Excitement. Adventure. Anticipation. Oh, yes, and a healthy dose of trepidation, too. Can you feel them?
If the answer is yes, the idea of moving abroad has likely taken hold of you. In fact, you may just be taking it so seriously that you’re ready to take action. Or are you at the “dipping toe” stage? No matter. You just know that a whole new life could be waiting for you in a fantastically different country. Are you ready? Hmm…can you ever be?
I’ve made the move to four different countries in my life, twice as a young teacher in international schools in Guatemala and Spain, and twice more as a retiree in Costa Rica and Ecuador where I am now, with a total of 13 years living as an expat. Thinking back, it occurs to me that the planning phase was incredibly exciting to me. Once I’d made the decision, my spirits would rise with irrepressible optimism. The novelty of doing something totally new and unique was exhilarating. Soon I’d be going beyond the “same old, same old” and stepping into an entirely new world full of learning experiences. I would be free to grow and be changed forever.
What’s more, deep down I knew it would be all right. I didn’t know how, but I knew.
Was I afraid? Anxious is probably the better word. Anyone would be crazy not to be concerned, right? After all, it’s one thing to dream of a better, possibly more adventurous life overseas, yet quite another to feel with any certainty that everything would work out. I assure you, though, somehow it usually does. In my years as an expat, I’ve only witnessed two people who had to high-tail it immediately back home, to where they felt most comfortable again — unfortunately, they hadn’t taken the time beforehand to delve into the question of whether moving abroad was really right for them personally.
Most expats I know are what I call “successful” — those who’ve made the great leap and have set up really nice lives for themselves. Still others I describe as “thrivers”. What’s the difference? The answer lies in a host of characteristics I plan to share with you in upcoming articles (yes, that’s a teaser!) We’ll be exploring all the ways in which you can succeed, and better yet, to thrive and flourish. Keep a lookout!
The ultimate goal of CuencaHighLife’s ‘The Aspiring Expat’ feature is to provide true insights into what expat life is really all about — the fantastic, the not-so-great, and yes, also sharing my own mistakes and missteps along the way. The idea is to provide you with information beyond what you may already encounter — truthful and REAL. Here are a few questions I’ll answer for you:
- How can I prepare for a life abroad, both pragmatically and personally?
- What is life as an expat really like in the country (or countries) I’m considering? How can I find out the truth?
- How will life abroad affect me personally — emotionally, intellectually, socially & physically? Will I succeed? Will I thrive?
- What experiences do most expats share in common, and what can I learn from them?
- What are some of the pitfalls to be avoided along the way?
- How can I make my own experience the best it can be?
These are just a handful of burning questions you might have — I’m sure you have more. I’ll not only answer them here in the future, but would also like to invite you to visit my website Aspire To Retire Abroad (www.aspiretoretireabroad.com). There you’ll find “Expat Wise Chats” (video interviews) and ongoing relevant blog posts about life overseas. You’ll also discover information about “Personal Expat Coaching” services, as well as a ‘mini-course on the expat life’ called “The Expat Wise Guide”. While this is certainly a shameless plug (and the only one you’ll see in articles from here on), I sincerely hope you’ll join me there as well.
“But what is life like specifically in Ecuador?” you may be asking. “Aren’t you going to share those particular glimpses and insights?” My answer is, “Yes. Absolutely.” My husband and I have lived here for five years, and consider it home. We landed first in the lovely city of Cuenca and stayed for two years, and then built a country home in the breathtaking Andes mountains, just an hour away. We’ve got the best of both worlds with the city so close. I definitely look forward to sharing those experiences with you, too.
Most importantly, I want to get you thinking about your own expat adventure. Every article will culminate with several personal reflection questions to explore The Aspiring Expat — YOU. You may even want to begin a personal journal in which to answer them, or simply jot them down on a sheet of paper. Here are the first:
- How do I feel about the idea of moving overseas? What would be the positives — how would my life be enhanced? What are the potential negatives, and how do I think I could deal with them?
- What are my most burning questions about life abroad?
- Do I think I would be a “successful” expat? Would I be a “thriver”? What do I think is the
I welcome your feedback now and in the future, both on The Aspiring Expat articles, and with any suggestions as to what you would most like to read about in the future. We’re sure to delve deeply to “unpack” this expat life together — I look forward to it!
Trish LaPlaca can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org