I recommend the following:
Save your money – My life would’ve been so much easier if I came to Brasil with a few thousand dollars. I have a friend who worked for six months, didn’t eat out, and saved all her money to move to Brasil. She came here with under five grand, and has been able to easily survive and travel to multiple locations for almost half a year. Building your savings is doable; you just have to be disciplined. Get that second job or side hustle in motion, and pocket anything non-expense related that you earn. If you give yourself 6 months to a year from now, I’m sure you can make it happen.
Learn the basics – I did a few chapters of Rosetta Stone Brazilian Portuguese before I arrived in Brasil. Granted, I already spoke Spanish, so I was able to make a much easier transition than most. However, the vast majority of my Portuguese vocabulary has come from swallowing my pride and talking to people regardless of how crazy I might sound. It’s unlikely that you’ll learn any new language well until you move to a country that speaks it natively. Luckily, you’re in a position of privilege, as many people understand English well enough to help you along the way. If not, a few hand motions and a dictionary will help you in the beginning. When it’s sink or swim, you’d be surprised how much you’ll learn in a short period of time.
Talk to people – Whether it’s locals or fellow American ex-patriots, talk to people who are living in the country that you’re trying to live in. I didn’t find cheap food spots or get affordable rent in Bahia until my American ex-pat friends told me how to go about it and hooked me up with places to stay. Their Portuguese was far better than mine, and since they had been living there for much longer than I’d been in the country, they had far more connections. You can connect with people living abroad through Facebook, and most famously, Evita Robinson’s Nomad•ness Travel Tribe. In addition, my Brasilian friends have also been helpful on this same topic, helping me get good local deals on hostels and places to stay. Worst-case scenario, there’s also a great site called Airbnb that a lot of my abroad living friends use when they’re in a rock in a hard place. They tend to have some great deals on temporary apartments to rent. So use them as a resource.
Frequent flyer miles – If you travel frequently domestically or even internationally for short vacations, try to use the same flight carrier and stack those frequent flyer miles. I got very lucky, and an aunt allowed me to use her miles to pay for my ticket to Brasil. She saved me a $1000 ticket, but I have plenty of friends that have stacked miles themselves for a free flight. If this isn’t an option, try buying your ticket 3-6 months ahead of time and during off-season (varies by country). And put a fare alert on the country you’d like to go. In case you didn’t know, most major flight search engines have fare alert options. So keep an eye out and plan ahead!
The world awaits you. Go experience a new culture. Make memories. And have the time of your life. You may find that living outside of the United States on a permanent basis is indeed doable. It may even offer you a better, stress-free lifestyle. But you’ll only find out if you go. Stop putting it off and saying you can’t do it. You’re only getting older. And often with age, comes more responsibility.
Any tips for moving and living abroad? Speak on it!