Expat Life

9 Reasons to Move to a New City and Become an Expat

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After travelling around the world nonstop for almost an entire year, I finally called it quits and decided to settle down and try life living as an expat in Berlin. Of course many readers were eager to learn why I moved to Berlin, but a fast forward a few weeks I suppose the more important question would be what do I think about living in a new city? Is expat life for me? And more importantly, is expat life for you? The title of this post should give a fairly certain indication that I am indeed loving life as an expat, so here are my top reasons to move to a new city and become an expat!

brooke cesky


1. Love Yourself First

The most important relationship in your life is the relationship you have with yourself.

– Diane Von Furstenberg

Stated like the  strong and empowered woman herself. No truer words could be more applicable when it comes to branching out of the ordinary and throwing yourself in the deep end. Of course it is difficult at first and never will it ever be easy, but when was life ever easy? Nothing in this world worth having will come easy… just remember that when you’re stuck at the front of the line at your local hand gesturing your symptoms in a vague attempt to receive your desired medicine.

2. Standing on your own two feet

Have you ever found yourself stranded in a compromising position (perhaps incapable of replacing a tire, putting up a tent, or cooking a recipe beyond 2 minute noodles!?) and wondering to yourself who is best to call to solve your problem? Yup. We live in a world of reliance. We rely on others (or google) for help and advice. Becoming an expat will strip these niceties from you and force you to stand on your own two feet. 

3. Because in the end, you only have yourself

Call it pessimistic… call it realistic… call it whatever you will. But it’s true. In the end, we only have ourselves when all of our worldly possessions and relationships are stripped away. But that’s not a bad thing! It’s just something we should aim to accept earlier in life – to prepare ourselves for the long and rough road ahead. Life was not made to be easy, seamless or plain. We’re put on this earth to make our lives as good as they can be, it is our decision what we do with the time that is given to us.

4. Broaden your horizons 

Becoming an expat in a new city not only brings with it change for you personally, but also for your entire life. The possibilities (you will soon realise) are endless. All of a sudden there is a whole new list of opportunities and challenges awaiting you. Of course it pays to plan ahead and do your research – where is going to be the best city for your preferences, for your career prospects and for your enjoyment? Be sure to think big! The WORLD is limitless.

brooke saward

5. Broaden your mindset

Maybe it’s not your opportunities that need a change, but your outlook? Moving abroad to become an expat is indeed the greatest ‘plunge into the deep end’ you can make. By putting yourself out of your comfort zone and into the hands of a foreign culture, you will inevitably broaden your mindset and outlook on life. Regardless of whether you’ve travelled abroad before, nothing will prepare you for the change you are about to experience as an expat living abroad. Embrace the uncertainties.

6. Create your own global network

Not only will you experience a new culture and way of life whilst abroad, but you will also make friends and meet colleagues from all different areas of the globe. If you’re looking to meet people from all over, consider popular expat cities like London, Berlin or New York. If you just want to experience a particular culture and meet certain foreigners, do your research before you choose your expat city. 

7. Learn a new language, culture, way of life…

But of course whilst you’re there, you won’t be able to help yourself from constantly learning and evolving in your new way of life. Just be sure to say YES to everything (or as much as possible), as you never know when it might all end and you’ll hand to go home (governments can be tough nuts to crack at the best of times). Carpe Diem!

8. Put your best foot forward

There’s something slightly alluring about the idea of starting your life again. Starting afresh after a traumatic or life changing event can sometimes be the clean slate we might need. If you want to reinvent yourself or simply just be a better version of yourself, why not consider becoming an expat? There’s no cleaner slate than a new city in a foreign country where you don’t know anyone!

brooke saward

9. Challenge Yourself

Maybe you just need a little stimulation. After all, life should be passionate, challenging, scary, exciting… and so many things! But life should never (ever ever ever) be boring. If its a change you need, why not try a new city – new places, new faces, new language, new culture…. all of the newness! Go on, challenge yourself.

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    […] More inspiration: Brooke Saward, who writes the awesome travel blog World of Wanderlust, spent time living at home after college so that she could save up enough money to travel around the world for an entire year. Towards the end of her year of travel she landed in Berlin, and now she’s running her blog and business full-time as an expat. […]

  • leonor.rogister@gmail.com'
    April 6, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Funny to see that the last picture of this post was taken in Budapest… the city where I moved for work and started an expat life :).

