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.
Its’ 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.
You can learn a new language
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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55 thoughts on “9 Reasons Why Moving Abroad Solo Could Be Your Best Decision Yet”
Wow! I think moving abroad alone is a pretty brave move, but clearly a good one. Love how it’s changed you for the better!
Thanks so much! It really has been the best thing for me 🙂
This sounds fantastic! I would def consider it and wish I had done it sooner. I have travelled solo a lot and I am well aware it’s different but life is for living right? Why spend your whole life in one place when there’s a whole world out there.
There definitely is! It’s never too late either you know, my parents have been travelling all over and living different places for the last year 🙂
Exactly! The world is your oyster people! Go!
Great insight in what you can gain by moving abroad alone. I totally agree that living abroad on your own has its perks like reinventing yourself and pushing yourself outside your comfort zone. It has been said, the further you travel, the more you understand who you really are and what you stand for.
So true! Moving abroad definitely helped me to realise who I could be without other people around me, and what is really important to me!
I would love to live abroad someday! I don’t really know where and it sounds incredibly intimidating, but it sounds amazing at the same time.
It can definitely be scary, but it’s just about taking the steps towards it one at a time and before you know it you’re there. There are ups and downs, but it’s still always been the best thing I’ve done!
I would totally move abroad alone! Lived in Spain and Italy for a year as part of my degree and it was one of the best experiences of my life so far, for all of the reasons listed above! In fact, I’m trying to save up enough money now to afford to move abroad and live the digital nomad life in Portugal for a while as I really want to learn Portuguese.
Even just when it comes to traveling and not necessarily living abroad, being able to reinvent myself is one of my favourite aspects of it 🙂
Me too! There’s something about being in a place where you don’t really know anyone that gives you more freedom to actually be yourself. I hope you make it to Portugal, I loved it there when I went on a short trip!
All great reasons and I couldn’t agree more!
I think the experience helped me know myself better, or actually get to know a new self. I discovered that I am able to do things I never even dreamt of before leaving the comfort zone.
Also, in perspective I came to see more clearly the culture of my native country and how it affected the way I grew up. I finally started appreciating things of the place I’m from that I used to take for granted.
I agree, I was able to learn so much when I only had myself to rely on, and realise more about the kind of person I am. Living abroad also does change your perspective of home! I forgot that one 😀
I totally agree with all the points you brought up. I so wish that I simply did some solo travel when I was younger, but back then I honestly didn’t know people really did that(went by themselves), I always thought I needed someone to go with….so I waited, and waited…and of course no one could go with me, and I ended up going no where 🙁 I really hope people who love traveling won’t make the same mistakes I did. Hopefully articles like this will get out to them and inspire people if they way to travel-don’t wait, just go!
Thanks! I think because of blogs and social media it’s much easier now for people to realise they can do it on their own! It’s definitely scary, but always worth it. You still have time! x
So many benefits to move abroad!I’ve done it a few times in my life and I absolutely love it! I learned to become stronger, more independent, and more fearless. Although sometimes I missed home, I have no regrets at all!
Me too! Missing home is hard but when I think of all the benefits it makes it a little easier. I honestly don’t know who I would be if I hadn’t moved abroad!
I can totally relate to this as I moved to the UK and started fresh from Canada. I loved starting fresh and going all over the place! It truly is a sense of freedom and it gives you that time to grow as a human being. It was some of the best times of my life.
It definitely helps you to grow and see things from another perspective when you have the opportunity for a fresh start. And some of the best times of my life were when I moved abroad too! 😀
Sometimes I really wish I had done an exchange in school. I looked into it but my mum turned me off the idea – in hindsight I think she just didn’t want me on the other side of the world! But things worked out for my career staying at home, and although I haven travelled nearly enough as I would like to have, I’ve seen some pretty great places! Good on you.
I think it is a really hard thing for parents to imagine us on the other side of the world when they thought we would still be at home for longer! I’m glad that things have worked out career wise and you’ve still been able to travel 🙂
This article is SO true! I moved abroad from England to Australia when I was 18 knowing no one, and its turned out to be the best decision of my life! Because of this I’ve travelled to places I didn’t even dream of including, Fiji, Vanuatu, Lord Howe Island and more! I thinking taking yourself outside your comfort zone is one of the best things you can do to improve your confidence and it really shapes you as a person! Great article 🙂
Thanks! It’s amazing where life can lead us when we make a decision, and in directions we could never expect. I totally agree!
