What’s Stopping You From Moving To Another Country? Top 10 Reasons

What’s Stopping You From Moving To Another Country? Top 10 Reasons

Despite all the detailed websites and books about relocating internationally, many people still believe that moving to another country is an impossible dream of fairy tales. While it’s true, it’s not easy, it may be easier than you think if you accept the fact that there will always be a certain degree of risk, uncertainty, concerns and fears.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.”

-Quoting Nelson Mandela

Difficulties And Problems Stopping You From Moving To Another Country

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

How many of your fears and concerns about moving to another country are justified?

Many concerns about moving to another country are legitimate but sometimes our fears, concerns, and doubts that prevent us from pursuing our seemingly impossible dream of moving to another country are based on misconceptions and limiting beliefs.

In other words, sometimes we are our own worst enemy.  

It’s only when you overcome those fears, and work on solutions that you’ll be able to take the first step towards accomplishing your international move. 

I’ve put together a list of the top 10 most common problems people worry about when contemplating moving to another country. 

suit case road trip

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

-Francis Asisi

1) FINANCES & MONEY: I Can’t move to another country because it’s too expensive

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

But what if you don’t want to move to another country that has a lower standard of living?

Costs of living 

Whilst it’s true that expatriating yourself on a low budget to more expensive places like Paris, London, Or Tokyo isn’t optimal, that doesn’t mean an international move near these locations is impossible.

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

  • Montpellier, where we currently live, 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

Planning to move: How much money will you need for an international move?

No matter which foreign country you have your heart set on moving to, your first line of action is to prepare by doing a little financial reconnaissance.

Start by creating a cost analysis of all the expenses you’ll need for your initial move.

Airline Ticket, Visa application Fees, storage, Deposit for an apartment abroad, maybe 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 get a ballpark figure of how much you’ll need to survive for a set period of time, six months, one year etc. There are many websites online where you can research and compare the cost of living in different countries compared to yours.

Once you have an estimate of how much it might cost to move and settle in your chosen city, you now have your savings goal.

Having a concrete goal to work towards is much easier to achieve than an abstract idea.

Can’t save fast enough? You’ll have to get a job abroad and or find creative ways to save more money

You can do it

2) WORKING ABROAD: It’s too hard to find a job or get a work visa!

Getting a job and finding employment in another country usually involves obtaining a work visa.

Whether or not you need a work visa depends largely on where you’re from and the foreign country you’re trying to move to. 

For instance, if you have an Irish parent or grandparent, you can apply for an Irish passport which gives you the right to live and work in any country that is part of the EU including, Italy, France, Spain, Cyprus, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, and many more.

Working Holiday Visas:

Some countries have bilateral agreements for a working holiday visa which is essentially a residence permit that allows travellers to go to a country and search for work. Once you arrive in the host country, you have the legal right to work in that country for 6, 12 and sometimes up to 3 years. 

The requirements for a working holiday visa are pretty straight forward:

  • Be between the age of 18 to 30 but 18 to 35 in a select few countries.
  • Have enough money to pay for a return ticket,
  • You must be mainly travelling to holiday, with work being a secondary intention.
  • Some countries require a specific amount of money to be in your bank account before arriving.

Again it depends on where you’re from and the destination country, which must have a bilateral accord (agreement) with your home country.

For example:

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

Regular work visa to work abroad

If you don’t qualify for a working holiday visa, your home country doesn’t have an accord with your desired destination country, or you’re too old to get a working holiday visa, things get a little more difficult.

In most countries, you have to apply for a job first before getting a work visa. 

Once you find a company that is willing to hire you, that company must then sponsor your work visa. You normally cannot just apply for a work visa without a job first. 

This can be tricky because most companies are encouraged to find locals before seeking international candidates. I wrote about the types of visas needed to enter France here.

Keep in mind; different countries have different standards and best practices for preparing a CV / Resume. For instance, In France, it’s common practice to put a photo and sometimes your age on your CV.

speak French fluently?

3) LANGUAGE BARRIER: I can’t go because I don’t speak the language

If your main goal is to live abroad temporarily, say for a gap year abroad or a family sabbatical year abroad, knowing the local language isn’t an issue because you can learn it while living abroad.

However, if you want to move to another country and work, a language barrier might hold you back. It’s a fact of life. If you don’t speak at minimum a basic language level, how can you do your job?

Look at it from the other side of the coin. If you were a bank manager looking to hire a new bank teller, does it make sense to hire someone who doesn’t speak your language? Non it doesn’t.

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 much smaller. 

The exception might be if you were to become a language teacher, teaching English, German, Spanish, etc. You’ll need to get TEFL certified first to teach English. 

If you’re anxious about the difficulties of having a language barrier, start learning before you go. There are plenty of classes you can take online, like this French course

How To create the perfect attention grabbing French CV

4) GAP ON YOUR RESUME: It’s too risky to quit my job so I can move to a new country: I’ll be out of the workforce and fall behind

This is a real concern for people who want to spend a sabbatical year abroad before committing to a longer stay.

Apart from quitting your job, you may have some options with your current employer.

Some companies allow employees to take a leave of absence, sometimes called a sabbatical. The benefit of taking a leave of absence vs quitting is when you return, you’ll still have your job. Some companies even allow employees to retain their health benefits.

Can you do your job remotely?

