As many of you know, in 2016, my family of four sold all of our belongings to move abroad and live a new life in South America.
If you are new to this blog, no worries, I’ve got you covered!
Click here to learn about our experience living in Colombia as African Americans.
In 2016, our family had no clue how to move abroad! However, with an exception of a 5 month temporary return to the states for career purposes, my family has successfully lived abroad for almost 2 years! Our first destination was Medellin, Colombia. Our second destination was Playa del Carmen, Mexico and our final destination was Costa Rica!!
That may not sound like much to some, but in this list you will understand why this lifestyle is not one to be taken lightly.
Certain thoughts never cross your mind when trying to figure out how to move abroad. And that’s why we’re here to bring up valid points to consider prior to making that move.
Many leave the states with a great idea in mind only to return back once the pressure of adapting to a new environment gets to them. If I didn’t learn anything else in the military, adjusting to stress and unexpected changes was one lesson I have truly utilized during this journey.
So, here it is. I have compiled a small list of 8 vital tips to show you how to move abroad successfully.
I will note that this guide is mostly for those who are leaving the United States permanently or leaving another country on their own will; not because of military orders or because your current company is sponsoring your move abroad.
If you are moving because you have already secured employment from a company, then this guide may not benefit you as much, but you are still welcomed to read its contents!
#1 Have ZERO fear resonating in your energy.
Do me a favor and dump 80% of what you thought you knew about a place based on what has been told to you through media or other propaganda.
The truth is, if you haven’t physically stepped onto a landmass, then you don’t know anything about what’s on the other side.
Intuitively, anything that is foreign to us is often times leery. But the only way to really find out if a country is safe or livable, is if you check it out for yourself. Use this nervous energy to propel you forward instead of it pulling you backwards.
“Una cabeza llena de miedos no tiene espacio para los sueños.“
A head full of fear has no room for dreams.
Compile a list of all of your worries or concerns and see which ones are based on facts versus irrational fears.
For example, when our family moved to Medellin, Colombia, our fears were of being robbed because we were U.S. citizens, the cartel, not understanding the language and getting lost, etc.
With research, we discovered methods to protect ourselves from being robbed. (More research tips are provided in tip #5). We realized our chances of being robbed were much greater in the U.S. than abroad, because we weren’t leaving the states to live a lavish lifestyle abroad.
Our goal was to be frugal. And in our 6 months of living in Medellin, I’m happy to report no harm befell our family and I am looking forward to living there again someday!
Don’t let fear hold you back. This is a bold move and it requires you to leave with a sound mind and an aura free from fear.
#2 Know WHY you are wanting to move abroad.
Are you leaving for spiritual reasons? Is this journey apart of your life path? Is it just for entertainment? Do you have a goal you want to reach? Is it a short-term move for healing or is it a permanent move?
My advice is to spend some time in seclusion once you have made the final choice to leave the U.S. or your current country residence for good. Once you know YOUR why, this will encourage you to stay the path no matter how turbulent the ride may become.
Get to know who you truly are within without any distractions or persuasions from family to keep you still. If you know who you are, stay grounded in your essence.
And that brings me to this next point which may be a shocker…
Prepare to lose close connections with those whom you THOUGHT cared.
From my experience, making a major move like this can lead to one or two things. You are going to be viewed as INSANE, LOL, or your loved ones will latch on to the idea of you leaving and have a plan to join you later down the road.
The latter has not been the case with me. This is why it’s important to sit in seclusion to talk to yourself before you take the journey.
Be sure that it makes perfect sense to YOU. Trying to explain it to others will not matter if you have separate realities. The fact of the matter is, they may or may not get it. So, be okay with REJECTION. Swallow that pill and keep life moving.
#3 Master the art of detachment.
OMG, if I could put this in big red letters with a flag beside it to get your attention (wait a minute, I can…)
MASTER THE ART OF DETACHMENT
This blue flag symbolizes resoluteness, liberation, and vigilance.
Do NOT expect loved ones to readily join you on your journey. 9 times out of 10, they are sitting back waiting on the train wreck so they can softly express to you through their Bull horn, “I told you that it wouldn’t work”. And, with their fishing hook, reel you back into the premise of coming back home to live.
