I admit it. If you’re right now looking into making a move to a new country, I’m a little jealous.
Don’t get me wrong. I couldn’t be happier with my own situation. I’m living a life I didn’t even dare to dream about a few years ago.
I know all the delights and adventures you have in front of you if you’re at the starting stages for making the leap yourself. And, again, I have to confess that I’m a little envious of the journey of first-time discovery you have to look forward to.
But there’s another reason I wish I were you right now…
I’m in love with my new life overseas, but there were bumps in the road on the way to my current situation.
For me, for all things in life, the process is part of the fun. Plus, I enjoy research. So, when I decided I wanted to make a move to a new country, I took for granted that I’d do all the planning myself. I didn’t even consider anything other than a do-it-myself approach.
I dove into everything I could find online about international moves. I read blogs, checked out travel forums, and contacted people already living overseas. All that was really helpful and gave me incredible insight. It allowed me to learn tips and tricks I never would have thought of myself.
Yet it didn’t give me the comfort level I needed to actually make my move.
I was reluctant to leave my grown children who were starting out on their own paths. In addition, though, the more I learned, the more I realized how little I knew.
I’ll say now, in retrospect, that one of the smartest things I did was to keep going. I kept reading and researching and inching slowly toward making a move.
I’m cautious by nature, and, when I decided to make my move overseas, I had just come out of an acrimonious divorce. My confidence level was low. Being newly single, I just couldn’t seem to pull the trigger on what I realized was the biggest move of my life. I worried that I didn’t have the finances to make it work. I worried about what I might not be considering. And, of course, I worried over whether I was choosing the right country.
I cringe now at what I didn’t know then and at how much time I wasted worrying. I am so happy that finally I came up with a new strategy:
I registered for a Live and Invest Overseas conference.
That was 2015. I knew that I wasn’t getting any younger, and I knew that several friends, some no older than I at the time, had made great plans for when they retired only never to have the chance to follow through… my sister included. She died from cancer at the age of 47.
So I signed up for the conference and got on a plane. At the event, I talked to every speaker and vendor there.
I’m an introvert. Usually I struggle to start conversations with strangers. At the conference it was different. As most anyone who has gone to one can attest, there is a kinship and excitement among everyone in the room that is palpable from the first morning.
Most people at these events seek out others to dine and socialize with, including after the last event of each day. You find that others are as interested, excited, and confused as you are, struggling, just like you, to filter through all the potential choices in front of you.
That’s the beauty of it all. You are among like-minded people who get you. They don’t think you’re weird or crazy like your relatives and friends. They don’t nod their heads to placate you. They actually understand what you want to do, and, when you speak with them, you find that they even share your reasons for wanting to do it. They are also wondering about the new ideas and countries and possibilities that you’re all learning about.
Realizing that, a lightbulb finally turned on for me. Suddenly I understood that I didn’t need to have it all figured out. I felt better just knowing there were others going through the same process I was.
After eight years of thinking about it, three months after the conference I made my move.
Oh, yeah… turns out… I didn’t choose the right country…
Don’t get me wrong. I loved and still love the place in Spain where I moved originally. I visit as often as is practical and have friends there… a fact I’m proud of considering I lived there for only six months.
That’s when I went to my second Live and Invest Overseas conference.
This time I came with a plan of attack. I honed in on those speakers I knew could help me with specific issues. I was even able to spend time with Kathleen and Lief at one of the cocktail parties. They were kind and helpful at the end of another long day and gave me encouragement and confirmation of specific information I had questioned.
While I had met Kathleen earlier in the day (she can’t get peace even in the ladies’ room!), the chance to speak at length during the cocktail party was invaluable, and I really appreciated them taking the time to help me.
The biggest takeaways from this story?
First, make the move sooner rather than later, even if you don’t yet have all your ducks in a row.
Second, if you can manage it, make time to participate in a Live and Invest Overseas conference. I wish I’d done this sooner… at the start of my process. It would have saved me the time, money, and heartache associated with making the unnecessary mistakes I made on my own. Mistakes can be costly and not just in dollar terms. I moved to start a life with less stress, not more.
Now I’m trying to pay it forward and help others headed to my corner of the globe.
In fact, I’m going to be participating in another Live and Invest Overseas event… this time as an expat speaker!
I’ll be joining the entire Live and Invest in Portugal team in Carvoeiro in April… and I’d love to meet you there.
This article was originally published in February 2018 and has been recently updated.