Are You Ready to Be an Expat? Ask Yourself These 12 Questions.
Are you ready to be an expat? There are a lot of factors that should go into making such a life-changing decision. Taking an objective look at several important areas is a great way to test your expat readiness.
While there are elements that are unique to each person, certain general characteristics apply to almost everyone who’s able to thrive in the Latin Tropics. Answering true or false to a number of simple questions can provide a window into whether the expat lifestyle is something that you should pursue.
I’m Ready to Be an Expat: True or False
Below is a series of statements that address some of the factors that could impact your decision to move abroad. Read each one, and be truthful about your response. If you can agree to each of these claims, there is a good chance you would thrive in the Latin Tropics.
I Have Visited My Destination City/Country Several Times.
There is no more important step in the process of moving abroad than actually experiencing the country firsthand. By getting a good grasp on what life might be like before taking the plunge, you can avoid ending up with expat regret.
I Have Made a Budget for Living Abroad.
Having a realistic understanding of your own financial situation and what your requirements are to maintain the lifestyle you desire is particularly important as an expat. This should also include a “slush fund” to cover unexpected or increased costs.
I Have a Plan to Earn/Make Money in My New Home.
Unless you’re independently wealthy, you also need a plan for how you’re going to keep income flowing in. This could be from savings, investments, social security or pensions, or some kind of work or employment. Regardless of the source, this is something that should be in place well before you start packing your bags.
I Have a Place to Live.
It may seem obvious, but making certain that you have a place to live – whether rented, owned, or built – is crucial to preparing for your move overseas. A great way to deal with this is to research properties available, visit prospective locations, and meet with local agents who can answer questions about properties, transactions, and the overall potential of areas you’re considering.
I Am Comfortable Living in a Place Where English Is Not the Primary Language.
For those whose experience in foreign living has been exclusively at resorts that cater to North American tourists, discovering that daily life is not conducted in English can be a culture shock and a difficult hurdle to overcome. For some, learning to live life in another language is a welcome challenge. For others, it could be too much to handle.
I Don’t Mind Things Moving at a More Casual Pace.
Life in the Latin Tropics moves a bit more slowly than most North Americans are used to. Mañana, “tomorrow,” may actually mean next week. Next week might mean next month. Accepting that certain things, such as appointments with repair people, deliveries, etc. may not happen in the same time frame as in the U.S., can reduce your stress level and allow you to enjoy living life less frenetically.
My Friends/Family Support My Decision.
While the decision to move abroad is ultimately a personal one, having the knowledge that friends and family support your decision makes for a much easier transition to becoming an expat. Keeping positive lines of communication open can make the entire experience a joyous journey for all involved.
I Do Have a Fall-Back Plan.
Although your intention may be to make your move permanent, life sometimes intervenes. Family emergencies, financial issues, health problems, and similar unexpected occurrences may require a return back to the States. Having a safety net in place – even if it’s never used – can bring much-needed peace of mind during an uncertain time.
The Flip Side
If you answered “true” to the above statements, then congrats! You’re well on your way to making your dream a reality. But before you do, here are a few statements where your agreement could mean that becoming an expat might not be the best choice for you at this time.
I Want to Get Away from a Bad Relationship.
There is probably no worse reason to become an expat than to escape a failed relationship. While giving yourself some space may be a great short-term fix, you will soon discover that the feelings you sought to escape have travelled with you and could make adjusting to your new home very difficult. Try taking a vacation instead.
I Hate the Government and Want to Leave.
Many people threaten to move out of the country if so-and-so gets elected or if such-and-such bill gets passed. It’s understandable. We all get frustrated. But the truth is that there’s no utopia. If government policies and politicians frustrate you in the U.S., they will in your new country as well. While it’s true that Third World governments generally do less to affect your daily life and choices, there’s an incredible amount of bureaucracy and corruption.
I Want Life to Be Just Like It Was Back Home.
Simply put, this is an impossible dream. Life in the Latin Tropics is far different than life in the U.S. From the food, to shopping, to infrastructure, to the weather, you cannot hope to replicate the life you are leaving in the U.S. It will never happen.
My Culture Is Better Than Any Other.
If you are not willing to immerse yourself in a new culture and already have a preconceived notion that your way is superior, living abroad is not for you. People in the Latin Tropics are extremely welcoming to foreigners, but they don’t have a thing for those who arrogantly think their own ways are best.
Answering the Question About Your Expat Readiness
In taking this quiz, you probably have a better idea as to whether you are ready to begin your expat journey. Even if you couldn’t quite answer affirmatively to every statement, you should have a better idea of how to prepare for a life changing adventure that can lead you to your tropical paradise.