Making the decision to move across the country can be a daunting one, not to mention the decision to move to a new country. Moving abroad isn’t for everyone, and there’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding it. While it can be nerve-racking, there’s a lot of benefits to it.
Thanks to one Reddit thread, Americans who live abroad are sharing the biggest differences in their lives now, so others know before making the move themselves.
“I’ve lived in a few countries outside of the US: Romania, Moldova, Bulgaria, and Georgia (the republic). Main everyday benefits are public transportation is really easy, convenient, and cheap to use every day. I also eat out a lot more because it’s much cheaper and more relaxed.
“I haven’t had to deal with health stuff much, but when I have, it’s awesome and life-changing. For example, I recently partially dislocated my shoulder and am able to afford out of pocket service at one of the best physical therapists in my city.” —Reddit / Persimmon_Leaves
“Living in west/central Africa since 2007. Negatives about being here: Health care often isn’t very good, though it is really cheap.
“Positives: Restaurants and bars are really cheap. 24 oz. beer is a dollar. People are very social and easy to meet. There really isn’t a lot to spend money on, so I save quite a bit of my salary.” —Reddit / ontrack
“Moved to Switzerland 5 years ago. The biggest difference is that there is more vacation time and higher salaries. This causes lower stress in general—people are always talking about their next holiday.
“Less road rage and better drivers, and public transit goes absolutely everywhere. We drive much less here and didn’t have a car for the first three years.” —Reddit / swiss_baby_questions
“Quality of life is better in general: good, free health care, public transport everywhere, awesome food and wine, great climate and weather. Cost of living is generally pretty low compared to the US, even though I’m in one of the most expensive real-estate markets in the country.” —Reddit / alaninsitges
“What I love is the city is designed for people. There’s a park every couple of blocks, the sidewalks are super wide and well-maintained, bike lanes are well observed by drivers, well-marked, everything.” —Reddit /SparrowsArt
“I have more free time and less stress. Work-life balance is valued more here. No one questions or cares if I take a sick day or need time to go to an appointment. I’m able to pursue hobbies and have a decent social life without other areas of my life being impacted. Life is just more laid back.” —Reddit / PE_Class_Champ
“I moved to Japan. I was able to buy a house in the countryside that was a decent price. I’m able to afford a house, a car, and a kid on a single income. I can afford going to the doctor which is cool.
“Food is crazy expensive. Like a $1 for a single apple or heaven forbid if I want watermelon.” —Reddit / Zidane62
“Most things are better, health care, salary, cost of living, things to do, transportation etc… Unlike many of the replies from people who moved to Europe, the work culture here is even worse than the States. Longer hours and even less vacation.” —Reddit / Trapdamouse
“Pros: Public transportation is cheap, nice, and simple. Health care is affordable and good here! Education system is far better than the US. Food is great! Tough finding Mexican food that’s affordable but you gotta work with what you got.
“Cons: Customer service here is horrendous. You end up making choices on certain restaurants if you like the service or not. Driving here is absurdly expensive. Cars are 3x the price here and the cert to own the car is also expensive, it’s considered a luxury. Housing here is also expensive.” —Reddit / shearsy13
“Loved how active and alive it is. Really rich history, always somewhere interesting to travel. The downsides were, of course, the crowding, the pollution, and the lack of civil liberties. I took up smoking, and we like to joke that the air actually gets better through the cigarette filter (I’ve since stopped).” —Reddit / danishoilsucks
“Currently living in Glasgow, UK, after living my entire life in California. The weather is quite brutal and the drinking culture feels like living with a bunch of frat boys. Travel is pretty cheap! It’s really easy to go to different countries on the weekends when the flights are only £30 or so. Public transportation is a breeze and everyone uses it.
“It’s not uncommon for people to be friendly to each other on the street either. You’d get weird looks if you said hi to a stranger in the States” —Reddit / laurenj3250
“Life in New Zealand is amazing. The work-life balance feels, you know, balanced, and I’ve had many more opportunities to go traveling (ironically, since NZ is about as far as possible from anywhere else).
“But the biggest change is probably becoming a parent. New Zealand offers free IVF to citizens/permanent residents (if they meet qualifying criteria)—I would not have been able to afford treatment in the US.” —Reddit / FreyaFiend
“I have lived here for 34 years and I love it. The weather is crap, but otherwise, everything is great. Almost free health care. My two C-sections cost me no money. Free school with free lunch.
“I have seven weeks off from work a year. My kids are at daycare every day. I pay around 150 dollars a month. Nothing compares to Sweden.” —Reddit / meinu
“I moved to France at the end of 2017. It has really opened my eyes to the rest of the world. I feel like America is in this weird bubble of being hyper-focused on ourselves.
“My knowledge of history, politics, and different cultures has jumped considerably. I’ve met people from so many different countries that it truly amazes me.” —Reddit / Bipolar_Pigeon
“My quality of life has increased 1,000 fold. I am surrounded by much more intelligent people who are much more responsible to not only their fellow man, but also great lovers of animals. I have never been treated with such respect in my life as since I’ve lived here.
“I have never before seen a people take such good care of their children. I have never before seen a people love and respect animals as I have witnessed here. I’m in love with the west side of Turkey.” —Reddit
“The biggest systemic difference I notice (8 years abroad, mostly in Germany) is that people here do not discuss: the fear of losing their jobs, getting a third job, the cost of studying.
“Instead, people discuss: politics and economics, on a high, evidence-based, internationally-minded level, family and friends, hobbies and travel. Generally, the basic well-being of the people in Germany is so secure that there is much more breathing room.” —Reddit / BilobaBaby
China & Australia
“Moved to China in 2007 and from there to Australia in 2013. I’m healthier. I eat less and walk more. I’ve forgotten how to drive almost entirely. I earn less than I would be able to in the US (as a Software Developer). In Australia, I work less than I did in the US (China was similar). I use more vacation time to visit family.” — Reddit / egjeg
“I moved to Sweden in 2006. I love it. I get lots of time off, vacation, parental leave, etc. A house close to the city center that I’d never be able to afford back in California, and my kids have a great life.
“I’m not afraid to release a 4-year-old to run to a friend’s place on his own. I’m probably less well off financially than if I stayed in California, but less stressful too.” —Reddit / jaejae_fah
“I would say that my life has drastically improved. I moved to the UK and was actually able to build myself a career that I would have struggled to build in the US without having a university degree of some kind.
“I also feel so much less anxiety over public safety. I have cheaper and better access to traveling the world now compared to when I was in the US.” —Reddit / x0Kiss0fDeath