I'm ready to move abroad. But how does one do that exactly?
November 13, 2014 12:29 PM   Subscribe

I’m ready to make the jump. If you have looked through my past posts, you can see that I have been throwing around the idea of moving for a long time. How does one go about doing that?

I have decided that I’m ready to make the jump. I’m only getting older and this has stuck with me for years. I’m sick of my line of work. Client work is not making me happy. I have found that having a lot of money does not make me happy. Being a low maintenance individual, I am able to live on cans of soup for a week if need be.

My question is, what kind of jobs are out there for foreigners and how does one go about securing them? I have looked into Buenos Aires simply because the price of living there is so low. Hell, I could work freelance again, work for half the time I am now and still be able to live comfortably in Buenos Aires.

My apartment lease is up soon and I am thinking of either going freelance or simply flying somewhere and making it work. Does anybody have any experience doing this? Any advice would be so great. Thanks in advance.
posted by *lostatsea* to Travel & Transportation (15 answers total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
Lots of awesome tips here: 30 Ways in 30 Days to Redesign Your Life and Travel the World
posted by danceswithlight at 12:34 PM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

First you need to know the visa requirements for residency in Argentina. If you're going to be there for less than 90 days, you can just show up on a tourist visa, but longer than that, you're going to have to apply for residency. Talk to the Argentine consulate for information, or hire someone to handle your visa issues for you.

Honestly, if you can make reliable income online, then I'd recommend putting all your stuff in storage, loading up a backpack and buying a one way ticket somewhere on a tourist visa and just hitting the backpacker circuit -- when you hit your 90 day visa limit, just go to another country. Make sure you buy traveller's insurance to cover health care costs.

I did it for 3 months in central america a couple of years ago. I used a few grand in savings, but I ran into people that were doing stuff like web-design for 20 hours a week or so and more than paying their expenses doing it.
posted by empath at 12:40 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]

Also, the reason that living expenses in these places are so low is that nobody has any money. You can't go to a place where the average income is $1000/mo and expect to make $50k a year. You're going to make about what a local makes doing the same job if you work overseas. And often there are a lot of roadblocks preventing foreigners from working in places.
posted by empath at 12:42 PM on November 13, 2014

This recent AMA (Ask Me Anything) might be of interest.
posted by humph at 12:43 PM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Okay, last response -- just reading through your previous questions.

Stop thinking about this man, just DO it. You'll survive, I promise, and the younger you are when you do it, the easier it is. I wish I had done it 10 years earlier than I did.
posted by empath at 12:46 PM on November 13, 2014

Response by poster: @empath Yes, you are definitely right. It's about time I make this happen :)
posted by *lostatsea* at 12:52 PM on November 13, 2014

You might pick up a copy of Wishcraft. It's a great general how-to-get-stuff-done book and in the original one of the people set the goal of moving to a foreign country and got it done. "How to survive without a salary" also has similar stories to the effect of, well, hey, you can work as you go if you do not have a big ego or expensive tastes.

putting all your stuff in storage, loading up a backpack and buying a one way ticket somewhere

Empath is awesome, but I will suggest you consider parting with as much stuff as possible before you go instead of sticking it all in storage.

Storage costs money, it takes at least as much time and effort (if not more) to pack things up and haul them to storage as it does to sell or donate and if you are gone for very long, you will likely come back to stuff growing mold and full of bugs. I was a military wife for two decades. I had stuff in long term storage on several occasions and I also just made a lot of moves. The longer I did that, the more my policy was "When in doubt, throw it out -- BEFORE moving, if possible." I had too many moves where I packed it up, hauled it with me, unpacked it and then got rid of it. The things you need in the new place will be different from the things you need now and you can't really predict what they will be.

If you have savings and/or portable income, such that going someplace cheaper than where you are now means you are likely to find yourself in fairly cushy financial circumstance, just, yeah, start getting rid of stuff, start doing the research and start making concrete plans. Stop asking real generic advice on this and start making specific plans. You can start a blog (make it private if you like) and start putting together information on places you think you might like to go, criteria for what you want in a place, etc. And if you need a particular thing and you learn city x has it, city y does not, you can adjust accordingly until you have something realistic and feasible and not just a pipe dream.

best of luck.
posted by Michele in California at 1:18 PM on November 13, 2014 [3 favorites]


You don't have to do this now, but you might want to break down what your particular reservations are about implementing this plan;only saying this because this is a question that you have asked a few times in some manner, and unless you identify and deal with what those things are, this will be a question again.

Is it money? Is it that you have haven't traveled before? You need to know what to expect? People already suggested this in a previous question of yours, but I will say it again: Peace Corps, whch would fit with your goal to travel. If any of your obstacles are things money or not having traveled before, it will make those things easier (ie, they provide training, coverage for medical when you are overseas, someone checks in on you (although not a lot) in the country you will live in,and you get a small amt of $/month that you can use to travel when you are finished). You can call and talk to someone from Peace Corps to find out the types of jobs you might qualify for and then fill out an application. It can take a few months, but it is an easy way if you have some of those concerns.

