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

Despite all the detailed resources about relocating internationally, many people still believe that moving to another country is an impossible dream. While it’s true that moving abroad to another country isn’t simple, it may be easier than you think if you know what to expect.

Fears Preventing You From Moving To Another Country Internationally 

As someone who’s lived in several countries, as a child, young adult and now a married woman with children, I know all too well the challenges, concerns, and fears one might have about moving to another country.

Whether you’re someone from North America dreaming of moving to an EU country permanently, An Australian who wants to work in San Francisco, or a student who wants to teach English in South Korea, It may be easier to move abroad than you think; if you accept that there will always be a certain degree of risk, uncertainty and concerns.

How hard is it to move to another country? 

Although many concerns and fears people have about relocating to a new country are legitimate, sometimes those concerns are based on misconceptions and limiting beliefs.

As Nelson Mandela once said, “It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

I’ve put together a list of 10 common concerns and fears people worry about when contemplating moving to another country and why they don’t need to prevent you from achieving your dream of living abroad. 

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then do what’s possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible”.

-Francis Asisi


“I Can’t move to another country because it’s too expensive”

elliott erwitt France poster

Lack of money or cost is one reason people from western countries move to foreign countries with a lower cost of living to places such as Thailand or Mexico. Full disclosure, I’m born in Thailand.

But what if you don’t want to move to France, Japan or some other country with a higher cost of living. 

While it’s true that expatriating yourself on a small budget to more expensive places like Paris, London, Or Tokyo isn’t optimal, that doesn’t mean an international move to these countries isn’t possible. 

For example, if you’re dreaming of moving to France but can’t afford the outrageous Parisian cost of living, some French cities and towns are much more affordable.

  • Montpellier is the seventh-largest city in France in terms of population, and it’s 32% cheaper to live in than Paris.
  • Bordeaux, which is the 9th largest French city, is 34% less expensive to live in than Paris.
  • And if you move to a more rural quaint village, the cost of living gap widens even more.

I wrote all about the cost of living when we first moved to France here

How much money will you need for an international move?

Do a little financial reconnaissance no matter which foreign country you have your heart set on. Having a ballpark figure of how much it might cost vs an abstract number will give you a more precise goal to work towards.

Start by listing all expenses you think you’ll need for your initial move; Airline Tickets, Visa application Fees, Deposit for an apartment abroad, maybe a storage unit to store your belongings, etc.

Then research the average cost of living in the various places you want to live. The goal is to estimate the amount you’ll need to survive for a set period of time; six months, one year etc. You can use websites to research and compare the cost of living in different countries.

You might be interested in reading: finding creative ways to save more money



“It’s too hard to find a job or get a work visa!”

You can do it

Depending on your country and the foreign country you’re trying to move to, you may need to obtain a work visa. You cannot work on a tourist visa. 

For instance, if you have an Irish parent or grandparent, you can apply for an Irish passport that gives you the right to live and work in any country part of the EU, including Italy, France, Spain, Cyprus and many more. Once you obtain these EU passports, you can relocate and obtain residency in any EU country by simply moving there without any restrictions.

Working Holiday Visas: 

I’ve been asked a few times, how can I move to another country without a job? 

The answer is the Working Holiday Visa, provided you qualify. 

Some countries have bilateral agreements for a “working holiday visa,” which is essentially a residence permit that allows travellers to go to a country (without a job) and search for work. Once you arrive in the host country, you have the legal right to stay and search for work in that country for 6, 12 and sometimes up to 3 years. Whether you find one is another story. 

But first, you have to qualify: The requirements for a working holiday visa are straightforward:

  • You are between 18 to 30 (18 to 35 in select countries).
  • You have enough money to pay for a return ticket,
  • You must be mainly travelling to vacation on holiday, with work being a secondary intention.
  • Some countries require you have a specific amount of money in your bank account before arriving. Not a lot but enough to support you while you look for work. 

Examples of countries where Americans and French citizens can get a working holiday visa. 

If you’re from the United States: Americans can only get a “working holiday visa” in the following countries.

