13 Unexpected Advantages of Living Abroad
My work permit extension is getting nearer and I am eligible to become a permanent resident in Sweden already! I haven’t been back in the Philippines since moving abroad in 2018. I cannot help but think about how living abroad for almost four years has changed my life and perspectives.
There are definitely pros and cons of living abroad, but the advantages of living abroad still outnumber the cons.
Practically, those who planned to move abroad have experiences they are expecting. If you are not sure what to expect, or if you are still contemplating starting a new life abroad, then this post might help you lean into booking that one-way ticket already!
I love new beginnings. That’s why the thought of living in a foreign country on my own excites me more than it scares me. It’s one of the most exciting experiences.
The reasons to live abroad can differ for people. From most of the posts, you will read, one of their reasons is the cheaper cost of living.
Not for me. I moved to work abroad and a small amount of money in Sweden can go further in the Philippines.
With that in mind, here are the unexpected advantages of living abroad!
You become more self-reliant
Living in a foreign country on your own can sometimes mean you have to rely on yourself only. It’s hard to seek help from others, especially when you don’t know anyone yet.
You are out of your comfort zone, and you are starting a new life overseas which can be overwhelming sometimes. But, that’s okay! Because that will make you a better YOU.
Before I moved to Sweden, I always choose to be surrounded by people. But, being alone in Sweden made me realize how much I love my own company. It gives me peace, and it pushes me to make better decisions too.
It’s one of those advantages of living abroad that makes a huge difference in your life.
Related: Things to Know Before Moving to Sweden
You improve your communication skills
When you start living overseas, you will learn how to listen more. You’ll learn to have an open mind and it is important to know how you can relate to people with different backgrounds.
Sure, English can be the common language, but there is so much more to that. You also need to consider social cues like facial expressions, tone, or body language.
You will also sometimes learn to be thoughtful with your word choices to simplify your language when communicating with other people.
You get more insights into another culture
I have learned so much about different cultures since I moved to Sweden. It is definitely one of the benefits of living abroad because it helps give us a global perspective & at the same time helps us feel connected with others.
It’s normal to experience culture shock since you are in an unfamiliar environment.
As the only Filipino in the office, I get to share about our culture & how we have 100+ languages in the Philippines. I get surprised when I found out new things about other cultures that I don’t consider normal, but it is normal for them.
It helped me understand more and get a different perspective on my views. I also feel more connected with people if there are similarities between our cultures.
And because you get more insights into another culture…
You develop to be more mindful
When you are living overseas, you meet different people from different cultures. You start to learn their ways of life, and you always see different perspectives.
When I was living in the Philippines, I hangout with Filipinos so the culture and ways of thinking are usually similar.
But now that I am in Sweden, I meet a lot of foreigners. Interacting with them helped me become more mindful of what I say or with my actions.
Despite the differences, people are people.
What seems to be normal behavior to you, might not mean normal to others. But, living overseas will help you quickly adapt to cultural signals too.
Being able to be more mindful is one of the important advantages of living abroad that some people might overlook.
Related: Challenges of Living Abroad
You get a global mindset
Getting a global mindset is one of the keys to growing professionally in your career when living overseas.
Because you have more insights into another culture, you will improve your communication skills and develop to become more mindful which will make you more adaptable to different cultural backgrounds.
You grow professionally in your career
A global perspective is highly considered by employers which opens up more opportunities in the future.
When working in a diverse company, you will not only improve your adaptability, flexibility, and cross-cultural communication skills, but you will also have different working styles.
It also increases your teamwork skills when working in a diverse team because you will need to accept different perspectives and understand how to cater to different expectations to achieve common goals.
Related: Life and Work in Sweden
The work environment in Sweden and the Philippines is completely the opposite. I’m happy that I got accustomed to the working environment in the Philippines, and it led to more opportunities at work.
You get accustomed to the new food
Raggmunk med fläsk (potato pancake with pork belly), kebab pizza, gyros pizza, banana pizza, Princess cake, and a lot more Swedish food! These are all the foods that I’ve never heard of or tried before moving to Sweden.
This was one of my struggles when I am still settling in a new country. I often eat my comfort food, and I don’t know how to make it, so trying out completely new food was not ideal.
Since I am living in a foreign country now, and some of my favorite foods are not accessible here, I learned to get accustomed to the new food.
I still miss Filipino foods, but I have a few favorite Swedish foods now. I also realized that I like different food now.
