I wrote to 18 people whom I consider expert expats.
Some make a living by travelling, others traveled to go make a living.
I asked them all 1 question: What is your advice to an expat?
Some make a living by travelling, others traveled to go make a living.
I asked them all 1 question: What is your advice to an expat?
Every so often I write a very simple post. Like this one today.
It’s time for you to sail away from the safe harbour. As Mark Twain is often cited, with his full quote overlaid a pretty picture here:
I’ve been promising to write a “how-to” guide for you for ages. The trouble is, an “info-book” is not really helpful, not like real interaction. (In fact, I know someone selling such a book – but it turns out to be just a “how to make money online” guide, in a “travel anywhere” wrapper. Little smarmy in my opinion, but that’s his gig.)
Info-books do not help, as real interaction does.
That’s why consulting works well. However, consulting is pricey ($150/hour) for some folks. Finally, I fixed the price problem!
The solution: general consulting, in e-mails. New material sent every few days. Packaged in a full 1-year program: Step-by-Step Expat Consulting. Very cheap monthly fee (Trying it out – will likely raise down the road)
Yes, you, gone in 1 year, guaranteed or money back. The 12-month program is called “Gone in 1 Year” (heehee!)
Here is a sneak peek at it.
Interested? I’m officially launching in a few days, but sign up is open now.
After dozens of consultation calls, I see the pattern. It’s clear…
Often I give what I call “big picture advice.” That means what people ought to do next, and why. For me, it’s the “why” that’s really important. It’s the reason, from my experience, it’s just why. But, many people don’t want why; they just want to know what to do. Okay, fine.
I’m writing the step-by-step you’re asking for:
Everybody’s unique. That’s why I offer consultation calls. However, not everyone can afford $
120 $150 for the consultation.
I figured out how this can work. It works for each person (even you), but won’t cost even half as much.
Everyone’s situation is a bit different. And yet, the majority of questions are similar.
Still, there are always a few questions that really just need a personal touch. That’s why I’m offering support, after you’ve read the Step-by-Step Guide.
I’m not talking about the plastic card in your wallet, used for faking like you’ve got money. Americans are GREAT with those! No, I’m talking about the little slip of paper or stamp that comes after a little paperwork, a fee and a follow-up visit to your local embassy or airport. And that’s just tourist visas, not a business one. In short, a hassle.
If you think getting a tourist visa is a hassle, you’re not alone. It takes paperwork, spending money ($30-$300) and maybe even a visit to a nearby embassy or consulate. In other words, it’s easier to book a flight around the world, than to arrange permission to walk off the plane. But if you’re American, well, lucky for you! Americans, with their US passports, can visit pretty much every country on the planet, visa-free. Out of nearly 200 countries, Americans can visit 172 of them without a visa. Yes, you can stay up to 90 days in almost every country, without any hassle. Just book your flight and Go.
So you know you want a change – you want to experience life in another country – but before going anywhere it is important to do your research and choose the best country for you. This will of course depend on many different factors: whether you have a family, what type of work you’d potentially be looking for, how long you intend on staying there for and what youíre looking for in the chosen country. Here are the first things that you should consider before making any rushed decisions:
This has been posted on the Internets more times than my phone number on bathroom stall walls across the world. But, like in both cases, why not post again, hoping for more action?
Brainstorming time. What do we need? There are lots of options, but we’ll start with the 3 basics: Land, People, and Government. (do we even need that last one? We’ll see…)
This could be a continent (but I think they’re all spoken for), or a peninsula, or an island. If you’re going ultra-cheap, a raft and anchor works.
You need land for obvious reasons: you need a tree or two for your hammock, a vegetable garden for eats, and depending how likeable you are, you might like a wall. Yup, you need land.
Going with islands, there are plenty for sale. Yes, some cost millions, but some are actually affordable. Here are a few examples:
Nestled in beautiful Ontario, Canada. Cost: $225,000. Sure, at half an acre, it’s small. But it comes with a house, and a 19′ boat. Best of all, the detached cabin can sleep 4 of your closest friends (who happened to drop by). More info here
It’s a fortress & artificial island. Cost: $12,000,000. 17 acres with 200 room estate. Complete with dual Hawk missile defence.
Best of all, it’s located 15 minutes between Copenhagen, Denmark and Malmö, Sweden (2 of my favourite cities). More info here
It’s 3/4 acre large island in a manmade lake. Cost: $30,000. (WOW!) No house, but construction possible. Complete with cellphone coverage from mainland Panama.