You may even begin to hear from people who never thought to visit you while you were in the same city, “We miss you! You belong back in the U.S.” The Universe has a funny way of projecting our own internal doubts back to us.
Start practicing, NOW, the art of detaching from the idea of inclusion. Most of us came into this realm with one umbilical cord attached to a single uterus. At some point, we have to detach from the comfort of our mother’s womb and learn how to breathe using our own lungs.
Even if you came into this realm with a twin or multiples, you are a single soul with your own unique avatar. These life lessons have to be learned individually.
With this journey, you cannot expect anyone to hold your hand while you plunge into the deep unknown. So hone whatever strength you have and magnetize inspiration from whatever source that suits your needs, to successfully navigate through this new journey.
#4 Have a plan and most importantly a steady income.
Would you jump out of an airplane without a parachute? Would you ride on a roller-coaster unrestrained? Would you go into a movie theater without your stash of snacks you bought from the Dollar store?
**This is for my people who know the struggle 😂😂**
The endpoint is, you wouldn’t take any journey without properly evaluating the necessities. Although there are some on social media advocating “going with the flow” and practicing magic to manifest money. I PERSONALLY have not experienced this. I am a practitioner of ACTION/KINETIC ENERGY and I strongly advocate for having a J.O.B. or some sort of continual income before leaving the states.
Unfortunately, I see a lot of adults leaving the U.S. and setting up Go Fund Me accounts or PayPal links so that others can pay them while they show the world how to crack open coconuts and “live in nature.” Please do not be “one of them.” Even if you are able to thrive off of donations, this will only be short lived.
Employment from a web-based source is better when initially relocating to another country.
If you are not of retirement age or you don’t have a lifetime supply of monthly income, my advice is to go for a web-based source of income if you are traveling as a family.
You can find resources for online remote jobs from anywhere on these trusted websites. I was able to land several freelancing jobs using these websites.
The above websites will help you to find work as a self-employed contractor, which is basically an opportunity for you to work on an as-needed basis versus having to sit at a desk for a set amount of time. Be sure to read the individual requirements as far as location, because some opportunities may require for you to be stateside. And you want to completely honest with this due to certain web restrictions that a VPN won’t get you around!
Being a self-employed contractor while traveling abroad involves A TON of time management skills, because you will basically be living in the place of your dreams and may become unmotivated to work. Just remember that this online opportunity is what will provide the financial means for you to live in another country and that will help you to map out a workable plan for you to enjoy life in another country while still generating income.
Some individuals who are traveling solo opt to generate income by teaching English in a foreign country as an ESL teacher. I only have experience traveling with my husband and two children, but you can find those opportunities on these websites:
Additionally, if you have an online business (kudos to all of you beautiful entrepreneurs) or generate steady income from selling products online, this can be enough to sustain you until you are ready to seek employment in your new home.
Limitations of working at an on-site location abroad
Due to the possibility of internet breaching, and you are traveling as a family unit, I would suggest maybe the Dad seeking employment hands on while the Mom works from home. Or, you can do whatever works best for YOUR family. Maybe you are comfortable with both of you working from home long term. The goal here is to generate a reliable income that will sustain you for more than a year.
Working at a physical location is not impossible but it can be difficult depending on the location.
For example, in Costa Rica, you have to be a permanent resident in order to work in their country. Building a brick and mortar business there is okay as long as you are providing employment opportunities for the natives.
So make sure you become overly competent of the employment laws and regulations prior to moving abroad. You should be able to visit that country’s embassy website to learn about the laws or you can contact an attorney in that country via email.
Never assume that you can work at a location abroad just because you may have witnessed someone on social media do it.
Unfortunately, there are a lot of individuals that are okay with bending rules so that they can live abroad, but what they won’t show you are the consequences for doing so. So many U.S. citizens are banned from countries for overstaying tourist visas or from working illegally in a country. Make sure you are making this move with a mindset of abiding by another country’s laws so that you won’t be fined or even worst prosecuted for a crime.
