2020 has been heavy. I’m seeing more stories from American expats about their lives abroad and a heightened interest in this lifestyle. This observation has some data supporting it, and it seems to have been happening for some time. Estimates from the State Department are that there are about 9 million Americans, excluding military personnel, living and working outside the U.S. This year has people reconsidering their priorities, their environment, and their views. Moving abroad can be a refreshing remedy if you know what to look for in a new place.

If you’re considering testing out the expat life, there are many factors that should be weighed carefully. Before moving abroad, considerations like how you’ll make money and the cost of living will narrow down the options if you have the ability to select your destination. Then there is deciding what to do with your home and possessions for the time that you will be gone. Also, there are the logistics of the move and getting set up with essentials like a mobile plan, bank account, new doctors, and so on. I have touched on this last part before in a previous post, but will do another deep dive because the decisions can seem endless. Also completely doable.

Selecting a destination

Look at countries that give you a break on the exchange rate and where the cost of living is relatively low. That will determine how comfortably you will be able to live in your new environment. No need to trade the stresses of making ends meet in one place for the same aggravation elsewhere. Consider if you need to live near a city or if modern conveniences are important. Can you speak the local language or do most citizens speak English? This is an especially important consideration if you are leaving your native country to live in a new place for the first time.

You also need to understand the visa requirements, medical system, and the quality of schools if you have children. Just read up about the place you are interested in to get a general idea of what you are getting into. There will still be culture shock and surprises, but maybe don’t pick a new place like Prince Akeem and Semmi.

Securing employment

There are a few different ways to work abroad. Of course, the types of opportunities available depend on your industry. Several opportunities exist in education, but other industries are generating jobs for expats if you don’t plan to teach. One way is to secure an opportunity with a multinational organization that will relocate you and sponsor your visa. Perhaps your current job has a program that allows employees to relocate to new places like one of these companies.

Before COVID made working from home mainstream, some pioneering enterprises saw the advantages of looking beyond country borders for employees and contractors. If you want a job with a company that allows its employees to work from anywhere, here are some places to look.

The next path is the entrepreneur route through either freelancing or starting an entirely new business venture. In Bangkok, there are numerous fitness, swimming and dance instructors, photographers, artisans, and people who have identified business opportunities and run with these ideas.

Moving abroad often comes with a significant career or lifestyle change. The change of scenery can help to open your mind up to paths that you might not have considered before. However, moving too far or to a place that is vastly different to what you are accustomed to can have adverse effects. There is no surefire way to know if the new place you choose will be the right fit. Trying on a new place is part of the adventure, and if it doesn’t work out, you can always move to a new place or return home.

Have you decided to move abroad? Let me know where you are thinking of moving.

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