Have you freelanced before, as in you have clients that you can reach out to for projects?Then you should be in good shape (as in, no you won't need income of the country - that will not be your client).

I posted this question before, which I suspect might help you if you are concerned about money and finding a place that you can afford. I received phenomenal answers from people who emailed me/or I emailed. One of those people told me about this list, which is great because it breaks down countries by cost of living/month and wifi, etc, which you would need if you are freelancing,no? If you are American, don't forget to check the various visa requirements. When I checked before, you can go to some countries for 6 months, others for a month, but you will need to do the research for the places taht you want to go.

Also, here are two tips that will apply to you if you do the freelance thing, that I got via email and one of the threads from my question: You might want to google digital nomad in terms of - same idea, internet, what it is like to live in each country, etc. Also, you can google coworking plus wherever you want to live - this might be a great solution to have a backup work space, etc.

Good luck. Go now!
posted by Wolfster at 1:39 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

You need to first research the residency and work permit requirements of the country you're thinking of moving to. The easiest job for you to find abroad would probably be teaching English. If you're okay with doing that, you can research bilingual schools and see what their hiring procedures are. From my experience, some of them will help you secure the appropriate residency and work permits.

You could also try to go to a country as a tourist and work without the appropriate residency and work permits. For example, I live in Honduras and if I didn't have a residency permit, I would have to leave Central America every three months and then re-enter, which would then enable me to stay for another three months. It's a hassle to do this, but I know foreigners that do. This is probably very country specific. Honduras doesn't have good systems to monitor a lot of things, so they don't really know or care if foreigners are working in their country without the appropriate permits. A more developed country like Argentina might notice and care, just like the U.S. does.

I would suggest that you look into the Peace Corps. You won't make much money, but you will get the exposure to another culture, might learn a new language, and they will help arrange things like residency permits, health insurance, etc.
posted by Lingasol at 4:09 PM on November 13, 2014 [1 favorite]

I've been an expat for 8 years. The guys I knew who worked via the web did so without a work visa. They're philosophy was it was unlikely they'd get caught but they were ready to be kicked out of the country.

>"simply flying somewhere and making it work"
Main reasons expats go home or to another country is what they found wasn't what they expected. It wasn't even close. The ones I know personally all visited the country several times before pulling the plug.

Expat forums can be an excellent information source. However, those who ask the basic questions like 'how to I get a visa' and 'what's the weather like' typically get short, generic answers. Those who show they've homework by asking the next level of questions usually get more and better answers.
posted by Homer42 at 5:25 PM on November 13, 2014

Where cost of living is low, salary is low. You mentioned that having tons of money doesn't make you happy, but also mentioned looking into Argentina specifically because cost of living is low. You might not make as much as you think.

You're 28, you say? You can do a Working Holiday in Australia and/or New Zealand until the age of the 30, and even more countries have this option if you aren't available. I'm doing exactly this in Australia right now. I saved up some money, and flew to Australia. After my 1 year here, I'm going to New Zealand for a year, and continuing to travel even after that.

It can be done. But it's definitely not easy to find a job in another country and get a visa, so hopefully you are skilled in a line of work that is in need/demand. But for me, I just did it. Was easy. You've asked a few questions about this over the last few years, and as others have told you...all you need to do is just to make it happen. But in your situation, it's not going to be easy.

Do you have any experience traveling abroad?
posted by signondiego at 11:22 PM on November 13, 2014 [2 favorites]

Have you considered doing a Working Holiday? Which country are you a citizen of? Here's a starting point to figure out where/if you can do a working holiday.

Also, regarding how much money you expect to make- I don't have any experience in Argentina or even Latin America at large, but I do have plenty of experience in the developing world, and it's untrue that you can't make a "developed world" salary. I know expats who have gotten expat packages, which includes for example, the type of salary you'd make in America, plus housing, and maybe a "hardship" allowance and a cost of living adjustment. These jobs are offered by private companies, NGOs, and intergovernmental organizations (like any branch of the UN, the World Bank, etc). You might not need anything that cushy though. I've also worked for companies that paid foreign staff more than local staff, but within reason. I've also freelanced for companies that pay "Western" rates while I was in the developing world.

If you think you'd like teaching English, that's an option. There are plenty of opportunities to teach English all over the world, and the salaries for this vary astronomically. You might make thousands of dollars a month in Saudi Arabia, and only a few hundred dollars a month in Mexico.

Just flying somewhere and seeing if you can make it work is an option, but make sure you have travel insurance, several months' rent and living expenses saved up, and enough for a return ticket if it doesn't turn out to be what you expected. It also helps a lot if you can get in touch with people before you go through an alumni network, or friends or friends. Please feel free to me-mail me if have any more questions.
posted by Enchanting Grasshopper at 1:22 AM on November 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

I travel full time, running an online business.

At your age, you'll fit right into the digital nomad scene. For example, if you go to Chiang Mai, you'll find lots of English speakers freelancing or running online businesses. Other popular locations are some of the cities near the top of the list that Wolfster linked to.

