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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 September 20, 2018

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

How to Stay Calm and Cool When You Are Extremely Stressful

Being in a hurry all the time drains your energy. Your work and routine life make you feel overwhelmed. Getting caught up in things beyond your control stresses you out…

If you’d like to stay calm and cool in stressful situations, put the following 8 steps into practice:

1. Breathe

The next time you’re faced with a stressful situation that makes you want to hurry, stop what you’re doing for one minute and perform the following steps:

  • Take five deep breaths in and out (your belly should come forward with each inhale).
  • Imagine all that stress leaving your body with each exhale.
  • Smile. Fake it if you have to. It’s pretty hard to stay grumpy with a goofy grin on your face.

Feel free to repeat the above steps every few hours at work or home if you need to.

2. Loosen up

After your breathing session, perform a quick body scan to identify any areas that are tight or tense. Clenched jaw? Rounded shoulders? Anything else that isn’t at ease?

Gently touch or massage any of your body parts that are under tension to encourage total relaxation. It might help to imagine you’re in a place that calms you: a beach, hot tub, or nature trail, for example.

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3. Chew slowly

Slow down at the dinner table if you want to learn to be patient and lose weight. Shoveling your food down as fast as you can is a surefire way to eat more than you need to (and find yourself with a bellyache).

Be a mindful eater who pays attention to the taste, texture, and aroma of every dish. Chew slowly while you try to guess all of the ingredients that were used to prepare your dish.

Chewing slowly will also reduce those dreadful late-night cravings that sneak up on you after work.

4. Let go

Cliche as it sounds, it’s very effective.

The thing that seems like the end of the world right now?

It’s not. Promise.

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Stressing and worrying about the situation you’re in won’t do any good because you’re already in it, so just let it go.

Letting go isn’t easy, so here’s a guide to help you:

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

5. Enjoy the journey

Focusing on the end result can quickly become exhausting. Chasing a bold, audacious goal that’s going to require a lot of time and patience? Split it into several mini-goals so you’ll have several causes for celebration.

Stop focusing on the negative thoughts. Giving yourself consistent positive feedback will help you grow patience, stay encouraged, and find more joy in the process of achieving your goals.

6. Look at the big picture

The next time you find your stress level skyrocketing, take a deep breath, and ask yourself:

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Will this matter to me…

  • Next week?
  • Next month?
  • Next year?
  • In 10 years?

Hint: No, it won’t.

I bet most of the stuff that stresses you wouldn’t matter the next week, maybe not even the next day.

Stop agonizing over things you can’t control because you’re only hurting yourself.

7. Stop demanding perfection of yourself

You’re not perfect and that’s okay. Show me a person who claims to be perfect and I’ll show you a dirty liar.

Demanding perfection of yourself (or anybody else) will only stress you out because it just isn’t possible.

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8. Practice patience every day

Below are a few easy ways you can practice patience every day, increasing your ability to remain calm and cool in times of stress:

  • The next time you go to the grocery store, get in the longest line.
  • Instead of going through the drive-thru at your bank, go inside.
  • Take a long walk through a secluded park or trail.

Final thoughts

Staying calm in stressful situations is possible, all you need is some daily practice.

Taking deep breaths and eat mindfully are some simple ways to train your brain to be more patient. But changing the way you think of a situation and staying positive are most important in keeping cool whenever you feel overwhelmed and stressful.

Featured photo credit: Brooke Cagle via unsplash.com

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