  • kristinabasic3@gmail.com'
    November 7, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    beautiful post!! <3 🙂


  • jamila.sanciangco@gmail.com'
    November 7, 2014 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Brooke,

    I am genuinely excited that you have done this full time by being an expat! I am embarrassingly but honestly jealous. I’ve lived abroad for school and wanted to make it full-time too (not school, but the living part of course). As difficult as it may be to make it happen due to logistical reasons (eg, lack of work permit, experience, etc), I will keep working on it! Your blog is definitely inspirational and it’s keeping me going!

    Totally agree, the ability to not just travel, but actually live and immerse yourself in as many places as possible is truly DEFINING! So far my year abroad has been one of the significant milestones in my life. Even if I’m back home in Manila now, I cannot wait for my next adventure!

    x Jam

    To those who are thinking of studying abroad, you can check my fresh / recent personal experience here: http://www.jamsanciangco.com/blog/2014/11/3/y98f6af6cpougq1ygaw8dstc6hlvb3

  • nancydavolio6@gmail.com'
    Best holiday destinations
    November 5, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    Some interesting blog. i will go there. thanks for posting nice views.

  • ayeshadhillon@gmail.com'
    November 3, 2014 at 10:33 am

    Thanks Brooke, for yet another amazing post. This one hit close to home.
    I’m so excited to start my new adventure in the UK this January, and I’m finally in the starting stages of making it happen. I had some crazy stuff happen to me last January and a fresh start, new adventure and some direction will be a big help.
    I figured there was no better place to state how incredibly TERRIFIED I am. I can’t help but shake a little when I think about stepping off that plane: Where will I go? Who will I know? Where will be the closest bank? What if I can’t find a job? I know that things will work themselves out, but with all that excitement. I’ll admit. I’m scared.
    Thanks for this though- it helps. As does your blog- it’s a regular routine for me to read up on your adventures and feel like there’s someone out there, living the dream. Makes me feel like I can too.


  • sara@daily-lovejuice.net'
    November 2, 2014 at 5:44 pm

    Living abroad really expands your mind and your possibilities and it’s great that you are encouraging other to do it! By being out there, learning a new culture and making it part of your life, you rediscover yourself and realize what the real you is.

    Of course, sometimes you miss home out of different reason. And sometimes you really miss a good typical meal from your place of origin!! But that can make you appreciate your own country. That’s how it at least works in my case. I haven’t lived in my country for some years, and I honestly have no idea if I will ever return or not. But I love it and I’m proud of my nationality, way more than what I would probably be if I would not have left 🙂

  • kmcoulman@gmail.com'
    November 1, 2014 at 1:12 am

    Thanks for the suggestions! I’m from the US, and my husband and I have looked into things like Workaways and other volunteer arrangements in exchange for housing, but we still run into the issue of not having a visa that allows us to stay longer than a certain period (90 days in Europe, unless a company sponsors us for work). What I’d really like to do is find a place to stay on a more permanent basis – but the visa issue is like “the chicken or the egg” conundrum. I can’t get a job without sponsorship for a work visa, but I can’t get a work visa without a job.I recently found a Work and Holiday Visa in Australia that will allow me to stay for up to 1 year (and permits me to work!) but it is for people ages 18-30, and my husband turns 30 next month. 🙁

    Looking forward to more help from WoW!

  • awanderlustblog@OUTLOOK.COM'
    October 31, 2014 at 9:50 am

    spent a day in cologne alone and thought of you – it must have gotten lonely o n some of your trips http://thewanderlusthasgotme.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/what-to-see-in-london.html

  • bec.humm@gmail.com'
    October 30, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    Hi Joyce,
    I couldn’t help but notice your comment “It should be a priority for those who can make it happen”. I’d like to rephrase that, to: “Those who MAKE it a priority CAN make it happen!” 🙂
    It is still (a little) difficult to take a Gap year here in Aus because of course you need the money for your trip and also for when you get home to set yourself up again (it’s expensive here). However working full-time for a year or two and saving the money, and subsidising your trip by taking part in Helpx/Woofing/other arrangements that allow you to stay in different countries with food and accommodation for free, for only a few hours work a day, is definitely something worth looking at. A great way to experience the culture as well as ward of loneliness. Kate (commenter above) might also find this information useful! Western Europe in my experience is expat (if not budget) friendly.
    There will always be a million reasons why it won’t work/can’t happen… But work hard, look past them, make sacrifices and you can definitely make it happen!

