How Long Does It Take to Move Abroad?

Quick question:How long does it take to leave?
Answer: about 3 months.  Three months from decision to your new country.

This is not the same as how long before I board my flight (airlines require you arrive 2 hours before your flight …okay, a small joke)

But seriously, how much preparation time do you think you need? If you already made the decision you want to live abroad, then it takes 3 months, from start to finish. That’s my experience and I see no reason why anyone else couldn’t have a similar experience.

Below is our timeline when we moved from the US to Prague, Czech Republic:

Our Timeline:
23 March: Initial inquiry about a couple jobs
03 April Telephone interview w/manager
02 May Face-to-face interview in Prague
05 May Offer tendered and accepted, to start 3 July
26 May Wife’s last day of work
31 May House on market; luckily sold soon from real estate boom
21 June House sale ‘closed’
5-11 June Jeff & friend went apartment shopping in Prague
30 June Jeff leaves for Prague
3 July Jeff starts first day at work

Okay, that’s 3 months and a week. But it’s way faster than 6 months. And definitely not two years, or even 1 year.

The next 20 years will fly – don’t you think it’s time you did, too?
Don’t live with regret for not trying, not going for it.

moving to london
Linked to where I help

 

7 First Impression Tips for Travelers

First impressions. You only get one chance at them. So, let’s talk how you make the best first impression, before that day comes.

First Impressions Are Important

Always good to make a good first impression. That’s true when meeting anyone. But when we move overseas, especially to places where we’re obviously the minority, people take special notice of you.

So, when we move abroad, that first impression can be huge, and lasting. Here are 7 tips to help us not embarrass ourselves.

1. Study / Research / Learn

Before you board any plane, you’re thinking about a zillion things at once. You’re thinking about a job and where to stay. You’re thinking about money, the cost of food, transportation, electricity. And what about the language…should you learn 1-10 first, or “where’s the bathroom?”. Or maybe you’re already dreaming what hot vacation spots are nearby.

First things first: learn proper greetings, ways to say thank you, sorry, and how much. Research cultural differences, like personal space, what hand to use, eye contact and many more – all these help shape that first impression.

2. Two Ears > One Mouth

The other day I heard a mother sternly say to her child: “You have two ears, but only one mouth for a reason!”

At the time, I thought “What a bitch.” But I’m a dad and felt her frustration.

Anyway, the phrase works for new expats— keep your ears (& eyes) open. The greatest opportunity for this is when you’re with new people and you watch them greet each other, and how they introduce you to others.

Listen and watch closely. Then speak or do. Or try at least.

3. When Shaking Hands, Don’t be a Dominant Braggart

Handshaking is just one example, a clear jab at US President trump. Because, to rest of the world, he is the perfect “dominant braggart.”

When you’re about to make a first impression, you might be nervous. That’s cool and totally understandable. Anyone who cares, is going to be a bit nervous. But it doesn’t mean overcompensate, go over the top with dominance and showmanship.

Trump handshake

In general, don’t be an asshole.

4. Be Humble and Confident.

This is a step up from #3. Confidence and courage come from being calm.

If you don’t feel confident, then fake it till you make it. You’ll find, faster than you can imagine, your confidence gets very real.

5. Loudly, Slowly, Smile

I bet I have written this phrase on the site before. If I wrote “loudly, slowly, smile” before, I also probably told the story.

In South Korea, waaay back in 1996, when a sweet teen-aged student told the new, nervous TESL teacher (me), how some days I was a better teacher on some days than other days. The “good days, you are loudly, slowly. And smile.”

Proof having a calm, happy confidence works.
Speak loudly, speak slowly and with a sincere smile.

6. Speak With Your Body

Most communication is non-verbal. You probably hear that as much as “make a good first impression.”

And what about when traveling or living abroad? Wow, when abroad, the non-verbal communication takes over! Especially when we don’t understand the host language (–and they don’t understand yours).

This brings up two important points. First, be mindful of your normal non-verbal communication (stance, facial expression, arm/hands waving). Basically, what you appear to say if you were in a silent picture. Second, be mindful of how you use your hands or sounds to get your idea across (gestures, pointing). This is super useful for communicating your question or idea, but be aware some gesture innocent to you, turns out to be offensive to someone else.

When there’s a language barrier, non-verbal communication can become the only language. Use it well!

7. Never Stop Improving on that First Impression

Hey, the bottom line is, it is loads of fun living abroad, communicating and understanding others. It’s a journey of a 1000 steps.

Sure, it starts with the best first impression. But everyone you meet recognizes you’re new to their home and their ways. You’ll be given lots of latitude in improving on that first impression.

 

 

True Patriots Can Protest their National Anthem

Not sure if I’m addicted to the news, but I’ll admit, Trump entertains me. Like every day it seems. It’s uncanny how often I ask “What could top this?
And then Trump does something worse. And again…and again…

Here’s just a few sports-related highlights over the past 48 hours:

Petulant Child-in-Chief

Just this morning, President Cheeto tweets his feelings got hurt when a NBA player wouldn’t be honoured to visit the White House.

