Get rid of stuff. Pack your bags. Research your immigration situation. Figure out your money and then get on a plane. Find a house. Try to fit in.
Aside from immigration details, these are the same things you need to consider if you are moving across town.
So that’s it.
That’s how you move abroad.
Or at least that’s how I move abroad.
Everybody has their reasons for moving to a new country. Whatever the practical reason, I am a big believer in the process. It's good for us not to get stuck. Moving abroad has exposed me to amazing things and has certainly taught me not to get too comfortable in one place. I am a more adaptable person thanks to my experiences. I think it keeps my mind sharp.
|living in Thailand meant I could go on fantastic 2-day island vacations for cheap|
|enjoying Southern Thai food after a quick vacation to Koh Ngai in the Andaman Sea|
Can everyone do it as easily as I have? Nah. I am aware of my privilege. I’m 33, college-educated, carry a US passport, and I’m what they call a ลูกครึ่ง in Thai--a halfling. I’m a Latina with a white parent so I’m white-passing for most of the world. This all makes things easier on me. Everybody will have their own unique challenges.
I’ve had a few lucky breaks and a few disasters affect my life abroad. I’ve snuck out a few back doors to avoid run-ins with the police. I’ve received a deportation letter. I’ve had my pocket picked. I’ve made some stupid decisions and I’ve had to learn some hard lessons.
That said, it’s all possible.
|where will you move to? this is Lago Titicaca in Peru|
Having a significant other will notably HELP or HURT your chances of moving abroad successfully. You've heard that couples shouldn't work together, right? Well moving abroad requires serious teamwork.
I’ve recently discovered how much easier things are when you are with the right person. If you’ve got somebody who shares your attitude and goals, making your way through these five steps can be a breeze.
I’ve got an amazing girlfriend who has made moving abroad 9,000x easier than I previously thought possible. We do all the research together and we make decisions using each other as a sounding board. We trust each other’s ability to read people and to think on our feet in sticky situations. With somebody like that, everything just goes smoothly. As my tías said after spending a week with us: we are two peas in a pod, two halves of an orange. If you move abroad and your partner is not the other half to your orange, you will find out soon enough 😝
Last week I followed these exact instructions and made another international move. After 4 years in Thailand, my girlfriend Stacy and I picked up and moved temporarily to Cambodia.
|our short-term home in Siem Reap, Cambodia|
We are on the road for awhile around Asia and plan to settle in Eastern Europe next summer.
For now, we are enjoying the slow life in the countryside. We spend our days riding cruisers, speaking broken Khmer, and drinking amazing coffee.
|riding bikes in downtown Siem Reap|
I don't pretend to be an expert. There are plenty of people out there who have better advice--people who are doing this better than I am. Jetsetters who do it with style and migrant workers who make it happen on much less. I just want people to know they are capable.
Where I grew up, there isn't a strong tradition of exploring the world. In the United States, less than 5% of the population travels out of the country each year. If you are considering a move abroad, you probably aren’t hearing a lot of encouragement. Family and friends might even tell you how impossible it is. My own mother immigrated to the United States and was completely against my move to Spain way back in 2004.
I just want to add my voice to all the others you are hearing and let you know it’s doable.
In fact, my mantra is “There are idiots who do this all the time.”
Once I got out of the country, I ran into all kinds of bozos who are doing exactly what I used to stress about. They didn’t plan it out and they didn’t analyze all the things that could go wrong. They just went. It's laughable how many of them are building successful lives in foreign places while ‘smarter’ people stay home in hesitation and fear. The clueless expats are the ones that give me the most positive reinforcement. If they are doing it, a decently capable person like myself is going to be just fine.
So that’s all I’ve got--a million questions to ask yourself, some vague suggestions about research, and a push towards the door.
Wherever you want to go, you can make it happen. Now go!
|Ultimate Guide to Moving Abroad|
If you want to review the series, here are the topics I’ve included in my Ultimate Guide to Moving Abroad:
- Part I: Stuff
- Part II: Immigration
- Part III: Money
- Part IV: Shelter
- Part V: Lifestyle
Did this blog series help you to actually pick up and go? Do you have suggestions about things I’ve overlooked? Contact me, I’d love to hear your comments.