  1. Australia
  2. New Zealand
  3. Ireland
  4. Singapore
  5. South Korea

If you’re from France: French people can get a working holiday visa in many more countries:

  1. Canada
  2. Argentina
  3. Brazil
  4. Chilli
  5. Colombia
  6. Mexico
  7. Uruguay
  8. Australia
  9. New Zealand
  10. South Korea
  11. Hong Kong
  12. Japan
  13. Singapore
  14. Thailand

Visa to work abroad

If you don’t qualify for a “working holiday visa,” or your home country doesn’t have an accord with your desired destination country, you may still have options. 

Find a job abroad

Most countries require that you find a job first before filing for a work visa which means a company willing to hire you has to sponsor your work visa. You usually cannot sponsor your own work visa.

This can be tricky because no one wants their jobs stolen by foreigners, and companies are encouraged to find local residents before seeking international candidates. Only then can they seek international candidates. 

I wrote about the types of visas needed to enter France here. It’s far easier to get a job in a specialty field. 

Don’t forget to update your resume / CV using the best practices for that country. For instance, In France, it’s common practice to put a photo and sometimes your age on your CV.


“I can’t move abroad because I don’t speak the language”

You don't need to speak the language perfectly: Squashing 10 fears and excuses stopping you from moving internationally to another country

If you would like to live abroad temporarily, say for a gap year abroad, knowing the local language isn’t that big of an issue because you can learn it while you’re living abroad.

However, if you want to move to another country and work, a language barrier might hold you back. 

That doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs in other countries if you don’t speak the local language. It just means that the pool of job opportunities is smaller, much smaller.

If all else fails, consider becoming a language teacher.

You’ll need to get teaching credentials first, which you can obtain in as little as a few months and sometimes online. For teaching English, it’s the TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language)

If you’re anxious about the difficulties of having a language barrier, start learning before you go. There are plenty of ways to learn French online, like this one

My Top Pick
Learn French with Pimsleur

Monthly membership gives you access to learn 51 languages including:

French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Greek, Germany, Tagalog, Farsi, Hindi, Hebrew and many more.

Free Trail


“Moving to another country is too risky if I have to quit my job. I’ll be out of the workforce and fall behind”

finding a job abroad: Squashing 10 fears and excuses stopping you from moving internationally to another country

If you’d like to spend a sabbatical year abroad, but you’re worried about having a gap year on your CV, Having a gap in your resume isn’t as big of a deal as it used. 

Why not use your gap as an entry on your resume?

Even if your year abroad experience doesn’t fit under work experience, many employers view a year abroad as a positive. It shows that you’re well-rounded and can handle change easily. Living abroad in another culture can also improve your soft skills, which you can use to boost your resume. A quality that is also valuable to employers.  

Examples of soft skills include Cultural understanding, listening skills, speaking skills, creative problem solving, multicultural thinking etc. 

Can you take a leave of absence?

Some companies allow employees to take a leave of absence (sabbatical.) The benefit of taking a leave of absence vs. quitting is that you’ll still have your job when you return.

Can you do your job remotely?

Some companies like Twitter allow employees to work remotely. If your company doesn’t allow employees to work remotely, what about finding a new job that does? 



“I can’t relocate internationally to a new country because I have kids”

If you’re moving to a foreign country with children, initially, they may have trouble adapting to new schools or circumstances, especially if there is a language barrier.

Naturally, you’ll need to research and plan ahead; above all else, accept that it’s going to be challenging for them. It may break your heart to see your children struggle but moving to another country has many positive effects on children.

What to expect

In my experience, it’s easier to move to a different country when children are younger. It’s the moody, hormone-filled teens and tween years that are rougher. Again this depends on the child. 

When we moved to France, my two sons, ages 13 and 14, had mixed emotions. And they did struggle with the language at school. It wasn’t until our second year living in France that things turned around for them.

They made friends, their French improved, and so did their demeanour. Today, my boys are fully adapted to French culture and are in relationships. 

Ultimately, it’s important that parents provide children with a secure and stable environment and do what they can to make a move easier. 

Some things you can do to help children embrace the culture of their future foreign home. 

  1. Visit a foreign country with your children before moving.
  2. Involve them in the move and share the experience. Don’t leave them in the dark: 
  3. Find the right school: Research different school options to find the best one: private, international, public etc. 
  4. Help kids stay connected—set up regular video or phone calls with friends and family back home.
  5. Choose the right house. 
  6. Choose an area or neighbourhood that suits your family and values. 
  7. Make sure they say they have plenty of time to say proper goodbyes before relocating.


