That is the view from the deck of my house in Canada. Like most people, you are now wondering why I don’t live there. Because yes, it is stunning. A dream house. In a wonderful community. Instead, my husband and I have chosen to live elsewhere.
To many people, that seems absurd. Honestly, we often wonder what we are doing ourselves and dream about returning home. But we are in no hurry since living abroad has many perks too- and not just the usual, “I love the world” ones. Here are the top 3 rational reasons I live away.
I love the lifestyle I have in the different places that I have lived: Philippines, Rwanda, India and now Ethiopia. Cheap labor means that despite a humble salary, I can afford to have help and no longer need to worry about dishes or laundry (my two most hated household chores). After work, I can go hang out with friends, or pursue photography, or do whatever I may choose instead of focusing on all the chores I need to do in that day. I still have chores. But, they are not as hateful. I realize that this is a privileged view of the world and is thanks to the fact that we have great economic wealth compared to others in the country. That said, being able to pay for labor (or not) is a huge benefit that I could not access back in Canada and is always a factor that comes up when we think about going back to live at home. Could we do it? Of course! But it’s definitely a huge perk to be able to hire help and we are always grateful for them.
In Ethiopia, we have the most perfect weather- between 15 and 30 degrees- all year round! Sunshine for the majority of the year. I love not having to shovel or get super dressed up just to survive. I love sunshine and great weather. Again, this means that I am able to really make use of the 12 months of the year and planning rarely needs to take account of weather. Also, sunshine is awesome.
3. Meaningful Work
Ever since I can remember, I have wanted to work abroad and contribute to reducing economic disparities in the world. We can argue all day on whether I am actually doing it or not- but being able to work with farmers here in East Africa and having impact on the ground keeps me humble and waking up every morning. The photo above shows a training for women farmers where they are practicing row planting teff. Most of the these women, despite having been farmers all their lives had never attended a planting training! Hopefully this will mean that their yields will be higher this year, meaning they will be able to have extra grain for the hunger season or to sell in the market.
This is not to say that I would not find meaningful work in Canada. However, right now, I’m very happy living and learning in East Africa and around the world. Maybe one day, I’ll be going back and giving back to Canada with the new skills and experiences I have earned.
BONUS! Great People!
I have made amazing friends living abroad. I feel so thankful for the opportunity to have them in my life and can’t imagine it without them. It’s always great to meet new people that you can connect with and to be able to do so again and again is pretty amazing.