Why Not Go Abroad? Worries and Doubts About Relocation Answered

Why Not Go Abroad? Worries and Doubts About Relocation Answered

Taking the step to live or work abroad is a big decision - we can vouch for that. It requires careful consideration, analysis of pros and cons, consultation with family and friends, and thorough research. It is definitely not something we make up our mind about overnight - but what if there are some questions pestering us, keeping us from making the final decision forever?

Here at Europe Language Jobs, literally everyone comes from a different place in the world. Barely any of us were actually born in the whereabouts of Barcelona, where we all work. And as many people in this office, as many questions that we had asked ourselves before getting on that plane to Spain. The main one, of course, being: “Why not go abroad?”. We are well aware that we are not the only ones who have battled with these thoughts at some point, and since our mission is to help all the fellow expats, we are here to bring you answers. 

Below you can find a compilation of scenarios that we would lose sleep over back when we were in your shoes - the shoes of a future expat on the brink of taking that life-altering step. All the advice is first-hand, brought to you by people who know what they’re talking about and understand exactly how you feel.

 

1. "It's too difficult"

2. "It's too expensive"

3. "What if I don't like it?"

4. "My friends and family will be upset"

5. "I'm not brave/adventurous/independent enough"

6. "I don't know where to start"

7. "I don't know anyone or anything out there"

 

“It’s too difficult”

No, we’re not going to sugarcoat it and say it’s easy-peasy. There are many aspects of changing countries that are tough. However, what we can tell you is that while not easy, it is probably also not as complicated as one might expect. Our office consists in 98% of expats who at one point or another had lived in another county. And I bet that if you ask any of them, they will tell you that before their first move abroad, they had been expecting much more difficulties than they eventually encountered. 

Of course, the level of difficulty might differ from one country to another, and also depending on where you are originally from. Citizens of South American countries will find it harder to move to Germany than someone born in Portugal. Various countries also require a different amount of paperwork in order to legally stay and work there, so it is important to research this first before you decide on your destination. So yes, it will cost you more time and energy to find a job in a different country than if you were to stay where you are, but it is far from being impossible to manage. 


 

“It’s too expensive”

Let’s start by saying that we won’t be encouraging you to leave your country and build a new life somewhere else with absolutely no savings. That is one way to live your life, of course, but we do realise that not everyone is equipped with the nerves to survive this while maintaining their mental health. So if you are more of a planner, then we do recommend having some savings before taking the big leap across the border.

But.

Again, it all comes down to research. Estimate the costs of moving to your desired destination. There are many handy tools out there to compare the monthly expenses in various cities.

You might be surprised at how low the cost of living is in some countries. Hungary or Portugal are known for their low prices compared to countries such as Germany or the UK. Yes, it comes with lower salaries, but if you have been living in a high-cost country before and are planning a move somewhere cheaper, the extra money you have collected in your bank account up until now will definitely help. 

And if it’s the opposite way - you’re jumping into the deep waters of a high-cost country where suddenly bread isn’t 1 EUR anymore - you will be welcomed with a proportional salary. There are employers that offer support in the form of a financial bonus with the first paycheck or a company-issued flat for the first few months to help you settle on your feet. On our job board, you can look for them marked as “Relocation Package Included”.


 

“What if I don’t like it?”

And what if you will? If you are reading this post, it means that you are considering moving abroad. And you wouldn’t be considering moving abroad if you were truly, completely, 100% satisfied with where you are right now. So, if there is even a teeny, tiny bit of you that is wondering if the grass is greener somewhere else, there is a big chance that you will be happier there than you are right now. 

The one thing people fixate on when thinking about relocating is that they only have one shot at this. Don’t go down this path. If your mind is already open enough to think about starting a life somewhere else, open it a bit more to understand that nothing in life is now-or-never. If you go somewhere, spend a few months there, and realise after over a year that regardless of the time that has passed, you don’t feel any more comfortable here than you did on your first day - then this is your sign that something is wrong. 

Of course, after going through all the trouble of moving your life abroad, finding a job, and solving all the legal issues, it would simply pain you to think that it had all been for nothing. Or, even worse, that you will soon have to go through this again somewhere else. But in the end, it all comes down to one question: what would bother you more? Going back home or building a life from scratch again in another country, or waiting forever to be happy in a place that is definitely not your destiny? 

Top Tip from the ELJ Team: Focus on the things that can go well, rather than those that could potentially go wrong. 


 

“My friends and family will be upset”

The cases of moving abroad are different: sometimes you go on your own, sometimes you take your loved ones with you. Either way, there is always someone that you leave behind and whom you will miss terribly. Expat guilt is a common phenomenon that may be hard to cope with at first. Oftentimes, you will realise you are worrying more about your loved ones back home than about yourself. Right now, you’re probably concerned that they will be hurt by you leaving, that they won’t understand it, that they won’t want to stay in touch. 

We have dedicated an entire article to how to approach forming a new long-distance relationship in your life - whether it’s one between you and family members, friends, or a significant other - where we provide much more advice about this topic. If this is something that bothers you more than anything else, we definitely recommend you to have a read. However, we think that the most valuable tip we want to convey is: you leaving doesn’t mean you don’t love them anymore. It means that you love them so much, you believe that nothing - not distance, not a different time zone, not the lack of physical closeness - will be able to ruin it. 

Make sure they know this, and everything will be okay. Those who truly care about you will never be upset about you fulfilling your dreams and finding a purpose in life. Long-distance relationships are definitely an aspect of leaving your home country worth pondering on, but they shouldn’t be a definite answer to your question of “Why not go abroad?”.


