Top 10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned while Living Abroad

Top 10 Life Lessons

Top 10 Life Lessons

I’m coming up on my 10th year anniversary of living in Korea and along the way, I’ve learned a lot about myself, life and finances. I’m sure I would have learned these things, eventually while living in my home country just as a result of getting older and wiser, but I think there’s something about leaving everything familiar that can speed this process up.

Top 10 Life Lesson I’ve Learned while Living Abroad

1. People are Important Having people in your life that you can count on is huge. They don’t necessarily have to be your family, but you can create your support network wherever you are. This takes time so make people a priority in your life.

2. Money is Important If you have money, you have choices. Those people with plenty of debt and no money in the bank often feel stuck in Korea, unable to go home when they want to because of finances. This is a terrible position to find yourself in. Not having choices creates a huge amount of stress and a feeling of being trapped.

3. Networking is Important In any field of work, it’s pretty much all about who you know. Most of the prime teaching jobs in Korea (especially the university jobs) get filled through word of mouth and are not advertised.

4. Live in a Comfortable Place During my time living in Korea, I’ve lived in hovels for a couple years, a very decent place for 5 and now I currently live in a “palace” of sorts. Moving into this place I live in now was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. Sure, it’s a bit more expensive than living in a terrible place, but I LOVE hanging out at home and feel very comfortable having people over to hang out (at least once a week), so in the end I think I spend less money than I did when I lived in a place I didn’t really like.

5. Make Wherever you Live a Home This is kind of a special one for the expats out there. I lived for quite a number of years in Korea not buying stuff I actually wanted (like a bicycle or car), or having pets because I thought that I’d just be leaving soon. But, it’s worth it to have a few things that make your life comfortable and the place you’re living feel like a home.

6. I can Live out of a small backpack Conversely, traveling around the world for months at a time with only a small carry-on backpack has shown me just how little I actually need. Life is not about possessions, it’s about experiences and people.

7. Plan for the Future Wherever you are and at whatever stage in life you’re at, it’s always a good idea to spend some time thinking about the future. Where do you want to be in your career in 5 years? What will your financial situation be in 10 years from now?

8. Don’t Borrow from your Future Self A common thing that people do is to borrow from the future, to overspend in the present by using things like credit cards and lines of credit. The thinking is that they’ll be making more money in the future, so they’ll easily be able to pay off the debt. But, stuff happens: someone gets sick, a job is lost, or a family member dies. Avoid debt at all costs and if you need to buy something like a car, save up for it and pay cash.

9. Emergency Funds are Important I’m totally convinced that 99% of financial emergencies could be avoided if people had emergency funds of 3-6 months living expenses. Make it a priority to build one if you haven’t yet.

10. I Don’t Know Everything At this point in my life, I’m totally okay admitting what I don’t know and if I want to know, say that I need to do some research on the topic.

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