What motivates people to move abroad? 8 key reasons

What Motivates People To Move AbroadI’m guessing that you, like me, didn’t wake up one day and think to yourself ‘I fancy moving abroad but I’m not really sure why’. There’s got to be some motivation or reasons driving your passion to try life in another country, and rightfully so. Even just the desire for change can be a motivator, although it’s a bit of a broad one. In this post I wanted to talk through some of the key reasons people want to move abroad and chuck in a little bit of my own experience in each area. It might help you identify some of the areas that you didn’t even realise were motivating you. So let’s get started.

What motivates people to move abroad?

Better or different weather

Now this will depend on where you’re from but for me (being UK born and raised) finding somewhere with a better climate was a big factor. Lots of us travel abroad for our summer holidays seeking a bit of sun and sea and that definitely sparks the desire to live somewhere similar.

I guess that’s why expats often say ‘it’s not like a holiday when you move abroad’. On the flip side I’m sure there are some people who want to go from hot climates to somethinga bit cooler. If you’re one of these people we’d love to hear from you. For me the main motivation around the weather was just to have something a bit more reliable than in the UK.

A new lifestyle

This one can link heavily to the weather but doesn’t always have to. For us the lifestyle was a lot about being near the sea and doing more outdoor things, so quite dependant on the weather. You might want to move abroad because a place is generally more laid back and you feel it would help you unwind and de-stress. Just remember the ‘it’s not like a holiday’ phrase.

Moving abroad can definitely change your lifestyle though so once you know what sort of thing you’re after you can better research the right place. Check our my post ‘Resources I wish I’d known about before moving abroad‘ for some tools to help you research.

Cost of living

Again,  this definitely applies to the UK as the cost of living seems to just continue to rise at a faster rate than salaries. My wife took my daughter to the cinema the other day and tickets alone were £18. Outrageous eh?

Moving somewhere that has a better balance in terms of economy is a big motivator. It ties in a lot with lifestyle too as if you can get more for your money then you can do more of what you love. This will, as I’m sure you know, depend heavily on your income. I’ve written a bit about earning an income abroad in my post ‘Finding an income when you move abroad – what are your options?‘.


When I say crime I’m not referring to the people who are motivated to move abroad to participate in crime,  but rather those looking to live in safer and more friendly environments. I’m sure you knew that but I wanted to clarify.

Feeling safe and protected is a huge inbuilt need for most of us. We want to walk out of our front door day and night and feel like we can go about our business without being mugged or worse. Some parts of the world are seen as being much safer than others and although it may not be the key motivation for you it’s likely going to play a big part of the decision making process. If someone offered you twice your salary and a free house with a pool but told you the location was the Gaza Strip you’d probably think twice based on safety.

A great resource to use when trying to work things like this out is the The World Fact Book. It has other information too so definitely worth a look if you’re in the investigation process of your move abroad.

You probably wouldn’t move abroad purely because of crime (unless you lived in a war zone) but it was an appealing element of our move.

To broaden your/your kid’s horizons

This was a big factor in our move. We loved the thought of our daughter experiencing a different culture and it helping to shape her into a well rounded person (hopefully).

Before moving to Spain we had only ever lived in the same town in the UK,  which is pretty boring. The thought of broadening our horizons by moving abroad was too appealing to turn down. What I would say in hindsight though is that having never lived away from family and friends in the same country it was a huge jump to then do it in a foreign country. I would much rather have been more independent in the UK first before moving abroad if I did it again.

For your career

Although my motivations weren’t originally career driven it was because of my career that we moved abroad. I was contacted by an old colleague who was recruiting for a position at a company in Barcelona so I went for it. I would say that in my story it was more that my career was the instigator for the move. You can find out more about my story on the ‘my relocation story‘ page.

For you though it might be that you know you can get a promotion,  better package, more dynamic company or just better experience if you move and work abroad. In my opinion I think it’s risky moving abroad purely for employment unless perhaps you’re single and have few ties.

There’s no point in having a great career/company/package if nothing else stacks up.

For love

Yep,  you might have met the person of your dreams and be looking to move abroad to be with that person. I would recommend that you still do as much homework as possible on the place you’re moving to if you haven’t spent a lot of time there as it won’t suit you just because the love of your life lives there.

Or,  like in my wife’s case, perhaps you’re moving with someone that you love. This can be difficult as you’re not the one holding the reigns. You can check out my post ‘Supporting your partner when you move abroad‘, which is aimed at the person who is driving the move. Might be worth sending it on to them too using my share buttons…

To get away from something

Lots of people are motivated by the desire to get away from something or someone. Common things can be:

  • Your country – you might just dislike the place you currently live
  • Your family – hey,  don’t shoot the messenger. Believe it or not some people have really annoying families
  • An ex partner – same as above
  • Debt/money troubles – a risky one. Check out my post ‘Can I move abroad with debt?
  • A bad decision – things go wrong for all of us. Perhaps getting away for a while could help

My feeling on this is that running from something is probably a bad motivation and creates a negative starting point for you. It potentially also makes it hard for you to return should you need to. Just think hard if this is your core motivation.


Not a huge amount to summarise on this one really. One thing I would say though is just be clear on what your core motivations are so you can use that to drive the decisions you make. If you focus on the wrong things then you’re more likely to end up in the wrong place or not even moving abroad at all.

I would love to hear from anyone planning a move abroad and what their motivations are.



The Essential Guide To Planning Your Dream Move Abroad - Downloadable eBook

3 Responses

  1. Noe
    February 4, 2016
    • Al Bryant
      February 16, 2016
    • Al Bryant
      May 26, 2016

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