If you have really been considering living internationally and are wondering where to start then you are in the right spot. There are a few things to consider and it’s important to go through these steps to ensure this is something you are truly committed to. Sometimes, things are nice to say but the reality (when rubber hits the road) may be a bit different. The following questions are here to test whether you really really want this.
Why do you want to leave?
Beyond just the idea sounding nice, have you really considered why you want to leave. Like anything, your why is going to be your driving force. And the stronger that why is the stronger your work ethic and dedication will be to attain your goal of living internationally. Discovering your why takes a certain amount of reflection and self awareness. Are you an impulsive person? Are temporary situations influencing your decision? Write in one sentence a clear and concise reason as to why you want to leave. Then tell five people whose opinions you value. Allow the conversation to be had. Allow them to ask questions. Really listen to the contrarians and consider seriously if there is any validity to any of what they are saying. Then give yourself a few days to simmer and think on it. This exercise is not to discourage you but to have you take a deep look into your why and whether you really want to do this.
How long can you live there?
In a utopian world we could just pack our bags and leave. But in the real world to “live” and not just visit a country can be quite a bit more complicated. So let’s hop into the red tape i.e. the country regulations. Since every country is different we won’t jump into a specific countries requirements or parameters for living there but we want to encourage you to take the time to hop on the local government website and start investigating what are the requirements. And can you meet them.
Can you adjust to being away from your friends and family?
Living in another country sounds like all fun and games especially family and/or friends are getting on your nerves. We all been there. But do you really want to be away from all you know and all you are used to? Only you know yourself so we cannot determine this for you. Some things to consider: Is this your first time being away from your family for an extended period of time? Are you moving somewhere that has limited connectivity? Will it be difficult to call or write home? Can you stomach missing graduations and birthdays?
Can you adjust to this new culture?
Moving internationally isn’t just about leaving all you know. It’s also about cultural and societal norms in your new country. We all fall in love with a country for one reason or another but the number one reason for many is the culture. Consider what is normal there and what is not? Make a list of 5 – 7 things that are different from the country you are from. Are these things enough to make you not want to go? What are the customary greetings? When you last visited were you in the tourist area? And if so, is that where you plan to live? Many an expat finds themselves surprised to learn there is a stark difference in what you experience outside of the touristy areas. Clothing. What do people normally wear? Are there things considered offensive in the country you are interested in that people wouldn’t blink an eye at in your hometown?
What if it takes way longer than you want to wait?
This is more of a test on how bad do you really want it. And if your why is strong enough to carry you there. But stick with me here. What if, you learn that to move to the country of your dreams it’s going to take 5 years of planning and working 2 jobs? Would that change your mind? If it turns out that it will take you longer than you are currently considering would that deter you. We all want to move tomorrow but the truth is that for most this is not possible. And even many heading towards retirement have to weigh how long they can live in a new country considering moving expenses. I specifically have not jumped in the financial requirements because there will be a dedicated series of posts tackling this very topic.
Live or repeat vacations?
The ultimate question is do you really want to live there or would a repeat vacation once or twice a year be enough to rejuvenate you? Let’s face it. You might go through all these questions and feeling some seeds of doubt growing. If it feels immense or unrealistic to just move there is nothing wrong with making that your go to vacation destination. The place you go to like a second home. Or to get away from it all. The financial commitment is less and you get to keep you life here and get a taste of there. I, for one, know plenty of people who winter away or they do month long stints and there is nothing wrong with that. If you are coming to the end of this article and you already feel a bit defeated then that is an answer in itself as to how dedicated you are to your mission. On the other hand if you got to the end of this and you are thinking the same gung-ho fantastic super eager thoughts of how wonderful it would be to live there that you had before reading this article then hang on cause we are in this together!
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