Expat Life

5 scariest things about moving abroad and how to overcome them

  • November 11, 2019
scariest things about moving abroad

Moving to another country is without a doubt the scariest thing I’ve ever done. There were times that I didn’t think we’d go through with it, and many more times when I wondered what on earth we were doing.

We’ve had many people tell us how brave we are, and that they would relocate abroad if they weren’t so afraid. Like anything, if you want to achieve something you have to make it happen, even if it terrifies you. I’ve listed 5 of the scariest things about moving abroad and how you can overcome your fears to live your dream…


1. Starting from scratch

One of the scariest things about moving abroad was the decision to sell our house, get off the property ladder and start over again. No one living in the UK needs me to tell them how hard it is to be able to afford a house in England, we count ourselves very lucky to have been able to buy our first home when we were in our mid-twenties. Selling up and having to start over is incredibly scary. We’re renting in Spain at the moment so I’ll let you know how getting a mortgage goes next year! We also sold our cars, most of our belongings and furniture so really did have to start again when we arrived. Having a huge cull of possessions was actually quite therapeutic but selling or throwing out things you’ve held on to for years though is quite emotional!

Tip: Take as little as you can manage with! Overseas removal is expensive and you don’t want to take things you don’t need. Do a bit of Marie Kondo and if it doesn’t spark joy get rid of it. There’s not much that can’t be replaced.


2. Leaving family and friends behind

The hardest part about moving abroad is definitely leaving loved ones behind. We’re very lucky that my parents moved over here a couple of months after we did but we’ve still left behind a lot of family. I have a nephew that I still haven’t met yet! We thought we’d be able to pop back sooner but even with cheap flights, a trip back would cost us around £600 with car hire and expenses. We’ve all had to leave friends behind but it was especially hard for Little H. She had a couple of really close school friends who she’d known since she was tiny. Luckily with video calls, they can still keep in touch quite easily.

Tip: Make sure everyone is set up on WhatsApp/Facetime so you can talk regularly – you might have to set it up for older relatives. Stay in touch on social media, and arrange for the kids to talk regularly. Plan trips back to the UK or for loved ones to come and see you so you have visits to look forward to. Keep an eye on sites like Skyscanner for cheap flights.


3. The language

I got an A* in my Spanish at GCSE so once upon a time I was very good at it. That was many many years ago though and I don’t remember as much as I thought I would. I hate speaking to people I don’t know at the best of times and get really nervous about any kind of meeting or appointment, so being in situations where I have to speak in Spanish is terrifying. Especially when it’s something official like a school meeting! I usually practice what I need to say before we go but then they ask something I don’t understand and my mind goes blank. I’m getting better and am less bothered now if I get something wrong – so far I’ve managed to make myself understood and no one has laughed at me. I can’t wait for the day when I can speak Spanish without having to Google Translate everything first but I think Little H will be my interpreter before then.

Tip: Not being able to communicate is definitely one of the scariest things about moving abroad so learn as much before you go as possible. Sit down and learn the language as a family so you can all help each other. When you arrive just start talking to people. Try not to worry about making mistakes and soon it will begin to feel more normal.

4. Money and finding a job

A common fear of moving abroad is worrying about whether you’ll have enough money. As I mentioned in another post, we haven’t had a lottery win or inheritance that’s enabled us to move abroad. We had a small amount of money from our house sale and some savings. We’re very lucky that neither of us has had to find a job in Spain, I have enough freelance work to cover our monthly outgoings and the husband is now my ‘assistant’! However, it’s always at the back of my mind that this work might not last forever. What if I lose some of my clients? We might have to find jobs later on, but if that does happen hopefully we’ll know more Spanish by then! For now, I’ll just keep squirrelling away money just in case.

Tips: Save as much money as possible before you leave. That way if something unexpected does happen you have enough to cover all bills for a few months until you get back on track.


5. What if it doesn’t work out?

Probably the biggest thing at the back of your mind will be ‘what if we have to go back?’. You’ve quit your job, sold your house, taken the kids out of school and left the country. If you had to go back, how would you start all over again? Not to mention it’d be embarrassing and you’d have to admit you failed. It’s still early days for us, we’ve not been here 6 months yet, so fingers crossed everything stays as it is. We’ve got residency, Spanish driving licenses and I’m set up as self-employed with social security and a VAT number. We absolutely love our new life here so as long as we can continue to pay the bills we hopefully won’t have to head back!

Tip: Try to remember that so many people want to move abroad but are too scared. You’ve been brave and if it doesn’t work out at least you tried and won’t always wonder ‘what if’. With proper research and planning, you shouldn’t be forced to head back too soon. Give yourself time to adjust, you won’t feel at home straight away.


If you dream of moving abroad but are letting your fears hold you back, hopefully, this post has shown it’s not as scary as you might think. If you’ve already taken the leap, what do you think the scariest things about moving abroad were?


Do you dream about moving to another country but are too scared to go through with it? Here are 5 of the scariest things about moving abroad and how to overcome them... #movingabroad #expats #relocatingabroad #expatfamily #expatlife

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