Advantages & Disadvantages of Living Abroad


There are many reasons a person may end up living abroad: military service, work requirements, marriage and higher education, to name a few. It is an exciting prospect but can be a daunting one, as well. There are pros and cons to becoming an expatriate, so be sure to weigh each side before making the big move.

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At first, adapting to your new country may be met with many challenges as you try to get used to the different culture. Everything from the currency exchange rate to the national holidays to the weather will take some getting used to. You will need to adapt to the social customs of the people, the shop hours, the work ethic, the cuisine and so on. On the other hand, you may end up preferring some of your adopted country's customs to your own and have a new appreciation for previously unfamiliar conventions.

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Homesickness is a common complaint among new expatriates. Many say it takes up to two years to fully assimilate into a new culture and lessen feelings of loneliness. Depending on your financial situation and the distance between you and your family and friends at home, visits may be few and far between. Fortunately, technology can help you get your fix from your loved ones in the form of phone calls, email, social networking sites and webcams. If you don't have many ties in your home country, however, moving abroad can give you that fresh start you might be craving.

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It is very difficult to live on a day-to-day basis where your communication skills are limited by a language that is foreign to you. If you are moving to a country where your first language is not their first language (or not spoken at all), you will want to start learning the native language right away. Even if you share a common language with your new country, you may be surprised at the confusion you may still face. For example, you may speak American English and move to the U.K. or Australia. Although the language is technically the same, you will find that many words have different meanings in British English and Australian English.

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Your new home country may be very convenient for some things and very inconvenient for others. For example, if you move to Europe you will have several countries that can be reached in one day or less by car. Many languages and cultures will be easily accessible to you, and you can easily travel to many places that you may have only dreamed of previously but were hampered by finances and time. At the same time, if you have relocated to an island such as Ireland or Hawaii, the remote nature of the location will mean higher prices for goods, since it will take more time and effort to ship them there.

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From the size of your resume paper to your choice of interview clothes, you will need to research the cultural conventions of a job search in your new land. It is especially vital to figure out how you will approach taxes to avoid any legal problems. If you are used to a culture with a high employment rate, you might be dismayed by the local unemployment rate (Sardinia's, for example, is 19 percent, and Kenya's is 40 percent). Or your field of work might be better represented in your new country, offering opportunities you had not realized before.

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