Expat Life

Expat Guide: Is Expat life for me?

Brooke Saward 1
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Before you jump in the deep end and book our one way flight to a foreign city, you should first ask yourself a few realistic questions to consider if this is the right move for you. Becoming an expat is an initial investment (especially by way of flights, short term accommodation before you find a property, and setting yourself up from scratch), so it’s important to first ask yourself: Is expat life for me?

journey brooke

Ask yourself: Is Expat Life for Me?

Am I scared or excited by the idea?

If you answered ‘both’… that’s a good thing! Completely normal. If you’re leaning more toward excited than scared, then chances are you’re ‘cut out’ for the expat life. 

Can I afford it?

Maybe an obvious question, but an important one nonetheless. Consider your cost of living in your chosen city – rent, bills, internet, phone service, food, transport… the list is endless. Compare and contrast the cost of living in your current city compared with your desired city. Realistically answer the question and determine whether you can afford it. 

Can I afford to live the way I’d like to live?

Before you brush off the affordability question, stop and think a little deeper into the question. A likely scenario would be to have your heart set on living in Paris, doing your research and concluding that you can afford to live in a cheap neighbourhood and catch the subway each day into the city. But is this the way you really want to live? Be sure not to convince or kid yourself and think about the question more realistically – will you enjoy the way of life you can afford? Be honest with yourself. If you find yourself leaning towards a ‘no’, consider other (and more cheaper) cities to live in.

What is the job market like?

Just as importance in the finance realm is going to be your determined income. A good idea is to consider your traditional career opportunities and then to branch out and consider any other similar or related fields, should they be hiring more so than your original plan of action. It’s now easier than ever to determine what the job market is like with a quick google search and a few hours of light research, so be sure to allocate an evening to considering your options.

Do you know anyone who lives there?

Perhaps you want to completely start afresh in a new city where no one knows your name, or perhaps you would prefer to know a friend or two before you arrive. Think about your options – do you know anyone who lives in a foreign city? What about your preferred foreign city? Can you meet people before you make the move? Consider searching online for expat communities to see what is available in your city of choice. Again, google is your friend.

What is the transport system like?

If you don’t plan on driving a car in your new city, you’re going to want to do a little research into the public transport system to which you will rely on before you go. Be sure to factor this into your expenses plan and consider whether this is feasible. Also consider other alternatives like paying a little extra on rent for a central location or purchasing a bike and riding to work each day. Cities like Amsterdam and Berlin are perfect for making the daily commute, but not all cities are as bike friendly.

What are my expectations?

I’m sure you’ve all heard the phrase ‘culture shock’… and believe me, it’s real. But it isn’t always a bad thing – even if you anticipate one coming. The fact of the matter is that you need to seriously consider your own personal expectations and see if these match up with your city of choice. All of the above considerations are just starting points to consider before making the move… but the real question to ask yourself is what do I expect out of becoming an expat? If you think you can pinpoint the answer and reasonably consider finding what you’re looking for in this new city and new experience, then go for it. Accept the challenge and take the plunge!

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  • nancydavolio6@gmail.com'
    Best holiday destinations
    November 12, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Thanks for guidance. I need it more.

  • zaamissbowtie@completedisbelief.com'
    November 5, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    I’m also considering Expat life. I’ll be doing TEFL and moving abroad with my hubs hopefully next year. Can’t wait! All I feel is excitement, hardly any fear 🙂

  • trinidy.patterson@smfa.edu'
    Trinidy Patterson
    October 31, 2014 at 9:03 am

    I really like this post, a lot.
    I’m on my first big travel trip abroad and i’m solo.
    I’m getting a TEFL certification and i’ve been entertaining the idea of whether or not to seek an expat way of life in a year or so.
    So I appreciate your bullet point of considerations before taking the plunge!

  • thetouristoflife@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 12:52 am

    Great article Brooke! According to this article Expat life is for me hihi!


  • lengesaeth@gmail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 4:39 am

    great post! ive been an expat for a very long time (18 years to be exact and im only 27 :)) some moves were not by choice (i was too young), but some were. Its an experience I would never want to be without. it teaches great independence and confidence.

