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5 Questions to Decide If Moving Abroad Is Right For You

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Kat Smith
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Living abroad isn’t right for everyone. Just like if I was an accountant, I’d screw up your taxes and if my husband was an explorer, he’d give up the moment he lost wifi. 

Sure, I could study really hard and do my best to stay focused on the numbers and he could get a roaming plan that might reach a little farther than most but we wouldn’t really be living to our full potential. We wouldn’t be as happy and I know neither of us would be performing our best because we wouldn’t be motivated. 

It’s the same with living abroad. It can actually feel like a job in itself at times. Every single time I’ve left my apartment, hostel or homestay these last 7 years, I’ve known something or maybe everything wasn’t going to go as planned.

And I LIVE FOR THAT SHIT.

Some people, like me, are fueled by this, others are terrified. There’s no right or wrong way you’re supposed to feel in this kind of situation.

TL;DR? Get these questions plus 6 more in video format on Girls Gone Working's mini-course, Is Moving Abroad Right For You? Sit back and relax on your sofa while you dig deep to decide where you should move abroad, what job suits you and ultimately, if you're ready to move abroad.
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There are ways to move abroad and stay in a bubble with expats from your home country, eat at the same familiar restaurant everyday and not even try to learn the local language. That can be a little easier of a transition if that’s what you’re looking for but STILL- you’re landlord is most likely not going to speak your language natively, driving rules might not exist and you’re going to be far away from home and daily comforts. 

Keeping an open mind and positive attitude does wonders in overcoming and understanding these differences though.

I feel like nowadays there is a huge push for you to take a gap year, travel extensively or move abroad indefinitely. While I highly believe travelling internationally is something every single one of us should experience at some point, I don’t think everyone would feel as fulfilled as I have by selling all your stuff and buying 1-way tickets over and over again.

Let’s say you’re on the fence about this. Is it for you or isn’t it? You think you want to move abroad but something- some gnawing thought- is holding you back. Maybe you’re worried to leave your family, are scared by living in a foreign language or have a good, stable job you’re not sure you want to abandon. 

Keep reading to find out how you can schedule a 1:1 video call with me and get all your biggest questions answered.

A female tourist standing on the sidewalk in Hong Kong looking at the busy street and neon signs
Taking in the sights in Hong Kong
I get it. I’ve been there before.

The first time I went abroad solo I was 18 and it was completely my parents idea. Long story short- I wanted to go to University like all of my friends and they urged me to take a semester off. I begrudgingly agreed and sat in my room listening to Rosetta Stone CDs while I haphazardly packed for what was supposed to be a 1-month trip to Guatemala.

Fast forward a few weeks and I boarded the plane. My heart was pounding and my hands were a little shaky. The nice old man next to me was trying to have a friendly conversation but I didn’t understand a bit of what he was saying. Then the flight attendant came over the speaker in Spanish. I lost my shit. 

Repeating “Hola, me llamo Kathryn” in my room did not prepare me for this. 

I tried to get off the plane. Unbuckled, stood up and started moving. Another flight attendant had to coax me into sitting back down, explaining to me we were already on the runway. “Fuck,” is all I thought as I finally sat back down. 

My eyes have never been as wide as they were that drive from the airport in Guatemala City to Antigua. I had never seen anything like the landscape, the housing or the commotion in the streets and was in complete awe and disbelief that this was only a 4-hour flight from home. That month trip turned into a 3-month one and I only came home because I had blown all of my babysitting money on unforgettable memories. 

Before that trip, I would have never assumed only 4 years later I would permanently make the move abroad but after that trip, it was my 1 big goal. 

That push by my parents altered my life more than any of us were aware of at that moment.

Sometimes you need a leap of faith, sometimes you need to trust those who love you and sometimes a complete stranger needs to sit you back down in your seat, squeeze your shoulder and tell you it’s all going to be ok. 

You might be really hesitant to think this lifestyle is for you but I’d say go on a trip, for 1 month or even 3 and then ask yourself again.

Living abroad has been full of those tiny moments filled by people who I know and love and also those who I had never seen before and never will again. But a big key here, at the end of the day, it was right for me. That uncertainty turned out to be fuel and bigger than any other adrenaline rush I’ve ever known before.

A female tourist in Thailand snorkeling at a hidden beach on the Phi Phi Islands
Having some fun while snorkeling at a hidden spot in Thailand

Not everyone is like me though, and that’s definitely for the best. This is about YOU and what YOU want and I’m here to help you figure that out.

