The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world immeasurably since the beginning of 2020. Repeated lockdowns and separation from friends and family have enforced a sensation of living abroad, even in our own towns, cities, and countries. Thanks to remote working technologies and innovations in business applications, we seem less tied to time and space than ever before. And extended periods of confinement have created spaces for reflection and consideration on the way we live our live.
It’s no wonder that many people are considering a move abroad. Of course, becoming an expat is not a straightforward choice. Our recent blog post reflected on mental health issues that expats typically face. It’s worth a read, but here we want to focus on the most exciting facets of becoming an expat.
Our team at William Russell includes plenty of expats, so we’ve come up with a list of 10 reasons why becoming an expat could be an exciting, rewarding, and invigorating choice.
1. Broaden your horizons
Put simply, life is for living. If you can get out there, into the wide world, and discover new places and cultures, new people and experiences, you’ll find that you enrich your life and changes things for the better. Broadening your horizons means taking yourself outside your comfort zone, meeting people who you’d never otherwise meet, making connections that could completely change your life, and experiencing moments and lifestyles that were previously limited to Instagram or movies. You’ll see new cultures, new ways of life, new styles of cuisine. Frankly, we could stop here. We’re already planning our move…
2. Get busy
If you’re feeling the slow pace of life under lockdown, then you’ll find moving abroad a wonderful challenge. You’ll be super busy, particularly in the first year, and more than you might have expected. Just think: you are relocating to a completely foreign environment. There’ll be new languages to learn, new customs, new etiquettes, new foods to familiarise yourself with. And that’s just the exciting stuff. You’ll have all the usual fun and games with finding a place to live, opening a bank account, and obtaining your residency papers. If you know any expats, you’ll know that these administrative tasks are far from simple!
3. Cheaper than you’d expect
Of course, the cost of living depends on where you live. If you’re living in London or Paris right now, prepare to be amazed by costs in Hong Kong and Singapore! But you may be surprised at just how cheaper you could live your life abroad. Expats often reference the reduced cost of living as a primary factor in moving abroad. Typically, money earned at home goes further abroad, and additional disposable income makes many experiences and adventures more accessible to expats.
4. New kinds of food
If you live in a major city like London, you’ll never be far from a fantastic range of restaurants. Often, this is part and parcel of cosmopolitan, city living. So why not go direct to the source? The sheer adventure of novel cuisine really does make for a fantastic experience. Food, cooking, and eating are so wrapped up in the fibre of our cultures and societies, and they’ll be your gateway into new experiences and understanding your new home. While you may be moving abroad alone, eating out becomes the de facto shared experience of expats, and a great way to meet new people.
5. Better education prospects
Many expats move abroad with their families to give their children better prospects for their learning and development. Countries in North America and Western Europe are rightly famed for their world-leading education systems, and we are accustomed to seeing high proportions of foreign students enrolling in our educational institutions. But it works the other way too. There are some excellent centres of education around the world that offer superb possibilities for your children’s learning and development. Knowing that your children are experiencing a high-quality education is great for your peace of mind. Plus, living abroad introduces the possibility of learning a new language, a skill which cannot but help your children in leading a better life.
6. Work matters
The main reason that people move abroad is employment. Perhaps you’ve been seconded to an overseas branch of your company, or perhaps you’re a remote worker who is no longer tied down to any particular time zone. Or perhaps you’ve just decided to take a chance abroad. Wrapped up in our home countries, it’s easy to forget that life flourishes elsewhere, foreign economies are booming, and opportunity abounds everywhere. If you’re setting up a business or looking for a new position of employment, it’s certainly worth considering where is the best locale, country, even continent for your prospects.
7. Learn a new tongue
While it’s easy to stick to English, the default global language, we think that one of the most exciting reasons to move abroad is immersing yourself in a new language. This will cause a few problems initially, of course, but you’ll find yourself naturally picking up the basics. With the help of a handy app such as Duolingo, you’ll find yourself enjoying learning your new language. English would probably suffice for your experience, but learning some Cantonese, Arabic or Spanish will give you a much wider range of access to people, cultures, and new experiences.
When you move abroad, you’ll find yourself sucked into an administrative machine. You’ll certainly have your work cut out, what with sorting out visas, banking, and paperwork. But this is a perfect opportunity to let go of the stress and let your new environs take over. Becoming an expat can relax you, as you realise that you can’t control everything. Just let your new way of living take over, and focus only on what you can control. It’s actually rather liberating!
9. Build your confidence
Strangely, you may find yourself becoming more confident as an expat. When you move abroad, you’re making a huge achievement: you’ve moved away from friends and family, you’ve temporarily cut ties with your home country, you’re moving into new accommodation and taking a new job. Ordinarily these are significant changes, but taken together and combined under the context of moving abroad, they take on massive proportions! The achievement of moving abroad will make you feel like you can take on anything. It’s an exciting time, and you’ll feel stronger and more independent for it.
10. Lose your attachment to things
Whether you travel light or heavy, you will be forced to cull some of your belongings when you move, or at least leave them behind. This is liberating in itself, and is one of the key reasons why so many people change for the better when they move. You will lose your attachment to material things, and become more aware of people and what they can offer you.