Afraid of moving abroad? Limiting beliefs that are stopping you

You may think that your dream of moving abroad is impossible, but it might be just your fears stopping you from making the move.

By Annie André ⦿ updated January 10, 2024  
Doubt about moving abroad? Read This!
Doubt about moving abroad? Read This!

Are you thinking of moving abroad?

You may feel like it’s just an impossible dream, but not to sound corny, dreams really can come true.

We once thought the same thing until we overcame our fears and limiting beliefs and decided to move to France.

Here’s our story: how we finally took the plunge and moved to France after letting go of fear and limiting beliefs.

Proof that the average person can make a lifelong dream come true.

We Moved To France With Our Children! No regrets except for…

Every year, millions of people dream of moving to another country, backpacking through Europe or spending a gap year abroad but never do anything about it.

For years, my husband and I were in the same boat. We discussed how great it would be to move to France for a year with the kids, always ending the conversation with, “Yeah, but we have careers, we can’t afford it; what about the cars and all our stuff in our house?

And that would be that, end of the conversation.

Then, in 2011, we did it.

We moved to France with our three children, and the way we did it was kind of crazy.

Instead of meticulously planning our move for years and waiting for the perfect moment, we did it under the strangest circumstances, and I’m glad we did.

Losing our jobs was the incentive we needed to move abroad:

After we lost our jobs and experienced long-term unemployment, we decided to cut our losses and flee California’s high cost of living.

So we put our stuff in storage, and six months later, we relocated to Montreal and moved in with my aunt in Montreal, who had plenty of room. The plan was to stay with her while looking for new jobs to start fresh on the East Coast.

Long story short, the economy was in bad shape back then, and we were having a hard time finding jobs in our field. That’s when I thought, hey, all our stuff is already in storage, our house is rented out, why not move to France, just for a year with the kids?
We noodled on the idea for a few months, and 10 months later, we started the process.

First, we applied for a French long-stay visa and looked for a furnished apartment to rent in France, and six months later, we landed at the Charles de Gaule airport, caught a connecting flight to Marseille and started our new life in France on October 6, 2011. 

Marseille just a few days after we arrived to live in France back in 2011
Photo of the kids, one week after arriving in France.

The limiting beliefs that stop you from moving abroad

Looking back, I still find it hard to believe we made life in France when we did under some pretty stressful circumstances. My only regret was waiting so long to move to France. But that’s what happens when you’re stuck in life by those golden handcuffs. It’s too risky to quit your job and move abroad without a safety net. But when you have nothing to lose, the only way is up. It was this mindset that helped us overcome our fears.

It really is incredible how deeply rooted fear and limiting beliefs can influence us.

Related: How Hard Is It to move to another country? TOP fears people have

So that’s my story in a nutshell.

Below, I’ve listed some limiting beliefs that might be stopping you from going after your dream of relocating to another country. Do you recognize any of them?

1) I can’t afford to move abroad.

Money is a legitimate concern. Maybe you really can’t afford to move abroad…

Or, maybe what you’re really saying is, I can’t afford to live abroad and have the lifestyle I want.”

To make our move abroad a reality, we didn’t live in a lavish apartment in Paris. Who wouldn’t want that? We had to settle for an apartment in Marseille that was a little beat up. 

2) It’s not the right time, or I can’t do it now because…

There’s never a perfect time.

In a perfect world, you can pick the ideal time to move abroad, save plenty of money, and find the perfect high vaulted ceiling apartment to rent. The reality is there rarely is a perfect time.

It’s kind of like having kids. You’re never really ready until you do it, but you rise to the occasion and make it work.

3) You don’t have to wait until retirement unless you want to

Don’t fall into that trap of believing you have to wait until retirement to move abroad. There is nothing wrong with waiting, but if you’re going to move overseas and you can financially sooner rather than later, go for it. As we get older, there are certain things we can’t do physically anymore. So why wait?

4) Safety is an illusion

I hate saying this because it sounds cliché and corny, but safety is an illusion.

Don’t put off your hopes or dreams because you’re afraid of losing your safe, comfortable life. It’s riskier to NOT go after your dreams because you risk your happiness.

I lived the life I thought I was supposed to live. College, career track, marriage, kids, two-car garage and the burbs. I made all the safe and practical decisions I was supposed to make. We thought we were safe, but we still ended up unemployed and in a very dicey situation.

5) Don’t try to get approval from others

Naysayers are everywhere.

I once knew someone who wanted to join the circus with his wife. I thought they were crazy. What annoyed me the most was they didn’t give a crap about what anyone thought. The jokes on me because they weren’t put off by negativity or disapproval. They pursued their dream despite it.

Our family has had to deal with guilt trips & negative comments about moving abroad with our three children.

So be prepared to deal with soul-sucking negative energy vampires who disguise their negativity as constructive criticism. It’s your life and your dream. You have to do what makes you happy.

6) Don’t assume it will be easy: Be prepared to work hard

Although moving to another country is fantastic, assuming that your life will suddenly be all sunshine and rainbows is unrealistic, and setting yourself up for disappointment or, worse — failure which can lead to culture shock.

The truth is there are plenty of challenges and hurdles when it comes to moving abroad. 

The trickiest part? There is no way you can predict and prepare for every possible situation because you don’t know what you don’t know. You might think you have everything in order for your immigration and visa paperwork, but when you arrive at the consulate, they tell you that you’re missing some necessary documents not listed on their website.

Or maybe you’ve chosen what seemed like the perfect city, but when you get there, you realize everything you read painted a pretty picture rather than reality. This really does happen.

The key is to be open to these challenges and ready to adapt. Moving abroad isn’t always a walk in the park, but it’s an incredible adventure worth the effort.

7) Don’t give up

Your dream to move abroad is counting on you, so don’t give up. It feels better to have tried and failed than to have not tried at all. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.

Winners never quit, and quitters never win.”

My advice that will help you overcome your fears to move abroad

Be prepared for culture shock: Even if you’ve visited the country before, be prepared for the differences in culture, customs, and daily life. It’s important to keep an open mind and embrace new experiences, even if they’re not what you’re used to.

Network with expats: Try to connect with expat groups or online communities in the area where you want to move. It’s a great way to connect with people who have already made the move abroad and can offer valuable advice and support to help you navigate the challenges of living in a new country.

Learn the language: If you’re moving to a country where they speak another language, start learning it before you arrive. This will not only help you to communicate with locals, but it will also make the transition to your new life abroad easier.

Research the cost of living: Before you decide to move abroad, research the cost of living in your desired destination. This will help you determine whether you can afford to live there and what your budget will be once you arrive. Never underestimate the cost of living, and give your budget a little padding for all the unknowns.

Be flexible and learn to adapt: Be prepared and open to change when things don’t go as planned. If there are cultural differences, language barriers, or logistical challenges that you didn’t anticipate, being prepared to adapt to these changes can help you to navigate them more easily and reduce the stress of the transition.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I get a 'petite commission' at no extra cost to you if you make a purchase through my links. It helps me buy more wine and cheese. Please read my disclosure for more info.

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Annie André

Annie André

About the author

I'm Annie André, a bilingual North American with Thai and French Canadian roots. I've lived in France since 2011. When I'm not eating cheese, drinking wine or hanging out with my husband and children, I write articles on my personal blog for intellectually curious people interested in all things France: Life in France, travel to France, French culture, French language, travel and more.


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