  • deepikagupta087@gmail.com'
    October 30, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    your post gv me goosebumps… Awesome it was!

    Its surely a great move to face life!

    Good Luck!

  • thisoffscriptlife@gmail.com'
    Jennifer @ This Off Script Life
    October 29, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Brooke,

    Yes, this is all so true. I am an American expat living in Zurich and can especially relate to numbers 4, 5 and 6. When I moved here two years ago, I stepped away from my career as a trademark attorney to pursue a writing career (a personal dream of mine). I wasn’t able to plan and choose a destination ahead of time, but my time here has helped me discover how important it is to do what you love in a city that you love. Working as a writer in a foreign country has its difficulties, but it also provides near endless inspiration. I’m currently writing a novella set in Zurich, and I write narrative pieces about travel and expat life on my blog, http://www.thisoffscriptlife.com

    Best of luck to you in your new city and welcome to the expat community!


  • departureswithaimee@gmail.com'
    Departures With Aimee
    October 29, 2014 at 9:32 pm

    This post is really great as it’s really making me look closely into what I want to do in the future. I’m definitely aware that I want to travel, that’s for certain, but I’ve never really thought about what I’d do afterwards. I’m already preparing myself for a job as I’m hoping to go volunteering during my gap year. I’m hoping to go for about 6 months! 🙂

  • wanderfulways@gmail.com'
    October 29, 2014 at 5:12 pm

    love this. i just moved to a new country for an internship, and i couldn’t agree more. such an adventure and eye-opener :).
    xo, cheyenne

  • info.nofiltermagazine@gmail.com'
    NoFilter Magazine
    October 29, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    Working abroad is definitely an eye-opener. IMO, the best time to take advantage of work placement programs and exchange programs is during undergrad when work visas, relocation and financial obligations are less of an issue. Keep your eyes open for work/study programs or opportunities to spend a semester at a university abroad.


  • charactersandcarryons@gmail.com'
    October 29, 2014 at 3:30 am

    These are all great reasons, but it’s not as easy to do so if you have more of a conventional job. The US also doesn’t support gap years as Europe and Australia do. That being said, it should be a priority for those who can make it happen.

    Characters & Carry-ons

  • lexiew7@hotmail.com'
    October 29, 2014 at 2:53 am

    Hey Brooke, this post is wonderful! Thanks for the advice. I have always wanted to live abroad/as an expat. I missed a great opportunity to do so a few years ago, and still to this day think about what I could have done differently to make it happen.

    I know that friends and family will always be there and, to be honest, I have no issues leaving them for news experiences. However, I have 2 lovely cats whom I cannot/will not leave behind. I know you are an animal lover so I’m wondering if you have any advice on living abroad with/out a pet?


  • grace@thebeautyofeverywhere.com'
    Grace @ The Beauty of Everywhere
    October 29, 2014 at 2:33 am

    Moving to a brand new city/country is tough, but usually so worth it!! Berlin is supposed to be amazing for expats, good choice 🙂

  • lucypineda87@hotmail.com'
    October 29, 2014 at 2:30 am

    This is so true! My husband and I got married 4 years ago (I met him on a trip to Spain) and we came back to the US to get married and lived here for one year when all of a sudden one day we decided to move back to spain. We planned everything in 3 weeks (sold our car and other things) and moved without thinking it so much. That’s because when we got married we decided to live a simple, minimalist life so that if we ever got bored of the place we were living in, we could just pick up and move anywhere we wanted. We hate being tied to anything (except our marriage of course ;p) and we are both wanderlusters..unfortunately for some personal reasons we had to come back to the US after that 11 month trip to Spain but now we are moving to either Peru or Bolivia for a few months…we love cultures and meeting new people and having that freedom is awesome..we just pack our clothes and go where ever we want. We could never live a normal life…there’s way too much to explore out there!

  • jlmilliganjr@gmail.com'
    James Milligan
    October 29, 2014 at 1:54 am

    Your comments are inspirational! I too am at a crossroads. I would love to be in Berlin. Sometimes, a clean slate works wonders. You can start afresh without all the baggage of your prior existence necessarily dragging immediately with you. True, it might always be there, but you can relegate it to a distant part of your mind.
    Ahhh, the taste of freedom.

