Modern Day Migration: Motives

The Door of No Return

Migration is part and parcel of humanity’s history.  Whether for safety, opportunity, or community, we’ve been moving—willingly and unwillingly—for thousands of years.  Leaving the homeland was once a final decision with very little chance of return but times are changing.  Between air travel, internet, and the affordability of telecommunication, living abroad has never been easier.     A comfortable existence overseas might’ve been reserved for the rich and famous in the past, but now college graduates, backpackers, and creative entrepreneurs are finding a way to realize a better life away from home.

Why move abroad?

The grass is not always greener on the other side of the globe.  They are cultural differences, language barriers, and bureaucratic challenges involved when becoming an expatriate, so why bother?  Well, people love the sense of adventure that comes with exploring a new locale.  Many are bored with their familiar day-to-day existence and want to experience something new every day.  Some find a love that resides elsewhere and follow their heart to wherever it leads them.  More strategically, some find that they can thrive better, both personally and professionally, by utilizing their skills in emerging markets and economies abroad.  Working abroad isn’t always a cake walk but many find that the quality of life overseas is much more rewarding than at home.  Similarly, a developing country might give you greater ability to exert yourself in an effort that is novel or purposeful, which can be more satisfying than feeling like a cog in a wheel of a corporate maze.

Who’s moving abroad?

Who isn’t moving abroad is probably an easier question to answer.  Traditionally, white males have been the most visible American expatriates, but increasingly more women and people of color are slipping out of the country too.  Many are professionals, educators, and entrepreneurs who’ve found better career opportunities abroad, but there’s also a pool of moral migrants.  They are not moved by economic strife or climate change patterns, they simply want to live where they feel their views are reflected in the landscape around them.  Faith-centered or conservative societies still model the social restraint and ethical conduct that people may find lacking in mainstream American culture.  This is not necessarily a form of extremism but rather a conscious pursuit of a life believed to be more wholesome and healthy for an individual, his/her family and spiritual life.

Are families moving abroad too?

Children are a huge motivating factor for moving abroad.  Living overseas is an immersive, educational experience.  Learning a new language and culture are some of the obvious benefits for young people, but the opportunity for self-discovery is often most impacting.  Once your microcosm is expanded to include the entire globe as your home and the whole of humanity as your extended family, there is no turning back.  There’s a new breed of children coming up.  They know how to read maps and make meaningful connections with others, irrespective of color or creed.  They can say “thank you” in several languages and understand why charity is important.  With its highs and lows, living abroad not only teaches adaptability and resilience but (hopefully) empathy and sincere concern as well.  The world is increasingly globalized and there’s no better way to start a global education than living abroad as a family.

This article was originally published on Ethos International.


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