To quit your job, uproot your life, become location independent and expatriate to a different country is not a decision to be taken lightly. To become an expat is serious business.
And the inconvenient truth is that it’s not for everybody. Not only do you need to have the right mental attitude, but you also have all these logistics to think about — visas, health care, travel fares, transportation costs, locking down places to stay, bank accounts, taxes, and exchange rates. And that’s just scratching the surface.
Is Expatriation And Location Independence Right For Me?
When trying to decide whether to expatriate, ask yourself the following five questions.
- Can you survive without a close knit social circle for weeks at a time?
- Are you organized, disciplined, and good at managing your time and money?
- Have you saved up at least a year of living expenses (based on cost of living in your target location)?
- Do you at least have a rough plan on how you’re going to support yourself long term?
- Are you willing to learn new skills, new languages and new cultures?
Here is my advice. If you answered “no” to more than 2 or 3 of the above questions — you are not ready. At least not yet.
I strongly suspect that many bitter and miserable expats had expatriated before they were truly ready. Some get very lonely, even falling into depression or alcoholism, more so than the general population. For your sake, please take heed if you have a drinking problem, are prone to depression or are taking antidepressant medications of any kind.
If you have your shit together, but are a little weak in areas like budgeting, language skills, business acumen, or online marketing, you can work on those during your build up to location independence and still be able to pull it off when the time is right.
Becoming an expat requires sacrifice. You will have to give up most of your possessions and first world comforts to become more mobile. You won’t have a local support network in your new country, at least in the beginning. Your family and hometown friends won’t be there. You will have to spend time learning a new language and integrating into a new culture. For many expats though, the adventures and stories are well worth the sacrifice.
Do A Dry Run First To See If Expatriation Is Right For You
If you’re still not sure whether or not you should become an expat, you could at least do a dry run. Book a one month vacation somewhere, bring your laptop, balance work and play, and see how you feel. I did this in Southeast Asia and it helped me visualize being an expat while going through the motions in an actual setting.