How Moving Abroad Has Changed My Life

It seems a given that moving, anywhere, even to a new house in the same city, will change your life in some ways. I knew my life would change when I moved to an entirely new country–how could it not? While I expected things like “seeing a castle during my commute” to change, many other things have changed too. I know moving was the best decision I ever made and I rarely look back. (Not that I don’t get homesick, because I do!).

moving change

1. I Move More

Even though I was living in one of the fittest cities in America before moving overseas, I was not very active there. Part of it was the nature of my work–graduate school involves hours upon hours of sitting in a classroom, and interning as a therapist does not involve much movement (neither does the paperwork). I also started this blog while in Denver, so most of my free time was sitting. We’d get into the mountains while we could, and walk around our neighborhood almost every night, but it still wasn’t enough. Now, as a teacher, I am standing all day. I walk quite a bit every day, even while taking a ton of public transportation, and without a car, every errand requires some walking. Plus, my desire to constantly be traveling and exploring a new city means I am on my feet so much more. I feel so much better about myself and my body as a result.


2. I’ve Simplified

When we moved, we brought a carry-on, a backpack, and a suitcase–each. Now that we are here, we’ve been trying to get rid of the things we brought that we don’t need or use, so we are continuing to simplify. I miss a lot of things–mostly my kitchen supplies and that crazy comfy bed–but all that stuff they say about de-cluttering your life really is true.

3. I Spend Less

Along with the simplifying, I have cut most of my spending on luxuries. It hasn’t always been easy, but I have enough for everything I need, as well as travel (which to me is a little bit of a necessity). One nice thing about Prague, though, is that it really is inexpensive compared to much of Europe. If I’m feeling like I need to get out and have some fun, a few beers at a pub won’t set me back very far at all. Some beer is as cheap as 20kc, which is currently less than $1!

4. I Want Less

Along with spending less, I find myself wanting less. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m terrible at saving money, and having a Target right next door to us back in Denver did not help this. Target is a blackhole, both for your time and your money. You go in there, not knowing when you’ll get out or how much you spend (because you always spend more than you plan!). While there are certainly temptations here, being on a complete shopping moratorium has curbed my appetite quite a bit. I still love clothes, and being in stylish Prague doesn’t always help this, but I feel that the basics in my closet (and my many scarves!) are helping with this. Plus, having a specific reason for not shopping–as in, my next trip is always only a few weeks away–makes it so much easier.

boots^^one pair of boots can get you far!

5. I’ve Gained Perspective

While I think I will always struggle to some degree with anxiety and depression, many of the things which were big causes of these feelings seem much lighter now that I’m far away from them. Family and societal pressure to get married, be successful, have an important career, have lots of babies, “have it all,” and always put others first has lessened. I’m learning what I really want in life, and so much of the guilt has lessened, too. I put so much pressure on myself to be perfect: the perfect student, the perfect girlfriend, the perfect daughter, the perfect friend, the perfect therapist–when in fact, I just ended up being mediocre at everything. While that pressure (which is often internal) is still there, the struggles of my daily life as an expat help me realize what really matters.

6. I’ve Pushed Myself

Obviously, jumping out of your comfort zone is a big push. I knew it would be challenging to move, but after the stress of leaving Denver and selling everything we owned, I figured living in Prague would full of awe and fun. While it’s definitely awesome, there are many little challenges that force me out of my comfort zone: teaching, learning to speak a new language, making friends from different cultures and backgrounds, buying vegetables at the grocery store, finding the grocery store, navigating public transportation…you never know what will push you outside of your comfort zone in a new country!

IMG_6398^^the grocery store with so many bread options I just left without buying any because I didn’t know what was what!

7. I’ve Learned ALL About Priorities

This is a big one. I think it’s been repeatedly demonstrated to me that we will always be able to make time for the things that are important to us. For instance, I’m always surprised when someone says they don’t have time to read, because I read every single day. I’m learning how much I want to keep in touch with many of my friends back home–but also that the people who don’t bother to keep in touch with me, too, might not be worth it. While there are some things we don’t do because of fear, there are some things we always manage to have time for. Moving abroad has helped me refine what I really care about–and focus on these areas, rather than trying to do too much.

8. My Relationship Has Grown

E and I have grown even closer while living here abroad. Part of it is that we don’t really have anyone else in the country, so we have to rely on each other for everything. In addition, we still don’t know very many people in the city (much less the country or the continent), which means we spend most of our free time together. Even though we’ve lived together for over 3 years, moving abroad challenged us and helped us address communication issues…and moving abroad with your partner is really fun! We’ve had so much fun, in fact, that we’ve decided to get hitched!