  • locksblogger@gmail.com'
    October 29, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Wonderful post! My husband and I are contemplating becoming expats. I’ve been researching left and right about the best locations, tips/tricks, etc. Good luck to you on your new adventure! Can’t wait to read more about it.

  • info@worldwidevegetarian.com'
    Katie @WorldWideVegetarian.com
    October 29, 2014 at 12:12 am

    Love this list! I moved to Berlin all on my own a few years ago, and making this decision changed my life for the better. I know I can follow my dreams, and make them happen, no matter how outrageous they sound. (To me, moving to Europe wasn’t so crazy, but many people I know seem to think so…) Also, being in a new environment around a different language and culture opened my mind to a new way of thinking. I would recommend moving to anyone who has even a bit of desire to do so.

  • andreea93154@yahoo.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    I’d love to move to London!

  • karmapoliice@gmail.com'
    Tessa / Bramble & Thorn
    October 28, 2014 at 9:07 pm

    Amazing tips! I’d love to move to a new city because I feel like I spend half my life traveling anyway, but there’s something about Melbourne that I just can’t quite give up yet!

  • awanderlustforlife@gmail.com'
    Jessica C. (A Wanderlust For Life)
    October 28, 2014 at 8:28 pm

    We just moved to Amsterdam from Virginia in the U.S. I’ve been here just under 2 months and I already know it’s the best decision I’ve made (aside from marrying by husband 🙂 ) I love following your blogs and vlogs! You are able to put into words things I struggle with saying. So, thank you for that!

  • thetouristoflife@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Great article! Would love to move abroad when I graduate!


  • beer_svenja@yahoo.de'
    October 28, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Loving this post. I’ve moved abroad twice now – once as an exchange student in America and now as an AuPair in London – and I get the feeling that I want to go on. It’s easy for me to imagine just staying here in England and start studying. But I also have to admit that not going back home to Germany and my family sound very scary. Being an exchange student or an AuPair always implies that you move back home afterwards. But when I’m done with my studies, I probably won’t move back into my families house…

  • michaelsleen@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 4:07 pm

    Ashley (my wife) and I are expats from the U.S. living in Tanzania in East Africa. Point #4, 5 and 7 above really spoke to us. Living as an expat – especially in a developing country – has broadened our horizons and stretched our mindsets to such an unbelievable extent in only ten months (we are here on a 3.5 year contract). And it’s hard to believe that we conduct everyday life and all of our work in a language (Swahili) that was completely unknown to us this time last year! We keep a blog of our experiences. http://leenhome.blogspot.com

  • norbert.kenny@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I totally agree especially the first point that we need to love ourselves 🙂

  • karen@littleblackshell.com'
    Karen Farber
    October 28, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    I love this so much!! I’m so happy for you doing this. Sounds like an amazing experience and like you are having the time of your life! I’ve always dreamed of doing what you’re doing, becoming an expat, but now that I’m married it’s a bit more of a challenge. Maybe I’ll convince him to more abroad with me. I’m always the person telling people to broaden their horizons and experience other cultures, it’s so important, and it’s something I really strive for in my life.


  • simone_0588@hotmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Hey Brooke,

    I just wanted to say thank you for your Blogs/Website! they truly are inspiring and I can’t wait to see more of the world!
    I’ve always wanted to move to a different city but I’m not sure how I would go moving by myself. How are you finding it? and do you need some $$$ to get things started?


  • kmcoulman@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 12:46 pm

    Easier said than done. I’ve been researching where to go and how to make a living for over a year now, and I’ve discovered that working illegally is pretty much my only hope in most countries. Do you have any insider tips or resources you could share for finding an expat-friendly country?

    • worldofwanderlust
      October 28, 2014 at 6:34 pm

      Will write a blog post about it to try and help out! 🙂

  • simone_0588@hotmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    Being a 26 year old woman I’m not sure what I want to do with my life. I’ve been at my job for almost 7.5years and nothing has really changed. It’s quiet and after nearly 6 years I’m finally learning a different part of the company.
    I would love to try the expat life, but it’s a little scary jumping in the deep end.
    I love your website Brooke! It’s so helpful with my travel decisions (currently working on a plan to road trip on the east coast of America with a new friend)
    How much money do you think you should have with your to start afresh? Because I certainly feel like I need to start afresh elsewhere. Don’t get me wrong, I love Brisbane, I just feel like I need a change 🙂

  • crean.megan@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 12:14 pm

    I really love this advice! I am only 19 and have lived in the Midwest all of my life, but once I graduate college I can’t wait to move somewhere fun and exciting!

