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THERE'S MORE TO LIFE THAN WINE CHEESE AND ROSE COLOURED GLASSES

Get The Inside Scoop, Personal Anecdotes, Travel Tips And Life With A French Twist.

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Ever since I can remember, I have dreamed of living in France but never believed I could ACTUALLY DO IT.  I always had 100 excuses why I couldn’t move to France.

AT first it was lack of money, then it was my job, then after I got married it was because I had kids, then it was because of timing and then *excuse after excuse after excuse. add another excuse here.

What I didn’t realize was that my fears, misconceptions and limiting beliefs were ultimately stopping me from taking the first step to pursuing my dream of living in France.  I was my own worst enemy. In the end I overcame my fears since as I write these words, I am living in France. My point is, it’s O.K. to be scared, heck it’s normal but you don’t let your fears stop you from achieving your dreams.

I’m happy to say that as of October 2011, we (me, my husband and our three children) moved to the south of France where we will stay for a few years.

I’ve put together a list of my own personal mental road blocks along with reasons why you should not let them stop you from just going for it.

1: I don’t have a job lined up for my year abroad

You don’t need a job to move to France. Yes it would be easier and that would have been our first choice too but we didn’t have that luxury.  We decided to finance our trip ourselves and use our time in France for personal development., spend time together and work on our freelance careers. But what if you don’t have enough money?

2: I don’t have enough money

Money, money money. The obvious answer would be to save but for those of you who spend every single cent you have and have nothing to spare? I sympathize. I was in that same position for a long time. You’ll have to wait until you are in a better position to save but that doesn’t mean you can’t do other things in conjunction like cutting back on spending or starting some freelance activity now that you could eventually do remotely at some future date when you can move to France. Just make sure you put the extra money you save or earn in a special account for your trip. Heck, you can even tweak your tax estimators to give you the largest possible refund in some cases. It might take you a few years to archive your goal but you can do it.

Here are some ideas on different ways which you can cut back on your spending and potentially save a few thousand dollars or more toward your trip abroad.

3: It’s too expensive

The other misconception about moving abroad is that it’s too expensive. Living abroad isn’t like going on vacation. It’s a lot cheaper. Instead of paying for an expensive hotel room and eating out every night, you rent an apartment or house and cook meals at home like you would in your home country.

Also, you may be able to eliminate certain expenses that you incur while living in your home country like a car which means no auto insurance and no gas.  This is the route we chose. We have public transportation and access to trains in Marseille France so we can go wherever we want any time.

If you own you home, you can rent or sublet it out to cover some of the cost of living.

Lastly, choosing where to go for your move abroad is a lot like choosing a car. You chose based on your budget.

If you only have 12,000 dollars to buy a car, you don’t choose to buy a Mercedes. When choosing a place to move to, if you have 12,000 dollars for a year you don’t choose Paris, you choose someplace where you can live for 12,000 dollars like parts of South America or Asia.

We wanted to stay in Paris but we couldn’t find anything within our budget so we chose Marseille  where the cost of living and food is considerably cheaper than Paris and even cheaper than living in the cities we were living in the United States.

4: I don’t know where or what to do with all my stuff

You can either store it all in public storage or get creative and put an ad on Craigslist or some other online ad and ask to rent someone’s basement.

If you have a lot of junk, um, I mean stuff what about downsizing and selling the stuff you don’t need anymore in a garage sell?  If you do this, my advice is to start downsizing early so you can asses how much stuff you are going to keep and need to store.

5: I can’t go because I’ll lose my job, be out of the workforce and fall behind

can'tlive-abroadThe best thing to do would be to convince your boss to hold your job for you while you are away. Or do your job remotely.

But if you can’t don’t sweat it.  It won’t make a bit of difference to your future employer if you are away from the work force for a year.  In fact it might work to your benefit depending on how you use your time.

Moving abroad is an impressive feat and your future employer might see your move abroad as a sign that you are more well-rounded and can handle change easily. While abroad you could also work on getting a new set of skills to help your career. Even learning a language might help your career.

I’m using my year abroad to do a few things that will help me should I decide to rejoin the work force. I’m also working on an entrepreneurial venture, a book and helping my kids by giving them a solid understanding of a second language which they will need for college.

But you don’t have to sharpen your skills while abroad, you can always use your time abroad to recharge and get reconnected with the person you used to be before you got busy with work and life.  No one will look down on it. You will return recharged and have a better sense of who you are and what you want to do with your life.

6: I don’t speak the language

I’m not going to lie, not speaking the local Language will be hard. But don’t look at this as negative. It’s an opportunity to learn a new language which is part of the adventure. When I moved to Japan at 18, I didn’t speak Japanese. I only knew the song “Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto” and a hand full of words which I studied on the plane to Tokyo. I quickly immersed myself in the culture and really enjoyed the challenged of learning Japanese. It literally turned everyday into an exciting adventure.

7: I can’t go because I have kids

The first time I took my kids to Europe, my son Andre was 9 and shocked me when he said “ I didn’t know there were homeless people here”.

