8 Reasons Now Is the Best Time to Be an Expat Escape Artist
If you’ve been thinking about leaving home to live abroad as an expatriate, now is a great time to make your move. While you want to have a few ducks in a row, you can’t wait until the moon and the stars align in some cosmically perfect configuration. Sometimes you have to look at the overall global conditions for emigration and if they’re good enough, just jump. Here’s our list of eight reasons why being an expat escape artist rocks and why that’s true today in particular.
You Will Gain Valuable Language Skills
While there are a few countries outside of the U.S. and the U.K. where English is the official language, most countries speak something else. Even if you don’t take formal language lessons, you will learn the native language where you live because it will make escape artist living so much easier. Unless you want to take your chances with cryptic menu items when you dine out or drink household cleaner thinking it’s fruit juice, you will learn at least some rudimentary vocabulary.
If you hang out with locals, you’ll learn a whole lot more. Immersion is the easiest and most natural way to learn a language, so living abroad puts you head and shoulders above learning a language in school only. That competency or even fluency will be a huge advantage at work, socializing, or just watching foreign films.
Don’t worry about being fluent in any language before departing. Do what you can to learn the basics, and know that you’ll pick up more as you go.
You Can Advance Your Career
In addition to language skills, being culturally adept can land you job promotions or freelance work you never dreamed of before. Even if you return to the U.S., you’ll have the knowledge you gained living overseas to apply to any number of fields. Some common areas where language and foreign etiquette come in particularly handy include
- logistics, transportation, and shipping
- food and wine
- health and medicine
- fine and performing arts
- writing and publishing
Many U.S.-based companies are currently adding more jobs abroad than they are at home. And while you still have to pay the IRS even if you work from a foreign country, the reverse is true as well; they have to pay you any refunds you’re entitled to.
Entrepreneurial Opportunities Abound for the Escape Artist
If you’ve contemplated changing careers or better yet, starting your own business, there are plenty of opportunities overseas. Moving out of the country is a completely legitimate and organic way to reinvent yourself, especially career-wise. This is a perfect time to try something you’ve always wanted to do but couldn’t when you were tied to the working-to-live mentality (versus living to work, which is so much more fun).
No matter what kind of business you intend to run in your new locale, it’s best to have some kind of income source in place before you leave. Living in a foreign country can be challenging enough without having to worry about money too. Some popular ways expats fund their lives abroad include
- sale of property in the U.S.
- investment property purchase in their new location (rental units, B & B, etc.)
- working remotely (practicing law, writing, etc.)
- passive income (investments, book sales, etc.)
- grants and stipends
- funding from an existing business to open a new branch or satellite
Many countries make obtaining a visa easier if you are opening a business there that benefits the local citizens, such as recycling, retail of indigenous arts and crafts, or education. Some require a certain amount of money be available to invest in the business, so be sure to check out the rules wherever you are headed.
You Can Leave Stress Behind
Until you spend a certain amount of time living outside the U.S., you probably won’t realize how aggressive, competitive, and stressful American life has become. Many cultures, especially those of Latin America, take a much more relaxed approach to life. While they may drive with the speed of nuclear missiles, everything else moves a lot slower. Food and conversation are savored, and there is less time spent in front of the television.
The downside of this is that it’s generally harder to get things done. Lines at government offices can snake for blocks, and seemingly simple things like paying bills or getting your tires rotated can take the better part of a day. The plumber who says he’ll be there at 10 may come at noon – or he might not show up until two days later. Waiting for cable or Internet service can seem interminable.
This is all part of the balance of being an escape artist. Relax, take a deep breath, and trust that everything will get done eventually. And take comfort in the fact that a lot of stressful stuff from the States, like maintaining your lawn or cleaning your house, can be eliminated or done cheaply by paid help in your new country.
Your Resourcefulness Will Increase Exponentially
There will be times when you have challenges that seem overwhelming. This is actually a good thing, because it will push your resourcefulness in new directions. Once you have made it through to the other side, you will have a new level of self-confidence and know you can get through anything. Whether it’s dealing with roadside breakdowns, water shortages, banking failures, or medical emergencies, you will figure it out – because you have to.
You Will Learn to Love Your Own Company
Unless you live alone on your own island and never leave, you’ll make friends and acquaintances in your new overseas home. But until that happens, you may be on your own for a while. Even once you meet people you want to hang out with, you’ll still have times when your own company is all you’ve got.
Being comfortable with solitude is definitely a helpful trait if you want to be an expat, and if you don’t start off knowing how to be okay with being alone, you will probably end up there. For women especially, this can be disconcerting.
Of course you need to be safe going out alone, but dining or attending events solo can give you new self-assuredness, and you may make some friends in the process. Some seasoned expats suggest getting used to being alone first at home before trying it abroad.
You Will Feel Rejuvenated
There’s nothing like moving to a new place to feel both physically and psychologically rejuvenated. You’ll be in new surroundings (often with better weather), and you’ll have the opportunity to take up an alternative career to start different hobbies. If you’re single, there’s a whole new dating pool to sample too.
Because diets in most parts of the world are healthier than in the U.S., and in many countries you’ll be walking or bike riding more, it’s easier to get the diet and exercise you need. Plus, giving up the stress that comes with living in the U.S. can make anyone look and feel younger.
You Will Never Be Bored or Boring
There’s one thing for sure about living overseas as an expat escape artist: it’s never boring. Between the natural beauty of a new location, a different culture to appreciate, and a widening circle of friends and colleagues, your mind will be kept occupied all day, every day. You’ll never be boring either. Once you’ve lived abroad you’ll have enough cocktail party chatter and writing material for the rest of your life.
Like most people who take up the expat lifestyle, you may like it so much, you’ll never go home again. If the expat way of living even remotely intrigues you, be sure to check out our article links here, then head to our home page to start learning more about where you might like to escape to – in a year or maybe even a month or a week, your whole life could change in amazing ways.