“I can’t move to a faraway country and leave them behind; I’ll miss them.”

I can't leave my friends and family behind: Squashing 10 fears and excuses stopping you from moving internationally to another country
(c) Annie Andre

Yes, it’s hard to say “au – revoir” to friends and family.

Some of the hardest parts of expat life are missing friends and family left behind, feeling homesick, isolated, lonely, and experiencing a bit of culture shock. You may even feel guilty for leaving.

Between zoom, skype and other video calling technology, it’s easier than ever to stay in touch with family and friends. 

Keep in mind that being away from home can also make you more self-reliant as you learn to navigate your new life overseas by removing your safety net of friends and family. There are so many more unexpected Benefits And Advantages Of Living Abroad:

You might be interested in reading: Moving away from family and friends to live abroad? Afraid to tell them? Read This!


“I can’t move to another country because I have a house full of stuff”

What about all my stuff? Where do I start? Squashing 10 fears and excuses stopping you from moving internationally to another country

Possessions way us down, literally, but that shouldn’t stop you from taking the leap. You have options.

If you own your home and have a house full of belongings, you’re probably wondering what you should do with all your stuff.

The answer depends on how long you plan on living abroad.

We planned to live in France for one year, so we put all of our things in storage. Ten plus years later, we’re still living in France. Ooops. It was a calculated risk. We have since returned and culled our belongings to just the essential sentimental things to ship them to France. 

If you’re moving abroad to retire, you need to decide between selling your items or hiring an international moving company to relocate your belongings.

And if you own your home but don’t want to sell it, the obvious answer is to rent it out. The additional income may help supplement your life abroad. Don’t forget to check your local laws to see if you need to hire a property manager

8) AGE:

“I can’t move to a different country because I’m too old/ young / I have to wait until I’m retired”

Uncooperative spouse: Squashing 10 fears and excuses stopping you from moving internationally to another country

There’s no universally perfect age or ideal time to move internationally. Some people think it’s best to move abroad when they’re young.  

Others think it’s best to move after retirement. 

Keep in mind that some foreign countries don’t have a retirement visas. For instance, it’s almost impossible to move to Canada unless you’re working age and can get a company to hire you. Or you have close to a million Canadian dollars and can invest in a business.

On the other hand, returning to France is much easier as long as you can prove that you have the money to support yourself and won’t be a drain on the economy. You’ll probably have to do some research into health insurance too. 

I think moving to another country when you’re younger is better if you can manage it financially. You never know what will happen in the later years of your life.


“My spouse or significant other doesn’t want to move to another country.”

man and woman holding hands out indicating to stop

Been there.

Initially, my husband wasn’t on board with the idea of moving to France. Not because he didn’t want to but because we had good jobs (golden handcuffs). When we lost our jobs during the recession, he said it was too expensive, and we didn’t have jobs lined up. 

Obviously, I convinced him because we’ve lived in France since 2011.

How did I convince my husband to move abroad? Initially, the plan was to live in France for one year. It went so well; we stayed a second, third, and fourth and now it’s been ten years. 

I wish there were a one size fits all solution to help you convince your partner that moving to another country is a good idea, but everyone’s situation is different.

Read this article if you have your heart set on moving abroad and looking for ways to convince your spouse.

10) RISK:

“Moving abroad is too risky”

Krampus expedition at Nigloland park is the first aquatic roller coaster of it's kind in France: 2021

Feeling like an international move is too risky or worrying that you’ll regret your decision ranks right up there with worrying about not having enough money.

Don’t put off your hopes and dreams because you’re afraid of losing your safe, comfortable life.

Safety is an illusion; anything can happen.

I lived the life I thought I was supposed to live: university, career, marriage, kids, two-car garage and home in the burbs. I made all the safe and practical decisions I was supposed to make, but we still ended up unemployed.

That’s ok though because losing the golden handcuffs was the catalyst that set us in motion to move to France in 2011. 

As cliché as it sounds, It’s riskier NOT going after your dreams because you risk your happiness.

You might be interested in reading 25 Unexpected Benefits And Advantages Of Living Abroad:

search iconStart by collecting research about your international move

The key to any move abroad is researching, preparing, planning, and taking action. It might take you three months, or it might take you ten years. 

