Preparing to Expatriate

I’ve long since accepted that most of my friends and family think I’m insane. My friends and family have long since accepted that I might very well be slightly off my rocker.

The first time I ventured more than 50 miles beyond US borders was in January 2014. I didn’t even get my first passport until fall of 2013, when I was well into my 40s.

In the ensuing two and a half years I’ve been to nine different countries. (Plus have plans to set foot in a half dozen more over the next few months.) Except for Canada and a couple of layovers in Panama, I haven’t been to the same country more than once.

Mostly this sounds fairly ordinary, if slightly aggressive. Until you realize that I am seriously working toward relocating overseas.

With my daughter grown and off living her own life and me having been divorced for over six years and family that’s spread far and wide, I have very little to anchor me to the town I currently call home. Sure, I own a house and a couple of cars and have a good job.

None of those things quells the siren song of the world I have yet to see with my own eyes. Vacation travel does more to fuel the desire than quench it.

Mind you, I’m not running “from” anything. I still love the United States and have no plans of giving up my citizenship. But I’ve found that there are so many other places that are just as easy to love. So much adventure to be had. So many new cultures to experience.

So the house is being fixed up to be sold. The cars will be sold, as will most of my other possessions. I’ve been working earnestly to replace my very stable and well-paying job with an income that is more portable, even if it doesn’t pay as much.

After all, in many places overseas my dollars can stretch farther. Not only that, but food is fresher and the only ice I have to deal with is floating in my drink. The mundane details of everyday life seem more like a fun adventure when you’re immersed in another culture.

Hour upon hour of my leisure time is spent online, researching places I might like to live.

That’s part of the insanity too: I haven’t even decided where to go.

I’ve built a complex spreadsheet to track and score each potential new home on more than 50 different criteria that are meaningful or important to me. Climate, cost of living, availability of medical care, quality of roads, recreational opportunities, cultural offerings, and so much more.

Most of the information is easy to find. Population, amount of rainfall, number of universities, distance to an international airport… The data may be highly factual but my scores for these things are subjective and highly personal. For instance, most people call 60°-70°F the perfect climate. To me, that’s the minimum standard and I’d actually prefer it a bit warmer.

Realizing it’s not the recommended way of going about things, I’m even prepared to pack up and move to a place without visiting it first. What some might see as foolhardy, I prefer to think of as bold and decisive. After all, it’s not like getting a tattoo. If I get to a place and, even after all my careful research, come to decide that it’s just not the right place for me, I can always pick a new place and move on.

Even if I find a place and love it, I might still decide to move on anyway. At the very least, I’ll certainly still want to travel recreationally. There’s just too much world out there and I’ve spent far too many years not seeing it.

It’s time I changed that.

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