Living abroad advantages and disadvantages

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The decision to live abroad can be tremendously exciting. Moving temporarily to another country can open up huge financial, educational and cultural opportunities. You may want to spend a term studying in Paris, take a job in Tokyo or use your time after university to work for the Peace Corps.

Aside from the adventure factor, however, living abroad can have advantages and disadvantages.

Different cultures

Living abroad for a period of time can expose you to an entirely new way of viewing the world. You can explore how people view such constructs as time, proper manners, addressing the elderly or very young, and even how they sit down for a meal. This can provide insights into your own culture and help you understand the motivations of people around you even better.

Language fluency

One of the very best ways to learn any language is via immersion. Immersion means that you are surrounded with people who are fluent in the language. They may have some knowledge of English or even fluency to help you if you need it. But you will have the opportunity to read, write and speak a foreign language such as French, German or Japanese as often as you choose. This can help you gain fluency and understand nuance and idiom directly. Firsthand knowledge of a foreign language can open up all kinds of economic and social doors. Studying a foreign language so closely can also better your understanding of the structure of English.


Living abroad also has tax advantages. You will still have to file tax returns in the UK for five years after leaving the country. However, you do not need to apply for a work permit in any other EU country and if you stay in any single country for less than six months, you are not taxable there, nor are you taxable in the UK on the money you earn abroad. Only income that has been earned as a result of work applies to this exclusion. You cannot claim rental income or dividend income exclusions. Consult with a tax accountant for further details.

Expensive visits home

One disadvantage of living abroad is that living away from the UK may make it difficult to see friends and family. Visits back home can involve costly flights, boat trips or train trips. You may have to take holday time just to see parents or grandparents each year.

Less than ideal living conditions

Those living abroad may find it hard to find certain food items such as specific brands of crackers, cheese or chocolate. Living abroad may also mean tolerating substandard housing and plumbing facilities. Tap water may not be potable, necessitating the purchase of costly bottled water.