The Pros & Cons of Moving to a New Country

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How to move to another country

It’s official. You’ve finally summoned up the courage to pack your bags, submitted your two weeks notice, and broke the news to your friends and family that you’re peacing out and moving to a foreign country. But, before you officially step onto that plane, there are a few important things you should consider before moving abroad.

Below is a list of the most important pros and cons of moving to a new country that you should definitely review before even considering a move abroad:

living abroad for a year in Barcelona, spain cityscape
Moving abroad to Barcelona, Spain will give you an endless city and culture to explore.

The Pros of Moving to Another Country

Although you may have already generated a list of general “pros” in your head, here’s a list that will sum up all of the benefits of moving abroad:

1. Travel Opportunities

The concept of “travel” could range from merely exploring your own neighborhood to venturing beyond and embarking on an adventure to a neighboring country.

One of the greatest perks of moving to a foreign country is the abundance of new cities and areas just waiting to be explored (in fact, here are 5 jobs that will PAY you to travel!). Depending on where you move abroad, the ability to travel around – and outside – of that country may vary from a short train ride to a couple hours airtime. Even for less exotic local exploration, there will always be that one Mom and Pop shop you haven’t been into yet or that hole-in-the-wall restaurant that you’ve been just dying to try.

No matter what, you’ll never find yourself in that monotonous routine— which may have been the deciding factor in your choice to move abroad in the first place. It’s time to get off the hamster wheel and open yourself up to all of the new opportunities and experiences that come hand-in-hand with travel.

Already Sold? Start Your Search Now: Volunteer | Intern | Work Abroad

Rome, Italy through hedges
Get to know la dolce vita living in Italy for a year.

2. Expansion of Knowledge

With travel comes the power of knowledge and learning. You can constantly learn about different cultures, languages, and histories as you travel to new cities and countries.

Wherever you decide to travel and move to, the amount of knowledge and real-world experience you’ll gain is priceless. Museums, books, classes, tours, etc., all become your teachers, but knowledge is also gained through merely taking a walk to the nearest grocery store and engaging in meaningful conversation with a local. These types of experiences are something that can’t be learned by reading a book, or even by searching online.

One of the greatest ways to learn is “by doing.” After moving abroad, you may encounter individuals and situations that you’re not used to, or have never experienced, but each will enable you to intellectually grow and mature in intangible ways.

[Keep Reading: 7 Jobs Abroad That Will Kick You Career Into Gear]

3. Personal Growth

When you move to a new country, you’ll be thrown into brand new situations and settings that may seem intimidating and scary at first, but are always the best ways to grow as an individual.

It’s a given that you’ll experience immense personal growth both emotionally – and physically – while living abroad (can’t deny that all the new cultural cuisines you’ll be eating won’t add a little extra somethin’!). The emotional growth you’ll experience is something that you may have been lacking in your current living situation; if you think about it, you’ve probably experienced and explored everything there is to do and you’ve met almost everyone around. Where’s the fun in that?

moving abroad to japan, arch over waterfront
Japan is just waiting for you to move abroad and explore all the wonders of this country and culture.

4. New Relationships

Anyone moving to a foreign country will expand their social circle, friendships, and relationships tremendously. You never know who you’ll meet abroad.

You will be new to the city and neighborhood, surrounded by a sea of new faces, and have no idea how to navigate around. Of course introducing yourself – a new, friendly face – and striking up conversation with strangers is one of the easiest strategies for quickly adjusting to your newfound home. As time goes on, you’ll eventually find yourself developing friendships and relationships that’ll make it hard to believe you were living all those years before without that specific person or group of people.

Moving abroad also means you’ll be expanding your career network. In addition to creating personal friendships, you’ll also make professional connections in your workplace, internship, or volunteer organization. These coveted international connections will be that key to future career success!

[First time working abroad? Download our FREE eBook for even more tips & tales from workers abroad]

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

The Cons of Moving to a New Country

With every decision, comes a potential downside — especially a decision as life-changing as moving to a new country. Hopefully, this list of pros and cons of moving abroad will help you equally assess both sides before making a final decision.

