from life, you may be in a rut and feel complacent, but when you move abroad to live and work in a different country, there is so much to learn and adapt to. There is a different language, culture, food, types of work and different style of accommodation – and you need to adapt to them. Adapting to your surroundings and making do with what you have is one big life skill you learn when you move abroad.

 

Experience a New Culture

 

One of the biggest advantages of moving abroad to live in another country is that you get to immerse yourself in a new culture. You get to learn more about one culture and develop a greater understanding of how the people of your new country live. You develop a different perspective while living abroad which is wonderful for expanding your views. It can make you more open minded to how people do different things, eat different things, talk differently and have different customs to yourself. And this is a big part of moving abroad to live in another country.

 

Learn a New Language

 

I grew up in Australia where we all spoke English, but as Australia becomes more multicultural, more languages are being spoken. So in schools, you can learn different languages. When you go into high school, you are given a taste of a number of languages and then you can choose one to progress with throughout your schooling – if you so wish. I decided I would learn French, and this stood me in good stead as I visited France and was able to say hello, order food and pay for it without much trouble.

When I moved to the UK to live and work, I found myself visiting many European countries from my London base. I discovered that it is good to know a little of the language of the country I am visiting as it helps with immersion. Locals are more likely to spend time chatting to you if you have tried to speak to them in their own language. I found it much easier to learn a language when you’re abroad speaking it. It is definitely an advantage to learning the language of the country you have chosen to live in. It just helps you to settle into your new life living abroad if you make the effort.

 

Try Different Foods

 

Seafood Paella is a Spanish rice dish loved by expats living and working in Spain.

One of the best pros of moving and living abroad is trying new foods – I just love the Paella I discovered in Spain

 

I think this is my favourite thing about living abroad – trying new and different foods. When I lived in the UK, I made it my mission to eat all of the local British food. Afternoon tea at the Ritz anyone! And when I went to Europe I tried all the local foods too. Snitzel in Austria, chips with mayo in Belgium, Bouillabaisse and pastries in France, pasta in Italy – shall I go on? Discovering the food of your adopted country is one of the best things about living abroad. And don’t go out to eat it all the time, why not take a local cooking class like I did.

 

Meet New People & Make Lifelong Friends

 

When I moved abroad I was hoping and expecting to meet lots of new people, but one of the things I least expected was to make lifelong friends. And one of those friends has become a life partner.

When you live abroad you will meet lots of different people. There will be work colleagues, house mates, travel partners and those you meet when totally not expecting it! Some will be short-term friends while others will become lifelong friends and partners. Some of the people that I met living abroad have become some of my closest friends. We don’t all live in the same city or country, but we keep in contact. Thank goodness for phones, email and social media making it easier to keep in touch.

 

Get Work Doing Something You’ve Never Done Before

 

If you aren’t being transferred overseas for work or moving from country to country as a digital nomad working remotely online, then you will most likely pick up work. Moving abroad can be one of the best ways to expand your opportunities that will look good on your CV.

When I moved abroad to live and work in the UK, I registered with a recruitment agency to do administration work. In no time I was being sent to different companies on a temporary basis. I mostly did PA (Personal Assistant) work, typing and data entry as I have a typing speed of around 80wpm. Then I thought I’d try something new and got a live-in job in a pub just outside of London where I worked for a summer. And then I took a live-in job as a nanny which took care of a job and a place to live all in the one hit! The skills I developed from doing these jobs has helped me to never be out of employment. This has definitely outweighed any cons of moving abroad for me.

Me working in London office on UK working holiday while living abroad.

me working abroad in a London office 

 

Travel Opportunities

 

One of the best things of living abroad is the travel opportunities. Sure you may be studying or working but there will always be time to travel. When I worked in London, I had a weekend here, then a weekend there and then a few holidays here and there. I loved it being in a different city almost every weekend – discovering a new culture, meeting new people and enjoying the food!

 

Make Unforgettable Memories

 

Moving abroad leads to some of the best memories you’ll ever have. Even on a day to day basis while living in a foreign country you will make unforgettable memories. It is the little things that you often remember the most. How you conquered ordering food, navigated the tube in London in peak hour on your way to work or conquered customs of covering your head when entering mosques. There is something that you will remember from every day when living abroad in a foreign country.

 

Personal Growth

 

Personal growth is a huge pro of living abroad. Taking yourself out of your comfort zone and putting yourself in a new environment sees you grow as a person. You will constantly be facing challenges. Challenges you will confront and figure out and all these challenges can make you more independent and confident.

