“I quit my job, sold all my belongings and packed what was left to move across the world to live my dream.”
That seems to be the case for about a third of the people featured on the show House Hunters International, a show I’ve watched regularly for years. The other two-thirds are divided between those that move for a job (lucky bastards) and those looking for a vacation property (even luckier bastards). My fascination, however, is with the first bunch, chasing their dream and rubbing it in my face. Sigh.
In theory, selling everything you own and moving elsewhere seems like a great idea. After all, with life savings in hand to cover your expenses who needs a job? Say good-bye to your employer, family, friends and they daily grind to live in [fill out the blank here]. Deep down inside I hate them all, with their exotic locations and dream-living, while at the same time, I am secretly wanting to do the exact same thing.
Although hard to believe, I think such a scenario is actually quite plausible. With enough planning and certain amount of moxie this idea is not as far-fetched as it seems. In fact, we’ve been planning a similar scenario for some time now. Well, maybe with some adjustments. Here are some basics before jetting off.
Money, money, money
The reality is that unless your savings are in the millions, they won’t last for long. You need some type of steady income flowing in to replenish what you use. There are a number of ways to do that, depending on your location and talents. Anything from running some type of business – it could range from lodging service like Airbnb, location-specific tours or anything online (blogging is great, but it needs to generate cash) – to odd jobs paid under the table or if you’re lucky enough, with a valid work permit.
Dreaming of living abroad is great. Paris, Rome or Tokyo can sound like wonderful places to live, but if you don’t speak the local language, your immersion there won’t be that seamless. While English is a universal language, you can’t assume that being able to communicate in it (whether you’re a native speaker or not) is enough to get you by. Maybe as a tourist, but definitely not when trying to pass as a local. Depending on your chosen country, it would be wise to start learning even the basics of that language before making the move.
Having your own lodgings allows you more freedom as to what you do with it. This is especially important if you plan on renting it out, even temporarily. However, despite how easy this seems on TV, you might run into issues with landlords or banks simply because you are a foreigner. Some countries will only allow citizens to purchase property, which could be an issue. Again, looking into this ahead of the move will make things simpler.
Culture & customs
The way people live, work and play varies from place to place. You might be used to large backyards and giant fridges, but it doesn’t mean that everyone else is too. This is especially noticeable on the show when the people are moving to Europe from North America. How many times have you heard the house hunters say “that fridge is so small” or “there aren’t enough bathrooms?” Yeah, this is Europe and the house you’re in is few hundreds years old. They didn’t have fridges back when they built this. Becoming aware of the daily life and customs will make integration and enjoyment of your new home that much more enjoyable. People will know you’re not from there. No need to keep emphasizing it by pointing out every single difference.
What they don’t show, is how these people fair a year or so after. They usually revisit the house hunters few months after, but we don’t really know in the long run if that move has worked out. They never say “this was the worst decision I’ve ever made” but then again, that wouldn’t make for good TV.
I’m still a bit of a cynic when it comes to the idea of getting rid of everything and starting over in a different country. I haven’t ruled it out and the seeds have been planted so that one day, I might be that person on the show looking for my next home somewhere exotic.
Are there any other suggestions/advice for those of us wanting to throw it all in and chase our dreams? Let me know.