I was sixteen years old the first time I moved abroad alone. I call it my first best decision. It was an exchange program that allowed me to move overseas and live with a host family, but I left everything and everyone I knew to do it. At 22 years old I moved abroad completely solo for the first time. Since then I’ve lived in several other countries, sometimes where I knew people, sometimes not. Moving abroad has allowed me to lead a life of adventure, it’s led me to the person I’m going to marry, and a continuing expat life abroad. Every decision to move overseas is still one of my best, because of all the amazing things that have happened because of them.
Living abroad solo doesn’t seem like a big deal anymore, but it’s easy for me to say that after moving abroad alone, just like it is for all the people who travel alone. There are awesome tips for solo female travellers out there and so many reasons why you should travel solo, but I want to tell you why moving abroad solo should be a consideration as well.
In fact, here are 9 reasons why it should be!
You can go wherever you like
Choosing where to move abroad alone is a pretty big decision and one that can take a lot of thought. If you’re planning on living abroad with a friend then you might have to compromise on where you want to go. Maybe you’ve always wanted to live in Edinburgh and she’s always wanted to live in London, or Bangkok versus Chiang Mai, or completely different countries! Well, when you’re moving to another country alone it’s your chance to go wherever in the world you want to (pesky visa restrictions aside of course).
You can invent a new life for yourself
People always talk about “finding themselves” when they travel and live abroad, but what does “finding yourself” actually mean? When you move abroad solo you can be a completely different person to who you were at home. No one knows who you are or what you were like before. Whether you’re moving abroad alone at 30 or at 18, or even 50, it’s a chance to reinvent yourself or put into place new habits and stick to them. You can eat differently, exercise more, be a different kind of person socially, have different hobbies, wear different clothes, whatever you like. No one knows the old you and no one is there to question the changes or compare you to your old self. I think I’m very different to how I was through high school and in some ways university too, and many people I knew then might be surprised if they met me again now!
You can take yourself out of your comfort zone
Taking yourself out of your comfort zone can result in great rewards. Now is the time to break the routine and moving to a new country alone is a great way to do that. The idea of getting out of your comfort zone is to put yourself into a state of more heightened mental awareness where you can be more productive, harness your creativity, learn to deal with unexpected changes and new things and find it easier to do all of this in the future. It’s easy to stay in a rut when you stay at home, but moving to a new place is an opportunity to push yourself.
You can experience a different way of life
Moving overseas allows you to gain a different perspective on life. Its likely things will operate differently in your new chosen home. The people there may react to things in a different way, or the culture as a whole may have different expectations and ways of doing things. When you travel you can learn a bit of this, but basing yourself somewhere for an extended period of time will really allow you to understand life from a different point of view.
You can base yourself somewhere to travel more
Travelling long term is a great way to see a lot of places in quick succession, after all, there’s no need to fly back and forth to your home and you can jump from country to country. But not everyone can take an extended time off work or wants to endlessly travel. Even if you can and do then you might find that a time comes when you actually want to have more of a base (gasp!). Moving abroad means you can base yourself somewhere and take long breaks from there, or weekends away. For example, if you live in Europe you’ve got a ton of other countries at your doorstep. If you move to Asia or Australia there’s plenty to see around there too.
One of my biggest tips for moving abroad alone is to remember that you still need to feel like you have a sense of community, or else you’ll feel lost and unsettled. Living abroad as an expat means you’ll still feel that element of difference in your life and it’ll push you to continue to have adventures, in comparison to returning home, but you’ll also be able to have time to build a community instead of constantly moving around.
You can become stronger and more self-confident
It goes without saying really but when you move abroad solo, you only have yourself. You have to figure things out on your own and set up your new life alone. Luckily there’s plenty of ways to make friends when you move abroad, but you have to put yourself out there to do it. Moving solo can be nerve-wracking at first, especially if you’re more of an introverted person like me, but once you realise you can do it your self-confidence will definitely grow. When you only have yourself to rely on, you’ll realise how strong you are.
It’s common for people to say they spent several years learning a language at school and then went on holiday to the homeland of that language and could barely speak a word. What better way to learn a new language than putting yourself in the middle of it and making it part of your everyday life?
Moving to a foreign country alone is definitely a baptism of fire when it comes to learning a language! While you still need to make the effort to learn a language when you move abroad, it’s your best opportunity to do so. If you move overseas alone you can move in with flatmates who speak the language and you’ll be forced to learn at least the basics!
You can create unexpected connections
I’m not saying you shouldn’t move abroad with a friend, or move to where you know people, but there’s something to be said for being forced to go out and make connections of your own in a new place. When you travel or live abroad with someone else it can be easier to stick together as a single unit, and you may find it takes longer to make connections of your own.
Starting a new life abroad alone is a great way to meet people you might never have otherwise. You should try and be a “yes” person when you first move abroad, taking all the opportunities to present themselves to you. With someone else, you may not do that as often.
You can improve your career opportunities
Maybe not the most important (says the person who has changed “career” with every country) but international experience on a CV can make you stand out to future employers. If you intend to go home after your living overseas or you’re looking to work internationally in the future as well then migrating abroad for a year alone can be an added bonus.
If you’re considering becoming an expat, don’t let the fact you might have to do it alone put you off. Of course the idea can be intimidating, but pushing through that fear could be the best decision you make yet.
Have I convinced you? Would you move abroad alone?
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