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Demosthenes's avatar

Have you ever moved to another country (as an adult)?

Asked by Demosthenes (15022points) February 8th, 2024

What was re-locating to another country like? How did you enjoy the life of an expat? Did you have a job in that country? How often did you feel the desire to return home (and did you do so)?

I’m just wondering if any of you have this experience. I know most of us here are in the U.S., but even if you temporarily lived in another country, I’d be interested to hear about it.

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19 Answers

janbb's avatar

I lived in England for two years – the last year of university and then the next year with my husband. There was a lot I loved about living there, the countryside, the culture and the friendships I cultivated. However, there were always little things that would trip me up like not having the same pop cultural referrants that most Brits had, e.g. I didn’t always get the joke.

I probably could have lived there permanently but for many reasons we decided to settle in the States. My son and his family now live in France permanently and while I love being there, I think for me, that would be an even harder culture to crack as an ex-pat.

elbanditoroso's avatar

No. I contemplated it in my late 20s, but decided that it was too much of a wrench and I decided to stay here. However, I did move from the North to the South. Does that count?

Demosthenes's avatar

@elbanditoroso Well, it’s more than I’ve done. I’ve only ever lived in California and Nevada.

@janbb That is how I feel about France as well. I love to visit, but I don’t think I could properly adjust to the culture. Same with Japan.

My partner and I have been contemplating a move to Mexico for the better part of two years. I spent most of last year abroad, and spent the largest amount of that time in Mexico, particularly the Yucatán (the area we are looking to move to). It’s been a complicated process, but it looks likely to happen by this summer if we both agree this is what we want.

elbanditoroso's avatar

@Demosthenes one of the things that stopped me was that I wouldn’t have any shared culture in the new country.

Here in the US, we all shared common things: Kennedy assassination, Vietnam War, the draft, Nixon, American football, the World Series, American TV and movies – anywhere you went in the US you had shared culture with the people around you even if you had never met them before.

If I had moved to Europe, as I contemplated, I had none of that. A couple friends, yes of course, but not that shared set of memories that shaped them in their way. I would never have fit in, and that bothered me.

But eventually I got married and had kids, and never gave a moments’ thought to leaving the US for more than a couple weeks.

Demosthenes's avatar

@elbanditoroso That is definitely something to consider. I do have some connection to Mexico (dad born there, relatives there), but it will not be like what I have in the U.S. It’s not an easy decision for sure. Just the thought of being farther away from my family and making visiting them more difficult is preventing me from committing.

janbb's avatar

@Demosthenes Since you’re young, no harm in trying it for a year or two. No need to make a lifetime commitment. I was in the Yucatan many years ago but just as a tourist.

FWIW, I was just in Portugal and met many Americans who are moving there permanently. They seemed to be largely part of an Ex-Pat community with the language being a barrier to fully integrating – although some of them are studying Portuguese. I don’t really see the big attraction of that. If you and/or your partner speak Spanish I imagine it would help.

Demosthenes's avatar

@janbb Yes, Portugal does seem to be a popular destination. We spent a month in Portugal last summer, in fact. My boyfriend speaks fluent Spanish, and while I do not, I have improved significantly and I practice it with him constantly. So it is something I could adjust to, especially if I really immersed myself in it. Being stuck in an ex-pat community is something I’d like to avoid.

And it’s true, it doesn’t have to be a permanent move. I’d like it to be at least a few years, though. May be worth just going for it.

janbb's avatar

@Demosthenes If I had a good way to be out of America for the next few years, I would probably jump on it!

JLeslie's avatar

My husband moved to the US for college and stayed here. He had lived in the US for 9th and 10th grade also.

He also lived in Colombia for just under a year as an expat when we were married about five years. He came home every 4 weeks more or less for a 5 day weekend. I went there one time.

Speaking for him, as an expat he liked the extra money and I think he liked feeling important. The company paying for a nice apartment, chauffeur, and he was chosen especially for the job.

I know he would still consider an expat job if the right thing came along.

jca2's avatar

Two guys from work (long term romantic partners) retired to Spain. One was originally from Spain and the other was maybe from PR, so Spanish is their original language. They post photos on FB and it seems like they’re really enjoying their lives now. No more frigid winters.

