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Two Things I Learned from Living Abroad

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Hey, I'm Ryan. I live in Edmonton, Alberta in Canada and I used to live in Vancouver, British Columbia (and 3 other cities abroad).

A quick highlight of my career: I used to work as an accountant, a Support Specialist at Shopify Plus, a math instructor at a learning center in Vancouver, as well as an assistant to a research team at The University of British Columbia. I also have a diploma in graphic design and a degree in business.

Over the past 11 years, I've lived in 5 cities across 3 countries (previously 🇸🇬🇮🇩). I've also travelled to another 15 countries and territories in Asia, Australia, and Europe. Some of these moves are for work, and some for school. In my lifetime, I've lived in about 12 houses and apartments across these 3 countries.

Here are 2 main things I've learned from living abroad.

Two Things I Learned from Living Abroad

1. Stability is important to grow your finances and relationships.

When I tell people about my life story, they often seem fascinated, but I would almost always tell them that I much prefer having stability now. 

I still enjoy travelling (which is not the same thing as moving abroad), but having a solid home base to build your life upon is invaluable.

From my experience, the hardest thing about living abroad is the lack of stability. It is hard to build a life somewhere for the long term when you know you will have to leave in a couple years.

Without stability, it can be challenging to build a proper foundation to grow your finances, connections, and also relationships. 

This is what I like to tell people when they say they want to move abroad solely for financial reasons. They tend to think that their money problems will go away somewhere else, but they almost never think about the challenges of living in another country on a temporary visa: How will they manage and grow their finances and investments for the long-term when their visa expires in a few years with no guarantee of renewal? I've written more about this here.

2. What makes a city or a country special is its people, and their values.

Sometimes I get asked what's it's like living in a city or a country versus another. For the most part, I would say what makes a place different from another is its people, and their values.

The rest aren't as important.

People in different cities and countries have different sets of values and morality, and this is what affects your day-to-day life at the biggest level.

For example, in some societies, the concept of personal space and privacy may be different than what you are used to. Government and organizations may also treat your personal information the way you are not used to.

A society may support your personal values and morality, or antagonize them.

This will have an effect on you in your workplace and friendship groups, and it WILL affect your personal and career growth.

The rest aren't very important by comparison. These days, things like "first-world" conveniences, modern infrastructure, speedy internet, online shopping or food delivery and the likes can easily be found in major cities in both developing and developed countries. I'd say they're far less important than the values you surround yourself with.

About LingoNomad

At the moment, I'm writing for LingoNomad as an outlet for my experience and interests in personal finance, travel, living abroad, and languages.

Here are featured content sections you can find in LingoNomad:

Want to Move Abroad?

Learn about the cons of moving abroad, and how to get a visa if you think moving is right for you. More about this here.