Some companies like Twitter and Square, a financial services company, allow their employees to work remotely. If your company doesn’t allow employees to work remotely, what about finding a new job that you can do remotely? 

Flex jobs is a site I’ve personally used and recommend to find remote work. 

Having a gap in your resume

If you do end up quitting your job and moving abroad, having a gap in your resume isn’t as big of a deal as it used to be.

Even if your year abroad experience doesn’t fit under work experience, you can include it as an entry on your resume.

Many employers view a year abroad as a positive. It shows that your well-rounded and can handle change easily.

While abroad, you could also work on getting a new set of skills or learn a new language.

what my friends and family think I do in France meme

5) CHILDREN: I can’t go 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 plan ahead, do lots of research and 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, especially to another country, has many positive effects.

When you pick up and move to another country, you’re essentially starting over. Everything requires more thought and effort. And because everything is different, they learn to adapt, a skill that you learn through practice. They’ll also have a broader worldview. 

What to expect

In my experience, it’s much easier to a different country when children are younger because they seem to adapt much more easily.

It’s the moody, hormone-filled teen and tween years that may be tougher. Again this depends on the child. When I moved as a teen to another country, I was so looking forward to it. 

When we moved to France, my two sons, ages 13 and 14, were keen on living in France. But they really struggled with the language at school, and it wasn’t so fun for a while. It wasn’t until around the end of the second year abroad 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. 

My youngest child was 4 years old when we moved to France. Because she was so young and had lived in Quebec for a while, she already spoke French. Her transition was seamless. 

It was hard to see my two older boys struggle, but it was worth it in the end. Taking my kids out of their protected suburban bubble to experience other cultures has made them more compassionate, worldly and well-rounded individuals.

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

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

  1. Visit the foreign country with your children before moving.
  2. Please don’t leave your children in the dark: Involve them in the move and share the experience. 
  3. Find the right school: Research different school options to find the best one, whether it be an international, private, or public school abroad. 
  4. Help the kids stay connected with friends and family back home. Setup regular video or phone calls. 
  5. Choose the right house. 
  6. Choose an area or neighbourhood that suits your family and values. 
  7. Make sure they say their proper goodbyes and have plenty of time to do so.
photo of some of our Friends
(c) Annie Andre

6) FRIENDS AND EXTENDED FAMILY: I can’t move to a far away country and leave them behind; I’ll miss them.

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

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

But 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 many benefits to moving abroad: Here are 25 Unexpected Benefits And Advantages Of Living Abroad:

But making an international move to a new country doesn’t mean you have to lose contact with friends and family back home.

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

downsizing and decluttering before you move abroad

7) LOGISTICS: I can’t move to another country because I have a house full of stuff

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

If you own your home and or 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.

Blake and I planned to live in France for one year, so we put all of our things in storage. 10 plus years later, we’re still living in France. Ooops. It was a calculated risk. We didn’t know we would live in France this long, but that’s ok. We have since gone back and culled our belongings to just the essential sentimental things. We had planned on shipping our things to France but then covid 19 happened. 

If you’re moving abroad to retire, you need to make a decision: Do you sell everything, ship everything, or hire an international moving company to relocate your belongings (expensive)?

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 be able to supplement your life abroad. You may need a property manager

8) AGE: I can’t move to a different country because I’m too old/ too young / I have to wait until I’m retired

There is no perfect age to move to another country. Some think they should work until retirement age and then move abroad to retire. There’s nothing wrong with that. 

Some foreign countries don’t have a retirement visa. For instance, it’s almost impossible to move to Canada unless you’re working age and can get a company to hire you. 

Retiring to France is much easier as long as you can prove that you have the finances and won’t be a drain on the economy. 

Personally, I think it’s better to move to another country when you’re younger (if you can). You never know what will happen in the later years of your life.

9) UNCOOPERATIVE SPOUSE: My spouse or significant other doesn’t want to move to another country.

Been there.

My husband has always loved to travel, but he wasn’t on board with the idea of moving abroad to France. Not because he didn’t want to but because it seemed risky, we had good jobs, and it seemed expensive.

Obviously, I convinced him because as I write this, we’ve been living in France with our three children for over a decade now.

How did I convince my husband to move abroad? Initially, the plan was only to live in France for one year. It went so well, we stayed a second, third, fourth and now it’s been 10 years. 

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

If you have your heart set on moving abroad, and you’re looking for ways to convince your spouse, read this article.

10) RISK: Moving to another country is too risky

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.

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 eventually. 

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

RESEARCH

Of course, moving to another country is not free of inconveniences and occasional frustrations, but it might not be as hard as you think.

The key to any move abroad is to research, research, research and to prepare and plan. The more you know, the more you’ll understand your options.

Ask yourself what are your goals.

  • Is it to move to another country 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 some destination and eventually become permanent residency or citizenship?
  • Is it to retire overseas?
  • Is it for health reasons? 

Other things to consider are health care, getting a driver’s license, opening bank accounts, and how to handle friends and family back home. 

Determining your goals, researching, and find the answers to your questions are all just part of the process. If you don’t take those first steps, you’ll never know if it’s really possible to move to a new country or not. 

AnnieAndre.com is reader-supported through ads and affiliate links. When you buy through links on this site, I may earn a small commission but the price is the same for you which helps me buy more croissants for my kids and run this site. Merci for your support.


  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
    Barb

    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.

  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

    thanks

    Akos

    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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