I love this post so much! I remember exactly one day after I turned 20 years old was the day that I moved from Canada to Germany for one year (solo) and it was honestly one of the most life-enriching experiences I have ever had. 🙂 Now that I’m back home, it only makes me wish I could go back. <3 Thanks so much for posting this, I definitely agree with you that everyone should experience living abroad at least once!
Thanks for your comment! I agree, it would be amazing if more people could have the opportunity!
This is a great post and I agree with everything you’ve said. While I’m too big of a wuss to move abroad alone, I find most of these things to be true even when I backpack through Europe each summer for a month 🙂 It TOTALLY makes you stronger and more self confident!
I do think many of these are true for travel too! You might be stronger than you think you are when it comes to moving abroad 🙂
I am so glad I found your website through my research of moving abroad. I Just came back from Ireland this week and have already made the decision to move there. It just felt like home and what I have been waiting to do my whole life. It finally feels right. I’m looking forward to reading more of your blogs!
Thanks so much! I’m glad you enjoyed it and I hope that you find some useful stuff to help with your move. Ireland is amazing! Let me know if you need any tips!
Sonja, your blog is so helpful and I admire your adventuring soul. I’m preparing for an expat experience in Australia, hopefully beginning in January of 2018 and will be starting out in Brisbane. Do you have an Australian bucket list, or any tips for living there?
Thanks for your comment Victoria that’s lovely to hear! I’m happy to hear you’re starting in Brisbane, I think it’s a seriously underrated city :D. I don’t have any posts up at the moment but I do have some in the works so check back in the Australia section soon! I’m not sure where you’re coming from, but my main thing would be that Australia can seem very expensive, but once you’re earning Australian dollars it’s a LOT better. It also depends if you want to settle down a bit somewhere with a proper job, or you want to backpack around. Proper jobs pay decent money and then you can take time off to travel, or you’ll need to have saved a bit more for backpacking and you might end up doing some less than thrilling jobs. But it’ll be worth it!
It’s been great that I found this post as a tips, thank you. I’m planning to move to Russia one day alone and I believe it can help me to know hows my decision will work, gain new friends and be happy in life. I need to see some of your blogs about moving abroad. Really helpful tips. 🙂
Thanks Aaron! I hope it does help you make the move :).
So glad I found your blog. I am planning a move abroad to teach and some days I feel like I can absolutely do it, and others I’m so scared. I like how you said you just have to push through the fear and take it one step at a time.
You can definitely do it! I still have the fear all the time about stuff, but I really think if you push through and give it a go you won’t regret it.
I LOVE THIS CONCEPT! How do you begin, especially late in life? I was a host family many years ago, and have dreamed about traveling to other countries since I can remember!
I need to re-invent, discover who I am at this season in my life. Have tried to make a career change here in the U.S.; however it is difficult.
Where can you stay in other countries, which is most easily transitional , cost effectively or free to get on your feet? How do you begin seeking employment to live and save for next ….move, you mention sharing a flat with someone…plz advise? I would love to live on an island, but also visit other countries. Safety is also a co cern? I am in my 50’s, is it even doable? Thank for the advice? HELP!
Hi Glenda! Thanks for your comment! It is definitely possible, although you will need to explore more unique ways to do it. You’ll need to look first at where your passport allows you to go, and then work if you’re looking for work. Especially if you want to live on an island! My parents travel regularly in their 50s including long extended trips, but rather than working overseas they save and then do housesitting (looking after peoples animals and house while they travel, anywhere from a few days to months) and this keeps their costs low so they can travel for longer, and also means they’re not technically working so they can travel on tourist visas. I have a couple of expat stories with people from the US who have moved to Mexico, or are housesitting around Ireland, if you want to have a look at those and see if they help. It’s definitely possible but it’s going to depend on your personal and financial situation!