 

“I’m not brave/independent/adventurous enough"

As an expat, I have encountered many people telling me how brave/independent/adventurous I was. And every time I heard this, my reaction was (and still is) the same. I frown, lift my brows, or snort. Because I don’t feel like I am any of those things. 

Those who know me know that you can find me curled up with a book more often than you can bump into me in a club. I would hardly call this adventurous. Recently, I bought a lighter that I couldn’t use and my first instinct was to call my Mum. That’s not really independent, is it? I feel like, when thinking about the word “expat”, what many people think about is this confident, spontaneous go-getter with a million stories from their crazy adventures all around the globe. That is not always the case - sometimes, those crazy adventures are limited to buying the said weird lighter you can’t possibly use, no matter how many times you’ve tried. 

We’re also not saying that expat life is all boring - you will definitely experience things you might never get the chance to if you stay at home, meet people that are completely different from those you are used to, experience cultures you don’t know that much about yet. Our point is that moving abroad is not about bravery, or being independent, or even adventurous. It is about doing what you feel is right because there is something out there calling out your name, and it won’t stop until you go and try to find it.

If the thoughts of going abroad and staying for longer are already circling your head, then it means you probably have more features that will make you the perfect expat than you realise. And with those you need to work on - believe us when we say that you will develop them automatically once the need comes. And growing as a person is always a good thing, right?


 

“I don’t know where to start”

Could you always ride the bike? Were you born with the innate skill to cook? When you had to write an essay at school, did you immediately know how to go about starting it?

Unless there are some extremely special cases out there that we are not aware of, then the answer to all three questions will most likely be: “no”. So, how did you learn to ride a bike? Your parents probably taught you how to. And cooking? You most likely cracked open a cookbook or googled a recipe one day and made the dish following the instructions. What about the essay? During a lesson, you would probably ask the teacher for guidance, and if it was an assessment, your solution would be conducting a little research about the topic at hand. 

Well, moving abroad is just like that, just on a slightly larger scale. You can ask someone you know who has experience in this area for advice and valuable tips. You can read books, websites, and blogs dedicated to the topic of expat life and moving abroad. You can also do your own research using your preferred methods - visiting official government websites, seeking advice at the embassy, consulting a recruitment agency abroad. 

The “I don’t know how to go about it” excuse can be applied to almost anything in our life. Applying to the right high school. Getting in a relationship. Becoming a parent. Asking for a loan. Building a house. We can go on, but you probably get the point by now, don’t you? Those are things that everyone is slightly nervous about at first, but that most people tackle at some point, anyway. Why? Because usually, there is no choice, as you can’t go through life without experiencing anything you don’t initially think you can handle. 

And this is exactly the case with expat life - once something in you opens up and starts telling you it is time to go, there isn’t really any choice about it. 


 

“I don’t know anyone or anything out there”

Personally, I find this to be the most exciting element of moving to a new place, but I can see how it can also be a reason to worry. Moving from somewhere you will always see a familiar face on a trip to the grocery store and where you know all the good places to eat to a place where you don’t even know where the nearest grocery store is (and if you do, if it’s the cheapest one) can cause anxiety. 

But if this is your problem, then we don’t really have a problem. There are people in our office (including me) who have experience living in more than 3 countries - and all of us can agree that we have never suffered because we didn’t know where to buy pasta or toilet paper. Maybe 20 years ago, before Google Maps even existed and the Internet was still in diapers, this could be a valid concern. But right now, you have the options including:

  • Researching the nearest shops AND accessing their reviews and price range

  • Typing their addresses into Google Maps and following the instructions

  • Joining Facebook sites for expats or online forums where people exchange experiences (including mundane queries such as “where do I buy decent bread around here”)

  • Using an online translator in case you don’t know the language and wish to ask a local for directions

  • … and many, many, many more!

You don’t even need to call yourself resourceful to manage to survive in a new place. We guarantee that you will have a basic map of your nearest area planned out in your head within the first few days. After a week, you will be able to get to work, the supermarket, that nice bar that had good reviews on TripAdvisor, and to the park without getting lost. After a month, you will already know your way around the entire neighbourhood. And after two, congratulations, you are ready to become the tour guide of (insert the name of the city you have moved to)!

 

Of course, we have written this article meaning for you to take it with a pinch of salt. The best way to ease somebody’s worries is to make them smile - even if just a little bit. We have lightened the mood, but we didn’t mean to belittle the topic. All of those worries - and all the other ones you might have that we didn’t address here - are 100% logical and understandable. 

Bear in mind that this blog post was written by someone who has called herself an expat for a few years now. If I treat those subjects with irony, it’s because this is how I approach them right now. Sure, before my first move abroad, I was shaking in my knickers. I would lose sleep at night, then eventually cry myself to sleep, waiting for that day that I both couldn’t wait for and dreaded to come. It’s easy to say all of that once you have already been through this and know you have dealt with it more than once. 

If you want to know a secret, I still wonder these things myself whenever I’m about to move somewhere else, because a new place = a new reality you need to prepare yourself for and adjust to. But I can honestly tell you that no matter the anxiety you feel before the move, the thrill it brings you once it’s all done and dusted is much, much more significant. 

So, no, there isn’t really a valid answer to “Why not go abroad”? To take your mind off it, you should focus more on listing all the reasons why it is definitely worth it