Maybe you're at a crossroads in your life, your career, your relationship.
Maybe you're wanting an adventure.
Maybe you're retired and ready to taste something new.
Maybe you're young, brave and ready to travel the world before "settling down."
Maybe you're tired of the political drama in your country.
Maybe you want to learn a new language.
All those reasons and more are why the women I interviewed in Guadalajara said they first decided to move abroad.
Something happens when you move abroad that opens your eyes and widens your perspective on all the things in life. Whether you choose to do so at a young age like I did or when you're ready to retire like many of my friends here have done as well.
You learn to appreciate new cultures, traditions, tastes, smells and beautiful places on the map. You embrace the colors of textiles found within local shops and savor sweet fruits you'd only ever heard of before moving and now can't seem to get enough.
So many of us who moved abroad decades ago all agree that we set out on this "adventure" or "new chapter" of our lives for just a year or two....and here we are 10, 15, 20, 30 years later in the same place or still living away from our native countries, making a life in another country we now call home.
Each week on the podcast, I talk to incredible women who live in Guadalajara and have often traveled the world and are now raising families, starting businesses and encouraging other women. A couple months ago, I shared a survey with a group of 600 women and got a great response about peoples' reasons for moving and living in another country.
I thought it'd be fun to share their answers here...
How many years have you lived abroad?
As you can see, of the 60 women who filled out the survey, over half of us have been in Guadalajara or abroad for over 10 years.
How many years did you plan on staying abroad?
However, the majority of us "planned" on being abroad for 1-3 years, and here we still are.
What brought you abroad?
Not surprisingly, most people moved abroad for work, adventure, love or their partner's job. Some of the people moved for multiple reasons as well.
Some of the women surveyed added a few details about what brought them abroad:
“It was a good job opportunity and I’m always up for an adventure.”
“I really wanted to learn Spanish and teaching English allowed me to do that in a new country.”
“We retired and sold our house and started traveling. We rented long-term AirBNBs and spent at least a month in each of the cities we visited to get a feel for what it was like to live there vs. just being a tourist.”
“We wanted to retire in a beautiful climate and in a place with historic culture.”
“I was young, naive and so so in love. Being abroad felt exciting and full of promises.”
“We came in hopes of working through immigration issues together.”
“It was initially a university exchange, met my future husband and returned”
Did you speak Spanish before you came to Mexico?
Many of the women already spoke a little Spanish before moving to Mexico, while some moved abroad to learn the language.
How many languages do you speak?
Living in Mexico, I'm always amazed at how many languages my friends speak. Most of us are bilingual, but several of my friends speak 3 or 4 languages. Moving to another country is not only great for opening your perspective on things, it helps you gain new skills as well.
What's the best thing about living abroad?
Almost every single person on the survey responded that the best part of living abroad is appreciating a new culture and opening your mind to new ways of thinking. So often, when we stay in one place we don’t even realize how closed our minds can be. Making a home in another country really does widen your eyes and allow you to invite new ideas into your life. As a mom of two young children, I am so grateful (like many women in the survey) that I am raising my kids in a place where they can learn to appreciate different cultures, traditions, food and ways of thinking/doing things.
“The adventure, learning about new cultures, trying different environments, living in different types of homes and neighborhoods, trying new foods, learning new languages (even if not fluently), meeting diverse people.”
“International schools and international community of friends”
“There is always a challenge, learning about a new culture always humbles you.”
“Low cost of living”
“Appreciation of new cultures, food and traditions.”
“Creating a bicultural, bilingual family and a healthier work/life balance.”
"I have become more patient. I now understand what I believe in and why. I love learning about new people and places."
"Learning new culture and ways of living and having my kids exposed to it."
"Right now the best thing about living abroad is NOT living in the United States!"
What’s the worst thing about living abroad?
Most people agree that the hardest or worst thing about living abroad is missing family and feeling homesick. There are also certain processes with paperwork that are very frustrating as anybody who lives in Guadalajara knows when we have to go downtown four different times to get our visas processed. Here are some of the answers from the survey.
“The unspoken ways of a new culture that you just have to learn by living there for a while.”
“Not be able to understand everything when using a second language.”
“Sometimes not knowing what it is that you don't know.”
“Being far from family and missing important events like weddings and graduations.”
“Lack of organization and lack of plumbing.”
“Missing some conveniences like being able to go to Target, but nothing that would put me on a plane to move back to the US.”
Would you recommend living abroad to someone else?
Despite the things we may miss from our native countries, 98% of the women living abroad would recommend it to someone else. So clearly, we're on to something here as we embrace life in a new country and make our home abroad.
Would you recommend living abroad to someone else, why or why not?
"Yes! It’s an amazing experience being able to try, see and do new things all the time! And becoming friends with so many people from around the world is incredible! I really think living abroad is hard, but so worth it!"
"Definitely, enriches your life to learn and new language and culture. Amazing gift to have bi-cultural and bilingual children & family."
"I think everyone should live abroad for an extended period of time. It opens your mind to the world outside your “bubble.” You gain a better understanding of other cultures; therefore reflecting on your own cultures ways and beliefs. In addition, I believe it increases your emotional I.Q. and makes you better at adapting to change."
"Yes. Regardless of the hardships you may encounter, you come out stronger, more knowledgeable and, in my opinion, just a generally more understanding person."
"It has been the best thing. Though there are bittersweet moments, overall it really has shaped my worldview and opened my eyes to so many new things."
"Yes. It's the FASTEST and DEEPEST way to build empathy and expand perspectives. It makes for more compassionate and awoke kids. Travelling makes us see that, though we may all look different and have different customs, we are all more alike than different."
What about you?
There you have it, 60 women stating their reasons why they'd recommend moving abroad to gain a new perspective, become more empathetic and understanding and embracing life in another country.
Clearly, I'm happy in Guadalajara after 14 years of living here and I've been able to put some roots down in this beautiful city. If you're just moving abroad or contemplating it, feel free to reach out email@example.com