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Moving Abroad Successfully on Your Own

How to Move Abroad

It had long been my dream to live on a tropical island, and what was to have been a year in the Fiji Islands turned into five years. When I returned, I was repeatedly asked how I did it. How was I able to give up everything and move to a place I barely knew? Seniors especially were interested in retiring on a tropical island. So, I drew up my 10 steps on how to move abroad, wherever you wish to go.

1. Is this something you really want or can do? Talk is cheap. Can you really give up your friends and move thousands of miles away to a place where there's limited television and yours is the only cell phone around?

2. Pick a place. It's important to choose the right place. If you've always wanted an ocean view, this is your chance. Or if only the hustle and bustle of city life satisfies you, expect to find it only on a smaller, more manageable scale. Be honest with yourself about what you want. Do your research.

3. Decide on a moving date. It's best to have a definite date for your move. This way you are working toward a goal that is realistic and tangible.

4. How are you going? If you just can't leave your things behind, renting a container on a freighter is best. You can accompany your things or fly days later when they are expected to arrive.

5. Do your research. Contact the tourist board or embassy to ascertain residency requirements. Currently in Fiji, you can only stay as a tourist for 90 days but can return the next day for 90 more. Do you need a Visa? Start the process three to six months before you go.

6. Simply your life. Clean out your closets and give away or sell things you don't need or can get there. If you plan to work, take original diplomas. I had a copy of mine but that was unacceptable when I was offered a teaching position.

7. Maintain your health. Depending on where you are going, the medicine and dental care may not be what you are used to. Get a complete physical, your needed shots, and a dental checkup. Do you have enough medicine? Take enough to last until you find a doctor. Can you order medicines online?

8. Use the Internet. Here you can find land or houses for sale. Also, if you read the local newspaper online, you can get a feel for the place: food cost, apartment rent, weather. The State Department's web site will tell you if there are any warnings or problems in the area.

9. Cut emotional ties. It's said that if you can make it past the first six months in a foreign country, you will probably stay. After the newness and excitement wears off and reality sets in you'll find yourself alone without family or friends. This is now your home. You can't click open your cell phone and call back to your former home every day.

My relatives and friends cried when I was leaving for the airport. But I had made up my mind. Although I would miss them, I wanted a new life, a new adventure. Once settled in your new home get to know your neighbors. Hang out with expats also. You'll appreciate talking to someone with a similar background who will understand what you are saying without your having to give a long explanation.

10. Make a checklist. Make a list of everything you are selling and everything you are taking, including your tickets and passport. As each thing is done, check it off. I made a list of things I was selling: furniture, appliances, books, some clothes. I took the list to work, made copies, and passed it around. My co-workers picked what they wanted and put it on layaway with me. Just before I left, they paid and picked up their goods.

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