So, you may not be contemplating a move quite so huge, but move half-way around the world is exactly what I did in 2009. You can read about Why I Sold Everything and Moved to Guam. The thought of leaving it all behind is certainly tempting, but it is also daunting, especially if you’ve been in the same spot for years or even decades. So let’s quickly get to the how.
Make a Work-Back Calendar
Fix your date of departure, then work back. If you find it impossible to get everything done, adjust your departure date. The Hubs and I made the decision leave our comfortable Dallas abode in March and we moved to Guam by September. Six months was just enough time to sell everything, give notice at work, and say goodbye to our friends and family. Because we needed to travel to see all our family, we vacated our apartment two weeks before departure and stayed with my parents. If you plan on keeping your apartment or home for when you come back you should look into a property protection company such as Global Guardians.
Once your departure date is fixed, add the following milestones in reverse chronological order:
- Say goodbye to friends and family
- Vacate home
- Pack and store non-essential possessions
- Give two-weeks notice at work
- Get necessary immunizations
- Sell as many possessions as you can (this can be the hardest part)
- Inventory possessions, decide what to keep, store, trash, gift, donate, and sell
- Secure housing in new destination
- Contact employers in new destination
- Apply for immigration and work visas
- Choose your destination
Let’s go through these milestones, one by one.
Choose Your Destination
It’s a new year and it’s tempting to make huge goals. Not to be a dream crusher, but moving abroad is no joke in this global economy. If I could change one thing about our move, it would be to secure jobs beforehand! I highly recommend you consider the following when choosing a destination:
- Can I afford to visit there first?
- Can I legally work there?
- Can I afford the cost of living?
- Do I have enough money to live for 6 months?
- Do I have an emergency exit strategy and money to leave?
Visas, Jobs, & Housing
Some countries’ work visas are hard won — meaning, you have to secure employment before you are granted one. If this is the case, it’s wise to visit your destination before you move. If you’re moving to a small community (like Guam), you’ll want to make friends with locals and business people early on. In the case of Guam, some of the best jobs aren’t posted online, they’re word of mouth. Checking out your destination in person will also help you get a sense of neighborhoods and proximity to shopping, business, and recreation so you can choose housing wisely. If you can’t visit your new home before you move, get in touch with a reliable realtor, employment agency, and friend on the ground.
Selling Everything with No Regrets
I love shopping; I love stuff. However, I don’t miss a single piece of furniture or clothing that I sold in the Great Guam Migration of 2009. You have to do psychology on yourself to eliminate everything, but there aren’t too many places in the world where you can’t buy new things. I focused on the joy of starting with an empty home and buying local wares.
Now to the practicalities. We made a spreadsheet of all our possessions and a price at which we wanted to part with each item. (I also created a web store, but that’s for advanced techies.) We turned our living room into a boutique and invited friends and neighbors over to get first dibs on our stuff. I marked each item sold in my spreadsheet noting the paid amount. The next weekend we advertised the sale on Craigslist and sold even more. What we couldn’t sell we gave to friends. A couple boxes of photo albums and tools (the Hubs’) were stored. We left our car with our parents to sell because we couldn’t get the asking price we wanted.
The way to be unsentimental about selling your stuff is to do it quickly and with mantras. Remind yourself in a phrase or two why you’re doing this.
Five-and-a-half years later, we are still living on Guam. The struggles we had in the beginning only reinforced the reasons why we moved here. For most of us, there won’t be a perfect time, amount of money, or situation to move half-way around the world, but it can be done successfully with the right motive and planning.