I believe everyone should live abroad at least once in their life, but it's an extremely big decision that needs to be thought out thoroughly ahead of time.
Unfortunately, I've watched too many people move abroad too quickly only to figure out after a month or two that their move wasn't what they expected. These people are quickly back on the next flight to their home country. It always crushes me to watch their defeat.
Here are the things you need to consider before you move to another country.
It's Not All Pinterest Travel Photos:
The abroad lifestyle is glorified in a way it shouldn't be. It's easy to get swept away by pictures of sun tanned travelers smiling as they zipline through the jungle or traipse around European cities. You need to be aware that behind those photos are people just like you.
Although I travel often, my life is still filled with the same struggles you have. I worry about money. I deal with student loans. I have to clean my apartment and pay bills. The struggles you face now will follow you wherever you go. Maybe your problems will be surrounded by different scenery, but they will still be there, and not only that, you'll have to deal with a whole new set of problems.
Before you move you need to think about why you want to go abroad. If your reasons are escape mechanisms, you should to deal with those things first and then consider moving abroad.
For example, if you think you want to move abroad because you hate your job, first try a new job. You have to consider that even if you move to another country you will need to work. Find something you love to do and then move abroad and do it.
I made this mistake when I moved to Germany. I moved for love, adventure, and my desire to be my own boss. Instead I ended up teaching English. I thought that was the tradeoff I had to make to live the lifestyle I wanted. The result was me being unhappy for four years. It wasn't until I started writing and became my own boss that I became truly happy.
This applies to everything in life. Are you in a horrible relationship? End it and then move abroad. Do you hate your apartment? Try living somewhere else first, and then consider moving.
Loneliness Is Inevitable:
I'm sorry to tell you, but loneliness and living abroad go hand in hand. You're not going to have tons of friends waiting for you when you arrive in a new country. You're going to have to work hard to meet new people. Your friends and family from home may only be a phone call away, but with time differences you will likely find you can't talk to them as often as you are used to.
It took me about a year when I moved to Germany to make good friends, not just people I'd go grab a drink with occasionally, but genuine "I think you're the greatest person ever" type of friends.
You Will Miss Home:
I didn't think it would happen to me. I usually adjust to things easily and I had lived away from home for several years before I moved out of the US, but I was so homesick at first.
I was that crazy person in the corner of parties drunkenly crying because I wanted my friends and family around me. I wanted to be able to talk about cultural things and have people understand what I was talking about. I had never been like that before, but living in a new country brought a whole level of crazy in me that I was scared to know existed.
Missing home is something that never fully goes away. Four years and two countries later I still miss my family, friends, and culture constantly. I don't want to move back to the US yet, but I doubt that feeling of craving something familiar will ever fully go away.
You Have To Grow Up:
When you move abroad you have to grow up extremely fast. All of a sudden you are faced with navigating things like visas, finding an apartment, health insurance, a job, and all that other adult stuff, but in another language.
This is when it becomes really important to make friends in your new country. People who have been through these things already will surely be able to give you better insight than anything you can find online.
Money Management Is Crucial:
Moving abroad is not cheap. You have to pay for your flight and everything involved with setting up a new life.
I moved to Germany with two suitcases and to Costa Rica with one. That meant even with renting a furnished apartment I had to buy things like bedding, kitchen accessories, towels, etc.
You also need to pay to set up things like a new cell phone contract, health insurance, train passes, etc. These up front costs add up fast.
If you are planning on moving without a job already set up you should have at least $6,000 set aside to sustain you for the first few months.
Running out of money is the number one reason I see people move back home after a few months of living abroad. It's really important to make sure your finances are in order first.
If you have student loans, car payments, credit card debt etc. you need to consider how you are going to pay for these things. If you are serious about moving abroad I recommend selling what you can in your home country to help pay off some of these costs.
I have fought hard for the lifestyle I'm living. It's not always easy, but I love it. I've been able to travel all over Europe and now I'm making my way through Central America. I've become more cultured, self aware, and blissful. I doubt any of these things would have happened if I had stayed in small town America.
With careful planning and a strong drive you can also live a life filled with amazing experiences and new horizons.