While soaring hundreds of feet over the earth, strapped to a parachute, I thought to myself, “I could never have done this back home.”
But here I was, paragliding in Colombia on a weekday afternoon for the price of a mediocre dinner back home.
As my instructor and I landed safely on firm ground, I thought of all the naysayers and even my own former doubts that had told me I never could just quit my job and move abroad. How wrong we all were!
Are you dreaming of leaving it all behind and moving to an exotic destination? If you don’t have a job waiting for you abroad, that dream might seem impossible to achieve.
Don’t despair! It is surprisingly easy to accomplish your goal of moving to another country. Even if you don’t have a job.
How to Move to Another Country with No Job: 5 Steps for Success
1. Choose an Affordable Country
It won’t take you long after moving abroad to realize life doesn’t have to be as expensive as it was back home.
First of all, if you have dollars or euros in your bank account, you’ll find they go much further in some countries than you’re used to.
In countries where people earn just a fraction of what they do in your home country, you can get a lot more bang for your buck (or euro, or pound).
You can do this without sacrificing your quality of living, either. Taking a taxi across town might only cost a few dollars. A fully furnished apartment in a swanky neighborhood that you could only dream of renting back home is suddenly well within reach.
In your home country, maybe you work full time just to pay the bills. But in many other countries you’ll find that you can afford a comfortable standard of living. And still have money left over to save or splurge!
This is especially true if you have medical costs. If you’re from certain countries (ahem, America), you might be used to huge insurance premiums and hefty hospital bills. This isn’t true in most other nations.
In Latin America, Asia and even Europe, most people pay out of pocket for dental and doctor visits. Suddenly, seeing a doctor costs about as much as a nice dinner out would cost in North America.
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2. Improve Your Finances Before You Move
Before you head abroad without a job, you need to get your finances in order.
While riding the rails with nothing but a few possessions on your back and a pocket full of dreams is a romantic notion, it’s also not very practical. As you know by now, it’s not necessary to have amassed a fortune in savings before moving abroad without a job. But it’s smart to have some financial cushion in the bank.
You probably have a lot of stuff cluttering your life. As Tyler Durden says in Fight Club, “The things you own end up owning you.” Take control and shed anything you won’t need abroad.
Instead of paying monthly rent to a storage facility, turn those old boxes of junk into cash. Sites like Craigslist, letgo and Decluttr make it easy to sell unneeded stuff so you can pad your wallet for your big move abroad.
The more you have in savings, the better off you’ll be for your life in a new country.
If you’re still collecting a paycheck right now, start squirreling some of it away for when you move. Even just five or 10 percent will add up over time.
Open up a new savings account. Call it something snazzy, like “Escape Fund” or “Peace Out!” Make it a habit to throw a few bucks into it on a regular basis. You might be surprised at how fast it grows!
If you have the time, put some of your skills to work through a side hustle. Dedicate these earnings to your new life abroad.
While you’re at it, start cutting back on unnecessary expenses. Packing a lunch instead of going out, canceling your cable subscription, brewing your own coffee, going for runs instead of to the gym and getting your books at the library could save you thousands of dollars over the course of a year.
3. Learn the Local Language
If you want to volunteer or eventually find a job abroad (more on that below) you should strive to learn the local language.
Speaking the region’s language helps you network with locals. And if you hand in a resume that states you’re conversational in the native tongue, that will set you apart from other foreign applicants.
Ideally, you should study the language before you head overseas. That way, you can be prepared to take your new city by storm!
Check out FluentU to become conversational in the language and learn about the culture of the country you’re moving to.
FluentU takes real-world videos—like music videos, movie trailers, news and inspiring talks—and turns them into personalized language learning lessons.
FluentU’s enhanced video player comes with interactive captions: Click any word for an instant definition and native pronunciation.
But FluentU is about so much more than videos. You also get access to interactive flashcards and vocab lists, annotated subtitles and personalized quizzes that evolve as you learn.
The immersive, entertaining content makes grammar and vocabulary much more memorable.
You can download FluentU documents for offline use to study the language even if you struggle to find Wi-Fi in your new country. And one FluentU account gives you access to nine languages. Access the full video library for free with a FluentU trial!
4. Volunteer While Abroad
Volunteering is a great way to cut back on spending so that you don’t need a job abroad.
The most expensive part of living in a new country is usually just putting a roof over your head. Fortunately, you can bring your housing costs to zero by taking advantage of a volunteer opportunity.
Sites like Workaway and WWOOF match volunteers with organizations around the world that provide you with housing in exchange for a few hours of work per day. If working at an animal sanctuary in Costa Rica or teaching underprivileged kids in China sounds appealing, then you should consider volunteering abroad.
House sitting is another popular form of non-monetary exchange that allows you to travel without a job. This usually involves taking care of a pet or two in exchange for living in someone’s home while they’re away.
Landing a gig at the best housesits can be competitive, but if you build a good profile on TrustedHousesitters or MindMyHouse, you might find yourself snuggling with a new furry friend in your new (rent-free!) temporary home abroad.
Of course, there are intangible benefits to volunteering abroad that go far beyond saving rent. Most placements are far off the tourist trail, so you can live the way locals live and work on projects that give back to your host community.
This is a great way to be fully immersed in the language of your host country. While working side by side with members of the local community and other volunteers, you’ll meet many like-minded people and build relationships that bridge international borders.
5. Find a Job After You Move Abroad
Even if you don’t have a job yet, it’s possible to find jobs in foreign countries.
An increasingly popular route to earning a living abroad involves finding online work. More and more digital nomads are offering their services over the web so that they can work from anywhere with a decent internet connection.
There are too many advantages to working online to list here. But as a digital nomad, you can often make your own schedule and work from home. Heck, you don’t even have to put on pants to get your work done! Although you might want to if you do video conferencing.
This is another great way to earn money in a strong currency, like USD, and spend it in the cheaper country you live in now.
Don’t think you have any skills to offer? Well, if you’re reading this, then you do. You know English! Congratulations! There are countless people around the world who will pay good money just to talk with you.
Companies like italki will pay you simply to chat online with English learners. All you need is a webcam and a winning smile. Best of all, you can work for this company from nearly anywhere in the world! Click here to become an online tutor with italki.
If you’d rather earn money the old fashioned way, don’t despair! There are still ways to land jobs in foreign countries in person.
This can be a little more complicated than working online, as you may need a special visa to earn money in a foreign country.
Publications and sites like Transitions Abroad and EasyExpat regularly update their job postings for expats looking for this type of work. Find a job as a nanny, translator or classroom English teacher, among other things!
Don’t let unemployment keep you from starting your life abroad. As long as you prepare responsibly, it’s totally doable.
Who knows? In a matter of months, you could be paragliding in a foreign country on a weekday afternoon.
Greg Jackson is a former public school teacher. He now spends his time bouncing from country to country where he explores ancient ruins, gets lost in marketplaces and eats strange food. He has a passion for history and language learning. He writes about it on his blog These New Latitudes.
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