5 (Bad) Excuses Why People Don’t Move Abroad

My #1 goal on this blog is to share about becoming an expat. I feel that living abroad makes some significant, positive changes in a person. so I guess I feel living abroad is something pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it’s also something pretty scary for those interested. But scary is just an alternative to exciting, given the right mindset.

To date, I’ve helped a handful of people with their move abroad. The most popular help needed is deciding to “go for it.” In my experience, there are 5 big reasons why people don’t follow their dream of living in another country. After each, I tell you why each reason doesn’t really matter.

#1. Work

Number one reason is “I have a job.” People actually ask “How could I leave my career?”

To people who offer this excuse, I say you aren’t hurting your career, you’re helping it.

For nearly all employers, any international experience is a major plus. Upon your return, you will command a more senior position, higher salary and more respect. You can also expect more independence since, to move abroad obviously took the fortitude to have done what they likely haven’t. If you can’t believe me, read this article on the Harvard Business Review how living abroad can make you a better manager.

And you know what? For many of us in corporate life, the job itself may be the mealticket to a new adventure overseas. Does your company operate in other countries, in any capacity? Look for transfer opportunities. For people who step forward, the company may throw in relocation funding, language tutoring, and visa assistance. Wow!

Let’s say you’re an information security manager in Boston. Your boss’s boss knows of an planned data centre in San Jose, Costa Rica and he’s in dire need of a senior manager with native English skills. You, of all people would be the ideal candidate for the role, but he only learns you’re interested because you’re now resigning to move abroad. (That’s from my own experience, by the way. I turned down his offer, but my lesson was Speak Up Earlier!)

Bottom Line: Raise your hand up for transfers/relocation- even if the question isn’t asked. Regardless, taking a new position abroad is destined to be a major stepping stone for your career.

#2. Children

If you have children, they are the most important thing in your life. (I speak from experience here, too).

That’s why I think parents should consider living abroad even more – for the sake of broadening their kids’ horizons.
Our daughter attended preschool in Prague for her first 2 years of school age.  Now we’re in Canada, but she still speaks fondly of her Czech friends and loves to dance to Czech kids tunes.

Does she remember our travels?  She can personally remember her and daddy’s trip up the Eiffel Tower, walking around the Acropolis and visiting friends in Germany. — This all before she turned 5 years old a few months ago!

Kids with such experiences become more social, learn a foreign language more easily and will be more resourceful at problem solving. I truly believe that.  Time abroad for children is the best gift a parent can offer.

For young adult children, the transition is tougher and appreciation will come later.  The key to success is with communication and respect.  Get young adults involved early on in the decision making.

Bottom Line: Do it for you and do it for your children.

#3. Family / Relationships

Having family nearby can make the decision to move abroad more difficult. Then again, for some, family is just the reason some want to leave. (ha ha!)
Seriously, unless your beloved grandmother has only a few months left, feel free to leave for a few years. But decide – for you. Everyone will be around when you get back. Decide and decide now.
As for that certain relationship with a significant other. Maybe you’re waiting for someone to pop the question. Maybe you’re waiting for something…but it’s been a while already, right?
In both cases, I’m telling you that the initial shock and pain of saying “I’m leaving for…” will go away be responded by “We’ll miss you, but we’re proud of you. Bon voyage!”

Bottom Line: You can’t live your life in “wait-mode.” Otherwise, there will always be a reason to wait.

#4. Personal Concerns & Fears

Maybe you’re worried about your health, your safety, or some basic fear of strange languages and customs? Maybe you don’t know what to do when bored.

This is the first reason of this list that I can personally understand. Believe it or not, I get butterflies every time I am moving to a new place, visiting a new country or starting a new job. But you know, I think that’s normal. It’s normal to be nervous. These new adventures interest us just because there is a lot of “unknown.” And isn’t that what it’s all about?

Bottom Line: Sure, all that “unknown” may scare most people away, but maybe that adventure is what sets you apart from others.

#5. Finances

Okay, this is a genuine reason like all the above. But it’s special because it’s also a valid reason not to just take off to live for another country.
UNLESS, that chance to live abroad means making considerable more money than you’re making in your current position. Right? Did you know in Russia, over a third of the expats earn more than a quarter million dollars? Yes, over $250,000. That because Russian employers find it “fashionable” to hire expatriates and pay them crazy salaries.

And don’t forget that your worldwide income is tax-free, to a limit.

If you’re in heavy debt, than a move abroad can be more than difficult to pull off. What’s abnormal debt? Statistics say that half of Americans with credit cards have over $3,000 in rotating balance debt. I personally would not call that a serious debt, but it’s a good start. However, a move abroad could turn it into serious debt.

Bottom line: It’s important to carefully consider the cash-in versus the cash-out for every move. Odds are good overseas will win.

Published by


An American who likes to move around.
I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding.
My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do.

36 thoughts on “5 (Bad) Excuses Why People Don’t Move Abroad”

  1. Excellent Article. You pretty much echoed what I am going through. I am being offered to move from India to Utah and I was scared of all the things you mentioned. First and foremost I was worried about my age in parents . I used to worry that if I move who will take care of them. What is something happens to them. The other thing was the new place and what do I do if I get bored. If I do want to get back to India will I get a transfer. Is it worth taking the risk. I used to be positive in the morning and was getting negative in the evening and night. I am yet to decide on this but your article helped a lot. I would appreciate any further inputs.

    1. Rajesh,

      Think 30 years from now. You will be older, obviously. But your position in life, career and personal success will be VERY different, depending on this “risk” in Utah.

      You wrote you are “positive in the morning and was getting negative in the evening” — it’s clear that this opportunity is good for you. Yes, you are nervous (anyone would be) and you are worried for what might happen (everyone does). And yes, your parents are getting older. They will get old, wherever you are.

      Ask yourself: What’s the real worst thing that will probably happen? The answer is, you’ll have an amazing experience, travel and live in Utah, USA, have a great influence on your future.

      Do it man!

  2. Jeff,

    Question: I have to move to Utah from India with 2 children. The salary offered is good and it’s a transfer within my same company. As I had mentioned in my earlier post what if things do not workout the way I wanted and if feel miserable and want to get back and the company does not give me a transfer back to India what do I do with 2 children. I am also an anxious person which is making me to take this decision more problematic. I was also thinking what if my parents get sick I may not be able to get to them on time to help them etc.. These recurrent thoughts keep coming in my mind time and again. Your suggestion would help.

  3. Thanks a lot for your prompt reply. Appreciate it and it just helps me boost my confidence.I am already 43.. I just keep thinking if I am too old to make this change.

  4. Hi Jeff,
    You are spot on with these reasons/fears.
    We are on the verge of moving to Florida from the UK, but I have found myself constantly moving the leaving date – I know it is fear driven, but still find myself there.
    I have made as many plans ( & plan of plans) as I can.
    Bought my home etc.
    On paper all looks great, but there is still the fear……
    Thank you Jeff

    1. Thanks Pam – you made me smile big!

      Great to hear of the UK plans. And yes, the fear is normal.
      One little step at a time…. and ask yourself “What’s really the worst that’ll likely happen?” (the answer is rarely worth the fear)
      Now – go! Take advantage of that house. Especially with the strong US dollar!
      Cheers to you and yours,

      1. Thanks Jeff,
        Needed the positivity….the worst that could happen is that we have a wonderful adventure…the best……a wonderful adventure!
        Is it worth the fear……absolutely not…is it worth the risk…..absolutely!
        Thanks Jeff

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