Moving Abroad changed me, my life and how I view the world.

It is by far the most valuable thing I’ve done for myself. I have never met anyone who regretted going, even if they didn’t have a good experience.

Wahoo! You want that expat life! I fully support your decision. Let’s begin, shall we?

1. Where Should I Move? 

This is a MAJOR question. You can live in your dream location, but be practical. You want this to work, so let’s talk feasibility. Do as much research as you can. There are a number of things to consider before choosing your adopted country. Find a helpful list here.

2. What About a Job?

Teaching English is a great option. You don’t have to have a teaching degree to do it. Many schools offer training programs for expats. You can also take short courses to prepare yourself at home. This is an especially good option if you’re only looking to go abroad for a year or two, or figuring things out. I know many people who have been/are teaching in Taiwan to pay off their debt, INSANE American student loans being one of the main ones. I suspect you’re not about that peasant life, so this stuff is important. You can always teach for a year while you concoct your next big thing. Check the job market, is there a position in your field? Can you create a job (I LOVE this idea btw)? Can you work remotely? Maybe you’re taking some time off, and that’s cool too.

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Nangyuan Island, Thailand

3. Get Your Paperwork in Order.

You’ve got the perfect location. This next part takes some meticulous planning and is personally my least favorite, but most important part. I like to create a calendar timeline to ensure everything gets done. This schedule will help you keep organized. Contact your embassy in the country you’re immigrating to, and find out what you need to submit, and how long it will take. If you have a job lined up already, contact them and find out what they’ll need from you. Mark all dates for documents on your calendar. Keep everything as organized as possible. Set alerts, so you’re reminded of what needs to be done. You don’t want to forget something and f*** it all up. Only after your timeline and calendar are organized, should you buy your ticket.

4. Get Rid of Your Shit.

I moved to Hungary and Taiwan from the US with two suitcases, both times. You really do not need “stuff”. Get rid of as much as you can, sell it and save the money. You can get a furnished apartment wherever you’re going. They will have shampoo and conditioner, darlings. It might not be the one you’re used to, but you’re moving to a foreign country, deal with it. There is always online shopping (hallelujah) if you just can’t live without something. Part of living abroad is finding new things you love anyway. The money you saved selling your things can be used as a deposit on your new apartment, or to buy the necessities to get started in your new home.

 

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Preikestolen, Norway. I went with my family when I was 14, for my parents’ anniversary. I have never been so terrified of heights in my life.

 

5. Pack Only What You Need.

Again, two suitcases people. That’s it. It may seem impossible; (I am an over packer) but you can, and must do it. Consider your new climate, how many seasons are there? What kinds of clothes do you need? What is culturally appropriate? It is extremely hot in Dubai, but I am most definitely not going to bring clothes I would wear in Thailand, to the Middle East. Are you going to need things like plug adapters? I moved to Hungary without a single adapter. It was dumb and annoying. It’s hard to find things like that when you don’t have a phone, computer or the internet. I did lots of helpless wandering. Lesson learned. On the bright side, I got to know my neighborhood (because I forgot where I lived and got lost for, like, ever).

6. Where should you stay?

If you’re moving somewhere you haven’t been, I would strongly recommend a month of Airbnb or a short term apartment. That way you can get the feel for the city, public transit, and spend time finding an apartment you will feel happy in. Maybe you’d like to be in the suburbs because the city is stifling. Perhaps a short commute is most important. Or if you don’t mind the commute, do you want to be close to trendy nightlife and restaurant areas? Give yourself some time to realize what matters to you. Otherwise, you’re going to end up in a shitty apartment you don’t like. Trust me, it’s tough being away from home sometimes, and not having a space you love makes it exponentially worse. Keep in mind that what was important to you at home, may not be as important in your new city. Have something lined up when you arrive, especially if you’re traveling long distances. You’ll likely be exhausted, overwhelmed, and wanting a place to shower, stretch out, and be horizontal for a second.

7. Go.

Say goodbye to the life you once knew. You’ll never be the same, and have so many incredible experiences you never even dreamed of. Well done, you! It’s going to be bananas!

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I took this photo on my last business trip to Hong Kong. It’s one of the most amazing cities I’ve ever been to.

 

Any of my fellow expats have advice to share? What are some of your experiences?

If you want more information, have questions, or would like an elaboration on any of the topics in this post, please leave me a comment. I am happy to provide insight and/or share links that can help!

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