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3 Brilliant Things to do Before Moving Overseas

3 Brilliant Things to do Before Moving Overseas

Though I’ve had much fun and adventure learning the ins and outs of living overseas, there are a few things I wish someone would have told me a year or two before I left the sunny shores of America.  I’m going to share the three that can easily change your move from “Holy crap, what am I going to do?!” into “Whew, I’m glad I read that one blog post because my life over here rocks!”

In January of 2012, my life could only be described as absolutely awesome. I had just received a new promotion at work, bringing my income dangerously close to six figures.  For the first time in my life, I was driving a new car.  My relationship with my girlfriend was stable, fulfilling, and very rewarding—there was even talk of marriage.  One year earlier I had purchased my first home, and in December of 2011 I purchased my first investment property.

For some strange reason, this struck me as the perfect time to sell everything and move overseas. Among the many lessons I’ve learned living in the Mediterranean, here are three that no -one told me about until after I arrived.

Create an income source BEFORE you leave your home country

The concept I see a lot of people carry when they move overseas is that they will find work in the local community, or possibly be an English teacher to locals.  If you run a Google search for American Jobs Overseas, you will be bombarded with advertisements for ESL teaching certifications, as though the entire world is hungry for Americans to come over to their country and teach all the locals English.  In fact, you might think that when you arrive, they will immediately pick you up, carry you through the streets with a hero’s welcome, take you to your lovely new apartment and school, where the local children will sit at your feet in rapt attention, aching to hear your accent and learn your language.

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Doesn’t happen. I know because I tried it. Shortly after arriving in Turkey, I became certified to teach English and got a job. The pay was average, the classrooms were overcrowded, and the students weren’t really that interested. It was very much like teaching a subject back in America, except for the most part my students had no idea what I was asking them to do.  On top of that, the office politics associated with education were very prevalent, and after consulting with many ESL teachers from across the globe, I found that the situation is pretty much the same everywhere.

So, if you don’t enjoy teaching as a profession in your current country, you’re probably not going to fall in love with being a teacher in a foreign country, but if you love teaching in America, you will probably love teaching somewhere else.  Understand that no matter where you are, it’s going to be a very similar situation.

After a failed term as a teacher, I started following my true professional calling: writing and coaching.  With a lot of heartache, fear, sweat, and crying, I’ve managed to replace and outpace my teaching income.

Don’t make the same mistake I did; go overseas with an income source already established.  A blog is a great way to start if you enjoy writing and have a particular subject you are wildly passionate about.  There are many companies which hire full time work-from-home employees and with a little creativity, you can earn a decent income while living in an area with a very low cost of living.  Lastly, if you have a particular service to offer, such as accounting or web design, agencies like Odesk and Elance are a great way to build clients and earn income.  Having this very important step taken care of before moving overseas will save you months of frustration and fear.

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Plug in to the local community of expats.

This may seem like an obvious statement to some, but for me, I had no idea how or why I would reach out to fellow Americans living in Antalya, Turkey.  Having a fiancee from the area, I assumed she would be all I needed.  I was very wrong.  Many of the headaches around Resident’s permits, having packages delivered from America, and getting help with job-hunting requirements, were beyond the scope of my fiancee’s experience.  Having lived in Antalya most of her life, she took some things for granted—like the right to stay in Antalya and having the requirements to get a job.

Let me ask you a question (no Googling): what are the current legal ways an immigrant can stay in America, and how would you go about getting one for an immigrant friend?  It might be more difficult than you think, and in some countries the bureaucracy is mind-boggling.

Having contacts from your own country who have already gone through the hoops you’re about to jump through can be a lifesaver.  Internations.org and Lonelyplanet.com are great places to get started, though I’ve had better luck in the blogging community.   If you Google “(country) + blog” you will find a wealth of bloggers currently living in the country you intend to emigrate to.  Leave a few comments and reach out to the blogger, and you will find someone more than happy to help you with your move.

We bloggers are helpful people, after all.

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Get a major credit card

All of the Dave Ramsey fans reading this are undoubtedly shaking their heads furiously at my horrible advice.  Credit cards are bad, right?  Bad debt is what caused our financial crisis and to advise people to get more credit cards is a terrible idea, don’t you think?

The truth is, if you go overseas with only your bank debit card or the idea that you will have money wired to you, you are in for some serious trouble.  Most banks have transfer fees and many banks overseas will only allow a foreigner to open an account if he/she deposits a large some of money; say $5000+.  On top of that, signing up for a bank account without really understanding the business culture can put you in a very sticky legal situation down the road.  Best to avoid getting a local account until you are fully convinced you will be in the country a few years.

How do credit cards factor in to this equation? For starters, many credit card companies will waive any overseas transaction or conversion fees. Case in point, if I use my U.S. Bank debit card here in Turkey, I’m charged a 5% overseas transaction fee. On my Capital One Master Card, there is no transaction fee. Over the past year, that has saved me well over $1000 in fees alone. On top of that, there’s a decent fee to transfer money via Western Union, or to perform an international wire transfer between an American bank and a local one overseas. My credit card allows me to withdraw local currency from almost any local ATM for a measly 3%, so on the occasions I do need to carry local cash, it’s an easy, affordable stop to the nearest ATM of any bank.

The last reason I recommend a credit card is because it can help you manage your budget. I have a $1200 limit on my card and refuse to raise it higher. If I begin spending more than $1200 a month here, I’m doing something wrong. By keeping my spending all on one card, it’s easy for me to manage my budget monthly without being able to go over. And, since I religiously pay off the balance every month, I get all the bonus miles without any interest charges. It works for me; maybe it could work for you.

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Those are the three things I wish people would have told me before moving overseas.  I hope they will save you from some headaches in the future.  If you are planning on moving overseas, please feel free to contact me and I will give you whatever help and advice I am able.

I do have a question for you: what advice would you give someone moving overseas for the first time?

 

 

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Last Updated on January 21, 2020

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

    Why You Need a Vision

    Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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    How to Create Your Life Vision

    Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

    What Do You Want?

    The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

    It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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    Some tips to guide you:

    • Remember to ask why you want certain things
    • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
    • Give yourself permission to dream.
    • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
    • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

    Some questions to start your exploration:

    • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
    • What would you like to have more of in your life?
    • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
    • What are your secret passions and dreams?
    • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
    • What do you want your relationships to be like?
    • What qualities would you like to develop?
    • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
    • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
    • What would you most like to accomplish?
    • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

    It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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    What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

    Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

    A few prompts to get you started:

    • What will you have accomplished already?
    • How will you feel about yourself?
    • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
    • What does your ideal day look like?
    • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
    • What would you be doing?
    • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
    • How are you dressed?
    • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
    • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
    • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

    It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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    Plan Backwards

    It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

    • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
    • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
    • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
    • What important actions would you have had to take?
    • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
    • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
    • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
    • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
    • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

    Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

    It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

    Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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