It never occurred to me that my children’s views of the world were limited to the suburbs of our comfortable life in Silicon Valley.

I think taking my kids out of their protected suburban bubble to experience other cultures has made them more appreciative of what they have and more aware of other people and their cultures making them more compassionate and open-minded.

Another great reason is to give your kids an opportunity to learn a second language and possibly bilingual. I can’t tell you how many people I know that have said that they wished they could speak another language.

8: What will I do with my house?

If you own your home, rent it out.  My home is rented in California and it helps finance part of our cost of living in France. If you are a renter you have it a little easier, you can just give notice and move out or if you want to have the same house for your return, you could see about subletting your house during your time abroad. You never know. Talk to your landlord.  Plus, if you sublet your home out, you could always rent it for more if you rent it furnished. Do your research and know all your options.

9: I can’t leave my life, my work, my friends or relatives behind!

It might be hard but it’s only temporary. Your friends and family will be there when you get back.  You will have gone away and had an amazing year abroad and you’ll see that nothing really changed when you return. Besides, If you are really worried about losing touch with friends there’s a great thing called the Internet where you can make video calls using Skype. It’s free. The other person needs to have it installed on their computer. Or if you pay a monthly fee, you can make calls to landlines and cell phones. I pay 3.00 dollars a month for unlimited calling. That’s almost free.

10: I don’t know anyone or have any friends in the country where I want to go

This is the worst excuse ever. This is one of those excuses that my teenager would use but happily didn’t. Yes it’s hard to say “au – revoir” to friends and family back home but moving abroad is an opportunity to meet new people, make new friends and do something different for a change.

I was on the phone setting up our electric for the apartment we are renting in France and the woman I was talking to asked me where I was from. Then we got to talking and before I knew it, we decided to meet for coffee. (in a public place of course). My point is, there’s lots of things you could do to meet new people. Just be creative.

If your dream is to move abroad, make it happen.  It’s possible it just takes changing your mind-set and working hard towards that goal.

Conclusion

Don’t just look at all the reason you can’t make the move to live in France or live abroad for a couple of years. You should also look at all the positive things you could accomplish.

  1. I find living abroad as great adventure and great experience at the same time. I become more appreciative in life. I got an opportunity to value other culture. On the other hand, I always have two plans. The first plan is my living abroad and my second is my alternative plan. Only, when my first plan didn’t work.

  2. I enjoyed reading your information about living out of the country. It sounds so exciting and something that I have always dreamed of. Needing a job is key and looking at the cost of retiring is frightening, but maybe not somewhere else where you can find new friends, a part-time job to supplement and an experience to cherish. Thanks Annie
    Barb

    1. glad you enjoyed this Barb. Everyone has their own set of obstacles when it comes to pursuing their own dreams. I truly believe if you want to travel or live abroad, where there is a will there is a way. Thanks for stopping by.

  3. Ha you definitely hit all the excuses people make. I have been on the road for 7 years now and still going strong. Money can be tight sometimes, but if you hustle you can easily find work. It is way cheaper living in a place like Thailand and trying to work online than trying to get that up and going back home (US). As for friends, I find when traveling abroad it is easier to meet people as people tend to be more open and less consumed by work.

  4. My husband and I would LOVE to live abroad, but it always feels to me like countries have big walls around them. I know we can go almost anywhere for 90 days without any visas, but what happens after that? Would visas/permits be easy to get (I know it depends on the country, but generally?)? What are some options to stay legally?

    1. Well one way to skip that 90 days limitation is simply plan a weekend trip to a neighboring country every three months. As far as I understand you’re allowed to do that – expats living in Malaysia would visit Singapore for a weekend to get another 3 months of visa-free living.

      Of course some places this is easier to do than other. My example, Malaysia is very easy cause Sg is so close and cheap to get to.

  5. What about eligibility? I’m a 30 yr old UK female, and can only have 2 months left to qualify for a 12 month visa for Aus, Canada or NZ, but after 12 months, I’m back in the UK with no job! Where else can I go or what are my options? I’m happy to just up and go, anywhere, but not with a 12 month restriction at the end of it…

    1. Elizabeth,
      Of all the people i know who are travelling, over 100 individuals and families this is always an issue.

      You’ll need a re-entry plan. You’ll need cash to re-set up once you re-enter your home country. Your other option is to continue travelling on a toursist visa to different countries. There are no countries that will let you stay longer unless you plan to apply for residency.
      I can’t help you in that matter. i mainly focus on long term travel that is temporary not living abroad permanently. At least for now.
      Another option is to start an online business. This is what a lot of people I know are doing. It’s easier than ever to start one now. Of course, it will take you time to start building it up to earn an income but it’s worth it…

  6. I love the updates and tips you have gone over! My husband and i are young with no children yet and are really considering living abroad. The topics you went over leave us with little reason not to do it besides saving up. =)

  7. Thank you so much for this! My husband and I have spoken about living abroad so often but it always comes down to no job. I would love to hear more about how you handled the finances or direct me to other sources. One other question what do you do about health insurance? We have a toddler so that is a concern.