Ask yourself what your goals are or why you want to move

  • Is it to move internationally and work as an expat? 
  • Is it temporary: to spend six months abroad for cultural reasons or to learn a language?
  • Is it to immigrate to a new country and eventually gain citizenship?
  • Is it to retire overseas?
  • Is the goal of your international move for health reasons? 
  • Is it to find employment and gain international experience?

Life in a new country can be exciting; there’s no doubt. 

Other things to consider are health care, a driver’s license, opening bank accounts, documents you’ll need, shipping your possessions, culture shock etc. 

Determining your goals, researching, and finding the answers to your questions are all just part of the process.

But if you don’t take those first steps, you’ll never know if it’s even possible.

Photo of 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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  1. I find living abroad as great adventure and great experience at the same time. I become more appreciative in life. I got an opportunity to value other culture. On the other hand, I always have two plans. The first plan is my living abroad and my second is my alternative plan. Only, when my first plan didn’t work.

  2. I enjoyed reading your information about living out of the country. It sounds so exciting and something that I have always dreamed of. Needing a job is key and looking at the cost of retiring is frightening, but maybe not somewhere else where you can find new friends, a part-time job to supplement and an experience to cherish. Thanks Annie

    1. glad you enjoyed this Barb. Everyone has their own set of obstacles when it comes to pursuing their own dreams. I truly believe if you want to travel or live abroad, where there is a will there is a way. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Ha you definitely hit all the excuses people make. I have been on the road for 7 years now and still going strong. Money can be tight sometimes, but if you hustle you can easily find work. It is way cheaper living in a place like Thailand and trying to work online than trying to get that up and going back home (US). As for friends, I find when traveling abroad it is easier to meet people as people tend to be more open and less consumed by work.

    1. I love that you brought up that while travelling, people tend to be more open and less consumed with work.

  4. My husband and I would LOVE to live abroad, but it always feels to me like countries have big walls around them. I know we can go almost anywhere for 90 days without any visas, but what happens after that? Would visas/permits be easy to get (I know it depends on the country, but generally?)? What are some options to stay legally?

    1. Well one way to skip that 90 days limitation is simply plan a weekend trip to a neighboring country every three months. As far as I understand you’re allowed to do that – expats living in Malaysia would visit Singapore for a weekend to get another 3 months of visa-free living.

      Of course some places this is easier to do than other. My example, Malaysia is very easy cause Sg is so close and cheap to get to.

  5. What about eligibility? I’m a 30 yr old UK female, and can only have 2 months left to qualify for a 12 month visa for Aus, Canada or NZ, but after 12 months, I’m back in the UK with no job! Where else can I go or what are my options? I’m happy to just up and go, anywhere, but not with a 12 month restriction at the end of it…

    1. Elizabeth,
      Of all the people i know who are travelling, over 100 individuals and families this is always an issue.

      You’ll need a re-entry plan. You’ll need cash to re-set up once you re-enter your home country. Your other option is to continue travelling on a toursist visa to different countries. There are no countries that will let you stay longer unless you plan to apply for residency.
      I can’t help you in that matter. i mainly focus on long term travel that is temporary not living abroad permanently. At least for now.
      Another option is to start an online business. This is what a lot of people I know are doing. It’s easier than ever to start one now. Of course, it will take you time to start building it up to earn an income but it’s worth it…

  6. I love the updates and tips you have gone over! My husband and i are young with no children yet and are really considering living abroad. The topics you went over leave us with little reason not to do it besides saving up. =)

  7. Thank you so much for this! My husband and I have spoken about living abroad so often but it always comes down to no job. I would love to hear more about how you handled the finances or direct me to other sources. One other question what do you do about health insurance? We have a toddler so that is a concern.

    1. Nicole,
      Most of the families i know that that are living abroad for any extended period of time saved anywhere from 2 to 5 years. Some started online businesses that they could run while living abroad.
      There is no other way around it but to save or sell your assets and save enough to last you at least two years. One year of funds for travelling and one year to last on re entry so you can setup house again and look for jobs if you need to.

      How much you save depends on where you go. You could survive on less than 15K a year easily in Mexico and Asia. While in France it would cost you more like 30K a year minimum.

      How long would it take you to save 30K and pay off your debt? Can you downsize and simplify your life so that you can save even more money faster?

