Moving Abroad — Things we should talk about more.

Some things I wish I had known.

Chhavi Shrivastava
Jun 15 · 6 min read

If you read any blog or experience of moving or working abroad, you will always find a paragraph that reminds you of all the Bollywood movies you’ve lived through — I am thinking a mix of Queen, Zindagi Milegi Na Dobara, and Kajol singing “Mere desh ki dharti” in Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gam.

New city, new me, new life. A montage of walking around in the bustling new city, laughing over drinks with new friends, hiking, attending events. It’s a cocktail of good vibes, exciting adventures and the dream life.

I mean, I am guilty of doing the same.

So wait, it is all a ruse? Are all of us just lying that moving abroad changed our lives for good, and that we are having the best of times?

Nopes. No. Not at all.

We are all just selectively talking about things we like. Painting a full picture, but forgetting to mention how difficult it was simply to find the paints, or that picture frame.😅

I hear these reasons to move abroad often, and I had similar ones. Time to talk more about them.

Moving to a new city will change my life.

True and False.

I had the privilege of living in Barcelona and London. It all feels so romantic and filmy through a couple of filtered stories, and reels with those trending songs. It is. It truly is, sometimes I can’t believe this is my life.

But so is Bangalore, and Guwahati and Bhopal. Or any other city that you are living in. Yeah having a few celebrated monuments and culturally filled calendars certainly does help, not denying that one bit.

But hear me out. Romanticising your life is a mindset. it is very easy to fall into a pattern in your new city, and before you know it, you are leading your good old former life.

Pouring tea in your favorite mug while your houseplants flourish in the background has the same aesthetics, and happiness everywhere. Your local barista knowing your order looking at your face gives you the same pride. And so does the thrill of being in a new place where you haven’t been before.

So yes fresh scenery picks you up, but it’s your job to keep at it. Keep romanticising the city you live in, and the life you are building for yourself.

I will meet so many new people.

True and False.

I love how all those who move to a new city or a country magically have an Instagram photo with 7–8 people laughing and drinking together.

Let me in on you in a secret — making friends as an adult sucks.

Maybe if you are going for a masters or joining the same jobs together, you have a connecting story for a while and that group photo makes sense. But if you are moving to a new city, all by yourself, chances are you know 1–2 folks and your new team mates.

It is not like college. Your teammates all vary in life stages — some have kids, some are newly married, others might be dating or be into rock climbing while you can’t climb a flight of stairs fast enough to save your life.

It is messy finding your new tribe. It is a lot of work. Forming friendships take years, months if you are lucky. You will dearly miss the warm, easy dynamic of your friend circle back home.

You will stumble across events, and classes, and meetups — to cross paths with a lot of people, who might show up on your Instagram and give the illusion you have found your tribe. Maybe you have, maybe you not. But this is what you signed up for when you moved.

Experience a new culture.

It is awkward. It only sounds good as a dating app bio. I want to travel and experience a new culture.

Yeah sure, good luck with trying to get your insurance sorted in another language, or not knowing why you got charged a ridiculous amount as water bill, finding food you can eat in a supermarket, standing while all your colleagues sing karaoke in a different language.

New experiences if intercepted with time and space make a lot of sense and are comfortable. New experiences all squeezed together, with high stakes, because you moved to a new country where you don’t speak the language and need to make sure you find a home, pay the bills and feed yourself can be overwhelming.

When you move, you have no chance but to buck and keep going. Maybe it means adapting to new weather or a new job, or learning the public transport or scrounging through the supermarket to find familiar things — the initial few days, every damn thing is a learning experience.

It is not a paid, fully-arranged tour you know? There is no hand-holding or guides. Just be up for a lot of learning, some of which you would have rather not learned.

So yes yay to new experiences — both glamorous and non-glamourous.

Get rich.

Lol.

No seriously lol. Can we please talk about the immense financial budgeting pressure that comes with moving abroad?

Have you every moved places? When you move to a new flat chances are you will find a missing bulb or a plumbing job or buy some basic cleaning products. Now multiply it with the scale of moving abroad.

Setting up a life in a new city is expensive. Relearning to spend and manage your life in a new currency system is hard. It is harder if you don’t have a solid support system to fall back on.

If it was that easy, a lot more folks would not have permanent homes. I had a relocation bonus I thought would cover the chunk — but after taxes and the surprises that you can’t account for, it barely covered my deposit.

So yes you might be earning relatively higher, but you also have a life in that city. Be better at maths, and asking tough questions to your recruiter/folks who live there. You know how at IKEA, you pick all things they are cheap? And the end bill you see is often a lot more, it’s pretty much the same here.

Travel the world.

This one is nice.

Yep, this is really amazing. Two hours to Paris sounds heaven (post-pandemic obviously). But, but — do not forget cleaning up your house, doing the groceries, doing dishes, laundry, deep-cleaning, paying bills, going to that Indian store to stock up spices, reporting that faulty toilet leak, finding how to clean your oven, fighting off mould, stocking up winter basics, and….you get the idea.

After all, that city is your home right?

But this is really really nice. This is that add-on bonus HR sells you and is actually worth it.

Become Independent.

Legit true again.

Yep the thrill again. It is very liberating, so very liberating. This is my favorite part of moving abroad.

No more log kya kahenge! Kaise kahenge? koi hai hi nahi yahan.

[What will people say. There are no people to say!]

The side of independence that sucks - trust me lugging up 3 big suitcases to move into your new place alone, not having access to home-cooked food, not knowing when you will be able to see your family again, and just the feeling of security that comes being in the driving radius of your family.🥺

So yeah, these are all the things I wish I prepared better for mentally before I moved.

It would not have changed my decision. It might have prepared me better sure. It would brought in a matured perspective and the trade-offs.

Still standing happily by my decisions,
Chhavi

Note: The author is a romantic at heart, and has a tendency to keep her rose-tinted glasses on.

This blog is part of the blog series I have been writing around moving abroad for a job. If this is something on your mind check out the other parts, and some resources here.

Everything that I know and learned, in these parts!
For more behind-the-blog moments, and fun things I curate, find me on Instagram here. Also on the bird app!

Moving abroad for a job

Tips for job hunting, relocation experiences, and behind-the-scenes!

Moving abroad for a job

Is moving abroad for a job on your mind? Follow along for some practical tips for job hunting, visa and relocation experiences, and behind-the-scenes of living in a different country.

Chhavi Shrivastava

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Hey! I am a product designer at Bumble, and am writing a blog every Tuesday. Follow along for life/design/London stuff.

Moving abroad for a job

Is moving abroad for a job on your mind? Follow along for some practical tips for job hunting, visa and relocation experiences, and behind-the-scenes of living in a different country.