  • endlesspostcards@gmail.com'
    Deepti @ Endless Postcards
    October 28, 2014 at 11:08 am

    I’d love to be an expat – I love the idea of pushing myself out of my comfort zone and having new experiences I wouldn’t be able to get back home!

  • info@busy-living.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 10:41 am

    love it, all very true. the very reason why i decided last year that i would travel and find a new home for at least a year. now settled down nicely in peru. loving you work!


  • stephiec006@hotmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 10:07 am

    I needed to read this today :)) I started following your blog earlier this year, before I left for my own solo trip to the UK and Italy! It is so nice to find people who share a passion for travel. I love reading about your adventures everyday!


  • lifestyingit@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 9:20 am

    great post! I think everyone know live as an expat once in their life if they have the opportunity. There is so much to learn about life by putting yourself in that type of a situation and of course learn about yourself! Kudos from a fellow expat 🙂

  • thepinthemapproject@gmail.com'
    Nikki Vargas
    October 28, 2014 at 9:18 am

    I love this post so much! I am hoping to move to London in January and this post just inspires me and makes me determined to make it happen. Thank you!!


  • marcello.marchioli@gmail.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

    This would be an amazing experience! If I was to this I think Krakow would be one of my top choices in Europe.

  • marieking32@gmail.com'
    Marie @ Marie Away
    October 28, 2014 at 8:45 am

    Living abroad is probably the most defining thing I’ve done for myself in my life so far. I think it is an important thing for young people to experience today, as it opens up your mind to the world–all the amazing parts along with the harsh realities–and the people in it.


  • Flatcat4444@yahoo.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Hi Brooke, I couldn’t agree more. I’d never left Australia before I decided to move to London for a year. That was 15 years ago and I’m still here. It was a brave move, having done virtually no travelling prior, but I spent a year saving and planning for it, organised a job before I went (teaching) and have never looked back. Yes it was difficult to adjust, but actually it has been amazing. I love living in Europe, have travelled A LOT (and in fact am in Italy now as I write this, with my English hubby and little boy). London is a really fantastic place to live and I would highly recommend it to anyone. More than anything I agree with your point about making the most of your time, go and do everything you get a chance to do! Say yes to (almost) anything! I hope you enjoy Berlin, it’s a city I haven’t been too, although my hubby is very keen we get there soon.

  • acrt_7@yahoo.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 8:25 am

    All the time I thought you will come back to your home place (Tasmania) after 1 year of traveling the world. 🙂

  • wakemeupwithasmile@hotmail.co.uk'
    October 28, 2014 at 7:56 am

    A great post that I can really relate to! I spent three years as an expat in Tokyo and now I’m spending six months in Italy. I write a blog about how it feels to live in Milan and all of the crazy, fantastic, confounding and funny experiences me and my friends here have. There is nothing more rewarding than uprooting yourself and plunging headfirst into a new country.

  • susie21390@yahoo.com'
    October 28, 2014 at 7:48 am

    THIS. POST. It speaks to me.

    I actually wrote something similar on my blog yesterday…all about how it is hard to wait close to a year to make the move from America to London, because moving there is completely and 100% for me. To have something to work towards that will completely and wholly benefit me, and to have it be exactly what I’ve been craving is incredibly exciting. It will be challenging, but I feel that is what I need. I’m making sacrifices to get where I want to go, but it will be worth it because I feel that this decision will be the best experience of my life and it will be one of the best things I have ever done for myself. To work so hard towards something that I’ve wanted to do for so long and is for no one else but me, to have only myself be the focus of this and to be able to pursue exactly what I want is an incredible feeling and more people should try because it’s amazing.

  • jasminmanzano@gmail.com'
    Jasmin M
    October 28, 2014 at 7:46 am

    Hi Brooke,

    I will be graduating next year, and I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about what I’m going to do after university. I think of myself as the type of person who can get up and move to a different country, and I’m even considering the expat life in the very near future: to London. And your blog posts are both inspiring and assuring me that it is possible. I look forward to reading more about your journey in Berlin!

    With love from California,