When it comes to the expectations of leaving everything behind, living abroad, and starting over, romantic notions abound. I’m reminded of a scene in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris in which Owen Wilson’s character espouses on how great life would be if they moved to Paris.
…I’d drop the house in Beverly
Hills, the pool, everything – in a
heartbeat. Look – this is where
Monet lived and painted – we’re
thirty minutes from town. Imagine
the two of us settling here. If my
book turns out we could do it – you
could just as easily make jewelry
You’re in love with a fantasy…
This quote summarizes how nearly all of us feel when we think of all of the places we’ve been and think about how our lives would be so much better if we moved abroad. But is it everything you imagine it to be?
Travel as Escapism
Travel is the ultimate escape from the day to day drudgery of life. You don’t have to worry about rent/mortgage, utility bills, and groceries, loans, etc… And then your life revolves around weekly perks like dinners out and drinks that keep you from losing your mind. Travel affords us the opportunity to temporarily get away from all of that and indulge in stimulating our minds with new sights, sounds, tastes, and cultures.
Given all that, why wouldn’t you want to live somewhere new and exotic?
Travel as Life
When you move abroad, you may be overwhelmed at the idea of all of the new places to get familiar with. You have new stores to find, new brands of food, and new customs. There is an initial honeymoon period that overwhelms you and leaves you in a hazy stupor.
However, you quickly realize that it is completely different than when you visited on vacation. You find that the same things you tried to get away from, ended up following you here! You again have rents, utility bills, groceries. This time, however, it’s in a place for from your original home.
The reality is, all those exotic photos you see on so many websites are the highlights. These are people posting their days at their best. You don’t see the monotony that accompanies: The waiting in the rain for a train that never shows because of service interruptions. You don’t see photos of people sitting on a couch watching TV.
So Why Live Abroad
Why live abroad? To get out of your comfort zone. Do something many people can only dream about doing. But realize what you’re getting yourself in to. Life follows you wherever you go. Unless you have the luxury of hundreds of thousands in liquid cash, you will have to work. You will have the same downtime – the kind of downtime where you go mad with boredom and question what the point of being bored thousands of miles from home is.
Use that time to plan and explore the area. When you move abroad, no matter where you now live in the world, you are now closer to places you’ve never been before. Make the most of your time and don’t wait for things to happen. It will be easy to fall into the exact same sort of routine you had in your past. Even if you are short on money, go for a walk and just take in everything.
After all, you can always go back. If you pass on the opportunity, though, you’ll never know how your life could have been different.