4 fallacies of living abroad

Boat in turquoise lagoon

There is a big difference between being a tourist in a country and living your life there. All too often, people travel to a country for holdiays for a couple of weeks or even months and like it so much that they decide to settle there. Emmigrating is more complex than this. Here are four issues all too often misunderstood.

Boat in turquoise lagoon

I don’t need to speak the language

All too often people underestimate the language barrier. English speakers settle for e.g. in Spain or France without speaking a word of the local language. They may get away with English on holiday but to properly integrate within the country, speaking the local language is important. It’s even more important if you are going to work with others.

We’ve all heard about the Poles who came to England without speaking a word of English and still found work. Yes, you can do that too if you want to pick strawberries, work all hours of the day, live with others who speak your language and after some time, go back home with your strawberry earnings.

Is this why you would want to live abroad? To live in your own exclusive community? Can you imagine living your current life in your home country without being able to speak your language at all?

The grass is greener on the other side of the fence

You won’t know until you get there and you can always come back home if you don’t like it but by then you will have wasted a lot of time and resources.

But as the saying goes, the grass is not greener on the other side. Every country has some disadvantages.

  • The US has a high rate of gun crime and the poor can’t afford healthcare.
  • Australia has its own problems with immigration and inner-city slums.
  • Spain is still reeling from the credit crunch.
  • Socialist France wants to tax everything that shines. Beware if you’re rich.
  • Canada’s winter has even caused some Brits to turn back.

Sometimes it helps to look at the worst these countries have to offer to put your own troubles at home into perspective and suddenly life doesn’t seem too bad. Just a few weeks of holidays in the country of your choice and you won’t feel the need to escape permanently from home.

I don’t have enough money to emigrate

People usually want to live abroad with the same level of comfort they are used to. If they have enough money, it is a non-issue. If money is limited to the point of aborting this project, then they have to think twice. They could trade off their standard of living for a life under the sun. Live a little more like the locals. Cut back on restaurants, new cars, bars and spend time on the beach instead if you came for the beach and warm weather. This is all the more possible if the prices are cheaper in the host country. Otherwise, be stuck back home and keep on dreaming about what could have been.

Lowering the standard of living is much easier when living abroad is not permanent. It also depends a lot on the immigration laws of the host country. Often, a minimum level of income is required for entry and that can be quite high. Finally, all the sums must add up. Income must be greater than expenditure. If you manage to cut down on the latter by living more simply and spending elss but your income is still not sufficient to cover all your spending, then it’s a recipe for failure.

I will live happily ever after

When emigrating permanently somewhere, people need to consider what will happen in their old age.
Will their family be around for them when they will be old and infirm? If they are emigrating with young kids, it’s more likely the kids will stay there. If they are emigrating in middle age or in retrement and leaving their kids behind, they could end up far from their family and unable to travel frequently when they get old.

  • Is there a hospital around? The UK is quite compact and there are no long distances to travel like Australia or Canada.
  • Is their accessible public transport in case you can’t drive anymore? Or feel too unwell to drive?
  • Are there are other facilities that may be needed in old age?


Living abroad successfully is all about planning and managing expectations. Don’t always believe what people say.

What say you?