The first step of moving is defining why you want to move. Are you bored? Are you looking for new scenery? Moving for a significant other, job opportunity, running from the law, searching for the perfect dive bar where no one speaks your language? There are hundreds of reasons to move. Pick one.
The hardest part, at least in my experience, is deciding where you want to move. The idea that you can live (nearly) anywhere in the world you want is empowering. And also overwhelming, terrifying, thrilling and sincerely strange.
But don’t freak out.
There are thousands of guides for these sorts of things – and I’m not even disregarding those nonsensical Buzzfeed quizzes – to do with what you will, and it’s absolutely okay make life decisions however the hell you please. Magic 8 balls, slips of paper in a hat, globe spins, tarot card readings, drunken plane-ticket purchases and coin-flips included. I’m just here to give you some suggestions for narrowing down your worldly slow travel destinations.
Where to Move: Choosing a Location
Close your eyes. Envision your ideal surroundings. Are you watching the palm trees sway from a hammock on the beach, drinking whiskey in a log cabin in the mountains, people watching at a crowded cafe in a bustling city, napping in a scenic garden by a lake, riding the subway and writing dark poetry, or salsa dancing to live music till 4am?
To move, you’ve got to be willing to change up your scenery, and it’s important to remember that unlike a vacation destination, this new scenery isn’t fleeting. It’s stickin’ around for a hot second, whether you dig it long term or not.
I say this because a ton of people think their ultimate ‘paradise’ is a white sand beach surrounded by turquoise water. But when all is said and done, the incessant sand in your body’s many crevices, lack of human interaction and non-urgency of beach life seems to make some people crazy. Not us, obviously, but that probably has a lot to do with the fact that we both enjoy being unemployed and warm weather. So think about it, and remember the worst thing that can happen is you move somewhere you ultimately don’t like and then move somewhere else.
This is an important one, and one you should keep an open mind about, especially if it’s your first time moving away from your hometown, state or country.
In my opinion, knowing everything about a place before you move isn’t necessarily a good thing. The fact that you’ve been to Portland 13 times and are familiar with it doesn’t mean that you should rule out Amsterdam or Ecuador just because you’ve never been there. Do your research, and keep your options open when it comes to other cultures. Explore what interests you, and research places that have made your passion(s) a part of their daily life.
Ask yourself whether you’re comfortable with not knowing the local language, and how much you’re willing to sacrifice in terms of common comforts – are you willing to poop in a hole in the ground and possibly get dengue fever? These things are important, and if they scare the shit out of you (and you’re not near a bucket), rethink and move on.
Travel is about learning, and moving is about actively learning in ways that allow you to be a better, wiser, kinder, and more humble human being. Don’t let the unfamiliar scare you away.
Third: Cost & Legality
Unlike those fortunate a-holes who inherit lump sums of money at birth or hot girls who get paid to look pretty in pretty places, the rest of us typically have to work to afford things. Bummertown.
If you plan on moving out of the country, it’s extremely important to do your research before buying a one-way plane ticket to your new kickass destination, or else you could be booted the eff out before you even leave the airport. Look into the legalities of your chosen country, and learn exactly what you need to do to ensure you don’t get deported.
Understandably, the majority of countries reserve the most common jobs for local residents, and if you’re not being sponsored by an employer (Peter worked as a scuba diving instructor in Bermuda and was sponsored for a work visa, for example), making enough money in a foreign country can be a challenging task.
But don’t let that deter you. There are tons upon tons of opportunities to make money abroad – get your certification to teach English (I did a 100 hour TESOL certification class online), search for work-trade opportunities, nanny for a family, house-sit, attend a class at a foreign university, or learn how to make money online and work from anywhere. Get creative, expect to live with less, and learn to be okay with that.
In that same respect, it’s obviously smart to weigh in the cost of living of wherever you’re going. If you know you’re the kind of person who enjoys 20 hour work weeks and a convenient take-off point to explore other nearby countries, look into Southeast Asia, where the cost of living is low. If you know you’re willing to work hard to enjoy the finer things (and views) in life, maybe Sweden is the place for you. If you’re under 30 and dig the outdoors, New Zealand and Australia offer a 1 year working holiday visa for foreigners. If you don’t mind putting in the hours to enjoy absolutely amazing scenery and endless outdoor adventures, Maui is undoubtedly radical.
This is where knowing yourself comes in super handy. For example, I know that I have zero interest in professional sports, olives and ostriches, so I’ll probably avoid moving to wherever in the world those three horrid things converge. I suggest you do the same.
The point of moving is to challenge yourself, sure, but it’s more important to enjoy yourself. If you’re traveling with a partner or a friend, make sure whatever interests you share can both be found there, or at least make compromises you’re both comfortable with. Otherwise you could find yourself sitting on an ostrich farm, eating olive soup and watching professional golf, and that’s no fun for anyone.
Move it up, y’all. You can do it.