Renting and money saving tips
Making the initial move, you can rely on the money from the sales of all of your belongings to use as your rent for the first few months. Renting abroad works similar to renting in the U.S. You can expect to pay first month’s rent along with a security deposit equivalent to the amount of one month’s rent.
For a 3 bedroom fully furnished condo, we paid approximately $800 a month with utilities included! Putting that into perspective, if you’re relocating to South America like we did, you can set aside at least $4000 before moving and essentially pay for 3-6 months’ rent upfront with a trusted rental agency and use the other portion for the cost of plane tickets!
Plan your travel during “low season”. Moving abroad during high season is not impossible, but if you are looking to save the most money, this would be the better route.
Utilize your income tax return as money to ASSIST with the move, but do not rely solely on this income to sustain you. Using your income tax return is actually a brilliant idea. But keep in mind, you have to generate income in order to continue to receive an annual income tax return.
Set realistic goals.
What is your mindset? Are you leaving with a belief that you can transplant your U.S. lifestyle into another country?
Veterans, I know you may be accustomed to changing base assignments every so often, but this ain’t it! This is totally different. There will not be a moving company delivering all of your household items to you DUTY FREE because of your military orders. You will have to set some realistic goals with this new lifestyle, or you might find yourself back in the U.S. unexpectedly.
Set realistic goals based on the new country’s way of life and culture. Sure, it’s possible to move to this new place and flex your ‘first-world’ attitude on others, but I promise you won’t get very far.
The natives are in tune with others’ energy. If you are kind and have a humble demeanor, you will receive more help. And trust me, you WILL NEED their assistance to help you navigate through THEIR country. So check your mindset prior to leaving and set realistic goals.
Research until your mind explodes! And, research using reliable resources. Go to the country’s Embassy website.
There is a lovely tool named Google Translate that appears at the top of the screen when using Google Chrome. Take some time out of your day and READ. YouTube videos will work in conjunction with your research, but PLEASE do not begin this journey using only YouTube videos!
Now, this will vary based on your reasons for traveling. Some of you will be traveling spontaneously because you enjoy the thrill of the unknown. I have met a family that has done this successfully. However, that family had boo-coos of income to be able to do this. If you’re traveling with the intentions of living permanently abroad, then you will likely not have any extra room for surprises.
Write a list of what your needs will be as a family. Will you need a minimum of 3 bedrooms with 2 bathrooms? Will you need a bathtub for little ones? Do you enjoy living in nature but with a modern twist? What about hair care?
For African-Americans, it is sometimes harder for us to find products that cater to our unique hair textures. The new country you are relocating to, will the mail service be quick and easily attainable? If your business requires this type of fulfillment, this will be important. What is the internet connectivity like? If you have to complete deadlines for freelancing jobs, what will be a good area that provides you with reliable internet? These are all questions that you must ponder before making that move.
Consider expat taxes as well! Colombia charges expat taxes for anyone who stays over 180 days. Day 181, you could potentially be charged 33% of your worldwide income INCLUDING DISABILITY OR RETIREMENT BENEFITS.
Check the new country’s policy on expat taxes. If you can, try to find legal loopholes to protect your assets. Again, be sure your mode of operation is always legal and ethical!
#6 LEARN THE NATIVES AND THEIR LANGUAGE
This would seem like a no-brainer, but unfortunately, sometimes U.S. citizens travel to other countries with a nonchalant and discourteous vibe as if others must worship at our feet.
Nothing is more rude, in my opinion, than showing up in another country as a GUEST and demanding that the natives cater to your needs as an expatriate.
If a foreigner came to the United States, we would automatically expect them to know the English language to communicate properly with us. So why expect less from yourself? Yes, you will have to learn the language of the country that you are seeking permanent residence in!
Don’t get me wrong. I never said that it would be easy. Our learning styles are different. It is not expected of you to roll your R’s and speak in a way that won’t send red flags that you’re a foreigner, LOL. But what the natives LOVE to see is that you are attempting to connect to them to show that you give a S#&t about them!
Imagine being in a relationship with a person, and they know NOTHING about you. How heartbreaking is that? Let the natives know that you DO care about their culture. Ask questions. Learn about their likes and dislikes. Learn the customs of their culture.
