Moving abroad alone
I was sixteen years old the first time I found myself moving abroad alone. I call moving to another country alone 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 found myself moving abroad alone once more and this time 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 married, 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 so many times, 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 alone should be a consideration as well.
It’s important to remember, it’s not always about the “how to move abroad”, it’s also about the why, and I’ve always found using the “why” as my reason to move takes more courage than the “how”.
If you’re sitting there saying to yourself “I want to move abroad, where do I start” consider this list, work on the why and get planning!
So, here are 9 reasons why you should move abroad alone!
You can go wherever YOU like alone
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 have no restrictions other than your own imagination and courage.
Where have you always wondered about? Which films have made you wish you could live there? What language have you fallen in love with? There is no wrong reason for considering a country to move to.
You can invent a new life for yourself abroad
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, what box you’ve found yourself put in by those around you or what you were like before you chose to settle in your new country.
Whether you’re moving abroad alone at 30 or at 18, or even 50, it’s a chance to reinvent yourself, put to bed old demons 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 from 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 be extremely rewarding. Now is the time to break the routine and moving to a new country alone is an excellent 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 then find it easier to do all of this in the future.
It’s easy to drift along in a comfortable rut when you stay at home, and if this is what you want then there is nothing wrong with that. But moving to a foreign country alone is an opportunity to push yourself out of your comfort zone in so many different ways, it can be truly life-changing.
You can experience a different way of life
Moving overseas allows you to gain a different perspective on life. It’s likely things will operate differently in your chosen new home.
The people there may react to situations 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 little 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.
Starting a new life abroad alone can be very daunting, but if you ever have to leave you’ll find yourself longing for the different way of life you had, trust me!
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.
However, not everyone can take an extended time off work or wants to endlessly travel, living out of a backpack does take its toll! Even if you’re able to travel for long periods of time you might find that a time comes when you actually want to have more of a base (gasp!).
Moving abroad alone means you can base yourself somewhere and take long breaks from there, or weekends away. For example, if you move to Europe like me you’ve got a ton of other countries at your doorstep, which for this Kiwi was mindblowing. If you move to Asia or Australia there’s plenty to explore there too.
These added places to explore will make your time living abroad more exciting but at the same time, the ability to have some home comforts to return home to after each trip will help make your new country feel like home.
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 around you, instead of constantly moving around.
You can become stronger and more self-confident
It goes without saying really but when you move abroad alone, you only have yourself. This sounds like a stupid statement it wasn’t until I was alone for the first time that I realised how much I relied upon others.
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 even when you may not feel like it.
Moving solo can be nerve-wracking at first as you put yourself out there, 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 become close to. One of my biggest tips for moving abroad alone is to get involved as much as possible.
You should try and be a “yes” person when you first move, 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.
Moving abroad alone made me start this website and it’s now my full-time job!
The moral of this story? If you’re considering becoming an expat, if you’ve dreamed of living abroad, 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’ve made yet.
Have I convinced you? Would you move abroad alone?
Thinking of moving abroad?
Here are more helpful tips!
- Feeling a little nervous about making a move? Check out Facing your fears about moving to another country
- Not sure what job you might be able to abroad? Read 12 Best Jobs for Expats
- Wondering how much it might all cost? Read Saving Money to Move Abroad and How Much you Need
- To backpack or to move? It’s a big question! Check out the Backpacking or Living Abroad
- Learn from others who’ve made the move, discover my Expat interviews series
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