EFAM | Escape From America Magazine

Stop Talking About Becoming an Expat – Just Get on and Do It!

If I can be an expat – anyone can

We blow the 7 most common excuses for putting off becoming an expatriate out of the water…so stop complaining and start reading.

We, the staff and contributors at EscapeArtist.com, have heard it all before – the hundreds of excuses levelled at us about why a given individual, couple or family would like to lead the life we all love living abroad, but how they just can’t because of the restrictions they place on their own lives and their own freedom of choice and movement.


In the past I personally have pandered to these people, doing my best to swallow their excuses and making them feel better about their inability to cut the ties that bind them to their mundane and restricted outlook on life…but no more!  I am fed up of hearing people enviously lusting after my life abroad, whilst at the same time whining on and on about why they couldn’t possibly be as brave or as adventurous or as bold as me and expatriate to find a better quality of life overseas.

Today I am going to come right out and say it – to all those of you out there who would love to see more of the world, stop making excuses about why you can’t relocate and expatriate, and just get on with it and stop limiting your own life and that of your children and your partner too!  If you feel you’re truly unable to move because of ‘valid’ and ‘genuine’ reasons such as healthcare for you, education for your children or employment requirements for your spouse for example, read on as I blow the 7 most common excuses for not making a move abroad out of the water.

After you’ve read this report there will be nothing holding you back from making your dreams of a new life abroad come true!

1)     “I couldn’t possibly relocate at the moment because I have school-age children, and I wouldn’t want to upset their educational progress.”

Oh my GOD!  Get over yourself – even if your child is a genius or ‘just’ a naturally gifted prodigy there are schools around the world that can accommodate their learning requirements!  There are thousands of international schools spanning every continent and almost every single nation in the world – what’s more, if you commit to a permanent move abroad your child could well settle in to a local educational establishment.  You may even discover that they thrive in a new nation and through the medium of a new language.

The expectations and pressures that we pile on our kids when we’re living in a nation like the US or the UK, where league tables and competitive neighbours and fellow parents make us insecure and pushy, tend to fall away when we’re living abroad, struggling to learn a new language and our children are putting us to shame with their linguistic talents!  I’ve seen it many, many times – children love learning a new language, it’s an adventure, and they love the fact that they can do it better than their parents!  It’s a gift that gives them a great deal of confidence at a crucial point in their lives.

So, if you have school age children I’d like to point out that there are schools around the world that can accommodate them – and I would also like to mention that living abroad, embracing a new culture, becoming steeped in the language and ways of a new people is an education in itself – and one that no amount of money can buy you if you remain stuck in your old life.

2)     “I’d love to retire abroad but I have a medical condition that restricts me.”

I’m genuinely sorry to hear about your medical issues – but remember that there are doctors, hospitals, clinics and drug stores abroad!  What’s more, healthcare and dentistry overseas can be anywhere up to 75% cheaper than in the US for the same or even higher standards of care and medicine!

In countries that the ill informed might consider to be basic and backward such as Turkey, Cuba and Argentina to name but three random examples, you’ll find American, British and European trained medical professionals working with the latest methods and technology for a fraction of the cost that you would pay back home.

In addition to this fact, you can get international medical insurance that will cover you for every single illness or medical mishap no matter where you choose to live overseas.  If you require regular medication or treatment, just research the hospitals in your favoured country before you go – and if you are really restricted, (either by your condition or your own limitations), make sure you live within easy reach of a clinic so that you can have care on call whenever you need it.

A final point to make with regard to this particular excuse is that when you unburden yourself from the ties that you’re allowing to bind you to your old life, when you free yourself up and embrace your dreams, you leave the stresses of your current life behind and you move to somewhere of your choosing where the pace of life is ideally more laid back and the climate is ideally beautiful, you may very well find you feel a hell of a lot better than you did before anyway.  That medical condition that’s plaguing you might ease, become easier to live with or disappear altogether!  I’m not saying that moving abroad can create miracle cures – but I am saying that people with conditions such as asthma, stress-related illnesses and arthritis often all see improvements when they expatriate and begin living a better life abroad for example.