      Health Insurance: We have travel insurance. Which handles emergencies. Any one off doctor visits, we pay out of pocket. It sounds counter intuitive but it’s much cheaper to do it this way. Just yesterday we went to the doctor and the visit was 21 euros. That’s about 27 us and canadian dollars. If you are in south america or asia it might even cost less.

      Hope that helps.

  8. Hello Annie,

    You got all of the big reasons there – and the real answers to them.

    I am UK born and bred. So far, I have a couple of years in Paris and two and a half years in Brazil under my belt.

    One of the big concerns many people have is how their kids will fare. My two boys were great in Brazil. They learned the language and made friends very easily. That’s what kids do of course.

    1. Hamish,
      I’m so glad you brought up the point about the kids. Where we lived in California, people were getting their kids ready for college in Preschool. Making sure they had all the right courses, studying and go go go without ever “LIVING LIFE”.
      i think living abroad, even if they lose a year, which they won’t will set them apart on college applications.

      I guess it’s hard for people to break from the traditional status quo way of thinking about education.
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m so happy to have fellow travellers with kids visiting.

  9. Nice read and very good points about moving abroad!
    I moved to Japan when I was 20 and have been living here since. I’ve since gotten married and now my wife and I are planning on moving abroad to Taiwan! After that we will probably move to the US.
    Just curious, how do you manage renting out a house while living abroad? What would you do if some sort of problem arose?

    1. Hello Julien,
      It’s logistically harder but its doable. If there is a problem with the house. i.e. plumbing i have several plumbers i found online that will go and fix the problem. also, i asked that my tenant make repairs if need be or have things done and i reimburse them.
      I had to have my roof redone in the past few months and it helped that the roofing company sent me pictures. I had several roofers go and look at the house and do the same thing.
      alternatively you could hire someone to help you. But it’s a pretty passive income. I don’t have to do much other than if a problem arises which is pretty rare. Think about how many times you have called a landlord when you rented. If my renters move out, well this is another issue. I would have to hire a rental agency and probably pay them a fee. Usually companies take a percentage over a year or so. Or they take a flat fee. Hope that helps.

  10. Hey Annie,

    One of my sisters moved from Hungary to London, England about 2 months ago with her family (2 kids, good ones).

    One day she thought about it, one month later they packed up their stuff and just “moved” out there. Just like that; It can be done…just like that.

    I would share this post with her but she doesn’t speak or read in English……yet



    1. Hello Akos,
      that’s pretty amazing about your sister. Very brave. And you are right. It can be done if that’s what you want. Unfortunately many people who want to move abroad or even just live abroad for a short time put up blocks as to why they can’t. But like your sister, sometimes you just need to do it and do it quickly like jumping into the cold water of the pool. Do it and do it quickly to avoid talking yourself out of it. Happy New Year, Boldog uj evet

  11. There do seem like so many things to think about if you decide to go live abroad but I think if the desire is really there then they’ll figure it out. Just like you did.

    So glad you are finally living your dream and now the kids can say they’ve not only been to France but lived there awhile. That will be something they can cherish forever.

  12. i am still having dreams for going abroad and i got so excited when i think about this matter but still i donna have much funds to go for abroad but it is one my wishes also to go for abroad.I wanna to face the adventure in abroad.I am happy to be here.Thanks..

  13. Living abroad was the best experience of my life. All the frustrations pale in the light of the opportunities I created.

    I sold off virtually everything I owned and moved to England on a tourist visa. Yes, it is easier if you arrange everything beforehand, but unlike the US, you can look for work and get your visa approved while in country. I was “forced” to take a trip to Belgium (it could have been anywhere) and re-enter the UK to activate my student entry clearance, but I took that one for the team!

    Do it. Just jump and look for a place to land later.

    1. Wow, you really did a doozy. It really does take a lot of guts to just restart your life and start over in another country and another culture. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. So glad you addressed the children issue. Living abroad with my son has been a HUGELY wonderful thing and nowhere as difficult as people think it might be.

    1. I know what you mean. It seems like people living abroad with kids is a minority. I grew up traveling a lot especially through Asia and i am so happy to give it back to my three children. It has been a wonderful experience for my family that is starting to bring us together. Thanks for stopping by.

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