I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything. Suddenly you are five years old again.

Bill Bryson

Dear Traveler,

It can be overwhelming to consider all of the tasks that accompany becoming and living as an expat. Where do you start? How do you know those things that will require extra planning? When is the best time to start planning? Who can I ask for help?

From my own personal experience, I spent three years planning to move abroad when I became an expat the first time. There were a lot of reasons for that long time period, but that was what worked for me. And that’s my first piece of advice: don’t let others’ expectations of your life changes dictate anything about your own process.

Currently, there are numerous websites to help you plan to move abroad, and many people interested in helping you for a fee. There’s nothing wrong with making the plans yourself, nor is there any shame in hiring someone to help you. The important thing is to enjoy the process, because you are embarking on an adventure.

So where do you start? Or, if you have already started, how do you assess whether or not you are on track for a successful experience?

The basics are deceptively simple:

  • Determine your visa options and arrange the documents that you will need.
  • Begin studying your target country’s language. If you are going somewhere English-speaking, study vocabulary differences and slang.
  • Determine the type of housing you will need. Explore online listings to see what might be available.
  • Plan your finances for living abroad, which may require a visit to an accountant or lawyer.
  • Study cultural differences between your home country and your host country. You may be surprised how many there are!

Seems simple, right?

Well, each of those is its own project, so it will take some time to organize so many thoughts. Everyone’s path is a little different, too. For example, some countries require visa interviews, while others do not.

That’s why I developed a free tool that you can download here. It’s a skeleton checklist of the first steps you can take in each category listed above, and it’s a good reminder for many of the steps in the expatriation process.

I’m looking forward to hearing more about your process! Tell me how it’s going here!

Keep exploring!

The Clever Expat

Still want to learn more?

The Clever Expat courses are designed to guide you through the process and help you go from a potential expat to a successful expat.

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