If you’re anything like me, this time is making you realize just how unpromised all bits of life are. Movement, travel, commuting, buying that overly expensive coffee on your way home are all suddenly weird glimpses of the past. But with this time comes the undeniable and soothing truth, this too shall pass. And so, if something as adventurous as starting your life in a new country has always been on your mind, I’d argue that there’s no better time to start planning then, well, right now, and I’ll tell you why…
Change From Pain
If there’s one positive that can come from all this, it’s the change from pain. What is “change from pain”? It’s when situations in your life get so bad that you can’t do anything else but make a change for the better. With all this unprecedented time to think, about your life, your relationship, career and what matters to you, when the opportunity to escape your bedroom walls finally presents itself, you’ll have a “fresh slate” for change.
I hustled to move to London out of the pain of not being able to afford travel growing up. I moved to China after a guy I was dating passed away, making me realize there was no time to wait for the things you want in life. Despite the current situation, I can easily say both have been the best decisions I’ve ever made.
It’s a Happiness Booster
Do you know that you get just as much adrenaline from buying something as you do putting it in the cart with the intention of buying it? That’s because our brains can’t tell the difference between the future and present, which is why something as dream-a-dasical (yes, I just made that a word) as planning & imagining yourself in the (pre-COVID-19 like) streets of the Paris or sipping red wine outside a quaint European cafe is a lovely and productive way to pass the time if expat life has always been on your mind.
I personally have always wanted to move to Paris one day and planning out the fine details has made me realize this isn’t just a dream I have to keep in my back cuppard. But something I can make my reality when the time is right. A confidence I never would’ve had without planning & research!
But enough of my story, this is YOUR life. What will it look like post COVID-19? If the answer is somewhere a plane ride away then you can officially begin planning your move abroad post-COVID 19 with these steps…
1. ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE, ORGANIZE,
As effortless as Expat’s Instagrams may make it seem (guilty as charged) moving abroad is tough work. Between research, visas, housing contracts etc. you’re going to want to keep track of every piece of effort that goes into making a country your new home. I typically like to create a Google Drive folder, followed by subset folders for things like “country research”, “job searches” etc.
Pro tip: Something you can do now is make sure your passport has at least 6 months validity. A requirement for many countries when you apply for a visa.
2. DECIDE YOUR WHY
Deciding to become an expat is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your life. If you’re not 110% sure why you’re deciding to pack up and move halfway across the world, chances are you won’t make it very far. On the other hand, if you set strong intentions before you leave, you’re far less likely to regret it. Before I move to a new country I like to ask myself questions like…
- Why am I leaving my home country?
- What are my goals for my time abroad?
- What lifestyle do I see myself having?
- What top 5 countries fulfil my lifestyle wants?
- How long could I see myself living in this country?
For example, when I moved to Shanghai my answers to these were…
Why am I leaving my home country?
I’m moving because after three years of leaving the U.S and living in London I realized I don’t want to move back to the states. But I think I want to experience life outside of Western living, perhaps I’ll try somewhere in Asia…
What are my goals for my time abroad?
Learn Mandarin, make connections, teach for a year.
What lifestyle do I see myself having?
I want to live in a nice area, but know I’ll probably have to have roommates. I want to save this year, so will cut back on things like going out. I see myself spending more time exploring the city through parks, museums, language exchanges & cultural events.
What top 5 countries fulfil my lifestyle wants?
Hmm…based on my personality and lifestyle wants, I think London, Shanghai, & Paris are my top.
How long could I see myself living in this country?
No more than a year, I want to move back to London and can’t see myself adapting to Eastern culture long-term if I’m honest with myself.
As you can see, using this prompt effectively will help you gain a LOT of clarity on what you want out of your life abroad.
3. DECIDE YOUR HOW
The good news is there’s tons of practical ways to move overseas. And to help with some of the brainstorming process I’m going to humbly direct you off my site to a way more qualified expert on the topic –GoAbroad.com is hands down the best site to find the most up-to-date opportunities on working abroad. Alternatively, you can look into getting your Masters degree abroad. Whatever you choose, make sure it aligns with your why.
4. MAKE A REALISTIC SAVINGS & TIMEFRAME GOAL
So, you know the how, you know the why, but now WHEN. Honestly, with the current si-ci-a-tion this is something you don’t want to dedicate too much brain space to. But it is worth it to look into the cost of living and outline a savings plan.
Typically for the initial move you should account for…
- visa fees
- airfare + luggage fees
- (at least) one month rent + deposit + utilities (and if you’re waiting to find a place until you get there be sure to budget for a couple weeks of Airbnb)
- one month of groceries
- house supplies
- phone bill
If you have the time, you can start savings by working an online side hustle but one of the best ways to rake in some extra cash before your move is…
5. DE-CLUTTERING YOUR LIFE
It’s no secret that America is the consumer capital of the world. The average American household has 300,000 items, and you see why minimalism is a trend! Every expat knows that the moving process is the hardest, yet most freeing part of moving to a new country. Because you have no option but to realize experiences are worth way more than all your junk, and paying for storage – is expensive.
Start small, sell your unwanted clothes online. Next, decide if you’ll want to keep your car or if you should sell it before your move. Will you rent out your apartment or end the lease? Starting to think about ways to declutter your life now will leave you with way less anxiety and stress when it comes time to actually do it.
6. INSPIRE YOURSELF
Now, here’s the fun part. Before you can physically be there, you’ve got to see yourself in your new country. Hop on Pinterest and search for the best places; to eat, explore, dance, drink expensive coffee (I think I’m really starting to miss expensive coffee) and get lost in a new city.
I can’t describe how excited I am to get back to a life of adventure. Because that’s what expat life is. And if it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, there is no better time than now to start planning that reality for yourself than today…
“What makes expat life so addictive is that every boring or mundane activity you experience at home (like grocery shopping, commuting to work or picking up the dry cleaning) is, when you move to a foreign country, suddenly transformed into an exciting adventure. Try finding peanut butter in a Japanese grocery story or explaining in broken Spanish to the Guatemalan pharmacy that you need cough drops and you’ll understand. When abroad, boredom, routine and ‘normal’ cease to exist. And all that’s left is the thrill and challenge of uncertainty.”
With love x
Don’t forget to read more living abroad tips here!