Living abroad is one of the most life-changing decisions that can be done. We all know people who’ve ventured to another country for a new life or met others that have come to our countries in the same fashion.

If you’re reading this, chances are you’ve thought about doing the same. Or maybe you’re already living overseas but are having doubts.

Here are 6 deep reasons why living abroad is valuable whether you do it for a short time or stay an expat forever.

1. For a fresh start

Sometimes you reach a point in your life where you wish you could wipe the slate clean and start anew.

Many a person has felt stifled or hit dead ends in areas of their life.

Maybe you can’t catch a break in your current job.

Maybe you’re not finding people you want to date where you live.

Maybe your lifestyle feels like a drag.

You could troubleshoot and strive to fix an area of your life domestically.

But if it’s bettering multiple areas of your life at once, nothing beats moving abroad for a fresh start.

Let’s run a thought experiment.

Imagine you wanted to transform an area of your life. How much time and effort would it take you in your country of origin?

Finding a better job might take months if not years of training, moonlighting and searching before you find something that ticks a lot of career boxes for you.

Finding quality likeminded people to date is up in the air in terms of time. Analysis shows the dating scene has gotten worse in the West if not globally (although you can improve your odds with sound dating advice).

Finding a new way to live your life where you come from is difficult if your perspective and environment (which includes the people you’re surrounded by) have been the same your entire life.

Yet moving abroad achieves all this in much less time.

You can move to a country where demand for your skillset is high and use geoarbitrage (see below) to receive a higher salary, position or relative wealth in a career.

You can move to a country where dating isn’t tedious and your exoticness carries weight.

You can force a lifestyle change by changing your entire environment via expatriation.

Sure, preparation is involved in moving abroad.

But transformation can happen overnight.

People I’ve met in Europe who hopped a border on the Schengen Agreement to live, work and play in another European country instantly.

An American lady I met in Japan who job hunted as a tourist and managed to find an English teaching position and switch to a work visa within 90 days.

All these people placed themselves in the path of drastic change by living abroad and were rewarded with a fresh start by doing so.

Of course in most cases you’ll want to find work overseas by searching at home first or spend some weeks selling possessions and finding accommodation.

But most people could live abroad within a few months. Even with concerted effort, it’s hard to imagine improving that many lifestyle metrics in your country of origin in the same period of time.

If you want a new lease on life, living abroad might just be the charter to get you there.

Living Abroad Fresh Start

2. For the stories

Whether you’re a writer or not, every single one of us is creating a book—the saga of our own life.

Whether it’s a book that’s memorable is up to you.

Our live autobiographies are composed of chapters of indeterminate length, at the mercy of how we live.

Many of the people who have enticing tales in their own books have spent time living abroad.

As I wrote in ‘The Power Of Having Stories To Tell’:

[E]migrating to another country can be a way of beginning a new ongoing chapter in the narrative of our lives.

We’ve all met someone whose anecdotes from overseas could make a sellout movie.

A crazy story about escaping some cultural faux pas unscathed. Privileged access to some unique local experience due to speaking the native language. Worldly wisdom from expatriate insights.

Think of it this way: whatever happens, your time abroad will never be filler prose.

How many people who live until old age can seriously pen distinct stories for each year of their lives? The unfortunate truth is that for many, entire years can fly past unnoteworthy.

This doesn’t happen with living abroad. You may love or hate your time overseas but it’ll never be a neutral part of your biopic. You’ll probably have more positive stories than negative ones. But even with any challenges you face, you’ll come away with cool stories.

At the end of your life, do you want your book to resemble a nonfiction summary or a regaling epic?

If your current narrative is feeling blasé, living abroad can spice it up.

Living Abroad Stories

3. For the personal growth

Living abroad pushes us outside of our comfort zone.

The very milieux that formed our upbringing, personalities, cultural norms and social groups is whisked away within the space of a one-way flight, replaced by new surroundings, often ones unknown.

Sooner or later, this forces a change of scene, a change in outlook and often a change in the way you operate.

The imposition of this change can feel overwhelming at first. Most people call this phase culture shock. Some even fall into homesickness.

Know that such feelings are entirely normal for such a substantial change in lifestyle.

I wrote in ‘How To Overcome Being Homesick’:

Think of it like a wild animal plucked out of its natural habitat. The contrast will feel frightening and it’ll crave the familiarity of its home environment. But that doesn’t mean it can’t adapt and even thrive in the new one.

Seen this way, homesickness is a blessing in disguise. It forces you to recall the unique cultural background that helped shape you while signalling the possibility of adaptation. Behind every signal of pain lies the chance for growth and development.

Whenever you feel culture shock, homesickness, or any sign of discomfort related to living abroad, understand that you’re growing. It might not feel like it at the time but your mind is broadening from learning new perspectives unbeknownst to those who don’t venture beyond their country of origin.

