If you’re reading this article, then you likely have this question in your head already. My counter question to you is: what triggered this thought for you? What made you think that moving abroad could be a choice you could make?
Knowing the why – Katie’s story
Identifying the needs that are unmet is the first step to understanding the ‘why’. We often go into conclusions too early, before considering other options, and we go for the first thing or first solution that comes to mind.
But – – is it always the best choice? Let’s have a look at an example.
A 29-year old woman, let’s call her Katie, considers whether to move abroad to “start over”. Reasons? She just broke off a 5-year long relationship after being cheated on and lost all trust in her partner (and basically in all men, to be fair), she’s nearing the 30th birthday too and has some anxiety around it. The break up was her trigger to think “Well, maybe I should just start over, clean slate, move abroad”.
I’m not saying that moving abroad is not a solution here, it may be, but I’d encourage Katie to explore her current needs a bit more and see how they impact her decision making process. If the conclusion at the end is ‘Yes, I’m going!’ then this is absolutely fine – but let’s make it a deliberate decision.
After exploring further, Katie concludes that at the moment she has a need for spending some time alone, rethinking her priorities, doing “new” things as she hasn’t done this much with her partner, and having some fun with people she likes.
Now the question becomes – can Katie meet her needs in a different way than moving abroad?
After multiple conversations, Katie comes to the conclusion that actually:
- she can just start with going away for a week alone to an agriculture she had on her radar for a while now. This would satisfy her need of being alone with her thoughts and also the need for novelty, as she wanted to visit this area of the country for a while now, but her partner wasn’t so keen on.
- at first she thought that meeting new people abroad could be exciting, but then reflected that it may not be as easy to make friends abroad as she thinks it is. She therefore decided that she could invite her friends to spend time more actively with her and have some fun with people she already has a good relationship with. And if they meet some new friends along the way – that’s an added bonus!
- her idea to move abroad sounded like an exciting opportunity, but in reality was an attempt to escape from everything here that reminded her of her ex-partner. She now realised she would also be escaping from many things she loves about her city, including best friends and family.
In Katie’s case, she noticed that the move abroad was supposed to be an escape. A move away from something. Upon reflection, the decision was to stay, give herself some time to process the events and rediscover herself, and then to start re-writing her story in the same city, building new memories and covering up the sad memories with new joyful ones more and more.
What are you moving towards?
It’s a key question for people who decide whether to move abroad.
(In the current state of the world, I shall add that the target audience of this blog and my materials are not refugees or asylum-seekers!)
Whether you decide to move your own, or you’re agreeing to move to accompany your partner in their assignment abroad, you need to make your own decision on why you’re moving.
It’s one thing to know all the things you’re moving away from – could be poor job opportunities, toxic relationships, bad weather, low pay etc. It’s more important to specify what you’re moving towards.
This will help you keep the excitement after the move, and build anticipation for something better to come. Accompanying partners will especially appreciate this exercise to counteract the thoughts of ‘I’m leaving my family’, ‘I need to give up a great job’ and so on. To make the move a success, and a nice developmental opportunity, try asking yourself:
What are you looking forward to in this move?
What are you gaining through this move?
What are you excited to learn about the new country?
What swayed you to make this decision?
What activities will you try when you get there? What places will you want to visit?
When moving as a result of one partner’s opportunity, it’s sometimes easy to get into the frame of thinking that ‘we’re moving for them’ and the sacrificing mindset. The truth is, even if you are giving up a lot in a move, it’s still your decision to go through with it. It may mean that you are prioritising the value of ‘family’ or ‘relationship’ over others. If you are – it’s likely more important for you than others, maybe you think that others, like the career, you can meet in other ways when abroad.
Moving as partners is a whole other topic as well and you can read a separate article on that here.
If you sign up to my newsletter, you get a very thorough (and free!) workbook with exercises that can help you feel more established in yourself, during and after the move. Have a go at it!
Verifying the ‘towards’
Thinking that the grass is greener somewhere is an easy trap to fall into. I encourage you to verify if your assumptions about the destination you’re considering are indeed true.
For example, people often consider Denmark as a great place to live as expats when they look at salary levels or social support. And that’s true, salaries are generally quite generous in Denmark, but there are other aspects to consider – cost of life, high taxes, eligibility for that highly acclaimed social support, ease of acclimatising with the local culture etc. We need to put all these things together to get a realistic picture of our potential life in a new country.
Checking assumptions and doing the research is a useful way to do that.
So… should you move abroad?
Moving abroad can be a very rewarding and developmental experience. It’s also one that kind of puts your life upside down in many ways too! That’s why I think it’s important to have a clear ‘why’ in our heads to keep us going and to assess our initial expectations against. It may feel like it’s a decision “for life”, but it doesn’t need to be, we don’t need to put that kind of pressure on ourselves.
At the same time, because it’s so time, energy and money consuming to move abroad, it’s worth reflecting on our needs beforehand to ensure we’re 100% in alignment with our decision at the time we’re making it.
Are you planning your move abroad? Here are some more articles you may find helpful!
If you’d like support in listening to your worries and considerations, and help in making this decision, coaching can be a great tool for you to try!
Book your free 30-minute consultation here or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to learn more about how working with me can help in your challenges.