Best of all, it’s … $30,000. More info here
If you want to try “shopping” for your own island, try HERE (islands for under $250,000)
But is that enough? If you’d like company, convince your spouse or buddy to share the “founding father” duty.
Before you know it, you’re building up your new country’s credibility with cool stats like Birth Rate and Immigration!
The law of the land. Maybe this isn’t a positive thought… maybe your old government made you want to get out and start a new country. But whatever the case, having some ground rules is necessary. At least, that’s what the United Nations says is needed before you apply for sovereign nation status.
The easiest way is to assume you’re a libertarian (small government & personal liberties are a good thing). You’ll want to rule very simply and leave everything to its inhabitants. But wait, both the Gov and the inhabitants are one ….you. Cool! Done.
You got land, people and government taken care of. What else is there? Oh, you want to invade someone? And someone to loan you money for it? Well, let’s keep going…
Side note facts: About 15 countries, or 7% of the world’s nations have no military.
Another 6 or so have no standing army, but some sort of national police/defence presence.
A prime example of a country that feels no need is Costa Rica. If they can swing it, why can’t you?
Your new country might have natural resources, like wood, fresh water or coconuts. You laugh, but there are a lot of countries out there that don’t have coconuts. If they want to buy yours. How do you handle that? That’s your industry.
And you can earn money from your own personal skills. Maybe you’re a great writer, singer, cabinet maker, coconut husker, or whatever.
Given your valuable skill or natural resource, you just need to find a market for it and make payment simple — those are the 3 essential steps to a startup, according to Chris Guillebeau in his recent book “The $100 Startup.”
When you start declaring your currency as “legal tender, because we say so!” …well, you’re no better than the guys you left. (see fiat money)
You know, all this talk about making your own country…. it’s not really necessary. You can bet there’s already a country out there that’s just like you would do it. It may be easier to just move there!
Go on out there… try them out!
If you think I’m missing a key ingredient (or have too many), let me know. If you have a buddy you’d like to come with, send this their way.
I can write all day, but the fact is, nothing matters, unless you take action. Here’s a post to help just that.
Here are 9 things you can do, today. Each thing puts you closer to moving abroad.
“I’ve wanted to move abroad for so long.” or “Ever since I vacationed in X, I dreamed of moving there.” Sound familiar?
I purposefully made this first action the toughest action. In crude English, it is time to “shit or get off the pot.” Decide yes or no. Decide to stay or go.
Benefits depend on where you move, but usually include:
Costs largely depend on where you are today in life, but usually include:
There are also the “soft costs,” like leaving your (stable?) job, having to say goodbye, having to clean house. Then again, many would call these things benefits, not costs.
What are the Biggest Benefits? Feeling a unfamiliar freedom, openness, experiencing new culture/food/people/space. Kids get enormous benefit, too, way beyond what adults are capable of. With just a small experience abroad, children benefit for the rest of their long lives. How about you career professionals? Professionals will see substantial value added to their CV or résumé.
Why this is important: Henry Ford said “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.”
** It’s important to take regret into consideration. Looking beyond today’s costs & benefits … how about in 10 years? Will you regret your decision?
Forgive me readers, I have sinned. I abandoned my blog. Well, “abandon” is a strong word, but yeah, for many months, I haven’t posted. Sure, thought about and wrote several drafts, but hadn’t hit publish, so I abandoned it. I’m sorry and I’m back.
Why did I avoid writing for so long? Maybe I’m just too content here. After almost 2 years here, I feel completely at home here in Nova Scotia, Canada.
And after 2 years, finally I realize, being so happy is no reason to keep quiet on this blog. In fact, my being content here serves as more proof for others to seek their own new HOME, wherever that may be.
Another reason I posted so little in 2011 was the year made for a tough transition. I struggled going from corporate worker to stay-at-home dad. I struggled moving from gorgeous Prague to urban-hell Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. And I struggled even more with personal matters from the past. Thankfully, I have the world’s most supportive wife who I can also call my best friend. She and she alone is the reason I am happily living in Canada today.
And thankfully, we left urban-hell Dartmouth and bought a house in a quaint fishing village. Our new surroundings: Eastern Passage, Nova Scotia, Canada. Now, as we walk off our driveway, we can glance down the street at the water, the Atlantic ocean – a dream come true. Possible here in “the passage.”
