Recently I wrote about chipping away at your stuff to free yourself for your untethered expat life. This presumes you’re like most other readers of this website, and you’re choosing your own expat destination, not being sent on an overseas assignment by a company.
Just as you need to inventory and make decisions about material possessions, you need to decide what’s important to you after you move. This is a place where you can dream a bit, and envision the way you’d really like your life to take shape.
The Easy Part
Some of your idea inventory will be fairly easy. Do you prefer the city life, the country, or something in between? Beach or mountains? Tropics or four seasons?
How important is shopping to you? Museums, movie theaters, sports venues, symphony orchestra?
How close would you like to be to an international airport? Public transportation?
Good schools for your kids?
Do you want to be in the middle of an expat community, or would you rather live outside an expat enclave?
I’ve lived in lots of different places in the US. I was born in the mountains of Colorado but grew up about half an hour away from the Atlantic coast. Since then I’ve lived in the mountains again (Vermont), and near the coast (Massachusetts and Central Florida). I’ve been having a hard time deciding if I’m happier with one or the other. I think I’ve got it figured out now, thanks to a trip I made this fall to deliver my youngest daughter to college.
I’ve lived in the city and in a very small town. I know I’m happier in a large town or small city.
I’ve lived in the cold and in the heat, and I know I like the heat better. For me, snow is a place to visit.
Shopping, once I get past the necessities, isn’t important to me at all. I hate the mall, and do as much shopping as I can online. For me, knowing that a city has “world class shopping” just tells me there’s part of it I’ll want to avoid.
I’m not interested in sports, but I love classical music. I’m quite content with public transportation where it’s available. My kids are grown, so schools aren’t an issue for me.
You might be completely the opposite — love the cold, love to shop, enjoy watching live sports, with school-age kids. Obviously your ideal expat home will be different from mine.
The Hard Part
Some parts of the inventory are not so easy. If you’ve been living the same way for quite a while, it’s hard to picture what life could be like in a different environment.
Here’s a strategy to try: Even if your overseas life will include work, rev up your imagination by thinking back to some of your favorite vacations.
What made them special? Was it the place? Activities you did (or didn’t!) do? The people you were with? Use those special vacation memories as a starting point to imagine what your expat life could be.
You need to examine your preferences, likes and dislikes and figure out what’s important to you. After all, if you’re going to reinvent yourself it might as well be doing things in a place you’ll enjoy!
Join future expats on Facebook to discuss ideas for untethering yourself.