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
The 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.
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.