Moving abroad is a deeply personal decision and while I can’t tell you what to do, I can guide you into making your own decisions. Throughout these past years I’ve realized each time I prepare for yet another move, I ask myself a series of questions that help me decide what it is my priorities are in that moment, what I’m looking to gain and what I’m ok with leaving behind. 

Each year- hell, each month- my answers change, my priorities shift. I reassess where I am and where I want to be through this same method. Hence why I just can’t seem to stay put.

Here's 5 questions to ask yourself when deciding if moving abroad is right for you: 

1. Why do you want to move abroad?

This question should be your driving force. This will vary greatly from person to person and honestly, there is no right or wrong answer here, so long as you have an answer! While the other 4 questions are important, achieving the answer to this question should be your number 1 priority when planning your move abroad.

2. Why don't you want to move abroad?

Allow yourself to feel vulnerable while thinking about this answer. Dig deep into your fears or doubts. Only by truly understanding what's holding you back will you be able to let go and learn how to overcome it.

This answer might also serve to help you decide where in the world to move or what job suits you. For example, if you don't want to move abroad because of your family, consider moving somewhere that is a short or inexpensive flight away, instead of to the other side of the world. Or, if you'd like to continue working in the same industry, see if you can get a Working Holiday visa to Australia, New Zealand or Japan to legally apply to jobs in almost in field while abroad.

3. How comfortable are you living in a country that doesn't speak the same language as you?

Depending on your native language, this could hold you back more or less. If you fear not understanding the locals around you, luckily, learning a foreign language isn't impossible, so long as you're willing to put in the work.

If you're a native English speaker though, or even just have a high level of understanding, you're in a good position. In most countries around the world, it's easiest to find someone that speaks English compared to nearly any other language. I always suggest trying to learn at least the basics of the native language, even if it isn't completely necessary, out of respect for the local culture.

4. Do you want to stay put in 1 city or backpack around the world or a region?

This answer will help you decide two things: how much savings you need and what visas you should apply for.

It's very possible to move abroad with little savings but it's always more comfortable if you have something to fall back on, just in case. If you'd like to move to 1 particular place, you should be able to get a fair idea of cost of living by reaching out to expats already living there or doing some research online.

Keep in mind some places, like here in Da Nang, will require you to pay a 1-3 month security deposit when renting an apartment.

For backpackers, you'll need to calculate the added expense of transport and varying accommodation prices. If you're on a budget, consider housesitting or volunteering in exchange for accommodation on Workaway or Worldpackers.

5. How confident did you feel while answering these questions?

If answering these questions was extremely difficult for you or caused you anxiety rather than excitement, you might not be ready to move abroad. Consider taking a long trip instead to a country that intrigues you. Stay in accommodation similar to what you could afford to live in, instead of resorts or high-end hotels, and give yourself a real taste of what it's like living abroad.

This test might show you that moving abroad isn't as scary as it could seem.

On the other side, if these questions only got you feeling more excited to move abroad, what are you waiting for? GO FOR IT!

For 6 more questions to help you decide if moving abroad is right for you, watch it in video format on Skillshare. Get free access to this course and all others on the platform for 2 months with this link!
A foreign woman sitting on her motorbike on the coast in Vietnam with the beach and mountains behind her
My current home: Da Nang, Vietnam!
An important thing to keep in your mind while going through all of this is: nothing is permanent.

Why not go for it and see how you react? 

When I first moved to France and decided to jump into yachting, I soon realized it wasn’t for me. Yes, I had invested money into getting my qualifications and yes, I decided to give my new relationship a long-distance challenge but none of that happened to be irreversible. I made the money back and ended up realizing that I wanted to make that man an important part of my future.

Instead of beating myself up for not loving it, I reminded myself I got to spend a summer on the Mediterranean coast and take another step closer to figuring out what it is I wanted to do and the lifestyle I wanted to live. It wasn’t a failure, just a learning moment. 

If you’re on the fence or maybe you know you want to go but don’t know where is best, I'm here to help.

Now you can schedule a 1:1 video call with me!

Get the clarity and confidence you need to move abroad with the Girls Gone Working Mentorship Program.

Together we'll overcome the hurdles that are holding you back from making a move, whether it be fear, lack of confidence, uncertainty, or feeling overwhelmed by your options.

Through 1:1 calls with me, the GGW founder, we'll dive deep into all the good, the bad, and the messy aspects of life abroad, so you can make informed decisions and take the next right step.

Now with 3 packages to choose from, find the mentorship program that best fits your needs!


xx,
Kat


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