The idea of moving abroad is both exciting and terrifying! On one hand its an adventure – new places to explore, new people to meet. On the other hand there’s a huge amount of admin that goes with moving abroad. This may seem daunting if you’ve never done it before. Here are some of the perks of living abroad that you may not have thought of:
Articles, checklists, tips and hints and more on living abroad.
It forces you to be minimalist
Unless you’re extremely wealthy you can’t move the contents of a 4 bedroom house across the globe.
Many people see this as a downside of moving. We are absolutely adamant that it’s a plus.
We started our changeover to minimalist living well before we moved abroad. We wanted to travel, but needed to airbnb our flat to pay for it. Initially we packed away most of our possessions and took the rest to my parents’ house. It quickly became apparent that this was unsustainable – it took far too much effort.
Eventually we decided that if we didn’t need these possessions for our travel, we probably didn’t need them for our day to day life. We got rid of at least half of our possessions and never looked back.
Since then we’ve done regular purges, slowly chipping away at our household inventory. We managed to live in a 1 bedroom flat with 4 children. Yes, it was small, but it was possible. But this was only because we made sure we didn’t have excess possessions.
When we moved to Chiang Mai we had to be ruthless. We set ourselves the task of taking maximum 2 suitcases and 2 rucksacks across the globe. One of these suitcases and one rucksack contained our travel cots. That left one suitcase and one rucksack for everything else. That meant minimal clothes, shoes and other possessions.
Now that we’re here, we love the fact that our house isn’t cluttered up with stuff. We have 5 of each item of clothes per person. It’s amazing. No more spending ages worrying about what to wear – the choice is always simple. We have bought some toys for the kids, but not too many. Now they spend their days playing in the garden, watering the plants, drawing, singing and exploring Chiang Mai with us. They’re very happy kids.
Read about the purge of our possessions here.
More on Minimalist travel for the modern family here
Cost of living
Many people move abroad or retire abroad because of the cost of living. This was a huge part of moving to Chiang Mai, Thailand for us. In the centre of London, we had 4 of us in a 1 bedroom flat. Rent cost around £1,800 per month. In Chiang Mai we could get a large 3 bedroom house for under £600 per month.
We didn’t realise until we moved here how much stress there was associated with having huge monthly outgoings, even if you have a salary to pay for them. Because there’s always the worry that you’ll lose your job.
If you live in an expensive country it’s worth seeing how much you could get for your money somewhere cheaper. You may be able to take months off and live off your savings. Then you can use those months to decide how to change your life.
People have no preconceptions about you
So you can be who you want to be without any attention (positive or negative). Because, lets face it, sometimes even compliments can get tiring.
When I first moved to Canada, I realised this fact pretty quickly. I’d become bored with my ‘look’ (I was 21 at the time, so my ‘look’ was quite important to me!). Back home in England I’d never have changed because I’d have had to deal with all the comments and attention. Even if they were positive, I didn’t want to deal with people looking at me and commenting. In Canada, no one knew me, so no one was surprised at what I wore. I wanted to be a board shorts and t shirt kinda girl. So that’s what I became.
It makes you realise what you want from life
Moving abroad is a bit like shopping for your life. Go with me on this – I promise it’ll make sense. You come across amazing countries. You research and figure out what’s involved with moving there. You decide if it’s really ‘you’. Then you weigh up whether the cost is worth the benefits. If it is, you do it.
Between process of moving abroad and then actually living abroad, it becomes clear what you want from life. When we moved to Chiang Mai, house size and weather were very important to us. We were sick and tired of living in a small flat in grey, rainy England. Now that we’ve lived in a large house in sunny Thailand it’ll be very difficult to go back.
It gets you out of the 9-5
I can’t stress enough how good a thing this is! People worry so much about giving up their comfort blanket of a secure job. But it’s really not necessary.
Think about how miserable most people are in their jobs. How tired they are at the end of the day. How little time they spend with their families. Is that really worth it for perceived job security?
Yes, a move might be stressful. Yes, it won’t be ‘easy’. Yes, you will have to deal with change. But if it can change your life isn’t it worth it? It could be the difference between being happy and miserable for the rest of your life.