A family I follow on FB moved from New England to Mexico. They’re not Hispanic. They bought a large house and they seem really happy. I don’t believe they speak any Spanish although I am not sure. They post photos of parties and events they have at the house. The house seems to have a beautiful courtyard and it seems like a great party house.

My cousin’s husband is from England and they have homes there as well as in the US. They go effortlessly from the US to England and seem to love both places equally. The husband and their adult son are both citizens of both countries, so they have access to whatever advantages that brings.

I would think not speaking the language fluently might cause some frustration, although there are many English speakers all over the world, still, if you’re trying to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak English and you are not fluent in their language, it might be rough.

For me, a big consideration would be the health care. Would my insurance cover my health care in the other country, and is the quality of their health care superb like it is in the US and some countrie? For my family who have homes in England, they pay privately for health insurance there so they wouldn’t have to wait on lists to receive procedures if they needed them, like the average citizen would. When I was young, this wouldn’t have been something I’d have thought much about, but as you get older it is, also you might be very healthy but if you get into a car accident or suffer some other trauma, having access to good health care becomes something very much appreciated.

Hawaii_Jake's avatar

I have lived in Japan, Singapore, and Australia. I recommend all people to move abroad for a time. It enlarges your mind in ways I find difficult to put into words. To wax poetic, it enlarges your soul.

My first year in Japan taught me the beauty of other cultures. It opened my eyes to new, radically different ways of leading life. The best I can describe is to say it was earth shattering to my psyche. Everything shifted.

I heartily encourage you to give the Yucatan your life for some years.

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes Would you be in a part of MX that has a large American population? Some parts of MX are big retirement spots for Americans.

Demosthenes's avatar

Thanks for the answers, guys. :)

@JLeslie Mérida, the capital of Yucatán state, is known for its expat community and is also one of the safest cities in Mexico. That is the area we’d be moving to (in fact, the Yucatán contains the only two states in Mexico without any travel warnings from the US government). I don’t know how many Americans are living there, but we encountered some when we were there.

janbb's avatar

@Demosthenes Merida is a beautiful city in my memory from many years ago.

smudges's avatar

@elbanditoroso However, I did move from the North to the South. Does that count?

Oh hell yeah, that counts! I moved from Vermont to Tennessee and it was like another country. We couldn’t even understand half of what they were saying!

JLeslie's avatar

@Demosthenes Most of the expat areas are safe. Sounds like fun for a year or two. Like my mom said to me when I was moving to Florida after college and I was nervous, she said, “you can always come back.” You can always come back to the US. Do you own where you live now? Can you rent it out so you don’t lose it?

Another option is a different city in the US just for an adventure. Come live by me!! Lol. I always want my friends to move here. So much to do.

I keep pushing my husband to get his Mexican passport so we can escape the US if we need to. Seriously, this might be an ideal time to get out of Dodge.

Demosthenes's avatar

@JLeslie It was always my plan to hightail it out of here before the election… ;)

But no, I don’t own. I’ve been renting a place in the Bay Area and the lease is up in June. So that’s part of the “deadline”.

So we shall see what happens. :)

MrGrimm888's avatar

I lived in Germany when for 3 years, when I was a kid. I know that isn’t the question, but I remember a lot about it.

I would like to point out that the contiguous US, is not so dissimilar to Europe. As far as, if you travel a hundred miles in any direction, and the culture is different. The further the distance, sometimes the bigger the difference.

I travel to Michigan, from SC occasionally. It’s a two day drive. The culture changes wildly, from here to there. There is even a difference between regular Michigan people, and people in the “UP”(Upper Peninsula.)

I have frequently thought of leaving America. I have traveled a lot, and admittedly “there’s no place like home.”
I have this ridiculous fantasy of moving to a South Pacific island, and fishing in a canoe every day. I think a lot of Pacific Islanders, don’t care much for Caucasians.
That could be an issue. I’d definitely have to have some form of stability before actually going somewhere permanently.

These days, you can travel AND still keep in touch with loved ones. I highly recommend that people live in multiple places. However. I fell in love with Charleston SC. It’s so expensive though now, I can’t really afford to live here.
Maybe an Island off of Mexico. US dollars go far there…...

Blackwater_Park's avatar

If I were you, I would. It will open an already open mind even further. I have not moved out of the country but have lived in various places in the US. There is enough culture shock difference there that it may as well have been a different country. I can only imagine how much more it would be to actually leave for a different homeland.

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