He Said/She Said: Living Abroad vs USA

He Said/She Said: Living Abroad vs USA


Part 2 of 4: FINDING A HOME. When we left home we left with the hope that we’d find the city for us.  We’d walk the streets and feel comfortable.  We’d savor the foods and feel fine if we got fat there.  We’d see the homes and picture ourselves there.  It would feel like home.  After visiting more than 200 cities, where have we decided to settle? Follow us on the second Wednesday of each month to discover what traveling the world taught us about where we want to call home.

Click here to read Part I of Finding a Home: Living in a Developing or Developed Country

Having decided last month that the developed world is where we want to live, which country?  Do we want to live surrounded with the history of Europe?  Do we want to enjoy the culinary delights of Hong Kong and Singapore?  Do we want to live in the Land Down Under?




I have always seen myself as someone who would live abroad.  I’ve dreamt of returning home for my 30th high school reunion to elicit envy for my globetrotting lifestyle.  I’d call places like Monaco, Chamonix and Singapore home, maybe all at once. Most of all, I’d be able to say I went somewhere in life, somewhere exotic compared to Middle America.

Beyond the allure of living abroad I see some quantifiable benefits.  I’d be freer to start new businesses with national healthcare instead of employer-based care.  I’d be more easily able to quickly visit interesting places based in Europe or Asia.  I’d be able to take public transportation instead of sitting in traffic.  These lifestyle benefits can’t be discounted.

It’s easy to picture myself living in a modern metropolis like Busan.

The downside though is the cost.  The USA is the cheapest developed country in the world to live. It’s even cheaper when you consider what you make.  Let the Europeans take pride in their SMART cars that sip $7/gallon gasoline.  Leave the Singaporeans and Hong Kongese to squeeze into $5 million shoebox apartments.  That isn’t the life for me, not only will we probably get paid more in the USA, the cost of living is a pittance compared to the rest of the world.

In the end I can live a more comfortable life, for less in the USA.  There is no denying it, for educated people nowhere beats the USA is quality of life.



The glamour of a life abroad is alluring and the title of ex-pat is one that I know I would enjoy.  I could easily recite a laundry list of places I would love to take up residence.  But ultimately I don’t think any of those places would ever really feel like home.  Struggling to communicate daily, having most of my friends be from somewhere other than where I live and having little in common with my neighbors might become wearing.  I would love to say that an overseas existence is for me, but I’m not convinced it would work for the long run.

Of course I love the idea of having an apartment with a view of the Eiffel Tower or learning Spanish while living in Spain.  The benefits of living abroad go beyond the obvious perks though.  Gaining international business experience, having an diverse group of friends and having the opportunity to expose your children to a new culture are all added benefits of a life outside the U.S.  However, living abroad for more than a few years I might feel differently about how beneficial all of the pros are.

The drawback of being overseas is none of my family and friends would be there with me.  Being away from my loved ones has been hard enough for the last couple years.  But building an entire life knowing that they will be more than a six hour flight and several hundred dollars away would be rough.  Thinking about all the life events we’ve missed since we embarked on this journey is difficult. While thinkCHUA has his logical reasons to reside in the U.S.A. I’m more emotional about it.  Home is where the heart is, and so many people and even places in the States hold a piece of my heart.

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» Tony K + Steph H :
Apr 19, 2013

Tony & I have found ourselves remarking on several occasions that despite all the talk about how western countries are so expensive, life in the U.S. is actually very cheap. As you point out, the quality of life can be very high, especially if you are not living in one of the major cities where prices do swell and are quite expensive. When we were in Nashville, the cost of living was really quite low. Not to mention that because of the size of the markets, most things can be purchased for incredibly low prices… Just now in Vietnam, someone tried to sell me a bathing suit for $70USD! That is craziness! And even electronics can be purchased for much cheaper back home than most places in Asia. Often we’ve found that when you get something really cheap over here, you get what you pay for… most of the clothing we’ve bought in Asia we have had to replace, whereas the stuff we got back in the States is still going strong. Of course, to try to replace those items here is like highway robbery as the prices are either the same as what they are back home (which means they are triple or quadruple the price of anything else in Asia) or they are even more expensive. I know most travelers come to Asia and go on shopping sprees, but we won’t be joining them!

» Graham :
Jun 14, 2013

If everything is going great for you, life in the USA is cheap, definitely. But when things aren’t going great, lose your job, medical problems, living here is actually very expensive compared to other western countries. To gain the security available to the average citizen in western Europe requires a hefty amount of the wealth in the USA.

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About the Author

thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.

About the Author
thinkCHUA: Photographing and documenting the world on a 3 year round-the-world trip to help future travelers discover new places, travel longer and enjoy the world's great experiences.


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