Reality check: What to ask yourself before moving abroad

Picture from Internet

Moving will always be a romantic notion. The Instagram filter of rose tinted airplane wings peeking out of our in-flight window. While en-route to our next destination our possibilities are suspended thousands of miles in the air. However, be wary, because we’ll no longer be protected by limbo – the state of in between —  upon arrival. Reality will materialize with every step we take outside of the airport.

Let’s start from the beginning.

Even before you accept that job offer abroad, book that flight or pack those bags, allow me to disillusion the dream to the state of realistic idealism. The Big Questions are inevitable, but asking them upfront will help every twenty-something year old embrace the opportunity cost of moving abroad while staying wide-eyed and inspired.

@ the Pond's Institute for my first business trip in Shanghai

@ the Pond’s Institute for my first business trip in Shanghai

Don’t leave for the sake of leaving.

Even though it sounds sexy,  don’t move unless it’s an industry you can be remotely interested in. Your job makes up a majority of your day. You don’t want to be miserable when you’re miles away from home, away from family and friends. Even if twenty-something-year olds don’t know what they want most of the time, the1/100000 part of us that does is what matters. Going abroad is always the best jumpstart to any twenty-something’s career so make sure the work will excite you.


Back to basics

Don’t be blinded by the numbers or exchange rate.

The worth of your salary is relative to the country’s standard of living and your personal lifestyle. Even though Singapore pays well compared to other Asian countries (especially for fresh grads), remember that your parents don’t pay for your rent. You don’t inherit a car. You literally earn your life abroad. Is it enough to pay for partying every weekend?

Knowing your worth.

What’s your worth as a professional? Filipino? Do you know your rights? It’s a scary world out there with various cultural norms. Don’t let people take advantage of you because of where you’re from. Remember that you’re no longer the majority. As a foreigner there are laws you have to respect and perceptions to be wary of but you can’t be afraid to stand up for what you believe is right and demand for the value you think you’re worth. Never sell yourself short. Draw the line even as early as a twenty-something-year-old.

Skyp with loved ones... even the doggies!

Skype with loved ones… even the doggies!

Relationships matter

Independence is a liberating feeling but it’s foolish to say that relationships don’t matter at the end of the day. Relationships are the constants in this generation of flux, especially when you move abroad. Family and friends keep you grounded. They will always feel like home — whether that’s back in Manila or your new residence. Don’t let new found freedom allow you to lose the relationships that matter most.

Did you move abroad? What went through your head before you left? 


12 thoughts on “Reality check: What to ask yourself before moving abroad

  1. I admit, mine was a rushed decision to move abroad. It all worked out, but it would have been smarter if I listened to your advice!

    • I left in a rush too. If only I knew some of these things back then. I would have saved myself a lot of anxiety in the first couple of months. :P But no regrets! It’s part of what makes going abroad a worthwhile experience.

  2. My work arrangement abroad has been rather unconventional. I stay in Singapore for a month then come back to Manila for 2 weeks before leaving for Singapore once again.

    The constant shuttling back and forth has its drawbacks but for a wide-eyed twenty something who’s looking into working/moving abroad, this could be a good compromise of sorts until you figure things out. So if you have that kind of opportunity then, by all means, jump right at it!

  3. I might move abroad soon because of my friend, we will study Thai language in Chiang Mai. :) I’m following u now on twitter.
    KT of

  4. Great post! Though I don’t have real plans yet, being assigned temporarily in Cambodia made me think about of moving all together. By the way, I nominated you in the Versatile Blogger Award (though I’m not sure if you received this before). Here’s the link of my post: No need to follow the rules, I just want you to know that I love your blog :)

    • Hi Irene,

      It’s the first time I’ve heard about it but thanks for the nomination :) I just checked out your blog. What are you doing in Cambodia? What’s stopping you from moving to Cambodia? You can just think about it as extending your stay if ever! :P Cambodia is on my list… I haven’t been able to go yet!

      • You should definitely go here! The place is amazing, may it be in the more famous Siem Reap, in the city Phnom Penh, or in any other provinces. Phnom Penh’s actually pretty much like Manila. I’m currently doing a 9-5 job, but I’ll be back in our country by end of August. I think moving all together really would need a lot of planning (and explaining to the parents)! haha! Let’s see what’ll happen next!

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