The Pros and Cons of Living Abroad

Living abroad was the most exciting year of my life. I got to call another country home and the move really made me step out of my comfort zone. What I didn’t realise about moving abroad though, was that there are loads of cons that people failed to mention to me.

For me, the pros did outweigh the cons but if you are travelling abroad, I think its important to know and understand both sides so that you can be more prepared. Here is my list of the pros and cons of living abroad!

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The Pros of Living Abroad

Life Experience

There is nothing more exciting than living in a foreign country. Everything is new, everything is a challenge and its a truly wonderful experience. My year in Toronto was one of the best years of my life and for a mixture of reasons but as a whole, it was a life experience. It was my big adventure and I embraced every moment of it.

New Cultures

Sometimes us Irish think there’s no where else out there like Ireland or there’s no-one else like the Irish (which I still kinda believe) but the truth is, moving abroad and living away from your home country gives you the opportunity to learn about new cultures and that’s what life is all about I think! I certainly embraced this and if you’re considering moving abroad, be sure you do too!

Independence

Moving abroad forces you to be independent. I’m the baby of my family and I’ll admit I was (still am) spoilt! Taking the big leap out of my comfort zone and moving half way across the world forced me to be independent. And in the space of a couple of hours on a flight, I rocked up in Canada, I was jobless, I was homeless and you know what? I had to land on my feet. It was the best thing I ever done! I learned to cook, clean, budget, survive and basically – live!

Adventure

My oh my does moving abroad giving you an amazing sense of adventure! Even the boring commute to work is exciting – hello subway!! 😀 I loved that I had somewhere new to explore every single day and I loved that I had so many incredible cities at hand to visit on weekends away. The possibilities were literally endless and this brought great excitement to my year!

New Opportunities

Living and working in a foreign country is fantastic for new opportunities. I had two unreal jobs in television (something I’d never get into in Ireland!) and I worked in HBO Canada and Disney Television! Who else can say that? I also got to do things I never thought I’d do like the CN Tower EdgeWalk and I got to meet Olly Murs on a regular day in work! Travel and seize every opportunity you can get while abroad!

New Friends

Making new friends is always nice and when you travel, you really do make friends for life. I was lucky to work with some amazing people and even though I’m home three years, I’m still in touch with them all. If you happen to cross paths with any Irish while abroad, be ready for an ultimate bond! Having an Irish companion really takes away from the homesickness when abroad.

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The Cons of Living Abroad

Visa Application 

Applying for working visas is tough. Its mundane, its complicated and its damn stressful. I found the whole visa application process for Canada very tedious and very hard to deal with and you’ve got to be prepared for that. Luckily though, it all paid off for us and we got accepted and that made it all worthwhile. The day we arrived, when I first spotted the CN Tower I was  teary eyed because I realised it was all going to be worth it and it was.

Expenses

If you’re planning a year abroad be ready for the expense of it. I moved to Canada and I was prepared for the fact that Canada is very expensive. My advice is to pre-book accommodation for 7 nights or so and to start searching for apartments before your booked accommodation runs out. You must factor in costs for food, transport, expenses and a possible accommodation extension if you don’t find somewhere to live straight away. We had to move from our luxury hotel to a budget hostel because we found it tough to get accommodation. The move to the hostel gave us the push we needed!

Jobless / Homeless

When you move somewhere new, chances are you’re going to be jobless and homeless and believe me, this is terrifying. My advice is to be pro-active. Suss out both the job and housing market before you go and get moving within a day or so of arriving. You can always see the attractions at a later date.

Homesick

My god, being homesick is the worst feeling EVER and I certainly wasn’t prepared for how bad it can get. Living abroad is the most exciting thing in the world but it comes with an emptiness where home should be and that’s tough to deal with. I had three bouts of extreme homesickness when I lived away and my advice for when this happens is to keep busy and be kind to yourself. Also make sure to call and Skype weekly and book yourself trips to keep you going. I didn’t travel home during my time away and I chose to travel around Canada and the USA. This kept me going through the sad days and it broke up my time nicely.

Loneliness

This comes hand in hand with the above but its such an important point to note. You will get lonely and it will suck. I travelled with my other half and we had the best time ever and thankfully loved each others company but really, all we had was each other and that can be hard too. Without family and friends around you, things can be tough and it will get you down. Just remember that the feeling of loneliness, is just that, a feeling and it to shall pass. If you are travelling solo, try to find a companion that you can meet for coffees every few days. I admire anyone who can travel alone long-term, I’d not be able too!

Its tough to get work

There’s a perception in Ireland that if you move abroad, you’ll walk into an unreal job and be earning $100,000 in no time. This is not the case. The truth is, its really hard to get a decent job with good pay. I’m not an example of this as I had an incredible job with a fantastic wage but 80% of the Irish people I knew in Toronto were all temp workers, unsure of their situation. And believe me that’s not easy. If you think you’ll move abroad to Canada, for example, and that you’ll walk into a job, you won’t. Its tough and you need to be prepared to take any job you can to get to stay on your feet.

Squidgy Moments

So there you have it, the pros and cons of living abroad. Having taken the leap myself and living in Toronto for a year, I can honestly say that moving across the Atlantic was the best decision of my life. I learned to grow up, I learned about a new culture, I learned how to stand on my own two feet and I got to enjoy adventure after adventure! Was it tough? Absolutely, it was the hardest thing I ever done, but it was also the most rewarding and because of that, the pros will always outweigh the cons for me.

Have you lived abroad before? Have you any tips on how to make the most of it?

Always Wandering,

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6 comments

  1. Great blog! Sweden is the 7th country and my #1 piece of advice is: be flexible and open-minded. If you are, then most things will turn out OK in the end.

  2. A very realistic look at how it feels to move abroad. There are definitely times when the cons seem to mount up, but thankfully the pros are always worth it!

  3. I’ve been living abroad for over 3 years now and can definitely relate to this and the points you wrote. Homesick and missing friends is the biggest negative for me, and new experiences and cultures are the biggest pro’s! 🙂 Thanks for sharing this thoughtful post.

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