  • thehibiscustraveller@gmail.com'
    October 23, 2014 at 2:41 am

    I left Sydney, Australia on the 1st July this year! Spent three months travelling around Europe (YOU inspired me to start my own travel blog of my travels :-D) and have just arrived in London…..my new home for the next 2 years!

    I have only been here 3 weeks so far and identify with all of the points you made about considering the expat move! I’m lucky I’ve got a relative to stay with until I get settled and find somewhere of my own to live. Getting use to how EXPENSIVE everything here is a struggle, and I thought Sydney was expensive! I am still stuck converting AUD to GBP…..(I know, I know it has to stop!).
    Have landed myself a permanent job starting next week. I’m exciting to finally start getting some income in and then being able to go out and enjoy London!

    Best wishes for your new start Brooke and Cheers to Aussie Expats in Europe!! 🙂

  • joey.nbarillas@gmail.com'
    October 22, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    I became an expat at 20 when I moved to Switzerland. Being an expat has opened so many doors for me, I’ve met so many people that have left a mark in my life.
    Now I’m living in southern Germany finishing my university degree and dreaming of the day I move back to Switzerland.


  • luyoutravel@gmail.com'
    October 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    Congrats on your move! I’ve lived abroad in southern China and currently I’m living abroad in Vilnius, LT. Both moves were exciting and they’ve allowed me to explore other counties all over the world. In Vilnius; however, I struggle with tapping into the local blogging community. Do you have plans to get to know bloggers in Berlin? Any suggestions for doing so?


  • juli_beras@hotmail.com'
    October 22, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    I became and expat two years ago when I moved from Argentina to New Zealand… I didn’t even know there was a term for it, but I’m extremely happy with my decision even though there are times where missing people gets a bit hard.

    Best of luck on you future adventures.
    Jules.- http://www.thekiwidiaries.com

  • thepinthemapproject@gmail.com'
    Nikki Vargas
    October 22, 2014 at 9:19 am

    This is a really great post that brings up some valid questions I’ve been asking myself as I consider making the move to London in January 2015. I am definitely in the phase of figuring out logistics of my move and (admittedly) the idea of going to graduate school to pursue a masters in journalism does make some of these questions easier (i.e. accommodations, etc.). Regardless, it’s still a big venture that I’m nervous/excited for!

    In terms of expat communities, where do you usually look? For your move to Berlin for example, did you have any resources for finding buddies abroad?


  • lary.delacruz@gmail.com'
    October 22, 2014 at 7:34 am

    Hi Brooke!

    I came across your blog about a week ago and I LOVE IT! I am also 23 years old and unfortunately haven’t had the opportunity to travel the world like you but traveling is still on my bucket list and I’ll definitely be using your blog for ideas and traveling tips in the future. I also subscribed to your Youtube! 🙂

    I look forward to keep reading your future posts!!
    Congratulations on moving to Berlin by the way. It must have been hard traveling for 8 months with just a suitcase. At least you have another place around the world to call home!

    Thank you so much for being open and honest about your travels! 🙂

  • just.downtowngirl@gmail.com'
    October 22, 2014 at 2:23 am

    True words!
    It’s the little things (like public transport, supermarkets, …) you should really keep in mind when moving in a foreign city.
    The city I would choose (if it wasn’t sooooooo incredibly expensive) would be Copenhagen. Definitely and totally in love after I’ve been living there for 10 weeks for an internship.

  • laura.christine.lennon@gmail.com'
    October 22, 2014 at 12:03 am

    this is so inspiring–i’ve been thinking about this constantly for the past year! i’m not sure i could live somewhere abroad for an indefinite period of time, but extensive travel or periodic jaunts is definitely something i’m trying to invest in more. thanks for sharing!

  • fabian.ciammaichella@gmail.com'
    October 21, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    I’m deffo making the move and will live as a diving instructor going around the world and seeking new oppurtunities as time comes along.
    Thx for posting though. Always good to hear it from all kinds of directions.

  • traceyh14@gmail.com'
    October 21, 2014 at 10:17 pm

    Currently an expat living in Namibia and taking that leap of faith was the best decision we ever made. Not sure we will return home anytime soon, the nomadic lifestyle can be very addictive.


