There’s plenty of advice out there that helps you prepare for your big move abroad and make the transition as smooth as possible. This is not one of those posts.
On the contrary: we’ll tell you how to mess up the start of your new life abroad as spectacularly as possible. Just follow these seven tips and you will probably spend the following year sorting out the chaos. But don’t worry: in about a decade, you will look back on it and it’ll all seem funny.
1) Don’t move towards to something new — run away from your old life instead.
Your girlfriend of nine years is leaving you for your best mate? Your boss has passed you over once again when it came to the annual promotions and pay rises? Or, far worse, there has been a death in your family and you are feeling literally numb with grief?
Clearly, the decision to move abroad will miraculously heal heart-break, job-related frustration, and even the loss of a loved one. Who needs a coping strategy to recover slowly from a personal crisis? On the other side of the globe, everything is bliss, and nothing hurts.
2) Research is overrated.
Who even has the time to dedicate hours upon hours to gathering information? Reading up on such legal details as visa options, on professional qualifications, or the local housing market in your destination of choice is tedium at its worst. Hunching before a computer screen hampers your spontaneity.
Things like being turned away at the airport because you don’t have the correct visa or being stuck in shabby hostel dorms for months rarely ever happen. At the very least, they won’t happen to you. You will step off the plane and stumble upon the perfect job, plus the house of your dreams.
3) Budget-planning is for tightwads.
Drawing up a checklist of necessary expenses for the first few months, doing your homework regarding the cost of living abroad, and figuring out how much of a financial cushion you need — these tasks all remind you of that elderly uncle who has a certain reputation as a penny-pincher.
You know the type: always grumbles about how much everything costs “these days”, has a dozen of Excel spreadsheets for his household expenses, and never invites you for a single cup of coffee. That’s not who you want to be when you embark on your adventure.
Moreover, you deserve to treat yourself and splurge on that fancy restaurant in your adopted city. And on fun souvenirs for your friends back home. And on a flatscreen TV plus sound system for your new apartment. And so on…
4) Packing wisely is as boring as budget-planning.
You’d rather spend the last few weeks before your departure throwing one farewell party after the other and surfing the net for photogenic pictures of your destination? Go for it! Sorting through your belongings is hard work, and you want to start the fun as early as possible instead of dealing with the harsh realities of the moving process.
You can just have your entire household shipped overseas without worrying about the bill, or simply buy everything you need upon arrival. Surely, you’ll find a good use for your high-school yearbooks in Buenos Aires and it’ll be easy to purchase a size 18 pantsuit in Tokyo.
5) Skimping on healthcare saves a lot of time and money.
From what you have heard about your destination (remember: research is for nerds), it has some sort of national healthcare system. Fantastic! There’s no need to check out international insurance plans, which cost a pretty penny, or find reliable information on the quality of healthcare and the coverage extended to foreign residents.
Also, you’re young and as healthy as a horse, or pretty fit for someone on the wrong side of forty. Why should you fret about worst-case scenarios that will never ever come to pass?
Like finding out that the national insurance plan doesn’t cover the cost of your complicated root canal. Or learning the hard way why public emergency services in China are infamous for unreliability. Or trying to explain your gynecological complaints in mime to a doctor who doesn’t speak your language.
None of this could possibly happen to you.
6) Treat your stay abroad like a never-ending vacation.
You have come a long way to enjoy yourself, not to return to the daily grind. Getting yourself trapped in something as mundane as a personal routine is the last thing you could want, even after the first few weeks.
Instead, there are so many sights to see and so many other expats to meet! Learning the local language would be an additional bother that keeps you from exploring. If somebody doesn’t understand you, just talk in very loud English, and your communication problems will be solved instantaneously.
Maybe you are among those lucky ones who didn’t relocate for the sake of their career. You might be a retiree, a traveling spouse, or a backpacker who does the odd part-time job.
In short: you have all the time in the world. Time to find yourself. Funnily enough, finding yourself mostly means finding yourself in your pajamas at 2 pm.
7) Back-up plans are for wimps.
You’re an adventurous person, always ready to tackle every challenge that life throws your way. You are most definitely not one of those worrywarts who would do something as silly as establish an emergency fund large enough to get them home safely or keep copies of their most important paperwork. Just in case.
No, you are confident, and your plans are foolproof. You will never be affected by redundancy, serious illness, family emergencies, ill-advised investments, or anything else that might lead to your being stranded at some random airport, longing desperately to go home.
(Image credit: iStockphoto)