3)     “I’m not ready to retire, I still need to earn an income so I couldn’t possibly expatriate.”

According to a well-respected international survey of expatriates conducted by HSBC, a leading bank of the world, expatriate professionals earn on average 25% more than their peers back home.

Do I even need to elaborate on that point?

In case I do, what that means for you my friend is that you can not only potentially find work abroad and extend, enhance and develop your career, you can potentially earn far more if you move abroad than you do now too!  If you couple the chance of a higher salary with the fact that you can often enhance your taxation status when you expatriate – then you add a lower cost of living in to the mix too – you will quickly see that you’re mad to remain living the life you are living and working the job you are working!

If you want to have a better chance of retiring before you’re too old to enjoy your time away from work, you’re better off seeking out a new job, career or employment opportunity abroad now because you can earn more, pay less tax, spend less and therefore have far more cash in the bank to save and invest for your future.

4)     “I’d love to move but I’d miss my family too much.”

It’s a well-known, documented and proven fact amongst expats that as soon as you move abroad you set a trend!  Your family will be watching your progress with concern initially, but as soon as they see you settle in and embrace your new life, and as soon as you highlight all the things that are so much better about your new life, you’ll be surprised at how quickly your family will come round to your way of thinking.

For some people this means that their family eventually move to live near them in their new nation…and so why not consider the thought of moving lock, stock and barrel abroad with your entire family in tow?  It’s certainly possible – what’s more, it’s preferable for all concerned too.

However, if that’s just not going to happen – why not think about the fact that the technologically advanced age we live in means that you can speak to people all over the world for free thanks to the likes of Skype, you can even have ‘face time’ with Apple’s new iPhone 4, and you can basically stay in close touch no matter how many miles you put between you.

Finally, even if your family would never move to join you permanently abroad, you can bet your bottom dollar that they will come and visit and stay for prolonged periods of time and embrace the life you’ve steeped yourself in very willingly.  So, you’ll be able to enjoy quality time with them very single year rather than you all taking each other for granted when you see each other every day as you currently do!

5)     “I couldn’t do what you’ve done, I’d just be so lonely.”

I have never had more friends in my life than since I have become an expat.  Expats stick together, and expatriate friendships forged from a common place of excitement and adventure tinged with some trepidation are firm and lasting – surviving distances of thousands of miles when one or other in the friendship group relocates somewhere else!  So, no matter how many friends you think you have now, I can guarantee you will make more friends, and in some instances much better friends, once you move abroad.

What’s more, because you share many common bonds with your new friends rather than just location, your friendships with fellow expats will be much deeper.  You will also have the chance to meet and befriend local people in your new nation, people with whom you perhaps once thought you would have little in common.  Living abroad certainly gets rid of your preconceptions about ‘foreign’ people as you soon discover that there are common moral and personal values that span continents and religions as well as language barriers.

6)     “I’m a patriot so I couldn’t become an expatriate – I’d be turning my back on my country.”

Expatriates are ambassadors for their nation abroad – they are made up of a mixture of people who truly love and uphold everything about their old country, (people like you), and people who have become jaded or limited by their old country and who complain about it all the time!  But the world is a much richer place for having people of opposing opinions in it!

Just because you love everything about your current country, if you still want to expand your horizons and see more of the world, why shouldn’t you move abroad?  Not living in a country doesn’t mean you have turned your back on it.  Hell, Americans still have to pay tax back to the good old US of A when they expatriate anyway, and how much more ‘love’ can you show your country than contributing to its tax coffers!

You can be a patriot and an expatriate – there are many fine examples of this fact.  Take Madonna and Gwynneth Paltrow as your celebrity examples – both have spent a great deal of time holed up in the UK but both are proud Americans!

