Have you been offered an amazing opportunity in another part of the continent? Taking a step towards a career in a different country can be daunting. The idea of creating a whole new life somewhere else is amazing and frightening in equal measures. You will have to understand and learn about a new culture and a completely different community. It can be surprising how big the culture difference can be even with a relatively small distance. The first year might be a challenge, but over time you will come to familiarise yourself, and maybe even prefer your new location.
Stepping into the expat life can be incredibly rewarding. You will develop a different life perspective when learning how to live in a different country. it’s important to integrate in your new country, and making friends with other expats or the locals will add to your life quality. Becoming an expat can teach you how to be more independent from the familiar comforts of your home country, especially if you make the move alone.
When I first moved to the UK from Norway, I went on my own. 20 years old, I packed a suitcase and left with my one-way ticket to London. 3 days booked in a B&B gave me the time to find a place to live, in a new country and a city I had never even visited. I did not have a job, only my savings to live off, and was hoping to start University the following autumn. I wouldn’t suggest such a bold and risky move to anyone – I consider myself very lucky that it worked out. If you are to move to another country, I would absolutely suggest you visit the city and find a place to live before you go. You might want to pack more than a suitcase of clothes, and make sure you budget for transport of the rest of your belongings. If you secure a new home and a job first, you are onto a good path.
At first when I moved, I had rose tinted glasses on. Many expats find the same, but then reality sets in. It’s important to keep a balanced view on both your original and your new country. Nowhere is perfect, but you never know if the new country is better for you if you don’t give it a shot. For me, there are different job opportunities where I live now in England than there is in my Norwegian home town. I originally came here for university, and found I enjoy the society, most of the lifestyle and what the country has on offer. It’s amazing how much I’ve grown as a person since moving here back in 2009. Of course, there are faults with the country – every country has its issues, but for me the positives outweigh the negatives. With preparation and a healthy mindset, you can adopt a new culture and invest yourself in a completely different life. If after a few years you don’t like it, you can always move back. Give it at least two years though, the first one tends to be a bit turbulent.
There are many exciting things in a new country, and the difference from going on holiday is that you have more time to explore and immerse yourself in the culture. There will be new hobbies and cultural experiences, different food and drink, and most importantly a new language. Whilst many countries do speak English as well, it’s an enormous bonus (if not a necessity) to speak the local language in your area.
Personal growth is a huge positive factor when becoming an expat. You can expect challenges – and they will make you grow as a person and learn more about yourself. Expat life does require work and compromises, but it can make you a happier person overall, not to mention wealthier or with a better work/life balance than previously. In a new country, you might find a better health care system and better employment rights.
Moving alone can be both more difficult and easier at the same time than moving with your loved ones. You don’t have to worry about a family and potentially children settling in, and you can live in a smaller property. This can give you a more varied choice of locations. Getting out and about and attending events is easier when you’re on your own, which can give good opportunities for finding friends. Being on your own gives you the option of starting fresh, however you do not have the support and company of familiar people, and missing home might be an issue.
If you have a family coming with you on your expat adventure, you might be able to access better education and opportunities for your children than in your home country. Living in another country can help your children, partner and yourself learn another language and gain confidence in your abilities.
While becoming an expat has many challenges, it could be the best decision of your life. Personal development, new experiences and different opportunities are just a few of them. As an expat myself, all I can say is take the leap. Regardless if it works out or not in the end, the adventure will give you so many new skills and experiences. If you move back to your home country again later, your new intercultural competence and language skills will give you an advantage in almost any industry.