I’m 42 and am looking at different ways to move to Europe. I’m struggling to find ways to be able to make the move and be able to work. Right now, I’m open to quite a few different countries (Ireland is at the top of my list). It seems to be easier to do so if you’re younger. I’ve traveled a lot, but truly want to make the transition and move. I’ve recently gone back to school (for cosmetology and esthetician training) and have had a ton of changes in my personal life. This is truly a perfect time for me to do this, as it’s all for me!
So I suppose any help/tips/ideas that you could give would be so very appreciated! I’d love to hear back from you !
Thanks a bunch! Email if you can
Hi Jen! It depends a bit where you’re coming from but you’re right, it is a bit harder once you pass the age for working holiday visas. To be honest, for most places you’ll need some kind of work sponsorship or you may be able to get a freelance visa in some countries if that would be something you have the skills for. Your other option is just extended travel!
Hi. This is really great. But wanting to move away at 15/16 is not an easy decision to make. There are things pulling me back and pushing me forwards. And it’s not really abroad and overseas, but it is pretty far and it’s another country. But reading this encouraged me. Gives me that extra thing if I decide to go and follow my dreams. But it can be hard, and it will be. Way more than I would ever imagine it. But I feel ready. Thank you so much. It will mean a lot while making that decision.
Thanks Milica! It is definitely not an easy decision to make, although looking back I’m honestly not even sure I thought it through as much as I should have! It all seemed like such an exciting adventure and so unreal until it happened. It’s definitely difficult, but I’ve always maintained the positives made it worth it. 🙂 Good luck!
Hi, How did you do it? I mean.. it’s expensive to afford to migrate. I’m looking to move to Okotoks, Calgary in three months but will only have $2,000USD to go with. I’ll be staying with my bother but I would need to find a job. Is that nearly enough!? HELP! ANY AND ALL ADVICE NEEDED!
Hi Camilla! That’s exciting you’ve made a decision to move. Honestly, it depends on the cost of living and I’m not sure what it is in Calgary. If you’re staying with your brother that’s great because you won’t be putting out for accommodation costs before you have a job which is what can really kill your savings. It also depends on what your skills are and what work is available where you’re moving. When I moved to Australia I got a job really quickly, it took me much longer in the UK. Try not to sign up for anything like a lease etc until you have money coming in, and be prepared to take whatever job you can get to start with to get some money coming in. I would speak to your brother about living costs. Usually I would want at least 3 months worth to give time to find work, depending on the place, and then make finding work your job. Be applying every day for things, sign up to temp agencies, etc. Good luck!!!
This is so true! Moving abroad alone is an adventure that will change your life forever. The only thing is that you will also have to rely on yourself only which can be exhausting and also lonely at times. Having moved alone several times I know now that getting clear on your why, setting an intention, preparing and checking your expectations with a bit of a research could have saved my a lot of pain.
I completely agree with you there! It is difficult when you only have yourself and easy to get down if you don’t have set goals/ideas about why you’re doing it!
I really want to move abroad (I’m 15) to live in England with a family member but I’m not sure how to ask my parents, any tips or advice would be appreciated!
Hi Milly! I guess it depends on your personal situation and whether you’re able to move to the UK or not (ie. visas etc). I think it would help to have a bit more information before broaching the subject with your parents, then you can show you’re serious about it an hopefully convince them! When I moved to the US at 16 I went on an organised exchange program which reassured my parents, but if you’re wanting to live with family this probably wouldn’t work.
Great blog. You share valuable information about moving abroad. Most of the people are confused about a move abroad. Nice information and very helpful blog. Thanks!
Hello, what was this exchange program? I’d love to know cause I’m also thinking about moving abroad at 16.
Hi Jayden! It was AFS which is worldwide, so hopefully you can find a chapter near you.
Thank you for this article. I actually have my reasons why I want to live abroad by myself, but I am having a hard time convicing everybody else that I can do it. They are more scared for me than I am for myslef and they are adding up in my anxiety. And I can’t put to words what I am thinking and what I want. This was so helpful.
You’re welcome! I hope you can find a way to just listen to yourself and go for it!
Thank you for your articles, for your site as a whole. this is a godsend for me. this is very useful, but still very scary…))))