Is the Expat Lifestyle For You? It’s one of those burning questions that every open minded explorer, and most Millenials will ask themselves at some point in their wanderings. I know because I am one.
Here are a few facts we have accumulated from our own experience and interactions with other expats.
Is the Expat Lifestyle For You?
Of course, this is entirely based on perception. And, if my perceptions count for anything, then you may find them helpful.
As of the writing of this article, I have been living abroad for 6 years. There has been culture shock. I have even questioned whether I was completely insane to persist in my desire to live so far away. But, when the chips are down and it’s time to show my hand – I couldn’t imagine living back home.
It all started back in 2011. My job sucked. My life was mediocre. And, I still hadn’t gone anywhere farther than the US and Calgary, Canada. The biggest problem I had was finding the financial resources to travel the world, meet new people and visit exotic lands. Then, I found out about people who traveled abroad doing something they had been doing since their infancy – speaking English.
More specifically, Teaching English. And, that was my ticket to adventure. After a mind opening experience, I decided to sell everything I owned, get a teaching certificate, and buy a ticket to Brazil. My onward ticket was to Santiago, Chile but after a few snags I returned to the US a bit beaten and still unsure. The lesson I learned: It won’t always happen your first time.
After trying to “fix my life” in the US, I couldn’t resist the idea of going abroad again. I worked hard as a substitute teacher, lived at home and saved my pennies. In 2012, I moved to Colombia and I have lived here ever since.
The previous story brings me to my main point. Is the Expat Lifestyle For You?
Feeling Like Misfit in Life
You went to school, or didn’t. You have worked every job imaginable. And yet you still can’t seem to find your bearings in life.
Is the Expat Lifestyle For You?
At this point you have two options.
Pick a career, business model or field of study and do it.
Go abroad and see if your skills, ideas or abilities are worth more somewhere else.
It might even be a matter of finding yourself in a destination where your appearance, approach to life or ideas are exotic enough that you find something special.
You Love to Volunteer
Maybe you have the heart of Mother Theresa, a passive income and you want to make a difference in the world. In this case, you might want to join one of the thousands of volunteer programs which are available around the world.
You can help renovate a home for veterans in Colombia. Build houses for the needy in Brazil. Or, you can help pick up trash in poor areas while helping to educate the local populations how to reduce, reuse and recycle. Click here for Volunteer Projects in the Coffee Axis >>
If volunteering in your own country isn’t enough – go international.
You are Married to a Foreigner
Dating across cultures isn’t for everyone. But if it is, go live in your spouse’s home country. It will definitely help you learn to connect to their culture and language on a deeper level.
Did you know that at least 80-90% of the expats I encounter in Colombia, came here because they are married to, or dating, a Colombian? It’s true, and it helps to give you the perfect transition into the local culture.
Relationships aren’t easy, and that probably isn’t going to change anytime soon. On the other hand, trying a life abroad might be the thing that helps to solidify yours.
You Don’t Have Much Freedom
Freedom isn’t free. In fact, it is getting harder and harder to find in the first world. Even in Colombia, as they increase the “norms” and continue to develop, many freedoms will be sacrificed in the name of “security” and the “general good.”
Personally, one of the reasons I love Colombia is because you won’t find things as perfect and organized as your home country. There is less oversight and legal requirements for starting businesses, especially if you need to do it off the books for a while as you test drive your idea. Essentially there’s more freedom to experiment with entrepreneurship and then file your paperwork later.
Places like the USA have created so many laws, statutes and requirements, that the orange economy, or writers, musicians and artists, struggle to find spaces to share and practice their art. Try your hand at the orange economy, or the free economy for artists, writers and musicians, in a place which will allow you to develop without as many of the rules, regulations and tax collectors breathing down your neck.
You Earn Your Income as a Digital Nomad
This is probably one of the second most common reasons people move abroad besides marriage to a foreigner. The spice of life is not being chained to an office or job where you have to go to a building every week for 8 hours a day. In fact, it actually helps to pay the costs of travel.
If you don’t have a digital income, one of the easiest ways to start is through Teaching English Online. I created my digital income via blogging, web design and influencer work – but that can take time.
Keep in mind, you have to have a good connection and a quiet place. Otherwise, the sky is the limit!
More than six years later, I earn my income in a variety of ways, but nothing too definite. My income is digitally based and the only thing that really keeps me in one place is family. I like what I do, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Be sure to comment below about what you think motivates a life abroad, or even share your expat story!
If you have considered going abroad to Colombia, but you feel like you need a bit of a hand up, be sure to contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org to learn about our Expat Lifestyle Consulting services! Let us be your eyes and boots on the ground to help you plan your arrival, visa requirements and even get oriented with translation services, local places and culture.