Everyone has their reasons for crossing a border for a few years, but there are permanent long-term effects a short-lived stay will have on you.
We've made two international moves in the past four years, and I'm here to tell you...make sure you have deep discussions covering these topics before you jet off.
How These SIX Talking Points Will Alter Your Future
- Having A Large Family- this is a tricky one. I know a few people who have quite sizable families and still manage the expat life beautifully. However, if you are accustomed to having family or close friends around to help out in times of sickness, working late, date nights, etc then this will be a mighty tough adjustment for you. Sure you will make new mom friends, but that takes time. Developing a deep bond and trust for a stranger to care for your babies can be nerve-racking. Also the cost. Some countries are more family-friendly than others; providing ways to affordably raise children. The cost of healthcare, childcare, owning a car (or two), food, schooling, and housing are mind-blowing in a few spots and greatly weigh on the size of your future family. If you are not financially and emotionally prepared, it can be a huge adjustment.
- Growing up, I always dreamt of having four kids. However, we had our first baby in one state and soon after moved cross country. Found out we were due with number two shortly before moving to Asia. And now we are living in Europe. If we were still living in our hometown surrounded with grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, then having more children might have made more sense. But I can't wrap my head around the thought of settling into a new country with four kiddos in tow. Deciding whether to move abroad or not will have long-term effects on the size of your family.
- Stunting Your Career- this is a big deal to a lot of people out there. Ever heard the coined term, "Trailing Spouse?" It's a real thing! Most of the time, international relocations occur because one person in the relationship has been presented an incredible opportunity. After mulling over the pros and cons, one individual will likely give up or put their careers on hold while abroad. If you are this person, the trailing spouse, this will take a mental and emotional toll on you. It might sounds nice to some. Move to a foreign country? Take a break from work for a few years? Have a leisure lifestyle? Yeah...not so fast with all that. If you have small children, they will be home with you all.day.every.day. If you are not currently a stay at home parent, this will be a massive change to your day-to-day. You will go from being accountable for tasks, having a boss, a checklist to sign off, and (a big one) being paid for your efforts at the end of the day to... wiping butts, kissing boo boos, refereeing fights, and making snacks, allll the snacks...and not getting paid a single dime for your thankless job.
- If you don't think the mental shift will take a toll on you- what about a gap in employment? Some companies frown upon time holes in careers. Look into the future. If you return to your home country, will it be difficult to obtain work again? This idea of having a vacation from work for a few years could have a massive impact on your overall career.
- My undergrad is in journalism, and I also hold a masters degree in education. A gap in my employment as an editor/publisher/news reporter would for sure punch a hit to my future resume in terms of gained expertise in the field. This would make me less desirable to potential employers. Although, a big one for public educators is how we are paid on a tiered salary level. Each year, teachers are given a minimal pay bump. If you are a trailing spouse for five years, then that's five years of pay increases you are consciously tossing in the garbage. Retirement is also a big one for teachers. You would be sacrificing those five years of living abroad and adding them on to the end of your career upon returning home.
- Forced To Learn a New Language- guys, this is a big one. I will speak from personal experience first. Our initial move abroad was Singapore. They have a few main languages on the island; one of them being English. Therefore, our move and settling-in phase was much smoother. And there was no pressure on learning a new way of communicating to survive. Our current situation in Germany looks much different. While there are a few, friendly, English speaking spots in Bavaria, they much prefer you speak their language...and rightfully so. However, that leisure life you are dreaming of will be hard to come by without being able to communicate with the locals. There are various ways to obtain a new language: one-on-one tutoring, online training, and registering for in person classes. Although, the physical classes in my area are no joke. Five days a week for four hours a day. Now, let that sink in. Are you willing to spend that time and money learning a language you will only use for a few years? Think of returning to your home country. You will put in all that effort and stress for little to no return in your future.
- Missing Out on Milestone Events- Let me paint a picture... You recently found out your sister is pregnant, but you just moved 12,000 miles from home. Your precious nephew will be graduating in the spring. Your bff finally got engaged and planning a June wedding. Your college girlfriends are planning a reunion trip in August, and you are invited. Your parents will be having their 50th wedding anniversary celebration in October. All of these things will be taking place over the course of the following calendar year. How do you choose? How do you consciously prioritize who is more important than the other? Because if you go home for one and not the others, that is what you are doing. People see that. And unless they have lived this lifestyle, they will not understand in the least. Feelings will be hurt, and relationships will be put to the test. It's time zone changes, time off work, lining up childcare or lugging your offspring with you, not to mention the heaping loads of cash to fund travel expenses. This is a tough one to balance, but not as heart-wrenching as the next...