Your posting history doesn't make clear if you've traveled much internationally, and even if you have, traveling while working is a very different experience. So my recommendation would be to try it first and see if you like it.

You could SAVE UP A PILE OF MONEY, let your apartment lease expire and move into a month-to-month place or Airbnb, GET SOME FREELANCE CLIENTS, put your stuff into storage for the short term, and go spend a month in, say, Chiang Mai in the digital nomad scene, talking with people who are making it work. If you like it, leave Thailand to reset your visa and go back in for another month and see if once the newness has worn off you still like the lifestyle. Some nomads offer internships in their business that help you ease into the lifestyle; you might tap into sites like the Tropical MBA to learn about them.

If you think you like the lifestyle, go back home, sell everything, get a bank account that's good for overseas access, get any credit cards you might want, set up a US address (I use EarthClass Mail), and take off again, this time for real.

A lot of people work with clients from the road, but communicating with them can be a pain, especially if they're in the US and you're in Asia. Going straight south is a good solution to that, but there's not nearly the digital-nomad community in, say Buenos Aires, as there is elsewhere. When I still worked with US clients, Europe was a less problematic time zone; you might consider Prague or Berlin, which have nomad scenes.

A lot of digital nomad sites play up the fun but downplay the drawbacks. The main drawback is social isolation, especially if you don't speak the local language. It's hard to build a community if your only friends move all the time. I'm currently in a country where I speak the language and might try to get residency, because I'm tired of being a ghost.
posted by ceiba at 1:25 AM on November 14, 2014 [3 favorites]

Three year expat in Buenos Aires. You may want to carefully consider the pros and cons of Bs. As. right now. I'm running out the door to a meeting right now, memail me and I can give you the scoop in detail.
posted by Che boludo! at 9:37 AM on November 17, 2014

OK, there are many things to consider here specifically regarding Buenos Aires. It's is an absolutely charming city in a wonderful country. I miss living there every day. There are all the amenities of a big city from restaurants, theaters, music, art along with chaos, traffic, dog shit on the ground, holes everywhere you walk, and terrible infrastructure.

What you first need to understand is that there is a difficult economic and political situation at the moment. The country is defaulting on the 2001 crisis debt for the second time and inflation and unemployment are far above the official numbers.

DO you have plenty of money to live on? You will probably not find an official job other than teaching English which pays poorly and the jobs en negro will pay you under the table but also a pittance. I have a friend teaching English online from Buenos Aires but working officially for a US company and paid in US$$. She can make it work. Another friend is a programmer and can work from anywhere in the world. If you do have access to $$ from the US you are in luck because the 8+peso exchange to the dollar makes it very inexpensive. Even better if you can bring dollars with you, you can exchange them in the black market, or blue as they call it for almost 15:1.

If you can find a roomate you can stay in an apartment for not even a few hundred dollars. If you want to live alone be prepared to pay the yanqui tax on rent. You cannot rent an apartment yourself with a guarantee from a property owner who will be liable for you and then be prepared to sign the lease for two years. Other wise the yanqui tax is that you can rent short term furnished apartments but at rates several times more so than the locals pay. This is not bad in itself, I lived in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in a loft for $1000 monthly and in less nice places for $800 and I was free to come and go as I please going back to the USA or other places. In contrast a similar apartment in Denver, CO costs at a minimum $1400.

I was in Buenos Aires a few weeks back was surprised to see that even the most wealthy and safest neighborhoods in the city are no longer safe from crime. Several taxi drives warned me to watch out for muggers in a zone I felt completely safe in in the past. My friends and I were walking a backstreet in Palermo when he told me that we probably shouldn't take our time there. He was concerned.

If you want to go, by all means do so. BA is a great city but be prepared for the realities of the situation. There are more stable places in the regions such as Santiago, Chile but it is more expensive and frankly nowhere as interesting. Bogota, Colombia is up and coming and getting safer everyday but I still would not feel comfortable in most neighborhoods at night.

Here are a few sources to help you inform yourself. First, check out the BA Podcast, a mostly humorous look at expat life in BA and the cultural differences between locals and foreigners. It's great. For more info about life there go through the BA Expats Forum. You can ask questions about the city and life there and read what previous discussions have been had. This one will really explain what to be concerned about moving there. The Buenos Aires Herald is a good English language paper you can read.

BA has a really close and good expat scene if you are OK with that. I came away with more German friends than locals but that's cool. I have friends all over the world from living in Argentina. It can be hard to break into Argentine social circles anyway. They have been hanging out with the same group of people since grade school. It's easy to meet them and other expats through such social events such as Internations, Spanglish, and Mundolingo so you can build a social scene rather quickly there. Just be prepared to lose friends as fast as you make them as most people eventually go home.

All and all I love the place and encourage you to go but to be as prepared as possible.

Look! Purple trees!
posted by Che boludo! at 3:20 PM on November 17, 2014

« Older "It's a mystery wrapped in a riddle inside an...   |   One night stand confusion Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.