9. I’ve Seen More of the World…and Can’t Get Enough! 

Although I’ve traveled quite a bit and have never gotten sick of it, I think everyone in our life (perhaps myself included) expected we’d want to spend a year abroad and then return home and get back to “real life.” While the future is uncertain, I am not ready to stop traveling at all!



How has a big change, such as moving, changed your life?

Linking up with the Travel Tuesday

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  • Madaline

    I totally agree with every single one of these. Moving abroad helped me to get out of the ‘me’ mode. I also have to really try at life now – everything is a bit of a challenge but it’s like exercise (it just took me ten minutes to spell exercise after thinking in Italian all day..) for the brain.

    • AmyMacWorld

      Hahaha that’s so funny! I do not speak much Czech but I also struggle to get out of the mode when I’m used to at least attempting to speak Czech! I’ll end up answering someone who is speaking to me in English in Czech :) I so agree with you how everything is more work–but can also be more rewarding, am I right? :)

  • adventuresofalondonkiwi

    So eloquently put – yes to everything! (though I’ve fallen into a sedentary job that I need to change up somehow…)

    • AmyMacWorld

      Thank you so much! :) I think I might be getting a little too comfortable at my job, although I am standing most of the time at least!!

  • Polly

    Amen amen amen! I agree with all of this!

    • AmyMacWorld

      Thanks, Polly! :)

  • Daisy @ Simplicity Relished

    This is amazing!! All of these are reasons why I hope to move abroad one day. Cheers and congratulations! :)

    • AmyMacWorld

      Oh I hope you get to someday! It’s such a great experience :)

  • Jessi @2feet1world

    Ah with you on all of this! Although I don’t have the same communication challenges – bar the times when speaking with a Kiwi accent is apparently still similar to speaking a foreign language… 😉

    • AmyMacWorld

      Haha I can imagine at least that some slang might be difficult to understand :)

  • Nathalie

    You described this really well! Since moving abroad I don’t really care about ‘stuff’ that much either – all of my furniture and most of my clothes are still in Europe and I am perfectly happy here without them – it’s a great feeling to have less and live a more simple life :)

    • AmyMacWorld

      You’re so right! It really does feel better to live more simply :) I’m kind of annoyed that we have all this stuff stored, I have a feeling most of it we will want to get rid of when we see it again ha!

  • Kelly

    So agree with all of this, especially #1 and #4. I move so much less back home since I’m now in the habit of relying on a car. Plus, public transportation sucks, so sometimes I just need one. And living abroad definitely cured me of needing retail therapy. I bought so few clothes back then since I saved it all for traveling :)

    • AmyMacWorld

      Public transpo really does mostly suck in the US, except maybe if you’re in NYC or something. In Denver they had a light rail and a few buses, but they usually took at least an hour more or didn’t even go where you needed them to go! I find it so freeing here that I don’t need a car, although sometimes I do miss road trips! I actually need a new pair of jeans and I cannot make myself buy a pair, haha! I just want to spend it on travel :)

  • Samantha Angell

    I love this entire post! I feel like all of it is so true. And in terms of shopping, definitely a great motivator is “my next trip is only a few weeks away”…that’s how I shop now, either by having destinations booked or dreaming them up online!

    • AmyMacWorld

      Haha yes! My new “retail therapy” is shopping for where I want to go next and what I want to do that! Love that 😉

  • Anna | slightly astray

    I love this! Everything is so true! I especially agree with wanting less and realizing what’s important. There are still times where I walk by a store and see cute clothes I want, but I won’t just go buy it (like what I would have done before) because I know that saving money and being able to travel more makes us happier.

    • AmyMacWorld

      Soo true, Anna! :) I’m not great with money, but when I have travel right around the corner, it’s so much easier to save it!! And so worth it!

  • Eileen Huang

    I can relate to this so much. I also realize that I dress more “simple.” I tone down but maybe because I live currently live in China. You two are adorable couple, by the way!

    • AmyMacWorld

      Aww thank you so much, Eileen!! When I was in China for a few months, I think I toned my clothes down too, or at least was more careful with what I wore. Here, I wear a lot less color than I normally would–must be the European influence! :)

  • Natalye

    I agree with a lot of these things, but I think the bit about perspective is one of the biggest things for me. I look at my friends back home and how many of them are preoccupied with home ownership, and having a car, and having Pinterest-y homes, etc., and I wonder why those were ever priorities for me. I am happy without any of those things… and now as we prepare for the baby, I wonder why people spend so much money on a nursery that a kid won’t even appreciate or enjoy. Living abroad (even though I am fully settled here and have no plans to return) has really given me this insight into how little is needed to have a successful, fulfilling life.