As a solo traveller who has moved abroad to live work and play somewhere in the world alone you only have yourself to rely on. When facing life abroad alone you have two choices. To grow as a person as you meet challenges or go home with your tail between your legs because it was ‘too hard’. Personal growth is good and will help you in the future. I credit moving abroad as being one of the best things I have ever done and the personal growth I acquired is still with me today.

 

Gain Skills for the Future

 

Moving abroad to live and work will help you to develop and gain skills for the future. You will try new things such as work, providing you with skills. You will meet new people helping you to develop social skills. These can help you in the future to navigate life.

 

Get New Travel Opportunities

 

Hiker Hiking In The Mountains With Their Day Pack Filled With Hiking Gear.

I was introduced to hiking when I moved abroad

 

Having grown up at a beach, I was use to spending all my time in coastal areas enjoying the water. It wasn’t until I moved abroad that I was introduced to other types of activities during my travels. As well as visiting many places by different types of transport I discovered many activities – hiking for one. Moving abroad to another country allows you to have many travel experiences.

 

Start Afresh

 

There’s something to be said for starting afresh by moving abroad. You may have had a relationship breakdown, been sacked from you job, having a mid-life crisis – whatever is happening in your life, you can ‘run away’ to start afresh in another country. I have found travel and discovering new cultures abroad is a great way to help get over the past and move on – very liberating!

 

Discover Your Passions

 

I wouldn’t have become a travel writer / blogger full time without living abroad. You may have read in the ‘about me’ section on my website that I fell into travel writing. It was after a visit to Gallipoli, Turkey for ANZAC Day that a magazine in London was calling for travel articles. So I wrote about my trip to Turkey, it was published, and I was paid 25 pounds. I was hooked and so began my passion for travel writing and now travel blogging.

Living abroad also ignited passions for spicy flavoured foods and history – yeah I’ve become a history freak and love visiting old buildings that have lots of stories to tell! And you can find your passions to.

 

Freedom

 

Last on my list of pros to moving abroad is freedom. Freedom from the shackles of home and the freedom to do what you want, when you want. And the freedom to be yourself without judgement.

 

Cons of Living Abroad

 

As with everything in life, and moving abroad is no exception, there are disadvantages.

 

Lots of Paperwork

 

Travel documents of travel insurance application, passport, money and credit cards.

Yep, before you can start your life abroad there is plenty of paperwork. You need a passport, visa/s, transport bought, accommodation booked and travel insurance and travel gear to purchase. All this can be time consuming and laborious. It could take months to get these things sorted! And there is a cost involved. It costs to get a passport, a visa and to buy transport and accommodation plus the travel gear you will take. This can add up and cost a lot.

And when you get there, there is more paperwork. You need to register your existence, open a bank account, apply for a tax number if you are going to work and find a place to live. The bureaucracy of moving abroad is one disadvantage. And each time you move to a new country, you will have to go through it again – talk about groundhog day!

 

Packing up Sucks

 

Packing up is definitely a con of moving abroad. The worst part I find is making the decisions as to what to take and what to leave behind. It is also extremely time consuming and can be expensive.

 

Culture Shock

 

Culture shock can be a big issue when you move abroad. Nothing can prepare you for the actual experience where nothing is the same as what you are use to. Culture shock is definitely a major con of living abroad. Even moving to a country that speaks the same language as you do, things will be done differently. Culture shock is a learning curve that throws a curve ball at even the most experienced of expats.

 

Language Barriers

 

Different languages can be a challenge when you move abroad. It is particularly a challenge if you move to a country that doesn’t speak your native tongue. You can have trouble settling in because you don’t understand what is being said to you. Finding a place to live and getting a job may prove difficult. This is why it is good to know some of the language of the country you are moving abroad to.

 

Moving is Expensive

 

Moving anywhere can be expensive, but add moving abroad costs – passport, visa fees, transport costs, medical tests and short-term accommodation while you find a longer term place to live.

Choosing to move abroad isn’t always cheap which is why this is a big consideration for some and often seen as a con to moving abroad. But if you want a new lifestyle living overseas and plan to get a job or continue working online as a digital nomad this cost is just part of the moving abroad process. I have moved to a number of countries and have never looked at the costs involved as a negative. I see them as just part of moving abroad. On saying that, it is a decision you need to make.

 

Homesickness

 

girl looking out of the window homesick.

homesickness is natural

 

One of the biggest cons of living abroad is dealing with homesickness and even the most hardy of traveller at some times, feels homesick. The biggest times I felt homesick was at Christmas time, when it was birthdays and when my first nephew was born. I felt really bad for not being home for these special occasions. But you cannot not live your dreams of moving and living abroad for one or two days of a year! And if it gets to you too much – just go home.

