When You Write Me, Here’s How I Reply

 free advice

I get messages from people, asking for help to move or work overseas.  I enjoy getting the messages and replying.  Often, we e-mail each other several times.  Obviously, I give general advice, for 2 reasons: first, I don’t know them, and second because it’s free.

If someone wants to hire me, then I send a questionnaire to learn a lot about them, then an hour+ phone call for detailed, tailored and actionable advice. My clients are always happy we talked. But as for the ‘free‘ people, most just say Thanks and move on, without taking much actual action.

What about you? I hate to be skeptical, but because most people don’t really act, I’m wondering if you will. Fine, it’s human nature to value something you paid for. My advice doesn’t come easily or lightly.  It comes from experience, from the “school of hard-knocks.” And lastly, it’s your choice whether to act on it or not.

It makes me wish I could share the advice with many others, hoping that one person out there is willing to act.  So below I offer several replies I sent.  If one resonates with you, Awesome.  If not, that’s cool, too.

Here Are Some Replies I’ve Sent Recently:


A reply to a 2nd year college student, wondering about moving “somewhere” overseas.

My first and most important advice is two-fold (three-fold counting the guts):
1.  Finish college.  But make big sacrifices to finish as cheaply as you can.  Borrow as little as you can.
2.  Save.  Cut out expenses like your iPhone, and other “extras” in life.  Try to earn on side jobs just to pocket it toward moving overseas.
3.  The guts.  Yup, an important one.  It takes guts to want to move overseas.  It takes much bigger guts to commit to it, publicly.  If you’re really willing, explain to your friends and family what your plans are.  This also helps explain why you’re cutting out those “extras.”

A later reply to a man in his 30’s, worried how his career path (in IT) impacts him going abroad.

…Be specific; don’t try to be a jack-of-all-trades guy, you know?
Do your homework on that position and/or company.  Know what they use for internal jargon.  Ask Nick (or any recruiter) for help in this regard; he’ll know.
Network, e.g. LinkedIn, with people that work in the same company or position you want.  It can’t hurt; it can only help, providing you’re genuine and not (obviously) hounding them.
Have proof of what you’re capable of doing, even what you’d do in that position for the first month to 6 months.


A reply to someone that was in the very same position I was, 6 years apart.

…you wrote “I’m interested in knowing what you would do if you were me.”  Well, I was you. 🙂
Just 6 years ago, like you, …
  • I had been married for 4 years
  • We had one child, our 8 months old daughter
  • Lived in our first house, bought in 2001
  • Had high experience in IT (systems integration turned infosec consultant)
  • Just paid off credit card debt
  • Huge similarity in political mindset & US outlook (early adopter in libertarian thought)
The point is, I can relate.  🙂
My wife and I had lived overseas before, so the “sell” to move overseas with our daughter was easy.  We figured “the world was our oyster” (and I still believe that, for everyone).  We chose 3 cities, then researched recruiters, specifically in IT, in those 3 cities.  We sent my resume / CV to a few recruiters in each.  My first bite was in Prague, from Grafton (www.grafton.cz  –choose the British flag for English).  They got me a telephone interview, which I ‘aced.’  The employer invited me for a 2 day face-to-face.  After a 7-hour interview with a senior manager and the CISO, I was hired.  Six weeks later, we moved.  (a lot more happened between getting the job and moving, but the early part applies most to you)
My (second) point is, you can do it.  I did and I’m not much different than you, right?  🙂

A reply to someone wondering if they should leave or not (yes, it was that simple).

First, I’ll give my all-time, most fundamental advice: make decisions that avoid regret  …we make the best decisions with what information we have at the time.  And that info changes over time, so we make new decisions.  But we should always consider the path of avoiding regret as we understand it today.


A reply to a university student, deciding between travel during school or after graduation.

Being an exchange student is arguably the best way to experience a country as a new traveler, because you get true immersion unlike military travel (semi-isolated on a base) and you have no concerns of being employed for a foreign company, or having to fend for yourself (as much).

You asked whether to go permanently or return to finish university.  My gut instinct is get your uni degree.  Yes, that’ll put you back a few years, several thousand in debt and very likely squelch your adventurous spirit a few notches.  But it will also bolster your future outlook, give you many more options (here or ‘there’) and you’ll have a chance to make new friends and networks you will sorely miss down the road.

Well, that’s just a few replies.  I hope they might have helped a bit.

If you would like a personal, helpful exchange, hire me for a consultation. Or… just write an e-mail for the free stuff.




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An American who likes to move around. I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding. My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do. Enjoy.

3 thoughts on “When You Write Me, Here’s How I Reply”

  1. … at least they say “thank you”!

    I stopped replying to the one-line inquiries like “I want to move to Canada please provide detailed steps” long ago. If you can’t figure out the basics and don’t want to hire a specialist to do the dirty work, I’m not going to do it for you!

    I always find it frustrating when I reply to inquiries and never heard back from the person.

    1. Zhu, I’ll bet you’re like me, and enjoy hearing back from someone a few months later and says “I made it!”

      …yeah, that’s happened too few times. I agree that too often people will listen and listen, but not act. Oh well, their loss.

      Maybe the next person will…..

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