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The Three Best (And Worst) Parts of Living Abroad

November 8, 2019
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Photo Credit: Flavia Carpio | Unsplash

Have you ever thought about leaving your job and starting a new life? Perhaps you're tired of your routine, looking for something better. Something new. 


Eight months ago, I quit my life of lawyering to go on an adventure. I've traveled across South America and finally put down roots in Manizales, Colombia. 


It's been quite an adventure. 


In case you're considering a leap of faith, I thought it would be helpful to review some pros and cons of living as an expat. 

Pros of Living Abroad

The view this morning from my apartment. 


    1. You'll learn a new language. By living in a foreign country, you'll start to learn the local language. Learning a new language stimulates your brain, keeps you sharp as you age, and is lots of fun. Try to start learning the language before you arrive in your new country. Here are some language-learning tips that can get you started. It will be difficult at first, but you'll get the hang of it 

    2. You'll learn new points of view. If you've only lived in one place for your entire life, your worldview is likely heavily influenced by your community. When you move to another country, you'll immerse yourself in a new culture with different customs, values, and traditions. New friends can teach you their way of life, which can make you a more accepting, informed, and well-rounded person. 

    3. You can save money. While many people might find this counterintuitive, traveling can actually save you a lot of money. When I lived in Los Angeles, I was paying $2,000 per month for a studio apartment. Here in Manizales, I rent a similar apartment for $500. Basic needs like food and transportation are also much less expensive. Consider freelancing or consulting on the side. It's a lot easier to support yourself than you might think. 

Cons of Life as an Expat

Manizales, Colombia


    1. The Infrastructure. Colombia (and many other countries) don't have the same level of infrastructure as countries like the United States, Canada, or England. Internet is slower, roads aren't as well maintained, and many cities don't have ride-sharing apps. However, these challenges often breed adventures. It's all about your mindset.  
    2. Safety. Some countries might be more dangerous than your homeland. In Colombia, robberies are more common in the United States. Safety can be more of a concern if you don't speak the language. However, you shouldn't have too many problems if you're smart about it. Don't walk outside at night by yourself, let friends and family know where you are, and walk without headphones in.   

    3. Loneliness. When all your friends are in a different country and you're not speaking your first language, you might start to miss home. Living in a foreign country can be tiring, as everything is a little more complicated than it was back in your home country. The best way to deal with loneliness is to make new friends. Meeting the locals is the best part of traveling and will enrich your experience. Get out there and be social! 

Conclusion

On balance, living abroad is 100% worth it. The pros easily outweigh the cons. Moving to a new country gets you outside your comfort zone and teaches you about new cultures. You also learn a lot about yourself. 


If you're thinking about living the expat life, I couldn't recommend it highly enough. Start your adventure and never look back!