Can You Build a Solid House from this Blueprint?

blueprintRecently I purchased a publication that promised to be roadmap for expats, something that would quickly take us, step by step, through our journey from our native homes to our lives abroad.

Instead of the AAA Triptik I was expecting, however, I got an envelope full of “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” from Mrs. Murphy’s fourth grade.

At least, that’s what it felt like.

“We’ve compiled a blueprint you can follow. The map you need to get from where you are now straight to the perfect place you have in your mind’s eye.

“Here’s the easy, no-hassle way to get from where you are to living better overseas. . . fast.

“Sidestep all the roadblocks with straightforward. . . guidance.”

That’s what they promised, for a whopping $199.

Unfortunately, it’s not what they delivered.

I had high hopes for this product. I thought it could help me personally and that I could offer to you through an affiliate link as a helpful tool.

Sadly, I just can’t recommend it.

I’ll summarize what they did well, outline some of my reasons why it’s not worth your hard-earned dollars, then give you some alternatives.

They Did a Few Things Right

The largest document, weighing in at 168 pages, is titled, “Choosing Your Perfect Paradise.” It’s divided into 10 countries in the Americas and Europe. (There was no mention — anywhere — of Asia, Africa or Australia/New Zealand.)

Each country’s section includes information about:

  • cost of living (some include sample budgets as well, but not all the budgets included the same items)
  • health care
  • real estate
  • information about several specific cities or towns
  • special retiree benefits where appropriate
  • language
  • taxes
  • infrastructure
  • climate
  • safety and stability
  • accessibility to North America
  • culture and recreation
  • list of that country’s top benefits for the expat
  • list of legal, health, real estate and embassy contacts in the country
  • country map

Each chapter also includes stories from happy expats in that country. They were interesting, but I’d read many of them before in the monthly magazine or daily emails. And, while it’s reassuring to know there are contented expats in the country, the anecdotes didn’t help me at all in my quest for actionable information.

And isn’t that what a map or a blueprint is all about — hard, factual information that you can act on to get you to your destination?

(According to Dictionary.com, a blueprint is “a detailed outline or plan of action.”)

It Was Disorganized and the Format Was Inappropriate

I knew there would be videos. It was clearly stated in the sales letter. I expected a well organized PDF documented with video links.

What I got was a series of web pages with links to videos and a whole bunch of PDF documents — ten, in fact.

It was hard to know if I had missed something or really gotten it all, because it was not well organized.

Online video is great for telling stories, demonstrating and presenting. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work very well for conveying specific, wide-ranging information.

They should have stuck to video for the stories, and written down the information.

Unfortunately, if they’d done that, it would probably have been a lot more obvious that the information was mostly fluff, as in Sta-Puff Marshmallow guy fluff.

For example, in the section about visas the video speakers told us that “at a minimum” we would need a valid passport and, if married, a notarized copy of the marriage certificate for most visas.

Not very informative.

How hard would it have been to detail visa requirements for each country in the “Choosing Your Perfect Paradise” document, and to refer to those in the video discussion? How much more valuable would the information have been had they taken that extra step?

Dated and Sketchy Information

Most of the written information was recycled from previous issues of their monthly magazine, and some of it was dated. If I’m going to spend 200 bucks for information, it should be up-to-the-minute relevant.

Superficial Information

One of the “bonus” documents is called “5 Ways to Fund Your New Lifestyle Overseas.” Aha! I thought, I’ll bet I can learn something here to add to my own e-book, 5 Portable Careers to Support You Overseas.

The five careers they discuss are:
1. Travel Writing
2. Copywriting
3. Photography
4. Import/Export
5. Creating your own niche tours

All good choices.

At 28 pages in length, this document could include a reasonable amount of valuable information about what sorts of qualifications, background or interests you need and where and how to start or get training. Instead, it’s (again) mostly stories about people who’ve done it along with links to other paid products that will teach you how.

Now, don’t get me wrong. There’s nothing wrong with saying, “here’s an idea and here’s where you can get the information to implement it.” Just don’t pretend it’s a “blueprint” or a “roadmap” and charge a large chunk of cash for it.

What They Should Have Done

One document included some steps — 12 in fact — for preparing to move. “Easy Shortcuts to the Good Life” makes some specific and helpful recommendations.

Honestly, if they had:

  • started with this list
  • included information, helpful checklists and things to consider for each step
  • provided more detailed, in-depth country-by-country information
  • I’d have been much happier with this product.

    I might even have been able to recommend Your Blueprint for a New Life Overseas.

    My Recommendation

    Save the $200.

    If you’re looking for a tool to help you analyze what’s important to you and help you make some of the important preliminary decisions, you’ll do better spending about $15 on Paul Allen’s book The Truth About Moving Abroad and Whether it’s Right for You: Should I Stay or Should I Go? (reviewed here).

    If you’ve already done the preliminary thinking and narrowed your country search, spend a few more dollars to buy one or two of the well researched and organized country reports featured here.

    photo by Will Scullin on flickr

    Do you have a tool you like for planning big, life-changing moves? Leave a comment.

    Note:Since this post was originally published, I have found an excellent planning guide which I can recommend wholeheartedly. You can read about it here.

Comments

  1. Susanna, Thanks so much for doing all that work for us! I am right in the process of “untethering” and your website is helpful and motivating me to get going! thanks again, Ana

  2. thanks for letting us know Susanna. That title definitely makes it seem like it might be a very worthy read. I’m sorry that you had to waste $200 to find out it wasn’t 🙁
    Is there any way you can complain about it? Maybe they don’t know how bad it is because no one has complained about it yet. You never know 😉

  3. Hey again Susanna…

    It’s Kelley. Yep, that is the exact same purchase we made! What’s worse is we only got that horrendous 28-page nugget – without the real document for 5 days after purchase. That 28-page nugget has a volume of content equivalent to, I don’t know, a half-used elementary school eraser.

    I still haven’t made it through the entirety – but from what I have studied – I second your comments.

    Hope all is well with you! We’re vacationing soon and hope to spend some real time soul-searching and planning our future expat-ism.

    Take care,

    Kelley

    • Hi Kelley, thanks for speaking up.

      Stay tuned. . . I’ve got more articles on tools coming up. . .

      It really bothers me that with all the expat resources available, there really doesn’t seem to be a “blueprint.” At least, not that I’ve found as of yet.

      All the best,
      Susanna

  4. PS… Excellent job on your eBook.

  5. Hello, I just found your information, and will go through it in detail. I was considering doing their copywriting course, but was trying to see if others are satisified. Your info and others comments are quite some time back, as now it is Dec. 2016. I was most interested in learning how to market travel writing and photos. What are you up to now?

    • FutureExpat says:

      Hi Emma,

      The copywriting course they promote is actually an AWAI product, and they are very good. (I write for AWAI and the sister company, Wealthy Web Writer on a regular basis.) There’s loads of free information available from AWAI, so you can get a taste of what they offer by going to their website – http://awaionline.com.

      All the best,
      Susanna

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