Dictator-in-Chief

Just yesterday Trump actually got his latest rally crowd into a fervor, chanting “USA!! USA!! USA!!” He asked the crowd “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when someone disrespects our flag, get that son-of-a-bitch off the field! He’s fired!

Within seconds, the crowd is revved up, chanting, like the pissed off sheep that they are.

And what caused Trump’s panty-twist? Colin Kaepernick, a former SF 49er’s player took a knee last year during the national anthem, to protest how, even in 2017, the US still has a massive problem with racial injustice. Trump couldn’t disagree more.

Racist-in-Chief

If you’re confused that President Cheeto would get angry by a minority athlete raising awareness, it makes more sense when you remember Trump also defended the nazis parading in Charlottesville. Yeah, remember way back (just a few weeks), when Trump defended their group as having “some very fine people“?

 

Endless Entertainment

I can see how Trump supporters must view the media as constantly attacking him. I understand it. He supplies endless fodder for them. Maybe I am addicted to watching this train wreck.

Thankfully, I’m not on the railroad tracks, per se. We live in Canada. That said, we’re well affected by Cheeto’s escapades. But maybe I’ll dive into that in another post.

Cheers, -Jeff

 

 

 

 

Flowfold Wallets – Flexible Strength from Maine, USA

This is a review of a few wallets from a cool startup in Maine. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised as I was.

First, I got two quick disclaimers:

  1. I was sent these sample wallets, for my honest review.
  2. I’ve been travelling a lot to Maine lately.

Wait, what? Those 2 things aren’t related. But #2 has me writing this from the heart. When the mailman delivered a couple wallets and I saw they’re from Peaks Island, Maine, located just outside Portland, I was stoked. More on Maine later – for now, check out these four wallets.

 Four Wallets, Four Styles

I got four wallets from Flowfold. All of them give an early impression of lightweight strength.

The Minimalist: card sleeve for the bare essentials

The Traveler: standard tri-fold wallet, but super light. Thin but tough.

The Navigator: for your passport, 2 nation’s bills & a several cards. Keeping it light.

The Vanguard: standard bi-fold, my favourite for simple style and feel.

My 2 Cents on Each

You got some pictures and some thoughts. But nothing beats having your hands on these. So, let me give you some of my thoughts, based on hands-on experience.

When the brand manager offered to send a few wallets, I was open to the idea. When I saw their styles online, I was interested. And, when I got them in hand, then I was convinced. These wallets are, in few words, thin, tough, and very lightweight. But their mass doesn’t suggest weakness.

On the Minimalist, this wallet is for the quick grab-and-go, with the bare essentials. It is obviously for when you’re needing to keep on your just the minimum. Now, their website specifies “6-8 credit cards and a few bills.” Personally, I found 6 cards and one folded bill are the max I’d want to force in. And a good thing that it will still snugly hold in just 2-4 cards, without worry.

On the Traveler, this was a pleasant surprise. It held as much as a tri-fold can, but still felt only like a bi-fold in the back pocket. You know, when I was a young buck, I loved tri-fold wallets, how they held so much, -I was somebody special with a huge wallet! But now, as a much older guy, I don’t want to feel like I’m sitting on a small book. No worries- the Traveler delivers exceptionally there – it holds plenty, but the wallet itself hardly takes any space. Pictured above is the “black pearl” style.

On the Vanguard, this thing is thin – it’s almost like a minimalist in the hand. But it’s a bi-fold. I end up switching personal wallets and using this one for good.  Pictured above is the wallet in Heather Grey, which is my favourite style of all sampled.

On the Navigator, Now we’re talking to people with a passport to carry. You can just barely see my passport included in the above picture. The Navigator sleeves the passport on the right, while cards, bills are on the left. Note, there are two areas for bills, if you wish to different currencies separate. Overall, and I sound like a broken record, the wallet is deceivingly lightweight, but it has obvious strength. Definitely the biggest of all, tipping the scale at a whopping 31 grams or 1 ounce. Ha! – the sugar I put in coffee weighs more than this wallet.

Overall – for all these wallets, I keep on about how light they are. Naturally, after you put in all the cards, etc, your wallet will have some weight to it. But it is nice the wallet itself adds almost nothing. Most people choosing a heavy leather wallet only mean to double how much mass in in their back pocket all day.  When I’m driving, walking or riding a bike, I much prefer feeling only the necessities.

