There’s nothing quite like the adrenaline of moving abroad. You’ve probably been planning for a while before taking the leap, organising everything you can possibly organise, arranging forwarding addresses and sorting out bank accounts in preparation to leave your ‘old life’ behind, and begin your new adventure.
Just as taxes and death are inevitabilities of life, there are certain aspects of moving abroad that are also inevitable, like having to pack, dealing with mixed emotions and yes, sadly, paying taxes too. However, there are also plenty of myths floating around about expat living too. Here are just eight of them.
You need to sell everything before you leave
One thing you’ll hear time and again when it comes to moving abroad is that you need to strip your possessions down to the bare bones and leave the country with just a tiny rucksack and not a care in the world. While that idea might suit fancy-free and footloose singletons down to the ground, the fact of the matter is, you should keep hold of some stuff. Rebuying big ticket items in your new country will just end up being stressful and costing you more in the long run anyway.
So, strike a middle ground; purge a ton of your belongings, but don’t bin everything you own, and compare international removal costs over at Buzzmove for the things you do want to take.
Life abroad is easier than life at home
There’s a myth floating around that expats ‘run away’ to other countries for an easier life. While that could certainly apply to snowbird retirees, for most people who leave their home country, it’s far from the case.
Moving abroad doesn’t mean you’re going on a permanent holiday (or that you’ll even be guaranteed nicer weather than at home!), it just means you’re starting your ‘real’ life elsewhere, not putting it on pause.
You’ll find it hard to make friends
It’s often said that making friends in a new country is tricky, and while this can be true (who likes to start over when it comes to building meaningful connections?), it doesn’t mean that making friends is necessarily hard. It just means it might take time and effort. Perhaps you need to break out of your sociability comfort zone or sign up to some clubs? Whatever the solution for you, know that you’ll get there in the end.
You no longer need to pay taxes in your home country
Many people assume that you’ve fled your home country to dodge your taxes. For most people, that’s 1) not the case and 2) not possible…although they might not realise that! (In fact, Moneywise reports that 11% of UK expats didn’t know they had to pay taxes on properties they were renting out in the UK while living abroad.)
Generally speaking, if you’re from the UK you still have to pay taxes on money earned from UK sources, no matter where you’re living! And people from the US are often on the receiving end of horrendous ‘double taxations’, regardless of where their income came from.
You’ll change fundamentally as a person
The idea that you’ll immediately change as a person, flourishing into the best version of yourself the second you touch ground in your new country of choice is perhaps one of the most persistent living abroad myths out there.
The reality is, you may well adapt to your new living situation, but the chances that you’ll change fundamentally is misguided and, well, wrong. You’ll be more or less the same as you always were, just in a different country!
Why? Because change takes conscious effort, not a passive switch in circumstance. While we’re on the subject, you won’t ‘find yourself’ either.
You’ll be speaking the language in no time at all
Continuing that train of thought, there’s another pervasive myth that suggests moving abroad magically makes you bilingual. While living abroad will certainly help you in your quest to master another language, it will not happen overnight. As with learning any new skill, practice makes perfect, and language learning requires a ton of active practice.
Basically, passive immersion won’t do anything to significantly advance your comprehension unless you’re also putting in the legwork with language classes and study too.
You need to have a job lined up
Needing to have a job lined up when you move abroad isn’t actually as much of a necessity as people make out, especially if you’re happy to work a bit below the line of legality and do some quick cash in hand jobs in your new country of choice…
However, we do not advocate for breaking the law, so while needing to have a job lined up for your arrival is not technically a necessity, you should probably sort something out in order to get your visas, paperwork and bank accounts sorted out. Plus, being able to willingly move abroad in the first place shows just how much privilege you have. Don’t abuse it.
You moved abroad because you hated your home country
Many people assume that those who move abroad are doing it out of some deeply rooted hatred or resentment for their home country. They resent the alleged lack of patriotism of many expats.
However, the truth is (unless you’re an American fleeing to Canada to escape a Trump administration or a Brit looking for a Brexit loophole) you’re probably not leaving your country because you hate your homeland, you’re leaving because you love the world and want to see more than your own personal corner before you shuffle off this mortal coil!
How many of these myths have you heard before? More to the point, how many have you been guilty of believing before?! We won’t judge.
The fact of the matter is, everyone has opinions on moving abroad, but for the most part, they’re just that—opinions. So don’t let yourself be swayed or deterred from heading overseas just because Aunt Phyllis thinks you’re dodging your taxes or hate your hometown!