- Challenging to Return Home For Funerals- You recently catch wind someone you dearly cherish is not doing well. It's not as simple as driving down the road or a few hours to spend precious time with them. You've lined up all the essentials for this: money, time off from work, childcare covered if it's a few days away and doesn't make sense to take them with you. Now, the life-altering decision. Do you go now? Get a warm hug and tell the best stories of time's past? Or, do you wait for the inevitable and honor them in the most respected way? We've lived through this twice. I'm here to tell you it is not fun, but it is life. And life will still spin whether you are in the next town over or across the mighty Pacific.
- You Might Think You Are Only Leaving for a Couple of Years- this one happens more than you know!
- Hubby signed a contract. A lucrative one at that. You've made up your mind and have a plan. You are taking a hiatus from work, diving into a hobby you've put on hold, and will be seizing this amazing opportunity to travel and spend time creating magical moments with your family. It's been an amazing whirlwind couple of years, but you are ready to return home. Back to work. Back to your family and friends. Fall back into a previous life you had put on hold... That is until, hubby walks through the door one afternoon with words you never thought you'd entertain. -EXTENDING THE CONTRACT-
- You are two months from going home. Returning to the comforts of your old neighborhood, favorite shops, that one dish you've been craving from THAT restaurant...you know. Now all of a sudden, this two year "vacation" has the potential to be so much more. That career you put on hold could have a much larger employment gap. More milestones you are missing out on. Family occasions slipping through your fingers. But...your kids are getting settled. You are finally making strong connections. Getting to know the area more. Being comfortable living abroad. Growing accustomed to the weird money, recycling systems, strange culture, interesting food, and weather patterns. I promise... that one simple phrase will rock your boat and have lasting, long-term effects on your future.
If you've not taken the time to seriously think about these six issues, then now is the time. Go the old fashioned route and break out the pencil and paper. What long-term effects will these topics have on your future? Make a pros and cons list. Pour a glass of wine and have the hard discussions with your significant other. Dive into all the ifs, ands, buts, and whys. Remember, moving abroad is a team effort. If you are both not onboard...completely onboard... it won't be pretty.
Want more tips on how to prepare for life abroad?
Sign up for our newsletter below!
As I've said before, traveling is the lifeblood of living abroad. No matter what continent you have been plopped on, it's absolutely worth it to save the funds to get out there and explore! No brainer, you guys...no brainer.
Some folks who live abroad are blessed with an exceptional "expat package" making travel easier on the wallet. Those who aren't, have to make sacrifices just as they normally would back in their home country. Either way, there are super simple ways to save cash for travel funds.
Here's a quick list to tick off RIGHT NOW:
- cancel subscriptions- gym, magazine, cable
- free ways to work-out: Hello, YouTube!
- say NO to impulse buys
- make a list and stick to it
- buy groceries in bulk when on sale (freeze extra)
- use country specific Amazon to save boat loads on shipping
- ex. If living in Germany, I wouldn't order something on Amazon.de and have it shipped to the States. I would create an account on Amazon.com and have it shipped from that website.
- be your own stylist
- hair, nails, brows, facials
- in-source services
- house cleaning, gardener, lawn maintenance
- babysitter swap
- exchange your time with a friend to watch their kids while they go out and vice versa
- buy recycled or used items
- FB Marketplace, Craigslist, thrift stores, various community groups all sell good quality items with lots of life left in them
- free family activities at your finger tips
- replace museums, movie theaters, and play centers with parks, hiking trails, playground, and bike rides
- make your own coffee
- nix the fancy five dollar cups
- weekly meal plan and eat at home
- ask your kids what they want and get them to help you shop
- make a monthly budget (see my last tip at the bottom)
- and stick to it!
Have you made notes? Created a plan to implement a few of the bullet points? Trust me. You will save boat loads by cutting the unnecessary crap. You'll be surprised at how quickly it adds up!
- reassess your living situation
- is it a good time to sell your home? downsize? negotiate a lower payment with your landlord?