Me & Maine

Like I say above, I’ve been travelling to Maine a lot lately. For the first time in several years, I am over the 330+ day “outside the US” rule. Meaning, I spent more than 30 days within a 12-month period within the US – ruining tax exempt status. But I digress… back to why these wallets are cool.
In a few words, life and the people of Maine are sweet, simple and easy going. In fact, when you drive into Maine, the road sign says it best: “The Way Life Should Be.”

the way life should be

From their literature and site, you learn that Flowfold is based in Peaks Island, Maine. Where is Peaks Island, you ask? Peaks Island is a small but popular island reachable by ferry from downtown Portland. Knowing the Flowfold concept originated from Maine, it tells me that these wallets “are the way a wallet should be.” (yeah, a bit cheesy)

 

How Not To Pay Taxes (How to not pay Trump to golf)

Two things Americans don’t like:

  1. Paying taxes.
  2. Watching their President play so much golf.

Well, sadly, as an American you must pay taxes.
Correction: you must report that you have income.

The good news is, as an American, you only need to file. You don’t usually have to pay anything. And for most expats (people living abroad), you very likely won’t pay a dime to the US. But you still must file.

As an American living abroad, you file every year about your income, your bank accounts, any foreign loans (e.g. mortgage) …and your paid taxes. This is the pain in the ass part of living abroad.

For the good news when living abroad, your income is tax exempt. Yes, you read that right. When you file your taxes, you include filing a form 2555, or the “Foreign Earned Income Exclusion” form. It’s not a difficult form, but it’s a very important one. Very important to you, if you don’t like paying taxes.

Why Not Pay Taxes?

Why not pay taxes? Because it goes to Trump’s pocket. Want to know how you don’t pay Trump and his family for his golf trips? Read on.

You probably know this already (unless you only watch Fox News). But Trump plays a lot of golf. And he, all the security people, the whole entourage, guests, etc… pay to be there. Who pays for everyone? Taxpayers do. (That’s you.) Trump is President now, so he’s paid for by the people.

Where does the money go? Who owns each and every golf course and resort? Trump and his family.

Sorry if this is too much hand-holding. It is simple and straight-forward.

How to Stop Paying Trump to Golf?

Move abroad.

Enjoy more in life. Live in a new culture. Eat your favorite “foreign” food. Even learn a new language. Raise your kids in a fairer, smarter school system. All these benefits, if you can just get past the one step, the one mental hurdle – move abroad.

Once abroad, you’ll earn your income as always. And you’ll file and pay taxes there. You’ll also file taxes in the US, but you won’t pay anything.

The home country will make better use of your tax dollars (euros, yen, dinars). And your kids will be much better off for it. Think of how differently your children will see the world, if they experience it first-hand, rather than read only how others see the US in the news.

 

No Climate Pact? Time to Leave

Need a reason to leave the US?

Reason #101: Climate Change

“President” Trump today pulled the US out of the Paris climate accord.

It’s astonishing, even for Trump. Essentially every citizen, business and leader in the world (yes, including the USA) believes saving the planet is a good idea. Not Trump.

Sadly, Trump, the orange man-baby that he is, continues to appeal to his redneck base. The sad little man has become even more isolated, more unstable and more orange since leaving the G-7 summit last week. While in Europe, the real leaders pressed Trump hard for an answer about the US’s commitment to reversing climate change.  Unsurprisingly, Trump didn’t have the courage to give his answer then. He waited until back home. His answer: to join Syria, as the only country who doesn’t believe in the climate accord. There are 195 countries who are committed, with or without the US.

Trump Gives Another Reason to Leave, and Live Anywhere Else

Just about anywhere else you want to go, people shake their heads at Trump. He’s insanely naive, uneducated, allegedly unable to read, cowardly, and deeply dependent on praise. Yet, he continues to embarrass his fellow citizens, while the world continues to laugh at him. And while you continue to live there, people are essentially laughing at you. It’s time to make up your mind to act. Either stand up against him, or find a country that fits you and your family.

Trump Quits Climate Pact
Trump: “Don’t laugh at me!” — Too late.

Don’t Laugh – You Can Leave

I was just reading an article about a woman who is being jailed, for laughing. Crazy? Apparently, not if you laughed at the wrong person.

A lady laughed out loud at the confirmation hearing for Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The lady laughed right after a statement how Sessions “treating all Americans equally under the law is clear and well documented.” She just got sentenced to a year in jail. Read the original source article here.

protesters at jeff sessions confirmation
— No Laughing Allowed —

Oh, but don’t you worry — it couldn’t happen to you…right?

Please, if you tend to spontaneously giggle, you might weigh the added risk and decide to live abroad for a few years.

Bigly

The Fifth Box: The Moving Box. Exercise Your Rights

Here’s a popular quote among gun owners & 2nd Amendment activists:

There are four boxes to be used in the defense of liberty: soap, ballot, jury and ammo. Please use in that order.source

I just discovered this quote not 10 minutes ago. For me, it’s got a magical touch, rattling off four items, related only in being boxes. But the message is powerful. But then I asked where am I? Where is Expat Yourself’s place in that series? Answer: it isn’t.

My answer isn’t in these four boxes, so I’m adding the fifth box: the Moving Box.

time to pack

For me, my answer is choosing not to dig in and defend, but to pack up and push on. Perhaps to others, it’s the ‘easy way’ out, even unpatriotic. But it’s a choice I’ll defend to any who question it. What’s your choice?