Why living abroad could be the kindest thing you ever do for yourself

Posted by
Susan Devaney
backgroundLayer 1
Add this article to your list of favourites

Moving abroad leads to clearer decision-making in life and a better sense of self, according to a new study. 

Most of us only dream of packing up, jetting off, and successfully making a new home for ourselves on the other side of the world.

But, for those of us who do decide to take the leap, it might be worth knowing that you’re doing yourself more favours than you might currently know.

A team of social scientists, from Rice University, Columbia University and the University of North Carolina, have found that living abroad increases your ‘self-concept clarity’. In other words, how well we view ourselves over time.

By conducting six studies with 1,874 participants that involved a mixture of online panels, and asking individuals from international MBA programs to complete surveys about living abroad, they found multiple benefits from living abroad. 

And, if their study is anything to go by then making a move abroad could be one of the kindest things you ever do for yourself. From decreased levels of stress, improved job performance, greater life satisfaction, and a greater relationship with yourself, living away from home offers a lot of rewards.

“In a world where living-abroad experiences are increasingly common and technological advances make cross-cultural travel and communication ever easier, it is critical that research keeps pace with these developments and seeks to understand how they affect people,” writes the authors.

“In this vein, our studies demonstrate that living abroad affects the fundamental structure of the self-concept by enhancing its clarity. The German philosopher Hermann von Keyserling wrote in the epigraph to his 1919 book The Travel Diary of a Philosopher, ‘The shortest path to oneself leads around the world.’ Almost 100 years later, our research provides empirical evidence in support of this idea.”

Around 1.3 million UK citizens currently live the expat life in Europe

With around 1.3 million UK citizens currently living the expat life in Europe, leaving home for a few years obviously has its appeal. However, the study notes that the length of time living abroad is important, as the longer you live away the clearer sense of self you have.

With Millennials set to move jobs on an average of four times before turning 32, and will opt for an entire career change about five to seven times throughout our working life, in today’s working climate the researchers believe moving abroad for a bit will only help you make better career-based choices.

Still not convinced it’s time to set sail? Then take a look at the best countries to live abroad, as rated by expats who’ve lived there.

Images: Unsplash