    • AmyMacWorld

      Such powerful words, Natayle! I think it says how much you’ve learned this lesson that you’re able to resist all the baby marketing there is out there. Also, congratulations!! :)
      I’m feeling kind of the same thing about my wedding–there is so much I could do and spend time on and for what? One day? Same goes for the perfect nurseries…your baby really just needs you!! I know that I’m so much happier in my basic apartment and my ability to travel! Good luck with the baby!!!!! :) Can’t wait to hear more.

  • Margo

    I can definitely relate! It’s so refreshing to want less and simplifying just makes me feel good. Who needs all the stuff lying around anyways?!

    • AmyMacWorld

      SO TRUE, Margo! :) I still can’t believe how much stuff I have stored in my parents’ basement, and how little of it I can actually remember haha!

  • Jamie | Gunters Abroad | Fit F

    Agree 100%!! I love how my perspective has drastically changed as well as my priorities. I’m terrified of moving back and slipping back into the same pressure filled lifestyle!!

    • AmyMacWorld

      Yeah I totally understand what you mean! I’m so worried about what it would be like if/when we go back. I don’t want to get on the hamster wheel again! I hope our abroad experiences will help us keep a part of that lifestyle wherever we live!

  • Kaelene @ Unlocking Kiki

    Yes, yes, yes, agree completely with you! I have simplified my life so much and I really have no desire for all the extras. I would much rather save and travel more:)

    • AmyMacWorld

      Yes! It’s so much more awesome to travel than to collect ALL of that stuff! Although I do miss my bed so much haha ;).

  • Holly Hollyson

    Oh I agree – especially with the not wanting more!! I think the perspective I have gained in getting rid of all my worldly goods just reminded me that they aren’t important and now I no longer want things so much.

    • AmyMacWorld

      It was so hard to part with so much of our stuff…and then the second it was out of my sight, I forgot about it! I feels freeing, really :)

      • Holly Hollyson

        I felt the same way – there are only a couple of things I miss, like certain books, but they would just have been way too cumbersome to take with me.

        • AmyMacWorld

          Aww yeah I miss my books, too! I love decorating with books.

  • Carly @ Let Us Wanderlust

    Oh I couldn’t agree more Amy! This post is spot on! I felt exactly like this moving overseas for 6 months. Even though I’m home now, my life will never be the same again because of the experiences I had and how much I grew and changed as a person. Travelling and moving abroad with your partner truly is the best thing – Ty and I got engaged while living abroad too, so you guys and us are living proof of that!! x

    • AmyMacWorld

      I LOVE that you two got engaged while abroad, too! The couple that travels together stays together, or so I’ve heard ;). I found your comment so comforting, because we may have to go home sooner than we planned, and I’m worried everything will be exactly the same. But you’re right–how could it be the same when I’ve changed?!? Right?? (seeking reassurance haha ;))

      • Carly @ Let Us Wanderlust

        You are 100% right. Once your priorities shift and you’ve gained a different perspective, going back home doesn’t change that and it doesn’t change you back! X

        • AmyMacWorld

          I logically know that’s true but a part of me is afraid of the opposite happening :) glad to hear your experience!! xo

  • Kerri

    I’m totally with you on all these things. I’m in total agreement that I don’t think I have anything else to add!

    • AmyMacWorld

      Thanks, Kerri! :) I’ve actually had a few negative comments on this post, mostly from people back home who think I’m criticizing their lives, so it’s nice to know you completely agree!

      • Kerri

        Meh, don’t worry about them. They don’t have your life, so how can they know how it affects you. There’s plenty of people here that agree and support you :)

        • AmyMacWorld

          Thanks, Kerri! :) I know you’re right and I feel lucky to have the support of the community full of people like you!

  • Sammy @ Days Like This

    I love that you are engaged!! So exciting. I agree with all of these, especially the ‘simplified life’ one. I definitely have since moving abroad. I always thought I need a lot more stuff, when really, a suitcase does me just fine!

    • AmyMacWorld

      Thanks, Sammy! I’m so excited too :). And I agree–even moving here I overpacked, and there is so much stuff I don’t use or need! Simplifyyyyy all the way!

  • Natalie Joseph

    I want to move to another country to gain perspective and simplify my life … and well and engagement isn’t bad either! lol

    • AmyMacWorld

      Haha it’s my favorite way to do ALL those things 😉

  • Camila @ AdventitiousViolet

    Moving abroad definitely totally changes you! The first time I moved it was almost like getting a shock to the system – like I discovered the real me that was hidden and scared all this time, I discovered who I truly was because being abroad meant I could be whoever I wanted! And I discovered I could do anything!

    • AmyMacWorld

      Yes! I love that! You CAN do anything :)

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