Last Updated on July 7, 2020 by Camilla Gill
If you are moving to another country alone, it’s normal to feel nervous and scared.
Everyone gets scared about moving abroad, especially if they are doing it alone.
But you know what? Over the past decade, I’ve moved abroad alone to Brazil, Portugal and Colombia. And each time I moved abroad, I did it all. by. myself.
I even moved it with no jobs lined up. My plan was always to find a job when I got there, and each time it worked out! Then once I had gotten a job, it was steps 2 and 3 – Find a place to live and make friends.
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The 4 Challenges Of Moving To A New Country
So, you’re moving to another country alone and you’re feeling scared, maybe even terrified? Have you woken up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat and typed into Google, ‘I’m moving to another country alone…HELP!’?
Chill out. There are only 4 things to remember if you’re moving to start a new life somewhere.
From someone who’s been there and done it, multiple times, let me explain them to you.
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1 You’re Not Special
The first thing to remember and something that I wish I knew ten years ago is that, YOU’RE NOT A SNOWFLAKE.
Or in other words, you’re not unique.
Maybe it’s a bit tough telling you that you’re not special, but actually, it works to your advantage.
You see, the thing is, EVERYONE feels scared about starting a new life abroad.
The way you are feeling right now is completely normal.
The reason you feel scared is because you are being pushed out of your comfort zone.
What you need to remember is that almost everyone feels this way.
When I first moved abroad alone, I was terrified! I think I even cried the night before.
Honestly, I felt like I was the only person ever to feel this way and as a result, I felt incredibly lonely before even making the big move.
If you are making the big jump and planning to start a new life abroad, then it’s important to have faith that things will work out.
Millions of people have moved abroad alone before and have made it work.
If they can start a new life abroad alone, then you can too.
Believe in yourself.
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2 You Will Feel Uncomfortable
When you first move abroad alone, expect to feel uncomfortable for the first few weeks, maybe even months.
One of the main challenges of moving somewhere new is the unfamiliarity.
Everything will be new to you, imagine the first day of a new school, and that’s what moving to a new country is like.
Starting a new life in a different country is going to mean leaving your friends and family behind, you might not know the language of the country, you will have to get used to new foods and strange customs.
Before you move abroad, get comfortable with being uncomfortable.
In the months leading up to your departure, get used to trying new things and pushing yourself.
Try going to new restaurants, join some new clubs to meet people outside of your social circle, start a new hobby, start learning the new language.
Set a challenge for yourself to do one new thing a week, be it trying a new food or talking to someone new.
It sounds simple and too easy to be effective, but it really does help.
If you are already accustomed to living a life outside of your comfort zone, then moving to another country won’t be as scary!
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3 You Will Feel Lonely Living Abroad
Hard to hear but very true.
When moving to another country alone, expect to feel lonely.
Sounds obvious. But it’s easy to forget
There’s no sugarcoating it, being lonely sucks.
I’ve been living abroad for nearly ten years now and I still hate the feeling of being lonely.
There are times when all I want is to be surrounded by my family and old friends who have known me since childhood.
BUT, my passion in life is experiencing different countries and living a life full of excitement and new adventures.
Therefore, the sacrifice I have to make is loneliness.
Don’t panic though, it’s not like you will feel lonely 100% of the time.
Loneliness strikes when you are having a bad day or receive some unexpected news.
How do you deal with loneliness when it comes though?
The best way to combat loneliness is to remember once again, that you are not alone.
Chances are that there are lots of other expats who are feeling just as lonely as you.
Find some Facebook expat groups or use Meetup.com to connect with other expats or recent arrivals.
Try not to feel shy when you go to a meetup or an event, remember they are also probably feeling scared to make friends.
The more events you go to, the easier it will become to speak to new people and make friends.
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4 Expect The Unexpected
Each time I’ve moved abroad alone, things have never worked out how I thought they were going to.
One of the main reasons people feel scared about moving to another country alone is because they can’t plan everything.
How can you plan where you are going live without visiting the apartments?
How can you make new friends if you aren’t in the country yet?
It’s time to learn how to go with the flow.
You can try your hardest to have everything sorted BEFORE you move abroad, but actually, it’s easier to figure things out when you get there.
Have enough savings to tide you over for a few months in case you don’t find a job straight away.
Before you leave, organise your accommodation in a hostel or an AirBnb for the couple weeks. This way you’re not worrying about being homeless on your first night.
Reach out on Facebook and see if you know anyone or if anyone in your network knows anyone that is already living in the country. You will feel a lot more secure if you know at least one person before you arrive.
However, all the research in the world doesn’t mean everything is going to go to plan.
Living in South America for much of the last decade has taught me that life is Predictably Unpredictable.
Manytimes when I was moving to another country alone, things didn’t work.
And you know what?
I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Life’s unexpected events are what makes it FUN.
Enjoy the surprises and go with the flow.
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These are great tips for someone moving abroad alone. I am so impressed that you’ve done this so many times! You certainly have a wealth of experience to draw from to help advise others about this.
I wish I had read this before I had moved abroad when I was in college. I felt a lot of this stuff and just knowing that others feel this way too would have been so helpful. With that said, moving abroad was one of the best things I ever did and I’m so glad I learned that life is fun and unexpected!
Thanks Jill, glad you felt it was relevant! Moving abroad is fantastic, such an amazing adventure!
At this point in my life I don’t think I’m moving to another country! But this is great advice for anyone moving away from home, my daughter moved to another part of the country and has experienced much of this. Kudos to you for being adventurous!
Great article! That is very true 🙂
I absolutely love travelling and moving to another country alone! It might be overwhelming, but there are always countless unexpected surprises that make it so worthwhile 🙂
Empower Your Wellness says
Excellent tips, they’re things you might know in the back of your mind, but it really helps to bring them to light and really dive into them.