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  • Writer's picturePamela Brusa

Debunking 6 Myths Of Living Abroad

The concept of picking up and moving abroad is a dream for many. It offers a chance to live, experience, and work in a completely different, and quite often a better life.

Before making the big move, you ought to do your research well.

I have lived and worked in five countries abroad and I will help you debunk six international living myths.

Myth 1: You Can Know Your Dream Destination From A Picture And Other People’s Experiences

Photos especially on social media are very enticing. It’s very easy to see a picture or a video and hear or read of someone else’s incredible experience while living in a particular country and fall into the trap of thinking, “Yes, absolutely. This is my dream destination.”

The truth is you cannot experience a place through someone else.

A quick example, I have been to Dubai three times, twice on a 36-hour layover and one time for a three-day vacation. Amazing place, but I never experienced anything like what I saw on my Instagram feed. But I have not given up yet, one last chance, and this time I plan on taking my sister. Maybe I am missing something, however, my three-time experience in

Dubai fell short of the hype.

So, grab a plane, bus, or your car, and visit the place. Take a few weeks there, ideally, months will be great if you have the time and wander around on your own. Try to live like as locals do. Experience the culture, try the food, learn the local language even attend a ceremony if you can.

Then, and only then, will you know for certain if that country is the best place for you to build your dreams or no.

Myth 2: If You Read An Article Saying “The Best Destination,” It Must Be True

Everyone is not the same. The same way everyone has a preference for a certain type of food, drink, fashion, movie and book genre, they also have a preference for a certain lifestyle (fast-paced or slow-paced), weather (hot or cold and humid or dry), environment (nature or city), and social life.

When trying to decide the best place to live, consider all those things that are important for you to have available on a day to day basis and your future in that country.

The fact is, you will run into several articles online offering “the best” headlines for almost all countries. No, they’re not scamming you and no it doesn’t undervalue what the writer is saying. If you research more, you will find more often than not that the article includes a disclaimer for “this is your dream country if you’re looking for…”

Read several articles covering different locations and decide on your ideal destination taking into account what things you prefer in your life and which country is offering them.

Myth 3: Affordable Living Is Relative

Again, this depends on preferences.

If you’re dreaming of luxury life overseas, things will be more expensive just like it would be back at home. For example, simply buying a property in an affluent suburb or on the seafront will be more expensive in almost any country.

An affordable lifestyle abroad would be living in a modest townhouse with a great location in a city or living in the countryside surrounded by nature or mountains.

The lifestyle you choose and how affordable entirely depends on your preferences.

Myth 4: Get By In English…

You can get by with just English while on vacation, but once you decide to relocate someplace where it is not the official language you NEED to learn the local language.

Although most countries have incorporated English into their official school curriculum, nothing beats feeling comfortable enough to have a conversation with a local in their language.

I have had to learn French and Spanish.

In Latin American countries kids are taught English in school, unless they make a real effort to further their language education, English will remain basic.

Be sure your local fruits and vegetable vendor, or your Uber driver will most likely not speak a single word of English.

Myth 5: A Country With Zero Crime Exists

I believe every single country in the world has crime… plain and simple. It all depends on the area you decide to live and where you go on your outings.

Crimes fluctuate within a country. For example, Colombia once known world-wide for its drug cartels and high crime rates is now one of the safest countries in South America, while Costa Rica is previously known for quiet and peace the crime rate has gone up.

Myth 6: Living Abroad Is Like Traveling

People seem to lump “living abroad” and “traveling” together as if they are interchangeable.

One thing I can certainly say is that I am NOT on vacation. People will often ask, “You really live there? It must be so much fun.”

There is a big difference between traveling to a country and living in it. I think we could all find things to enjoy in any country in the world for the short term. It’s when the dust settles for long term living that bravery begins.

Learning to live in a foreign country means you have to hustle just like the local people, find a school for your kids, look where to get groceries, or build a local social network, something travelers never have to deal with.


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