Welcome to my new “Life as an Expat” series. Recently I’ve had a ton of questions about living as an expat, so in the next few blog posts I aim to answer them, and share a little about how I make my life as a perpetual expat work.
Here are 5 signs the expat life could be for you:
1. It takes you half an hour to get out of bed
We all have our bad days, and I’ve learned that I will never be a morning person. But if the thought of getting up and facing the day makes you want to bury yourself in bed with the covers pulled over your head, it might be time for a change.
Sure, there may be plenty of things in your life which can be changed to make facing the day a little easier. You may simply need to find a new job, ditch the friend causing all the drama, or bail out of your toxic relationship.
Let’s be clear here: I’m definitely not advocating running away from your problems (cause trust me, those little shits will find you), and I don’t believe the solution to hardship is to simply pack your crap and jump on a plane.
However if you’ve been thinking about a change of scenery, and you just know there’s more out there, moving abroad could be just what you need to finally feel excited about getting up in the morning.
2. You spend your time online living vicariously through others
If you find yourself searching for flights you can’t take, pinning pictures of gorgeous beaches and big cities on Pinterest, or reading every travel blog you come across, it could be a good sign that you’re ready to take the plunge.
One thing you’ve probably learnt from all of your research, is that there are tons of different ways that people are making a life overseas.
Whether it’s a semester abroad, working as an Au Pair or nanny, teaching English, volunteering, working for an NGO, freelancing, or however else they’re making it work, expats know how to hustle to extend their time overseas and pay those bills.
3. You’ve run the numbers, and tried to figure out how it could work
If you’ve worked out a budget, and the only thing holding you back is money, you’re halfway there.
Sometimes all you need to motivate yourself is to begin looking at your finances. I’ve written before about how we weren’t exactly wealthy growing up, but one thing my mum taught me is how to stretch a dollar.
Instead of looking at all of the reasons why it can’t work, begin thinking about how it could. Often student loan debt can be deferred for a while, and I had plenty of friends teaching in Beijing who were making payments on their student loans each month while still having enough money for travel and a social life. (By the way, you don’t need a degree or a TEFL certificate to get a job in China).
Living in a developing country is also going to be cheaper than living at home. Your rent is likely to be less than half of what you’re paying now, and food, drinks, and entertainment are usually a fraction of the price,
So it’s just a matter of figuring out how you’ll support yourself once you’re there.
4. You feel trapped, and only see the negatives of where you’re living
It wasn’t until I moved overseas that I truly appreciated how lucky I was to grow up in New Zealand. Before that, I just felt trapped, loathed that it was so far away from the rest of the world, and knew that I wanted to get out as fast as possible.
But living in the United States made me appreciate our public health care. Australia helped me appreciate Kiwi’s low tolerance for racism, and commitment to the environment. China helped me realise how lucky I was to grow up breathing clean air, and not worrying about what was in our food. And Thailand helped me to appreciate that as an educated Western women, I will never have to rely on a man for financial support.
Living as an expat is not only a great way to learn about new cultures and countries, but it also allows you to appreciate your home, and you’ll see it through new eyes when you return.
5. You’re tired of having the same conversations with the same people
This doesn’t mean you don’t appreciate your friends and family. But we’re the sum of the five people we spend the most time with. So in order to grow and learn, it makes sense that we need to travel to new places, meet new people, and discuss new things.
You’ll also find that while living as an expat you’re around like-minded people. They’ve also taken the plunge, moved abroad, and left all of their family and friends behind. So you make incredible connections and form bonds with people who simply “get” you.
With Skype and Facebook, it’s easy to keep in contact with people at home, and as brutal as it sounds, you quickly discover who wants to make an effort to keep the relationship going, and who doesn’t.
Convinced yet? If any of these things sound like you, maybe it’s time you made a plan for your life as an expat.