immigration, travel

Expat Guide: What I Wish I Knew Before Moving Abroad

In this bloggers-tell-all post, some of my favourite bloggers share the little bits of wisdom they wish they would have had before moving to another country.


“I absolutely love living in London – I came here to be with my fiancé, we have an incredible life here and I am finding it incredibly easy to make London my new home. However, I never thought that, if I loved London so much, I would still feel like I am missing out on home. Despite the fact that I am having incredible experiences and getting to travel all over Europe, it’s so easy to get a bit sad when I see all of my friends at a birthday party or going on a trip together. I have also recently started to realize that, as my friends start to get married, it’s completely unrealistic for me to think that I’ll be able to go to the U.S. enough to attend all of the weddings, and that is absolutely heartbreaking! I wish I knew that I would have these feelings – I think it’s one of those things that will never go away, no matter how long I live here or how much I am living here. It’s hard to see all of your friends back home also loving life without you.”
– Kelly,




“I’ve been living in Paris for just under a year now. Being one of the most visited cities and tourist destinations in the World, I was given A WHOLE LOAD of advice by friends, family, colleague and acquaintances alike before moving to the city of love. “The French are all rude”, “Paris is expensive”, “Everyone will laugh at your accent”, “Paris can be pretty underwhelming”. I don’t know what it is about Paris, but people really seem to have a love/ hate relationship with the city. And when giving advice, people are more likely to share negative opinions, which is obviously a shame. So granted, a couple of people have been rude, but isn’t that the same in every place? In my experience, the French are accommodating and friendly for the most part, even often helping to correct my butchered French! Paris can be expensive but you just have to learn scout out less known spots in the city where you can pick up an expresso for €1 or a glass of wine for €2.50. Moving abroad is what you make it and a lot of experiences rely on your attitude toward the experience!”

– Sophie,

“What I wish I knew before moving abroad is that it is wise to keep some savings in the bank- even if you are moving and starting a job right away. I know, boring advice! But picture this: you start working at what you thought was your dream job, only, it turns out not to be your dream job/city/country!? What would you do if you had no savings and only a small income? My partner in crime and I found ourselves in this situation (multiple times unfortunately). The reality was that we just didn’t make enough money to easily live, save for a relocation, and save for time spent looking for a new job. We found that as promising as your new job looks and as exciting as taking the plunge is; you should always keep some savings behind you. There is nothing worse than feeling stuck when you’re on the other side of the world.”

– Tara,
When I first moved to Belgium 15 years ago, I knew they spoke Dutch in the North and French in the South of the country, but I had no idea that this language thing went so far. One weekend I decided to drive to Lille – a beautiful town in France, just over the border. This was before the days of GPS, but I had a good map with me and had travelled all over Europe before, so I never gave it much thought. I hardly left Brussels when I got completely lost. The road signs pointed to places I couldn’t find on the map and my map had places I couldn’t find on any signs! It was a complete nightmare! At the end I got where I had to be, but it took me hours. Next day I talked to my colleagues at work and only then did I realise what happened – town names were indicated in the language of the region I was in, and the map had the names in the language of the place. I wish I had known this before! Who would have thought to follow the signs to Rijsel when driving to Lille or Eigenbrakel for Braine-l’Alleud?! Here are a few other examples (there are so many more!) of respectively Dutch and French names of some of the bigger towns in Belgium: Gent = Gand; Bergen = Mons; Luik – Liege; Namen = Namur; Antwerpen = Anvers. My advice when driving around in Belgium? Anno 2016, use a GPS!
– Jurga,
The one thing I wished I knew before moving overseas is that it is nowhere near as scary as I would’ve ever thought. Even with all the differences of food, culture, money, language, driving and everything else you can think of, as long as you adopt your new surroundings as your new home and go into everything with a sense of openness, then everything will fall into place. I’m not saying there won’t be challenges, but you overcome them and learn from it all (I even drove up the wrong side of the street a few times when learning). At the same time that is challenging, it’s also an intensely liberating and rewarding experience that helps you to grow in ways that you don’t understand if you spend your whole life in one place.”

– Katie,
“I wish that I knew that being an expat in your 30s is much different to being one in your 20s. My ideals of moving to the UK were very firmly based on my friends tales of moving to London. Sure they had a few woes, but they had lots of friends, things to do, were exploring the world and were generally happy. In your 30s I think you have more established standards for your life. Because of this we found ourselves living outside of London in our own apartment. Whilst it was much more comfortable and more similar to what we were used to at home, it made it very hard to get to know people, especially because there really aren’t any other Aussies in the area sharing similar experiences to us. It has also meant that we wanted jobs that were a little more challenging than working behind a bar. Our friends in their 20s they had a great travel / life balance as they had very few responsibilities. We on the other hand found ourselves swamped with responsibilities and pressure far greater than we had experienced back at home. Thankfully we have got a much better balance now, but that first year of being abroad was a real doozy.”
– Laura,
“I have worked and lived in Singapore for six years from 2010 till 2016. As excited I was to move there and work for a reputable MNC, I did not realize one very important thing. You see, the eagerness to live an expat life in one of the most secure financial hubs of the world had got the better of me. In order to ensure that I don’t slip up and to make full use of this rare opportunity, I delved deep into work. I surrounded my days and nights with too much work and I didn’t even realize it at that time. This led to a point when I realized that I didn’t have friends in Singapore with who I could hang out with on the weekends. Honestly, after 5 years I was quite lonely over there. Yes, I did go out by myself but Singapore being a small city, you tend to lose out on options if you are by yourself. So, the one thing I wish I knew or I wish somebody had told me before I had moved to Singapore? “Work hard, but play harder. Give time to yourself and eventually you will make friends”. Working in Singapore was one of the best decisions of my life but I just wish that I had made time to have more fun too.”
– Tamshuk, 
“Before I moved abroad, I wish I knew how hard it would be to say goodbye. When planning to move, I thought my time abroad would be temporary. A 6-month position in India was the plan, and I thought that would be enough to shake my travel bug once and for all. I imagined myself returning home after 6 months, enlightened, focused, and ready to settle down in a real person, big girl job. Boy was I WRONG.  6 months flew by. By the end of it, I did not want to leave.  I had forged such incredible relationships with new friends – unlike any I had ever experienced before. I was loving the work I was doing, and I also felt like I had barely scratched the surface of experiencing India. I was not ready to say goodbye. Suffice to say, I abandoned my plan of returning home! So if you are considering moving abroad, be cognizant that there is a good chance you will want to stay longer than anticipated. The upside is amazing new friendships and experiences, the downside is now you will have great friends on opposite sides of the world – so no matter where you go, you will always be missing somebody. “


– Sydney,
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