 

Loneliness

 

Loneliness seems to be a real fear of many people. And yes, it is lonely moving abroad by yourself – but you can be by yourself and not be lonely. There were times when I lived abroad I felt loneliness. Other travellers I had met moved on and I had to start meeting other people again. When I felt lonely, I didn’t sit at home thinking to myself ‘I am so lonely’, I took myself out and did things. I wondered through museums, went to the zoo, went on a walking tour, took a cooking lesson – so I worked on not being lonely.

 

Find Work can be Hard

 

One of the hardest things about moving abroad is giving up the security of your job. There is the worry you will not find work abroad. And yes, it can be hard finding work as the work you can do is often defined by the visa you are on. If it is a working holiday visa, you may only be allowed to do typical ‘backpacker jobs’. If you are being sponsored, the work permit will only cover the job you are being sponsored to do. While if moving abroad on a digital nomad visa, you will have to continue working online generating income. Hopefully, you will have enough savings to support yourself until you find work. This is why I like finding a ‘live in job’ like being a nanny, working in a British pub or working in a caravan park as you not only get a job, but accommodation too!

 

Tax Implications

 

On the topic of work, when you work in another country there can be tax implications. You will need to find out whether you have to pay tax in the country you are working. Also whether you have to advise the tax office in your home country if you are receiving money in a different country. All this can be a big challenge and definitely a con when you move abroad. I recommend getting a tax accountant who understands the tax implications for people who work abroad.

 

Where Will You Live

 

Having nowhere to live when you arrive in a new country can be quite traumatic and definitely is a con of moving abroad. However, there are plenty of places to live from short-term accommodation in hostels and hotels to longer-term accommodation in AirB&Bs to house sitting. It can just take time to find something suitable to suit your needs and that is within your budget.

 

Adapting to new rules and a new life

 

Last on my list of pros and cons of moving abroad is the final disadvantage of adapting to new rules and a new life. Every country has rules and regulations you will need to adapt to. Expats are often unsure of what to expect from their new country, soo it is a good idea to read up on the country you are moving to beforehand so you don’t do too many faux pars. My best advice is to embrace your new life abroad, learn everything you can, speak to the locals, learn to laugh at your mistakes and be respectful while you learn the new rules in your new life abroad.

Should You Move Abroad?

 

In my opinion, yes. I believe everyone should live abroad at least once in their lifetime. The advantages far outweigh the disadvantages of moving abroad. Moving abroad was one of the best things I ever did and has helped me become the person I am today. Have you moved abroad? I’d love to hear.

 

Airplane taking off for pros and cons of moving abroad.

Thanks for sharing!

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My favourite tools to Travel Live and Work Abroad

 

🏠 Where Will You Be Sleeping Tonight? – Get a bed in a hostel dorm through HostelWorld or for a hotel room check out Booking.com. Get free accommodation house and pet sitting through Trusted Housesitters – this has saved me thousands on accommodation, no joke!

✈️ Need a cheap and flexible airfare – head to Skyscanner.

 🚙 Car Rental – search and compare vehicles at DiscoverCars.

 🚆 Train Travel: I love riding the rails. For a rail pass in Europe head to Raileurope. And Japan has a great one too – JapanRail Pass.

🚌 Travelling by bus is often the cheapest way to travel. Compare and get a ticket or a pass at Busbud.

🏃🏻‍♀️ Jump-the-queue entrance tickets and day tours: I book these through GetYourGuide.

 🌏 How to pick a country to live and work abroad in? Check out my Working Holiday Visa Country Guides and Digital Nomad Visa Country Guides to see where you can live work play travel abroad.

 🚑 Should you buy travel insurance? Absolutely Yes! SafetyWing is great digital nomads and long-term travellers and World Normads has policies for general and adventure travel.

 

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Sharyn McCullum Travel Writer and Founder Of Live Work Play Travel, Work Abroad, Work Online, Travel Blog Enjoying At Beer At The Coldstream Brewery In The Yarra Valley, Victoria, Australia.

Sharyn McCullum – Travel Writer / Blogger, Remote On-line Worker, sometime Digital Nomad and Travel, Live and Work Abroad Expert. Is a chocoholic, coffee connoisseur and lover of ’80s music. Been travelling all her life thanks to her dad who worked for an airline. Lived in London 4 years on a working holiday. Has holidayed in Hawaii over 15 times and currently calls Melbourne, Australia home. Is inspiring others to live work play travel around the world with this blog. Read more about Sharyn here.

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