7)     “I have too many ties that I just can’t sever so I can’t move abroad.”

This is the underlying restriction that really limits every single person, no matter which excuse they choose to voice about why they couldn’t possibly move abroad.  ‘The ties that bind’ us are an illusion – you are not physically tied to any one object, commitment or person, (unless you’re kinky), but if you choose to think of yourself as being restricted in life by your life, that is exactly what you will be.  You will be restricted in your choices, your opportunities, your happiness and your chances in life…and the only person placing those restrictions on you is you.

If you walked out of your life tomorrow the world would not end.  Now, whilst I do not advocate turning your back on your family, a job, financial commitments, your children etc., my point is that you are not so critical an individual in any one person’s life that you cannot have a choice about how you lead your life!  Even the president of the United States knows this, which is why he has a Vice President just in case!

Stop limiting your own path in life.  If you truly want to move abroad you will move abroad.  If on the other hand you’re a lily-livered, timorous beastie, (i.e., a wimp), why are you even reading this article?  Accept your lot in life, try and be happy with the choices you have made, stop blaming others for your position and stop judging or envying people like me.  I have chosen to embrace my dreams – and I am no one special – in other words, if I can do it, anyone can do it.  You just have to want to do it.  If you don’t want to expatriate, stop pretending like you do – if you do want to expatriate, EscapeArtist.com shows you everything you need to know to make your dreams come true!

About the author: Susan Beverley is a writer and editor for Escape From America Magazine and also writes for and maintains Expat Daily News – the expat news blog for EscapeArtist.com.  She traveled extensively before becoming an expat herself having found a place to call home in South America where she has lived since 2005.  She understands the concerns, needs and difficulties that expats face from first-hand experience and is dedicated to supporting and encouraging anyone who is looking for a new nation to call home.

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34 Comments

  1. Anthony May 13, 2011 at 2:41 am

    Hi Susan,

    Thanks for the great article. I am one of those people who believe that there is a whole new world out there if you’d just venture out. Most people around me are either discouraging or pessimistic when they hear me talk about working overseas, but having read your article, I finally see their comments as what they really are: mere excuses! Thanks for giving me more courage.

    But I do have a favor to ask: can you give me some advice as to how best to start? Do you really, like they say, take a plane to wherever you want to work, get the local papers and start searching for jobs? Coz’ I’m not exactly the richest guy around, and I find it hard to imagine taking my tiny amount of savings and flying overseas, only to end up penniless and jobless, maybe even with no money to fly back!

    Most pleased if you’d offer some advice, thanks in advance.:)

  2. emma September 22, 2011 at 6:16 pm

    okay, I’m retired and I don’t want or need to work. I want to expat, but all the hype seems to be for those who are looking for employment. When you check into it, if you don’t work you cant expat. Any ideas as I’d like to get out of here and have a nice adventure for a few years. I’m thinking of Europe, I would love NZ or OZ but I’m already aware of the difficulties in the process. thanks

  3. Jeff August 19, 2012 at 1:12 am

    I stumbled across this today and thought “there is bound to be some relevant advice here.” Unfortunately none of the 7 excuses are on my list. In my life there are 2 “excuses” that keep me from going. #1 What am I going to do there? When I look at jobs overseas I only find two categories. A) skilled professionals (ie engineers, or geologists) B) teaching english. which seems really hit and miss and rarely seems like it would pay enough for me to even consider it seriously. #2 debt. I can barely make payments as is. That is with living far below my means. If I can’t make payments now, how could I possibly consider taking a pay cut to teach english somewhere?

    Let’s face it if I thought I could find a job in a different country that would allow me to still pay my bills, I would be applying right now. Susan, if you have any advice for these matters, please let me know.

  4. Kevin February 14, 2013 at 2:58 am

    Several people have posted asking how they would make money and how they are paying off current payments.

    How were these issues not brought up or responded to? These are the bigger ones.

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