The Biggest Secret to Successful Expatriation

Crossroads and choicesWhen you decide to become an expatriate, to live in another country, you’re choosing to exercise options most of your family and friends don’t even know exist. So what happens when the expat move is the only option you see that makes sense?

That’s how I’ve felt for a long time. Yes, I wanted to live abroad. It’s something I’ve wanted to do all my lfe.

At the same time, I’ve felt angry because I felt as though life had conspired to make that my only viable option.

So here we are, counting down to our move. We’re out of our house, we’ve sold or given away all our worldly goods except for clothing, laptops and the dogs.

Then I see an ad for a job here in Orlando that looks really interesting.

On impulse, I shoot off a copy of my resume and a cover letter. And get a response back less than five minutes later.

I discover they’ve done business with a friend of mine.

Uh, oh. What do I do now?

Last weekend, my husband and I drove to Atlanta to see his family. On the way back in the car we talked about this possible job and what it might mean. We decided to pursue it wholeheartedly to see where it would lead.

We set some parameters for the income it would have to generate to be a viable choice. We strategized about where we’d live if it worked out.

Fast forward to this afternoon. . .

This is my first job interview in a long time. I’m surprisingly calm about it.

I meet with the owner of the company. They’ve been in business for almost a decade, but this position will be for a new start-up department.

Translation: small budget. He wants someone who’s willing to work 12 (or more!) hours a day for a very minimal amount, in hopes that it will pay off for them in a few years.

In other words, not me.

But he might have some freelance writing for me, so it’s all good.

Then a funny thing happened as I was driving home (home being the place we’re staying temporarily).

I stopped feeling desperate about our move to Panama.

I don’t know quite what to compare it to — times in the past, when I’ve tried to lose weight and sabotaged my own efforts is the closest I can come.

But suddenly I’m not feeling that pressure any more, or resentment.

It’s not that there’s no stress. Moving is inherently stressful, and your first international move even more so. That’s normal. It’s ok.

But the residual anger and resentment has dissolved, replaced by confidence that, yes, we’re doing what we’re supposed to.

Will we face obstacles? Probably. But we can figure this out. Lots of other people have, after all.

I hope you don’t have the same doubts and uncertainties and resentments that I’ve experienced. But if you do, take the time to figure out what’s holding you back and what you need to do to release yourself.

And remember, as an expat or future expat, your life is all about making choices others are unable or unwilling to consider. Don’t lose sight of that — you always have choices.

. . . Deep breath. . .

Bon voyage!

photo by crazyad0boy on flickr


  1. Just found your blog and have read several common sense posts. I can relate to what you’ve said here. I do feel I don’t have many options due to budget. The difference is I’m not resentful rather quite excited. And yes, friends and family don’t get it. They would rather I be dependent on children or other family rather than taking the road less traveled.

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