It was just a week’s vacation, but you can’t stop thinking about the beautiful place you stayed. Wouldn’t it be great to live a life of freedom, traveling to foreign countries as and when the mood takes you? Your career would probably benefit if you relocated to another country. You could do your job from the beach, and just imagine all the money you’d save at those exchange rates! You spent all that time in college learning that language, and you’ll just forget it all unless you go and immerse yourself. That culture! That food! The music! The history!
We’ve all had those thoughts. Those last couple days of vacation, when you just long to skip the airport lineups and play hooky from the drabness of home a little longer. Or a lot longer. That business trip where your networking just took off and every meeting was a tantalizing taste of what your life could be like if you didn’t have to go back. That stopover, where you looked out the window and the landscape just called to you.
It is easier as a young, free, unattached adult to make that jump; harder if you’re established in your career and have a family. Once the kids come along, there’s just so much more to consider. It is harder, but not impossible to do.
So you want to live abroad. By extension, that means you want to work abroad. Great! There’s never been a better time to make the jump. Work can be completed from anywhere in the world and sent quickly, easily, and inexpensively to clients across the globe. For freelancers, independent contractors, remote workers, entrepreneurs and startup founders, relocating abroad can mean a better lifestyle, more favorable business circumstances, and a lower cost of living, making launching a new venture more feasible or more quickly successful and sustainable than it might have been back home.
International companies provide opportunities for advancement and in-house transfers. Emerging economies are looking for leaders and teachers. Growing economies need experts to fuel corporations and innovative startups alike. If you’re established in your career, check your network for opportunities, polish up your LinkedIn and start putting out feelers. If you’re young (under 30 or 35, depending on the program) and getting established, work-travel and work-study visas are surprisingly easy to access.
But what about the family? You got married. You had kids. Years ago, even. What about them? You have a responsibility to meet their needs. Luckily, family travel is getting increasingly accessible as well, and the opportunities for your children may very well outweigh the costs. Children with exposure to more people and cultures demonstrate better empathy, a deeper understanding of world events, geography and cultural differences, and greater acceptance and understanding of others, and often experience improved future career and network benefits.
Depending on where you’re heading and for how long, your kids, and your preferences, you could bring them along, take responsibility for their education, and make it a learning experience, or get them settled in an international school, either in your location, or in a city that you’ll have easy and frequent access to. Traveling around Asia or working in one of the biggest international business hubs in the area? Try a Hong Kong school for American kids. International schools provide high-quality English-language education, added stability, and a diverse, well-traveled community of peers. They also create friendships that become future networking contacts around the world.
One thing that’s important when it comes to planning a move abroad is examining your expectations. There’s probably something you fell in love with, or that you dream of as being better about your destination. But being at a location for a brief amount of time or while on vacation can give you a limited and false sense of what that place would be like long term. To avoid disappointment, be sure to do your research ahead of time and be honest with yourself about what you want out of your experience. List and define your goals. Do you want to develop your language skills? Have a better lifestyle? Make career advances? Enjoy beautiful scenery? Connect with other people who have relocated there to hear their stories and then make the move with your eyes wide open.
Living abroad could be the most incredible experience of your life. If you’ve traveled to a place you love and can’t wait to go back, it might be time to start seriously looking into the opportunities it offers. It could be easier than you think to have the life you dream of, the opportunities you crave, and the adventure of a lifetime.