If you’re dreaming of quitting the 9-5 and buying a one-way ticket to anywhere, these are the things I wish we’d done, or am so, so glad we did do. Honestly, I hope this article is genuinely helpful.
1. Write a big list of all the reasons you want to go and stick it to your wall.
Believe me, you will need reminding of these reasons as you plan to leave, especially after hearing, “Oh my gosh, you’re so brave!” for the umpteenth time.
2. Research the place you’re going and prepare to be flexible
You may have your heart set on a particular town or city, but if you’ve never been before, do as much reading around it as you can (I feel like this is pretty obvious). If you’ve been before and you’ve fallen in love with the place already, don’t turn your nose up at the surroundings areas and neighbouring towns. You might stumble upon a hidden gem that’s even more your bag (that’s what happened to us, anyway).
3. Organise a leaving party
Book this in with your nearest and dearest well in advance so that everyone can make it. Otherwise, you end up doing a couple of weeks’ worth of “leaving drinks” with various friends/family/colleagues and feeling stressed AF because you’re still working 9-5 and have so much packing and admin to do. Also, creating a leaving party event on Facebook shows you’re serious and stops the doubters from contaminating your excitement.
4. Be excited
Every time you feel a little scared or wonder if, actually, you’re just bloody insane, remind yourself of something exciting about your trip. Read the list you’ve stuck on your wall or just memorise one and repeat it yourself like a mantra, even if it’s just, “There’s no crappy Starbucks where I’m going” or “When I’m in [insert new home] it will be 30 degrees and sunny every day.” Remember why you’re doing this and that the only way to change your life is to make a big change.
5. Sell as many of your belongings beforehand as you can
Taking everything with you isn’t such a good idea; if you end up regretting your decision or want to be more flexible, you’ll have to cart it all around with you. Paying for storage isn’t always ideal either and you’ll likely wonder why you bothered if you (ever) come back. Selling helps fund your trip and is literally less baggage to hold you back.
4. Start with Air BnB
Having minimal baggage is why you want to start with Air BnB, which comes with kitchen utensils, bedding etc, but without the price tag of a convenient hotel. A lot of rentals will offer huge discounts if you book for a whole month, so don’t be put off by some of the pricier listings if they have everything you need / it’s so pretty you want to cry. It’s always worth chatting to the host before you book and getting a sense of what they’re like. Ours has been super flexible and welcoming, even inviting us over for drinks and offering up her car. It’s a great way to try out an area while you look for a place of your own. Click here to get £30 off your first Air BnB booking!
5. Monzo is your new best friend
Where would we be without Monzo?! I’m sure there are other pre-paid cash cards available but I love my Monzo card. There’s no charge for using it abroad, in shops or at cash machines, and it tracks all my spending, which saved me a lot of money even before moved abroad. You can easily block it via the app if it gets stolen and you can set budget limits for food, leisure, travel etc. Sign up online ASAP – demand is pretty high so it can take a couple of week to get a card.
6. Facebook is your old best friend
Find local groups for your new neighborhood on Facebook and introduce yourself. I wrote a short post about who we were and what we hoped to do here, and I was blown away by how helpful and welcoming people were. They suggested places to find work, where to drink, useful info. Some even reached out and invited me for coffee should I ever need to talk or get advice. I complain about Facebook a lot but having access to the local community was invaluable.
7. Act like a local
Don’t act like a tourist. That means, go to the supermarket instead of eating out, don’t spend money on the rip-off attractions, and don’t insist on speaking English. I know it’s tempting, but you’re there to live, not to be on holiday. It’s harder to break a bad habit than it is to create a good one, so keep your expectations realistic and don’t let yourself fall into the holiday mindset. The restaurants and the beaches will always be there, but this chance to build a new life for yourself may not be if you don’t put in the work. Take your cues from the locals: they enjoy a drink now and again, maybe one afternoon at the beach, but the rest of the time they’re working and doing laundry and living there.
I’m planning to add to this article as we go – I’m sure there will be a lot more to learn. If you are moving abroad, or already have done, let me know if you have any nuggets of advice to add!