- sell a car...or two
- the monthly payment, gas, insurance, general maintenance all.adds.up
- sign up for a credit card with travel perks
- Put standing bills on there and pay it off every.single.month
- (in the US, highly recommend Chase - amazing rewards - double points for travel-related purchases and sign on bonus)
- Put standing bills on there and pay it off every.single.month
Want $750 straight to your pocket? Copy the link below when signing up for Chase Sapphire Preferred
Click Here to Sign Up! Voila!
- out with the lights/off with the water
- it sounds trivial, but making sure they are shut off really adds up
- open a travel savings account
- commit to putting $20, $50, or even $100 in every month
- two words - DAVE RAMSEY
- this guy knows his stuff and put us on the straight and narrow during the first six months of our marriage
Reframing your mindset and aligning your priorities will drastically change the way you live your everyday life. This is our life. We follow this list. I make a grocery list and shop at Aldi. I love to cook and don't feel like I'm sacrificing quality either, even on the organic selection. It's tricky at times, but we have one car in our family. We have credit cards that provide us with sweet travel-related rewards.
I don't get my hair highlighted and usually get it cut once a year or so. 80% of the boys' clothes are hand-me-downs or from second-hand shops, even shoes and jackets. My clothes too! The puffy vest I wore to church yesterday was from the local thrift store, and the shirt underneath was easily ten years old. Almost all of our furniture has been previously loved, not purchased from a store. I also buy generic make-up and beauty products. Living in Germany is heavenly when it comes to exploring forests, parks, and mind-blowing playgrounds. Creating memories outside is free and fun!
I won't lie though...we are human. Once in a while that chocolate bar at the check out is more than tempting. I might splurge on that ice cream cone for the kiddos or the occasional family outing to the movies...or restaurant. Because, who doesn't like a break from the kitchen every now and then?
You don't have to completely deprive yourself of a colorful day-to-day life, but rid the excess. Be smart about the choices you make. Make a budget, stick to it, and save.
Lastly, make traveling a priority. If you don't put your eye on the prize and believe you can see the world on a budget, then the opportunity might pass you by.
Want more tips on how to save?
Sign up for our newsletter below!
Ever heard of "Bali Belly?"
I have. And would like to personally never experience it. We've had wonderful experiences in Indonesia without any stomach issues. All hail the miracle product!
In fact, I have a good friend who had a 12-hour return flight home from Bali. Within 30 minutes of being in the air, she started to feel dizzy and then came the nasty sweats. Before she knew it, she was profusely vomiting. In the aisleway. In the galley. In the tiny excuse for an airplane bathroom. Everywhere. And then the worst part came.
She blacked out. Passed out. The flight attendants tried everything they could, but her temperature kept climbing while she was unconscious. Luckily her husband was onboard with her. He was suffering from his own sour stomach, though, so not a ton of assistance came from him.
Thankfully, they landed safely. Rushed her to the hospital where she was admitted and given lots of fluids. I wasn't present, so I can't say for sure what was administered to get rid of the yuck. But I have been told by friends who work in the emergency room, a simple over the counter product is given in HEAVY doses. This simple little product is:
No matter the country you come from or will be traveling to, it is available everywhere. It's affordable. It comes in capsule form for adults to safely swallow, but also plenty made in tablet form for kiddos. You better believe I've crushed up a tablet or two and swirled it around in yogurt or mashed banana for my kids during the toddler era. I now dissolve it in water or juice and have them suck it down. They know what it is now, and they are well aware of how quickly it helps them.
We were recently in Malta, and my eldest came down with something very very fast. 104F fever, chills, sweats, vomiting. He begged me for charcoal. Within a few hours, his fever came down and the vomiting disappeared.
I'm telling ya.
The activated charcoal will soak up any nasty bacteria that can upset your tummy and will make you so very sick.
We took our boys to Thailand when they were 2 months and 22 months. The water at our accommodation would make you sick if consumed.
TMI coming your way! It helps with diarrhea as well as vomiting. Whatever is ailing your sensitive GI track, this stuff will soak it up and eventually work it's way out. It may look like sticky black tar. But hey, I'd rather see that than ten more rounds of throw up or spend the night on the toilet in tears.
So, do yourself a favor and pick up some today! Keep it in your luggage or already-prepped travel bag. You can write me a thank you note later!
Want more tips dropped straight to your inbox?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. The above information is provided as preventative measures for acute illness while traveling abroad. If you are not feeling well and experience extreme health issues, please seek out emergency services.