1. Culture Shock

Culture shock may be triggered by anything, but the usual culprits are the differences in living situations, food, transportation, and social mannerisms.

When you first arrive in the new country, the culture shock you experience may cause great waves of homesickness and a lot of thoughts like: “What I wouldn’t give for my Wednesday night Chipotle and Game of Thrones ritual.” Initially, you’ll feel really overwhelmed and frustrated – the good news is that this culture shock is only temporary. Try your best to adjust by keeping an open mind and heart when you find yourself in situations that seem “bizarre” to you.

The best way to adjust to the shock as quickly as possible is to physically go out and immerse yourself in the culture as much as possible; even if this means trying new foods like chicken feet! The more you expose yourself, the more you’ll start to gather routine and familiarity. Don’t just hide out and hermit in your apartment! If you’re going to be living in a foreign country, you gotta, well, LIVE.

[Keep Reading: The Secrets to Coping with Culture Shock]

moving abroad to London, England views from tower bridge
Moving abroad to London opens up the whole Continent for further exploration.

2. Language Barrier

Branching from culture shock are language barriers — Parlez-vous Francais? ¿Hablas español?  你会说中文吗? The best way to break down this barrier is to simply learn the native language.

If you’re moving to a new country that has a native language different than your mother tongue, you’re bound to experience communication barriers. So, you should consider taking language classes before, and especially after, moving to a foreign country. Although learning a language may not be as easy as it was when you were eight-years-old, it’s not impossible. With determination and practice, you’ll be fluently communicating with locals in no time.

For those stubborn enough to not learn the language formally, you can still get by without ripping your hair out. We recommend a combination of charades, speaking slowly, smiling, and patience.

[Find Language Courses in Your Destination of Choice]

3. Finances

It’s essential to save up for your move abroad months in advance and brace yourself to adjust to a different type of currency – we recommend mastering those exchange rates ASAP.

Balancing a budget is already hard enough, but balancing your finances and expenses before and after moving to a foreign country is the ultimate challenge, especially when you first arrive. We understand the excitement and thrill that greets you after stepping off the plane may cause you to impulse-buy everything you can get your hands on, but really, how many mini keychains that say “Italia” do you really need?

While you’re living in a foreign country, it may take you a few weeks, or even months, to land a job and steady income, so make sure to have a couple of months worth of money stored up in your reserves. Or, you could always find a job abroad BEFORE you make the big move.

Sydney Opera House against a blue sky, Sydney, Australia
If culture shock is holding you back from making the move abroad, a Western country like Australia might be that happy medium.

4. “New kid” Syndrome

When moving to a new country, you may feel as if you’re the “new kid” all over again for the first week or two upon arriving to your new home. This is completely normal.

Think back to a time when you hesitantly walked into a classroom full of unfamiliar faces — a teacher you’ve never seen before may be writing “Algebra” (basically a foreign language) on the board and a group of kids may be throwing around inside jokes and slang that you don’t recognize. This is a situation that we have all been through before, but it remains intimidating and overwhelming at the same time.

No one will open the door to their new home abroad and be instantly greeted by lifelong friends and family. The best way to overcome this feeling is to take a deep breath and focus on why you decided to move abroad in the first place. Oh, and patience.

Decision Time: Are You Ready to Move Abroad?

Moving to a new country isn’t exactly the same as moving down the street. This type of change requires prior planning and a ton of research. Picking up your life and moving abroad can expose you to experiences and opportunities that would never have been achievable if you stayed put. Although this type of change will be the adventure of a lifetime, you should conduct in-depth research about how to move abroad, the country, and city you want to settle down in.


Here are our top picks to get you abroad ASAP:

Before you 100 percent decide where to move abroad, you should consider ALL the volunteerinternship, and job opportunities that are available — it’s always great to expand your horizons! But, once you're read, go for it! Dive into new waters and move abroad, and explore new cultures, languages, and lifestyles while you're at it. 

Find Thousands of Opportunities to Move Abroad on GoAbroad Now

Topic:  Before You Go