If the expatriate life has excited you for years now, it may be a sign that you’re ready to take the plunge and move out of your home country. After all, there’s no better way to stretch out of your comfort zone than leaving behind the familiar for the foreign.
That said, many people jump into the expat lifestyle before they’re ready, and you want your experience to be as smooth and enlightening as possible. It’s a significant commitment and not a decision you’ll want to make lightly.
Here are seven sure signs that you’re ready to take the plunge, financially, emotionally, and relationally.
You’re financially sound
You certainly don’t need to be a millionaire to move overseas. That said, a cross-Atlantic or cross-Pacific relocation isn’t cheap. The moving expenses alone will set you back quite a bit, as will securing housing and identification in your destination country. You should have a bit of a “nest egg” set aside before you step on a plane or boat.
What’s more, you need to think about how you’ll support yourself going forward. If you have a job that allows you to work from home, make sure there won’t be any technology or time change logistics to surprise you. If there are, you may want to look for employment before you move.
You’ve invested in the necessary tech tools
Expats past can’t emphasize strongly enough that moving overseas requires a lot of preparation, including investing in the right twenty-first-century toolkit.
Some of these tools include the basics, such as a smartphone with an international plan, adapters, plenty of cloud storage, and some kind of voice translator (this can sometimes be an app on your smartphone).
You might also want a digital mailbox designed with expats types in mind. Using a digital mailbox, you can maintain an American mailing address for all of your essential homeland documentation. Employees at the mailbox location will scan your documents for you, so you can stay in touch even from thousands of miles away.
You’re highly adaptable and flexible
There’s a massive difference between being a tourist and being a transplant. You’ll have to become somewhat of a chameleon with a very unfamiliar culture, which might entail some uncomfortable changes to your lifestyle.
There may be laws and taxes that you aren’t accustomed to following, not to mention norms of day-to-day living. Be open and ready to be challenged in any and every way, and you’ll do just fine.
You’re not satisfied where you are
One of the primary reasons you should consider moving abroad is because you aren’t happy living in your home country.
Your reasons might be politically or culturally motivated, or maybe you fell in love during a semester abroad and want to join new friends or even a partner. Whatever the reason, if your soul says it’s time to move on, don’t ignore it. When in doubt, go with your gut.
You have done your research
Along with being dissatisfied with where you are, you want to make sure that you will be happy in whatever new home you choose. If you’re leaving home for a specific reason–something you’re truly unhappy about–you’ll want to do a lot of digging and make sure you won’t face it in your new home.
In addition, read as much as you can about the customs, norms, and mores of your potential relocation spot. There is so much you won’t discover until you get there. You may even want to try to speak with other expats, and you must visit before making the final decision.
You don’t have a lot of “stuff”
It’s costly to move overseas, and the more you want to bring, the pricier it will be. Even maintaining a storage unit stateside is an expense that you’ll have to factor into your cost of living. What’s more, housing in other countries, mainly European countries, tend to be much smaller than in the United States.
Be prepared to spend your extra money on experiences rather than things. People in Europe especially value taking trips, eating delicious food, and drinking fine wine above buying things that clutter their living space.
Another possession you might have to be willing to leave behind is your pets. Moving an animal abroad is very difficult, and in some cases, impossible.
It’s a heart-wrenching choice for people who love their animals but feel pulled toward the expat life. It’s something you must consider before getting far into the planning process.
If you’re willing to let go of your things, selling your belongings is an excellent way to save money for your trip.
You have an adventurous spirit
The last thing you need to embark on in this adventurous new life is a spirit that gravitates toward exciting experiences. Without this kind of adventurous spirit, you might find yourself in over your head and homesick. That isn’t good for your mental or physical health, not to mention financial well-being.
Before you pack your bags
Becoming an expat is a highly romantic idea that captivates many people, particularly Americans. Unfortunately, some people jump into it without really considering whether they’re built for that lifestyle. Even for those whose personalities match perfectly, you have to be sure to plan appropriately.
If your wanderlust just won’t quit, use these signs as a guide for your relocation readiness.