“When it’s time for you to venture out, don’t let fear have you looking back at what you’re leaving behind.”
As I, along with roughly 200 million other Americans, searched for a country to escape to this morning, I learned a lot about what it would mean to live abroad as an expat. Although I have dreamed of living a nomad’s life and travelling from place to place with no possessions and nothing but love in my heart as an Ambassador of Goodwill (this is the title that I dreamed up for myself roughly 20 or so years ago), I haven’t actually done the footwork to explore how to make this a real possibility. I learned so much through my Google searches in the wee hours of this morning. This is what I was able to gather in case you want to join me in Belize or Costa Rica.
- Make sure your passport is up to date and understand the visa requirements for the country for which you plan to move (some countries allow you to stay for a maximum length of time, for instance 90 days, at which time you must leave the country and then re-enter to start the clock over). What other documents will you need?
- You have to have money to move (plane ticket, car, gas, hotel and food, shipping possessions, etc.)
- Set up your online banking and make sure that wherever you move, you will have access to technology (in-country cell service, Wi-Fi, laptop, etc.)
- Know that even though you no longer live in the US, the IRS will still expect you to pay taxes!
- Consider language and cultural barriers of your new home country and familiarize yourself.
- Find out about health insurance and medical care in your new home country
- Will you be safe? What is their human rights record? Is it generally a safe place to visit? Will you be a target as an American?
- Where will you work? How will you make money? How will you ensure that you won’t be cheated when renting/purchasing a place to live?
- Where will you go to make friends? School? Work? Church? Clubs? Organizations?
- What vaccinations will you need? What is your plan if you get sick while adjusting to the new lifestyle?
- Transportation and getting around may present all kinds of challenges in your new home country (everything from spastic driving to confusing subway systems).
- Are there dangerous animals/insects that you will encounter in a normal day-to-day routine?
- Is clean drinking water readily available?
- What is the weather like?
Canada: have to take a fluency test in English or French, have a job offer from a Canadian company and a skill
Australia/New Zealand: younger than aged 30, gets you a one-year working visa, their website lists in-demand jobs that will get you in the door quicker
Mexico: you can go immediately if you sign a two year lease on the country (you gotta stay for two years, but you can leave tomorrow!)
Germany: looking for creative types – artists, designers, writers, musicians
Singapore: will take you tomorrow as well if you are a skilled or professional
Svalbard: a Norwegian territory where people carry guns to protect themselves from polar bears would be happy to have you – no visa required
There you have it. A start, at least. Anybody with me?