I used “Come se dice“, which translates to “How do you say“, so much! I started off almost every interaction with “Entiendo Espanol un poquito, pero no hablo muy bien.” I would rather come across as a person who is trying to learn rather than come across as a selfish, inconsiderate U.S. Expat who simply wants to take over their space with zero regard for their feelings.
I feel it is pertinent to treat others the way you want to be treated. This simple cliché will take you a long way when living abroad. Trust me, You WILL NEED THEM more than they will need you. Please know that and let this stick to your brain like glue.
This simple rule of thumb will be the difference in the natives treating you like a Gringo versus the natives treating you like family. In all of our travels, we have had the best positive energy reciprocated to us. And, it’s not because we are millionaires or have some sort of Universal privilege bestowed upon ourselves. It is because we had a respectful and genuine attitude towards the natives that occupied the countries we lived in.
“Through the reciprocation of energy, always, and every time, we will get exactly what we put out there to others. Like Karma, whatever we do will indefinitely come back to us in some way shape or form.When goodness is given, it is likely to be returned……..
This is the law of the universe.
What selfless characteristics do you portray to benefit your reality?”
– Will Barnes, The Expansion of The Soul
Busuu is the website that I use to study Spanish more efficiently. If you’re like me and you made it up to Spanish Level 3 in high school or college (but you think you’ve mastered Spanish because you can say “Come te llamas” or “Como se dice”), chile you may be in for a rude awakening LIKE ME when I signed up to Busuu, and they told me I was still in BEGINNER SPANISH!! LOL.
Aside from this shade I was thrown, lol, Busuu allows you to converse with other Spanish speakers so that they can give you feedback on your learning. I use this tool to practice at home before I interact with the natives face to face. So far, I have been told that my Spanish is decent.
You can choose ANY language you want to learn or multiple languages if you sign up for a Premium account. I use it and it works just fine for me. Check it our for yourself. I do not receive any referral points or income. This is just an inexpensive alternative I have found to learning a new language.
#7 Again, Know WHY you are leaving your current lifestyle.
Okay, I’m going to be 1000% REAL with you. This lifestyle is not a game. The time to make up your mind if you are ready to do this will probably be (hmmm let’s see) BEFORE YOU START SELLING OR GIVING AWAY ALL OF YOUR STUFF!!!
There is no replay button honey. Know what you’re about to do and truly ask yourself if you’re ready.
I know the sense of urgency is mustering up in your being and you can’t wait to leave what you may perceive as Hell. Let’s revisit tip numero dos. Did you spend some time in seclusion? I mean, REALLY spent some time with yourself? Turn your phone off for a few days, go to a silent retreat, free your mind of self-inflicted judgments or feelings of not being good enough to make this move.
In this alone time, write down a list of pros and cons to this move. Write down the pros and cons of your current country versus the new country. Once you have your mind made up, keep it there.
#8 Now that you know how to move abroad, sell your Things and shout ADIOS to your old life!
Pull your shoulders back and do like Mase did; breathe, stretch, shake, let it go!
You’ve got this! If you made it this far, you have no room to second guess yourself. Many have taken this narrow road to freedom and have done so successfully.
To my BEAUTIFUL MELANATED BROWN/COPPER TONED FAMILY, know that you CAN do this. I unapologetically declare this to you. No, you are not hated all over the earth. Your presence is vital to the upliftment of this planet just like any other being.
Here are a few groups that are living and thriving (or have experience) outside of the United States.
- The Repat Diaries
- Nibby Speaks
- Young Black Expats International
- Black and Retired in Costa Rica – The Aspiring Expats
- FLI Heritage
These are only a few. Whatever your background, connect with those whom you feel comfortable. These are the examples I give because I only have experience in this realm as a person of hue. That does not insinuate that you cannot gain knowledge and helpful information from travelers of a different hue. I think it is beautiful that we all collectively are inspired to live a life that is conducive to our well-being, outside of the United States.
Flowerchild777 believes that every person has the birthright to live a life of freedom! With the right knowledge, tools, and mindset, you can do whatever and go wherever your soul desires!
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Check out another post we have on our website describing how you can successfully set goals using a vision board!