With all the misconceptions about moving abroad in this world, I think it’s time we set things straight. Although moving abroad can be a lot of fun, it’s also underestimated by many and it’s important to be aware of a few things before you make your decision. Moving to another country involves so much more than just packing your bags and getting on an airplane. It takes a lot of courage and determination, but it can also cause a lot of stress and chaos. These are the most common misconceptions about moving abroad.
1. Moving Abroad is like Traveling
Of all of the misconceptions about moving abroad, I think this is by far the biggest and most common one. Moving abroad is not like traveling at all. It might feel like traveling in the first few weeks, but chances are you’ll be too busy setting yourself up in your new country. When you decide to move abroad, it’s important to look at your new city with different eyes than what you do while traveling. Do you think you’ll be comfortable living there? What do you like about the place and what don’t you like? These questions are really important to answer for yourself. After all, you won’t be there for only two weeks. You’ll be there for quite a while.
2. You Can't do It All by Yourself
Some might be able to do it all by themselves, but if you can’t, it’s really OK to ask for help. There is a lot to do when you move abroad and any help can set you free to do other things from your to-do list. One of the things that I think is really helpful is to get a legal adviser on board to arrange the paperwork, which can save you headaches, especially if you require a visa or work permit. And don’t be shy to ask family or friends to help you with moving your stuff. Also, once you’re in your new country, keep asking people for help if you have any questions rather than trying to answer all your questions yourself. It will save you a lot of time in the end.
3. Once You’re Set up, Life Goes on
Yes and no. Once you’ve set up your home and probably some paperwork, or should I say a lot of paperwork, life goes on. But the truth is, you have to start a whole new life in a new country, where you most likely don’t know everything like you do back home. I found that starting a new life in a new country is in the littlest things, like finding out the procedures of posting a letter and figuring out how health care works. It’s not easy and it can take some time before you have the feeling that you’re just living your normal life. The most important thing is to not give up and to keep doing what you’re doing. You packed your bags for some reason, so you might as well make it work.
4. You Have All the Time in the World
This misconception will live more with your family and friends back home than with you, as they tend to think you’ll be having a holiday. I find that this goes together with the first point I made. Moving abroad is anything but a holiday, but some of your family and friends will think you have all the time in the world and that you’re enjoying life to the fullest without any responsibilities. Oh, they are so wrong… People who move abroad work eight hours per day, just like they did back home. They also pay taxes, do groceries, cook and clean the house. They probably also have ongoing stuff to take care of back home and in the meantime, they’re trying to make new friends while carving out time to stay in touch with family and friends back home. It’s not a holiday and not even comparable with a backpacking trip of a several months.
5. You Will Become Rich
Those who move abroad for work often do so because they will earn more money. But it doesn’t make them instantly rich. In fact, you’ll find that in the first few months you’ll be spending a lot of money. When my husband and I moved to the U.S. from Europe, we had nothing except an empty apartment. We didn’t even have a car to go to the grocery store. In the first few months, we mainly spent our money on furniture and decoration to make it our new home and it’s unbelievable how many things you need to start all over again. Of course there are people who moved abroad and have earned a lot of money, but most of us aren’t flown into a decorated villa with a Porsche in the driveway. It needs hard work, just like it does back home.
6. Everything Will Be Better
That’s what you hope for, but every country has its pros and cons, including the country you move to. Most people who move abroad do hope for a better future and you will find that some things are indeed better than back home. But other things will take time to get used to and there might even be things you’ll never get used to, because you simply don’t understand the logic behind it. The most important thing about moving abroad is to take things as they are and to realize that even though you’re used to doing things in a certain way, you have to adjust to your new country. This also goes for the things you disagree with.
7. Your Problems Are Left behind
Starting a new life abroad doesn’t mean you’ll be able to leave your problems back home. No matter how different things are, you remain yourself and your thoughts, feelings and experiences are with you, wherever you go. Dealing with your problems may even be more difficult in a new country, as there are no family and friends by your side to cheer you up instantly. And since moving abroad can cause some stress and chaos in the first few months, there is a chance that you’re more vulnerable too. You can’t run away from yourself and you’ll have to deal with your problems, just like back home.
There are so many misconceptions about moving abroad and although you need to think about the big picture, a lot of the misconceptions and mistakes are in the smaller things as well. If you decide to move abroad, just remember to give yourself enough time to set up your new life and above all, don’t give up too quickly. With all the effort you have put in it, it’s really worth giving it a good shot. These were just a few misconceptions about moving abroad. What ideas do you have when you think about moving to a new country?