I remember I like eating salty food, and I thought some foods here are bland. When I asked my husband to bring my favorite salty snacks from the Philippines, I couldn’t finish them because now it is too salty for me!
You get a higher salary
It depends on where you’re from and where you moved, but one of the advantages of living abroad is you also get a higher salary.
As someone who lived and worked in the Philippines, moving and working in Sweden gives me a higher salary. Obviously, the cost of living is high too.
In our culture in the Philippines, Overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) usually give support to their families back home. Because of what I earn here in Sweden, I am also able to send money to my family.
Transfer money abroad
I often send money abroad, especially to the Philippines, so I had to find a hassle-free and cost-effective option for international transactions.
Signup for a Wise account!
Wise (formerly TransferWise) is a great bank for sending and receiving money internationally with low fees — much cheaper than using a traditional bank.
With the Wise Borderless account, you can also get your own local bank account details in Europe, the UK, the US, Australia, and New Zealand.
You have more travel opportunities
One of my favorite advantages of living abroad is being able to have more opportunities to travel to different countries.
I am a Philippine passport holder, and traveling around the world can be difficult because of visa applications. Now that I am living and working in Sweden, this means I can easily travel to different countries in Europe without worrying about visa applications.
I didn’t also have problems applying for a US tourist visa, and I was also granted a visa to Ukraine.
Even if you don’t travel internationally, you can still explore your new city! I’ve been living in Sweden for over two years now, and I still feel like I’m a tourist. There’s so much to see here and I still haven’t explored my neighborhood as well!
One of the advantages of living abroad also is you will learn to travel slowly.
Related post: Are you curious to know if living in Stockholm is expensive or not? I created a detailed post about the cost of living in Stockholm & and what our monthly expenses look like.
You learn to appreciate everything
I grew up in the Philippines. I experienced studying abroad in Australia. And, now, I am living and working abroad. It is a struggle to live and survive in the Philippines anything I experience while living abroad amazed me—which is always unbelievable to some people.
I remember I often talk about how easy it is to commute and how much I love public transportation in Stockholm but my coworkers couldn’t understand why. I told them it takes me 3 to 4 hours to travel to/from the office; I’d be lucky to be home in 1 hour.
It is normal in the Philippines to ask for more requirements that are not on the list, so I have a habit of over-preparing documents just in case.
I learned so much from my experiences back home that I became patient and appreciative of every little thing while living in a foreign country.
Everything will get better over time.
You learn a new language
I don’t speak Swedish… yet.
I am familiar with a few Swedish words and phrases, and I can somehow understand when people talk to me in Swedish. Although I don’t speak Swedish, learning a new language is also one of the advantages of living abroad.
I never imagined myself learning a new language before; but now that I am living in Sweden, and planning to stay here for good, it is still necessary to learn the local language.
A funny thought: I sometimes forget the English or Filipino word that I have to say in Swedish!
It is a different feeling of being surrounded by new words (it reminds you that you are living in a foreign country), but you’ll still get a sense of fulfillment once you understand what used to be an unfamiliar language.
I still remember when I was practicing my Swedish, I was paying and the cashier was asking me questions in Swedish. I kept saying “no, thank you” thinking it was polite, but the cashier seemed uneasy and said something I didn’t understand.
My Swedish friend told me that my responses were too direct! That was embarrassing!
You expand your social (and professional) network
To be honest, I still find more comfort in being surrounded by my Filipino friends!
As someone who is living in a foreign country, EVERYTHING is new to me. It took me time to find my favorite restaurants, I still don’t have my go-to places to visit, and I still know too little about Stockholm.
But, with the help of the locals, I was able to get to know more about Stockholm and other places in Europe.
You can try going to different meetups to meet people with the same interests and make new friends.
You have better stories to share
Not because you are living overseas, you are someone special.
One of the many advantages of living abroad is you get to experience different things from your home country, and you will also get to share the differences (one of my most-requested blog posts is to share the differences between living in the Philippines and Sweden!).
You can share the story of how you moved abroad, the process of integrating into the new country, what it is like to settle in a new country, how you found your job abroad, some embarrassing stories while living overseas, and many more!
I’m sure that there are people who are interested in your journey abroad. You can also share the advantages of living abroad too!
I hope this post will encourage you more to pursue your dream of living abroad! There are still advantages and disadvantages of living in a foreign country, but know that there are more advantages than you think.
Here’s a helpful guide on the most common disadvantages of living abroad and how you can overcome them!
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