    1. Nicole,
      Most of the families i know that that are living abroad for any extended period of time saved anywhere from 2 to 5 years. Some started online businesses that they could run while living abroad.
      There is no other way around it but to save or sell your assets and save enough to last you at least two years. One year of funds for travelling and one year to last on re entry so you can setup house again and look for jobs if you need to.

      How much you save depends on where you go. You could survive on less than 15K a year easily in Mexico and Asia. While in France it would cost you more like 30K a year minimum.

      How long would it take you to save 30K and pay off your debt? Can you downsize and simplify your life so that you can save even more money faster?

      Health Insurance: We have travel insurance. Which handles emergencies. Any one off doctor visits, we pay out of pocket. It sounds counter intuitive but it’s much cheaper to do it this way. Just yesterday we went to the doctor and the visit was 21 euros. That’s about 27 us and canadian dollars. If you are in south america or asia it might even cost less.

      Hope that helps.

  8. Hello Annie,

    You got all of the big reasons there – and the real answers to them.

    I am UK born and bred. So far, I have a couple of years in Paris and two and a half years in Brazil under my belt.

    One of the big concerns many people have is how their kids will fare. My two boys were great in Brazil. They learned the language and made friends very easily. That’s what kids do of course.

    1. Hamish,
      I’m so glad you brought up the point about the kids. Where we lived in California, people were getting their kids ready for college in Preschool. Making sure they had all the right courses, studying and go go go without ever “LIVING LIFE”.
      i think living abroad, even if they lose a year, which they won’t will set them apart on college applications.

      I guess it’s hard for people to break from the traditional status quo way of thinking about education.
      Thanks for stopping by. I’m so happy to have fellow travellers with kids visiting.

  9. Nice read and very good points about moving abroad!
    I moved to Japan when I was 20 and have been living here since. I’ve since gotten married and now my wife and I are planning on moving abroad to Taiwan! After that we will probably move to the US.
    Just curious, how do you manage renting out a house while living abroad? What would you do if some sort of problem arose?

    1. Hello Julien,
      It’s logistically harder but its doable. If there is a problem with the house. i.e. plumbing i have several plumbers i found online that will go and fix the problem. also, i asked that my tenant make repairs if need be or have things done and i reimburse them.
      I had to have my roof redone in the past few months and it helped that the roofing company sent me pictures. I had several roofers go and look at the house and do the same thing.
      alternatively you could hire someone to help you. But it’s a pretty passive income. I don’t have to do much other than if a problem arises which is pretty rare. Think about how many times you have called a landlord when you rented. If my renters move out, well this is another issue. I would have to hire a rental agency and probably pay them a fee. Usually companies take a percentage over a year or so. Or they take a flat fee. Hope that helps.

  10. Hey Annie,

    One of my sisters moved from Hungary to London, England about 2 months ago with her family (2 kids, good ones).

    One day she thought about it, one month later they packed up their stuff and just “moved” out there. Just like that; It can be done…just like that.

    I would share this post with her but she doesn’t speak or read in English……yet

    thanks

    Akos

    1. Hello Akos,
      that’s pretty amazing about your sister. Very brave. And you are right. It can be done if that’s what you want. Unfortunately many people who want to move abroad or even just live abroad for a short time put up blocks as to why they can’t. But like your sister, sometimes you just need to do it and do it quickly like jumping into the cold water of the pool. Do it and do it quickly to avoid talking yourself out of it. Happy New Year, Boldog uj evet

  11. There do seem like so many things to think about if you decide to go live abroad but I think if the desire is really there then they’ll figure it out. Just like you did.

    So glad you are finally living your dream and now the kids can say they’ve not only been to France but lived there awhile. That will be something they can cherish forever.

  12. i am still having dreams for going abroad and i got so excited when i think about this matter but still i donna have much funds to go for abroad but it is one my wishes also to go for abroad.I wanna to face the adventure in abroad.I am happy to be here.Thanks..

  13. So glad you addressed the children issue. Living abroad with my son has been a HUGELY wonderful thing and nowhere as difficult as people think it might be.

    1. I know what you mean. It seems like people living abroad with kids is a minority. I grew up traveling a lot especially through Asia and i am so happy to give it back to my three children. It has been a wonderful experience for my family that is starting to bring us together. Thanks for stopping by.

  14. Living abroad was the best experience of my life. All the frustrations pale in the light of the opportunities I created.

    I sold off virtually everything I owned and moved to England on a tourist visa. Yes, it is easier if you arrange everything beforehand, but unlike the US, you can look for work and get your visa approved while in country. I was “forced” to take a trip to Belgium (it could have been anywhere) and re-enter the UK to activate my student entry clearance, but I took that one for the team!

    Do it. Just jump and look for a place to land later.

    1. Wow, you really did a doozy. It really does take a lot of guts to just restart your life and start over in another country and another culture. Thanks for stopping by.

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