  • christie.horne@gmail.com'
    Christie of The Butterfly Editions
    October 21, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Some great questions to consider when taking the leap to becoming an expat! I am looking forward to settling somewhere in a year or so when I’m ready to stop being a nomad and settle somewhere for a little while. There is something so comforting about having a home base!

  • lamb_4444@hotmail.com'
    October 21, 2014 at 4:45 pm

    Love your questions before considering expat life. We are currently living in Australia. The job market question is great. I have been working on paperwork to be certified to teach in Australia for five months. I thought about the job market but never considered the paperwork and time to process it. The transportation question is also good. We have chosen not to buy a car here because the transportation is so good. Which lets us have more money to play with. Thanks for the questions. I will pass them on to friends who are thinking about jumping overseas. http://www.eatallovertheworld.weebly.com

  • luc.pilz@gmail.com'
    Lucy @ The Wanderlust Scout
    October 21, 2014 at 4:37 pm

    I have had a whole year to research and thing about my move to the UK. I think it is super important for people to actually think hard and fast about their move. Some great tips right here

    Lucy x


  • endlesspostcards@gmail.com'
    Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    October 21, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    Love this – I want to be an expat after I graduate university, but am still completely unsure of what city/country I want to live in. I guess it’ll depend on how the economy’s doing in a couple of years!

  • kirstiejeffries@yahoo.com'
    Kirstie of Venga, Vale, Vamos
    October 21, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    Definitely important things to keep in mind! Although I would say that even if you’re not 100% sure about all the items on the list, take a risk and go for it. I’ve done that a few times and haven’t regretted anything!


  • lioninthewild@gmail.com'
    Kiara King
    October 21, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    Truth be told, I don’t think expat life is for me. While I’m lucky enough to travel most months these days, I do miss home like crazy and love the feeling of arriving back in my little city. My dad actually was an expat for a couple of years in Ghana, West Africa, which he absolutely adored and would never regret. I don’t think a decision like that you could ever regret, whether it worked or didn’t.

    Another wonderfully informative post!


  • Thechefswifenyc@gmail.com'
    Angela Brown
    October 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Just stumbled upon your site. It’s fantastic! I’ve been skimming through your old posts for a good hour or so. Really wonderful content! I’d love to travel just as frequently, but own a small NYC restaurant with my husband, so only get overseas for a week or two each year. I’ll definitely be back soon. Feel free to pop by my site sometime 🙂

  • mera@nsuok.edu'
    Alejandra Mera
    October 21, 2014 at 10:00 am

    I have lived in 3 countries so far and I’m ADDICTED. I feel as if I will never settle because there are so many amazing places to experience. Berlin is one of my favorite cities, I’m sure you will love it (if you don’t already :D). Keep up the good work! I always enjoy reading your blog entries, so informative & inspiring.

  • marieking32@gmail.com'
    Marie @ Marie Away
    October 21, 2014 at 8:12 am

    Definitely some important questions to ask yourself before taking the leap. Honestly, I didn’t think of many of these things when I first decided to move to South Korea. Sometimes the excitement and sense of adventure overwhelms rational thought. Luckily, it worked out well for me and I love expat life. Though, I have met and heard of many who made quick decisions and it didn’t work out as hoped!


  • alissaloxton@hotmail.com'
    October 21, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Expat life is definitely for me, has been since I left Australia straight out of high school! Now I’m back and forth all the time. My decision to be living in New Zealand as an expat at the moment is one of my best yet!

    21 year old travel blogger

  • careybethc@gmail.com'
    Carey Carpenter
    October 21, 2014 at 7:44 am

    Your blog/website/IG account has been an incredible inspiration for me and my decision to move abroad and take on the “expat life”. Of course I just had to travel for 6 weeks before finally landing in Prague, CR to call my home ( away from home..). I see that you are going to be in Prague sometime this month, and I would love it if we could meet up while you are here. I am inspired by such like minded people who feel the exact same way I do about traveling young. It is the best education you can give yourself. After all, I would have never discovered the GEM Lekla Havla restaurant without your blog. ( my FAV by the way) 🙂 Im still adjusting to the “culture shock” and I have only been here 3 months. But its getting easier and more adventurous by the day! I think Berlin will suit you just fine.

    • worldofwanderlust
      October 21, 2014 at 7:51 am

      Such a lovely comment to read – thank you so much for sharing!!