All kinds of tangential factors will also play a role in your personal growth abroad, some of which are covered in this article.

But if you take personal development seriously, extended time spent abroad is hard to beat. It’s the reason gap year students tend to be more well-rounded and mature when they enter the job market and why the world leaders with the best people skills have lived abroad at some earlier point in their lives.

Living Abroad Personal Growth

4. For a different cultural experience

The world is a wondrously curious place. All human beings share 99.9% of their DNA. There’s only a 0.1% difference at the genetic level between any two of us.

Yet the differences in cultures are enormous. As any well-worn traveller will tell you, whenever you think you’ve seen human nature, there’ll always be something from another country or social group that’ll surprise you.

These differences, no matter how weird and wonderful, serve a purpose. Cultural dispositions don’t exist unless they fulfill a need for a particular group.

It’s one of the reasons ethnocentrism is a flawed way of looking at the world. Trying to judge another way of life through the lens of your own culture often falls short since cultural norms never evolved to be compared but to serve a practical purpose within their own context.

Thus all cultures have something to teach us provided we observe them with an open mind.

This learning has a myriad of benefits. It widens our perspective, protects us from dogmatism and teaches us to adapt to different contexts.

Travel lets you dip your toes into a new culture. Living abroad lets you swim in it to your heart’s content.

Living Abroad Cultural Experience

5. For new language acquisition

If living abroad widens your perspective, learning the local lingo enlarges it even further.

Sometimes there’s nothing better than being placed in the deep end of real world immersion to learn a language.

Done right, immersion delivers on a plate real life application, colloquialisms and exposure that you can’t get from any other method of language learning. With such stimulation, it’s up to you how far you take your acquisition of the native tongue.

Note that simply living abroad in a country where the language is spoken isn’t a guarantee of fluency or even conversational ability. You have to be active in your immersion not a passive onlooker assuming automatic attainment.

With expedited language acquisition, you’ll be able to take advantage of the other benefits from living abroad more quickly. Knowing the local language enhances your cultural experiences which enhance your personal growth and so on. Improvement in each facet builds upon another in a positive feedback cycle.

Learning another language is a bucket list dream for so many. Don’t waste your time abroad failing to pick up a good degree of the local language, it might be the best chance you get to tick that box off.

Living Abroad Language

6. For the advantages of geoarbitrage

Geoarbitrage is leveraging a characteristic or skill that you have in a place where it’s more valued. The ‘geo-‘ part of the word is the clue—geoarbitrage can only yield gains if you’re leveraging that weight in another country.

Life is full of opportunities if you keep an open mind and know what to look for. Geoarbitrage is one of the quickest ways to find them.

Arbitrage is often considered in financial terms. One of the most common ways is to get a job in a different country that values your skillset more than your home nation and pays you better. This works for both high-skilled work and non-specialist roles hence why many trades in developed countries are carried out by immigrants from developing countries.

But geoarbitrage extends beyond monetary gain.

You can use your native language to teach others and create a cultural group related to your home nation. You can distinguish yourself in the dating scene. You can lead others in a hobby you have expertise in and they haven’t.

Geoarbitrage provides a refreshing feeling when found. The years of hustle and irrelevance in some skillset that you may have experienced in your country of origin become newfound strengths in another part of the globe.

Don’t lead a life abroad without making geoarbitrage work for you.

Living Abroad Geoarbitrage


Living abroad is such a major life decision. We need to consider how worthwhile it is on a deep level for our specific lives.

When you move beyond the inherent fear of the unknown that comes with relocation, you discover that there are several reasons why living abroad can be so beneficial.

The most salient is the fresh start relocating abroad brings. If you desire a change of scene, a change of companions and a change in lifestyle, nothing brings this about more quickly than living abroad.

Then there are the stories you gain from life overseas. A different country is a different chapter in your life narrative, one that enriches it no matter what your experience.

We don’t always consider the ways in which we learn and develop but it happens whether we notice or not. The degree to which it happens is dependent upon how active we are in fostering growth and pushing ourselves beyond our comfort zones. Living abroad achieves just this—personal development opportunities left, right and centre.

Naturally, with a move to another country comes a change in cultural experience. This exposure broadens our perspective of what we take as the ‘norm’ and accentuates any personal growth we experience provided we refrain from being close-minded to other ways of life.

Learning the language via immersion is another advantage living abroad brings. If you’re active in how you learn the local language, the continuous exposure from being in the country will expedite your learning like nothing else.

Last but not least, living abroad can provide unseen advantages via geoarbitrage. There’s a plethora of ways we can leverage our unique characteristics, traits and skills in a country that values them more highly. Go where your strengths are most desired.

Inspired to move abroad and want to know how to get the most out of your life when you do? Abroad Lifestyles is the hub for lifestyle optimisation in foreign countries. Subscribe to our free newsletter to be kept up-to-date on the latest in lifestyle design and sage insights to navigating the modern world we live in.