So, you've decided it's time to pack up everything you own and move to a new land? Moving overseas is an excellent idea! This can be a wonderful growth experience for you and your family and a wonderful time to learn more about yourself as well. In this article I will show you how to go about choosing the right country for you in three simple steps. While the steps are simple, they do require your honesty and a little bit of drive to gather the information you need to make a successful move.
Step 1: When moving overseas, in order for you to be sure you are choosing the right country that will meet your needs, you have to do some honest self-reflecting. For example, if you know you are insanely afraid of bugs, the Amazon may not be the place for you. *Smile* So your first thing should be to decide what things you must have in your new home country. For instance, you may decide you must live in a place with outstanding medical care (yes for some people this isn't a priority), or you may want to live in a place where you can safely practice your religion, or express your sexuality, etc. Remember, you are not looking to move to a perfect place, you are simply looking to move to a place where you feel you can live better or differently than where you currently live or move where you can be successful with your life goals.
For the longest time, I didn't want to move to any place within the Pacific Ring of Fire, or anywhere there would be so many deadly bugs, snakes, or sea creatures, that one couldn't move without fear of being taken out by the natural world. Moving overseas isn't easy. These are legitimate concerns, however, I can still move to most countries without these concerns being a real issue.
In addition, I had to remind myself that I grew up in Florida. Aside from volcanoes, Florida has more danger than many of my countries of choice and I survived living there. *Smile* Funny, I've never been concerned about being mauled by lions or chomped or trampled to death by a cute but angry hippo or any wild land beast (well except for bears here in the states).
Step 2: Once you have decided what you need to be happy and successful in a new country, it is time to take a look at a world map. You can Google "world map" and Google Images will pull up some nice ones for you. Choose the largest one you can find. You can also run down to most office supply or book stores and get a world map. I used to have one of those huge ones you hang on the wall. They are fantastic! However the last time I looked for one, I thought it was too expensive so it's up to you. There is always Google. Let's take a look at the countries I was considering (I'm writing about the positive aspects of these countries I found interesting but I am very much aware of the negatives as well.).
Singapore - Let's face it, Singapore is clean and has a lot of modern convinces. This may be less of a scary move than say moving to a place 90% different than where I'm moving from. I also had a friend from Singapore and was able to have first hand knowledge of what kind of place it is. She spoke very highly of her home country and how it is run. Singapore has a welcoming immigration policy which is a very good thing considering how tough it is to immigrate these days. It is ethnically and culturally diverse and Singapore also has a pretty nice film making industry as well.
Thailand - Thailand has a lot to offer. For instance, it is a Buddhist country which makes it easy for others to be comfortable with their own life choices there. It also has less hangups about sex and sexuality as well. In addition, it is beyond cheap to live in Thailand. There are a myriad of other things such as being able to buy fresh food, access to state-of-the-art medical care that is insanely cheap, prescription drugs that are over the counter and cheap, access to alternative medicine by people with a cultural history of practicing it, friendly people, low crime, beautiful landscapes, close proximity to other cool countries... I could go on an on. The further north you go, the better (Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai). I also know people from the U.S. who have moved to Thailand and they absolutely love it.
Seychelles - I never really considered moving to Seychelles until a friend of mine, currently living in Australia, told me this was his first choice for relocation but it was too expensive. He is right about that. However, it isn't so expensive that it is out of the question. One simply couldn't go there with little or no money and no marketable skills. I decided to take a better look at this group of islands off the coast of Africa and I must say, I was ready to move there immediately. First of all, it is an absolutely beautiful set of islands and what I love the most is that they are granite islands and not coral. These islands also offer a unique blend of people, languages, food, and culture. It is also a wonderful place for artists of all types and it requires very little money to setup your own business there. Even more spectacular is that one only needs to apply for a work permit to emigrate there and its not that expensive to get one. But the fact does remain, you do need to have decent money saved or being earned to live there. If you go to start a business, it has to be something that can thrive for the long haul on the islands.
Mozambique - Mozambique calls me. It is really that simple. There are some places I am connected to without having been there and this is one of those places. No matter what my initial move may be, this is where I'll most likely end up at some point in my life. It's full of life, art and culture.
Palau - It's a beautiful island, what more could you want? Palau is also a very well governed island. A friend of mine recently had lunch with the president of Palau and was kind enough to give me the skinny on living and working there. This was my second top pick (Thailand being the first), however it too is expensive and would require one to manage a sustainable career in something that would thrive on a small island. Palau is also in a decent location relative to other interesting places to visit.
Ireland - Last but not least, Ireland. While traveling to Europe has never been one of my travel goals, Ireland was another one of those places I had some weird connection to. I went to Ireland years ago and stayed for two weeks (trust me, Ireland is small enough for two weeks to feel like one week too long for a visit). Besides the fact that I think the Irish accent is some top secret sex weapon, I am primarily attracted to the island for it's uniquely beautiful landscapes. I'd just come from Germany before visiting Ireland and I can't tell you the relief I felt once in Ireland. I went from being stared at for my entire visit in Germany to just being a part of the population in Ireland. I absolutely loved being there but it is pretty low on my list because of the challenges of moving and obtaining work there if you are not from an EU country. This doesn't mean it's not possible, just at the moment, the pros and cons are too even. I do love how friendly and laid back the Irish are and how they still have some of the same family values and social manners that were once present in the US South where I grew up. Ireland also has a pretty good film making community as well.
Step 3: Research, Connect, Research! Read as much as you can from various on and offline resources about your chosen countries. When moving overseas, make sure you are up to date on current events there and make an effort to learn the history of the country as well. This is very important. If you have an understanding of the circular flow of life, then you know that the past is just as important as the present and future. Learn the history of where you are going! If where you are going has ever been colonized, learn about that country's pre-colonial history, preferably from non-colonial sources. Learn about their social and economic histories. Look for patterns. Take a good look at what the country is doing today and where it hopes to go in the future. Having been born in your native country didn't give you an opportunity to do this, so take this chance to have some fun learning about other places!
It may also help to locate and obtain videos of the countries you are considering. Youtube is a great source for finding videos of people moving to, vacationing in, and making documentaries of the places you may want to go. There are also many other sources, like those Globe Trekker videos, etc.
*Important Tip: Do connect with real individuals who are living in your country of choice, prior to moving. Do the best that you can. Do not rely on message boards and forums only. Be persistent. Moving to a new country is simply too big a deal for you to rely solely on information on a forum, no matter how many people swear by it. I personally want to chat with real live people who have made the move and find out how they made it and if their way will work for me or if I need to go another route. I also want to gauge my real chances of surviving there. Find some nice people who can also take a look at your resume and tell you about the job situation there. Ask about housing, transportation, food, etc. Be persistent!
*Another Tip: Get a TEFL certification before moving overseas. This is good to have. You can always teach English somewhere to get by when first starting out. Nowadays, you can get a very good TEFL cert. online or in person for a reasonable amount of money and some places even offer guaranteed job placement as a part of the cert. or as a separate service.
Moving Overseas: Choosing the Right Country for You
Tressa Sanders @ Travel Star Magazine