When my husband and I first came abroad, we heard variations of the same thing from our single expat friends that had also moved abroad, “It’s not as scary for you because you have each other.” I guess my single expat friends hadn’t seen the increasing belly size that was to be our baby in 2 months. I was scared because regardless of your relationship status (single, couple, or family) or what phase of life you are in, the move abroad can be scary: not knowing what to expect, not knowing if this life is for you, not knowing how to find the supermarket. But you can ease some of these fears by considering some points if you are moving abroad as a single person:
Why are you doing this? And be honest about it. You’re reasons for why you are doing this will be a big deciding factor on many levels including where you go.
Many people move abroad to change up their dating scene. If you are moving abroad as a single person and looking to meet someone think about where you are going and do some research into the culture you are moving to. Some cultures might be more closed off than others, as well as other relationship factors you might consider. For example, if you don’t like men who are full of machismo, places like Italy or some Latin American countries might not be your wisest choice. If you’re looking for a girl who is straightforward and approachable and is looking for serial monogamy maybe consider Denmark suggests an expat friend that lived in Copenhagen. Another friend notes that her male American friend was loved by the ladies in Taiwan but that she, a single female, towered over Taiwanese men and was “unapologetically American” so the men were intimidated by her. Sure some of these things can be stereotypes and you can always meet someone who breaks the mold but you should at least consider this if one of the things you’re looking to get out of the experience is a future relationship.
If you are doing this for a career move, you might want to consider what kind of relocation package is offered, for the financial benefits as well as the social ones. Some jobs that are helping you relocate will offer relocation packages: help finding an apartment, meet and greets with new arrivals, introduction to the city. This could be an extremely useful tool if you are someone who doesn’t feel safe or secure going at this alone.
If your job doesn’t offer overseas opportunities you might want to consider what skills you have that are beneficial? Do you speak Spanish? That would make a move to Spain easier. Would you be willing to teach English? Many places such as Cambodia are desperately hiring English speakers to teach ESL and the cost of living is quite low. Does your job allow for the freedom to move abroad? Many masseuses, chiropractors, and physical therapists I’ve met here came as tourists and decided to stay. Their job flexibility made the decision to relocate easy.
Do you enjoy – really enjoy – your own company? Because chances are you will have alone time.
That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is something to think about and plan for. Ask around and do some investigating to see what kinds of activities are popular in your upcoming community. When we were moving to Dominican Republic we got in touch with another teacher to ask about the kinds of activities people were involved in so we already had an idea of what to expect when we got here. “People here are really active,” he mentioned, “there’s basketball on Mondays, volleyball on Wednesdays, ultimate Frisbee on Thursdays.” If my husband and I weren’t active people this might not have been a good fit. It’s always best that you find out ahead of time and plan accordingly. But remember, moving abroad as a single person can give you the freedom that someone with a partner may not have to try new things, take up new activities, and meet new people . You might have to do some things alone a bit in the beginning until you make friends but knowing this is half the battle. Use that time to explore both your host country and yourself.
What lifestyle are you looking for?
Portillo, a top destination in Chile for skiing, takes pride in being small and remote, no shopping centers or town squares. That’s great if you’re a ski aficionado but not if you don’t like skiing or don’t plan on taking it up as a hobby. Lifestyle includes a few other things as well. Our current expat community does most things together. If you like this great but for some expat acquaintances this is too close for comfort and prefer to do their own thing. Since the expat experience is whatever you want to make of it, to each their own but have an idea of what lifestyle you are moving into before getting there.
It could be easier for a single person to make new friends, maybe even stronger friendships than couples.
While many single friends here immediately thought that life abroad is easier with a partner, that can also be an anchor. As a single person you are free to come and go and make whatever choices you want to make without someone else to think about. This can be a great advantage, so take advantage. Make lots of plans, try new restaurants, meet people outside of your typical circle. This is the best way to make contacts which is the fastest way to settle in and you’re just as likely to make deeper bonds – maybe faster – than people who are coming with a partner that might not feel the need to put themselves out there.
Less pressure to be a success.
When traveling with a family there is much more stress to do well. You have dependents, other people that are counting on you, looking to you to provide. Your concern isn’t just if you are happy in your new host country, but if your partner is happy and your kids are happy and your dogs are happy. As a single person, you are not tied down to these demands. Relocating just yourself is a much easier decision than relocating a partner, two kids, two dogs, and the family muskrat. Not to mention, cheaper.
What are your deal breakers?
Some people will not even consider relocating unless their next employment package is going to be better than what they currently have while some people are looking for their next great adventure regardless of cost. Some just cannot handle flying bugs. What are your deal breakers? What can you live with? What can’t you live without?
My expat girlfriend loves surfing, so much so that she won’t even consider a job anywhere unless she’s near a beach. “If I’m going to leave my family back home it’s going to be to be closer to the ocean.” That’s her deal breaker. If you like traffic laws and people that follow them then Dominican Republic might not be for you. If you are searching for time off to surf or immerse yourself in Spanish than the Dominican Republic might be just the place. Personally, my deal breaker is the flying bugs.
If you are looking to live abroad you must learn that the life you currently live will not be the life you will live. I’ve met people abroad that complain about things that are different here. Well, yes, what did you expect? An expat a few years ago constantly referred to the locals here as these people. These people are so loud. These people blast their music all the time. I kept wondering if she had done any research at all into Dominican culture before she came. If she had she would have straight away found that it is the birthplace of Bachata and Merengue and that music is as essential to this island as breathing. If you are looking for things to be the same as what you know, moving to a different country might not be for you. If you are open to learning about a different way of life, try it. The worst that can happen is that you cut your trip short.
The most important thing to remember, as a single person moving abroad, is that doing this alone can have as many benefits as downfalls, it’s all in the way you decide to look at your situation.
Are you a single expat? What advice would you give another single person moving abroad?Also check out:In the Know: Moving Abroad as a CoupleIn the Know: Moving Abroad as a Family ~ Pack light. Live well. Move often. Repeat. ~