So content I am, in fact, that I felt somewhat scummy to write how others could seek happiness elsewhere. I mean, how can I relate to others’ motivation to move, if I’m more than happy to stay? Sadly, it took several more months to realize, it’s perfectly healthy to find happiness somewhere. I just happen to had found it in Eastern Passage, NS.
And I still believe it can describe anyone. And like the time without publishing here taught me, only thinking about something doesn’t make it happen. Results require action and so here I am, starting over at Expat Yourself.
Happily finding peace in Canada — happily helping you find yours wherever you like.
In case you missed it, this is Part 2 of a series of why people are leaving (as they run the f*** away from) the US. Part I is here.
When I say “adventure” you might picture backpackers. Or maybe the young, single crowd, no-responsibilities type. No. At least, that’s not how I label me and my wife.
How about sleepwalkers? That’s how I label us. I and my wife are classic sleepwalkers through life. Or at least we’re prone to be if we’re not careful about it. And I believe if you’re reading this blog, you might be too.
Like I just said above, we are. We all are. Is it human nature? We get more settled, more stuff, more routine. Cruise control sets in and we sleepwalk through life.
A few weeks ago, a new friend, Vernon wrote in to me. He asked about our reasons for travel. I mentioned we once lived in Korea (mid 90’s) but then moved to the States. He asked “Why did you leave the States after having spent time in Korea?” I’m guessing Vernon half-expected we left because we were frustrated with the US.
Nope, not frustrated, except with ourselves. We longed for adventure. My then girlfriend and I came from Korea and decided to live together and find work in beautiful New Hampshire. After a few years, we got married. Then we got a house. Then we had a baby. Slowly, over about 10 years, we went from Korea to absolutely rooted. We were lulled to sweet slumber.
Are you bored or sleepwalking? There’s a difference.
Bored is when you’re lacking stimulation. You need a hobby or passion. Note: careful not to confuse boredom with procrastination. That’s self-inflicted resistance against what’s important and is only posing as boredom. (When I blow 2 hours on Digg, I realize I’m procrastinating)
Sleepwalking is when you’re lacking uncertainty or adventure. You need to take a step (or tw0) out of your comfort zone.
Sleepwalkers aren’t just in their comfort zone, they’re spinning around in there like a toy top.
When life seems like it’s moving “fast enough for us,” — then you might be sleepwalking.
When you feel busy, yet your to-do list is all urgent but not important — then you might be sleepwalking.
If in 5 years you won’t remember what you did today, last week or last year — you’re probably sleepwalking.
Trust me – the months/years will drop away like you wouldn’t believe. Do something that spooks you awake.
If only bored, fine, seek out a hobby. Or tackle your to-do list with fervour. See “Swallow the frog”
If you suspect you’re sleepwalking, ask yourself these 3 questions:
1. Is my life “comfortable” but not giving me comfort or peace of mind?
2. Do I find that the days (weeks, months) seem to be the same?
3. Do you have a vision of how life will be better in 5 years from now?
Like I said above, we had it all: the house, the careers, a solid network of great friends, and the infant (and even a cat). We were so “set” we felt we were almost sleepwalking. That thought made us miserable (okay, maybe that’s dramatic, but you get the idea).
How did we fix it? We spun the globe, picked 3 cities. Three cities we hadn’t seen before but were curious about: Auckland, Barcelona and Prague. I sent out CVs to recruiters in each. We sold the house, quit our jobs and put all our crap in storage.
In 3 months, we were living in Prague.
Would we do it again? We did. Fast forward 4 years. We find ourselves owning another house (our flat in downtown Prague) and we popped another child. (What can we say? Our house-warming parties are super fertile!)
Then, come summer 2010 – we’re here in Nova Scotia, Canada.
Adventure is the primary reason my wife and I had left the U.S. for Prague in 2006, and we are NOT your stereotypical backpackers. In short, adventure drives people of all ages, all kinds, and all sizes, to make what seems to others some rash decisions. And when you’re sick of the status quo, you do whatever needs to be done.
That’s how we wake ourselves when sleeping, right? Then “pinch yourself” awake from sleepwalking by stepping well outside your comfort zone. Take a Leap of Faith and Scare Yourself Silly.
Some Ideas How to Pinch Yourself Awake:
Hope this has been helpful. If you have any comments or thoughts for me – leave a comment below. I look forward to hearing from you.