Expat Living - A great way to travel

by Alison Cornford-Matheson / Jan 07, 2011 /

There are many reasons people decide to expatriate. Some move countries to be with a loved one. Others expatriate to pursue career opportunities. Some expats seek a better way of life for themselves and their families. Then there are those of us who are immersing ourselves in a new culture and pursuing our desire to travel and explore a new part of the world.

 

 

I'll be honest; If someone had told me ten years ago I'd be living in Europe, or anywhere other than my home country of Canada, for that matter, I'd have laughed. Although I always loved travelling, it never occurred to me to stay somewhere longer than just a few week's vacation.

 

The views on the east coast of Canada differ greatly from our Belgian vistas. 

The views on the east coast of Canada differ greatly from our Belgian vistas. 

 

Six years ago, when my husband's company offered us the chance to live in Amsterdam for three months, everything changed for us. We got a taste of expat life and we were hooked.  The ability to explore a new country as a local was an experience we wanted to repeat.

A year later we were living in Belgium and beginning a new phase in our expat life.  Although settling in a new country was more difficult than I ever would have imagined, expat life had one incredible advantage - travel.

View from our home in Brussels, Belgium 
View from our home in Brussels, Belgium

From our former home on the East coast of Canada, it was expensive to travel  to other countries. In Belgium, we can find ourselves in France, the Netherlands, Germany or Luxembourg within a few hours' drive or train trip. Flying opens up all of Europe and parts of Asia and Africa as short-haul flights. Not to mention, we have all of Belgium's sights at our doorstep.
By living in a new country, we have the time to explore the hidden gems. We can go where the locals go, because, hey, we are locals. We can also learn intimately about a new culture and share in its traditions.

Not everyone can quit their job, sell their house and travel full-time. However, living in a new country can give you the opportunity to both work and explore a new part of the world at the same time.  It's challenging, to say the least, but becoming an expat opens up a whole new way to experience the world through travel. 

 
 
Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian writer and photographer, and our Expat Living Editor. She is the founder of http://CheeseWeb.eu - a travel resource for expats in Belgium and abroad.