When is the right time for you to make a move overseas?
OK, I don’t know you personally, but I know some things about you.
You’ve likely traveled overseas, and you’ve got good reasons for thinking you’d like to relocate beyond your own borders. You’ve likely even already created a short list of places where you think you might want to spend time.
So what are you waiting for?
I figure you should go for it, sooner rather than later.
Why? Because odds are your new life overseas will be great.
Over the past three-and-a-half decades that I’ve been covering this beat, I’ve heard from literally thousands of people who’ve moved to new countries…
People who’ve made the move to better their retirements… but others, too… people of all ages. They used to send me letters (remember those?). Today I get emails… dozens every day…
With only a few exceptions, those who’ve made this kind of a move… be they in their 80s or their 20s or somewhere in between… have done so successfully.
Not that every experience has played out as planned. Au contraire…
That’s not the point.
Well… in fact… maybe it is.
A new life overseas isn’t something you plan so much as something you do. The circumstances of the experience will necessarily and organically evolve (that is, change) in real time.
Each year at this time, I think back over my own new life overseas story.
I grew up in Baltimore, Maryland.
From an early age, I had two driving objectives:
I wanted to be a writer… and I wanted to live in the Old World.
My urge for going was never about escaping. I wasn’t running from but venturing off in search of.
At the age of 22, fresh from university, I was lucky enough to fall in with an outfit that both shared and shaped my emerging worldview. For about a dozen years, according to their direction and in their company, I came and went from my home base in Baltimore often.
When the group decided it wanted to establish a new base in Ireland, I saw my chance to finally make the leap overseas I’d long dreamed about.
The Start Of My Overseas Adventure
To Waterford I ventured. Then, from there, to Paris… then Panama City…
In each place, in series, my family and I have been at home.
When I left Baltimore, now some two decades ago, did I imagine that, some two decades hence, I’d be where I am today?
Maybe I should be embarrassed to admit that it was all an accident. Each decision each day led to more decisions the day after and on and on.
When I loaded my 8-year-old daughter and our eight overweight suitcases onto the flight from Baltimore, Maryland, to Dublin, Ireland, years ago, did I envision that, seven years hence, Lief and I would be loading two children and our trappings onto a one-way flight from Waterford to Paris?
Or that, four years after that, we’d all be shipping ourselves and our household from Paris to Panama?
The truth? I never imagined any of it.
I set off on my international living adventures before I was old enough to know myself well enough to understand either why I felt the urge to go or where I hoped to end up.
I didn’t make a plan for my life overseas. I simply took off overseas.
If I had it all to do over again, I’d employ the same non-strategy.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not arguing against planning. Plans are great. It’s just that I’ve found that plans don’t always lead where you expect. Better not to get too attached to them.
In business, in investing, and in life, I’ve learned to let one step lead organically to the next.
Success, then, can have a lot to do with how efficiently you’re able to filter your options.
Expanding your life to include living and investing overseas components is all about making choices…
Should your second home in the sun be on a white-sand Caribbean beach or the crashing Pacific…
Should your Old World adventure feature a French farmhouse… or one in Italy…
Would you prefer to live among fellow expats or as part of the local community…
Are you up for learning a new language… do you want to be able to travel back to the States regularly to visit family… do you need or want to earn an income to supplement whatever nest egg you have…
How do you like to spend your Friday nights and your Sunday afternoons… what view would you enjoy most from your bedroom window every morning… would you like to be able to watch the sunset each evening…
Do you want to live in the place full-time? In that case, options for establishing legal residency are important.
If your priorities are more profit-focused than lifestyle, your decisions could have more to do with things like trying to time currency exchange rates (I recommend against it)… identifying markets where leverage is a possibility… and taking advantage of business incentives and investor tax breaks.
These are all big questions with big implications and consequences. You want to weigh them and respect them.
At the same time, don’t belabor them. And definitely don’t let yourself be mired down by them.
Ready, fire, aim.
If your first shot lands far from the imagined mark, adjust your sights and fire again.
And who’s to say that the place where you didn’t intend to land isn’t precisely the place where you really ought to be?
Making what can seem like colossal decisions, one after the other, gets easier with practice. The key is identifying and protecting your priorities.
If I had to choose between a plan and a short list of what’s most important to me, I’d go with the list.
The secret to being happy in your new life overseas isn’t sticking to the plan you’ve made for launching a new life overseas. It’s sifting out the choices that conflict with your priorities. Each decision leads to new options, which lead to more decisions…
There’s no right or wrong way to go overseas. There’s the way that suits you.
For me, so far, it’s been Baltimore, Waterford, Paris, Panama City…
Two decades post my departure from Baltimore, here’s what I now understand about myself…
I’m neither running from nor running to.
I’m simply moving around… and making myself at home at key points along the way.
I’m curious about how things work, how people live, and the differences and contrasts place to place.
Now that Lief and I are bona-fide empty-nesters, we’re looking at the world map anew. We’re dividing our time between Panama, where our Live and Invest Overseas operation is based… and Paris, where we just really like to hang out.
And now that our schedule isn’t dictated by our children’s school calendars, we’re indulging every opportunity to venture beyond those two points.
What form should your new life overseas take?
I have no idea, but, again, here’s what I do know from extended experience:
It will be great.
Whatever you imagine your relocation overseas plan to be… wherever you choose to settle… it will all work out just great.
Don’t worry about the global state of affairs. Economies, currencies, politics, terrorists… none of those things matters in the context of your new life overseas.
In fact, I’d say that those who make a move to a new country generally sail through the world’s ups and downs better than most. Living overseas makes you resourceful and builds self-confidence. You’ve been around more, dealt with more, and learned to be flexible.
Once installed overseas, you can more easily buy foreign real estate, trade foreign currencies, and take advantage of local opportunities.
You’ll most likely get a lot of peer pressure, from friends and family, children and parents, bosses and employees, urging you to stay put. I did.
Please don’t let any of that get in your way.
Step up to the decision and make the move.