World Traveler or American Expatriate: Choosing Where to Live
Dreaming of living abroad but not sure where to go?
The possibilities are nearly endless since the Internet is available in almost any location you can imagine. The ability to work from your laptop and cellphone makes living outside your home country a real possibility for anyone.
All it takes is a little advanced planning.
Settling Down or Traveling – The Choice is Yours
It is possible to earn a living while traveling, just ask blogger Chris Guillebeau (http://chrisguillebeau.com/). He’s made it his mission to see every country in the world, and at last count, he’s nearly there. He works from the road, creating guides to help other would-be world travelers make the most out of their journeys.
But that’s not what most people think of when they say “location independent.” Instead, they mean living somewhere else permanently – most often in another country. The question is, where?
You need to take into account several factors when making your choice, including:
Infrastructure. You’ll need adequate (and readily available) health and dental care, not to mention reliable Internet access.
Cost of living. Make sure your income can support you in the country you choose. Not only that, but be aware that in many countries, the cost of living may be quite low, but only because the locals live in terrible poverty.
Emigration laws. How easy is it to earn permanent resident status? Some countries welcome immigrants and are well equipped to handle them. Others, such as Switzerland, Austria, and other European countries are notoriously difficult to gain entry to.
Safety. Are Westerners welcomed? Will your religious beliefs be tolerated? Is the area in general stable, or is it prone to outbreaks of violence?
Distance from home. Depending on your situation (elderly relatives, etc) you might want to look toward Central America rather than Asia, for example, just for easier travel.
The US State Department maintains a database of all countries which includes information about safety, infrastructure, travel requirements, residency applications and more.
You can find the listing of countries at http://travel.state.gov/travel/cis_pa_tw/cis/cis_4965.html
Another source of information about your proposed country is the consulate or embassy there. The US maintains a presence in most friendly countries, and it’s recommended that before traveling or moving to a foreign nation you inform the embassy about your plans.
You can find a complete listing of embassies, consulates, and their websites at http://www.usembassy.gov/
Something else to consider: Is there a community of ex-pats already there? While it can be thrilling to dream of living and working in a foreign country, the reality can be quite different.
Having other Americans around to hang out with (and learn from) can make moving abroad much easier on your entire family.
Whether you choose to put down roots in a foreign country or just wander from place to place enjoying the scenery, it’s important to do your homework.
Be sure your adopted country is someplace you’ll be comfortable visiting or living, and that your own government has good relations with that country.
Planning ahead will make your adventure much more satisfying.