Getting Started on Getting Out
Sometimes the most difficult step to take on an important project is that first one. We hear from some of you who feel a sense of urgency to make a move but just can’t seem to get to the point of doing it. It’s that first step. It seems there is so much to do that you don’t know where to start. It’s so easy to get bogged down and go on for months and months without getting any closer to the goal–much less achieving it.
Sometimes the problem is that you don’t really know WHAT to do. You are doing some things but they don’t seem to be getting you closer to your goal. First you have so many choices you don’t really know where to go. You don’t know whether to leave your “stuff” behind or ship it. You don’t know what you’re allowed to take so you don’t know what you must dispose of and so on.
All of us here have been through that so we know what it’s like. We decided to give you some hints. Also, when you read this, we hope you’ll give us some feedback if we don’t touch on the particular obstacle(s) in your way. It’s pretty certain that someone in our crew or among our wonderful expats can make suggestions.
First we suggest that you and your family apply for a passport if you don’t have one. You can’t go anywhere without a passport. We never know, with things in the world changing as fast as they are, when something might happen to make passports more difficult or take longer to come by. So this should be a priority in our opinion.
Next, while the passport is in process, sit down and think and talk about what you like. Make a list. Literally. On paper. If possible, list your preferences according to how important each one is to you.
Do you like mountains? Beaches? Farm communities? Dry climate? Not so dry climate? Only warm weather? Ski resorts? Culture (opera, concerts, etc.)? Low cost of living? And yes we would all like a low cost of living, but just how important is that on your scale of preferences? Is it number one? Or is it just something you think would be nice? Is it important to you to blend in with the people around you as you walk down the street? Or do you not mind standing out as an immigrant? Are you a tango enthusiast? Do you like fishing in the wild, catching monster rainbow trout? How about whitewater rafting? Would you like a country that is relatively free from genetically modified food? Low tax jurisdiction? Second citizenship easy and relatively fast? Beautiful women? (just kidding) Will you need to find a job? What are your marketable skills?
That should get you started.
We think no item is too unimportant to list. We are not saying you can have it all, but in South America, you certainly can have a lot! But, while we’re doing this, there are a lot of countries outside of South America for you to consider. It’s a big, wide, wonderful world loaded with opportunity for you!
Then once you have in mind what you would like, we suggest you begin to research countries. A lot of that research would be via the Internet, but you can also find books that might help. Also online forums catering to people who already live in the areas you are considering. We think that you should do a fairly thorough search, but that you not over research. You don’t want to go on researching forever. You won’t find the perfect place and that’s one thing we can assure you. What you want is the best choice for you and/or your family.
Then we suggest that you visit the country of your choice. And your runner-up country also, if possible, though we have seen people arrive at the airport with five suitcases, never having been in the country, and settle in happily–and stay. So although we make suggestions, it’s possible for you to ignore them and get along just fine. Our goal in this article is just to help you get started!
Okay, so far we have covered four steps (1) apply for your passport, (2) brainstorm and list what you’d like to have in your new home location (3) Do the research: Internet, books and magazines, expat forums. Choose a country you think best for you and a second choice (4) If possible, visit both.
We suggest that you keep a notebook with your list and notes, and focus on one step at a time. Don’t look at the entire project at once. We think that’s what defeats people. The project seems overwhelming. But it really isn’t. A lot of us here have done it and you can do it too. So make a list and start with number one, then go to number two and so on. You can do any of these tasks if you concentrate on one thing at a time. Eventually to your surprise, you’ll be feeling free and on your way. As for this reporter, sometimes I sit out on my balcony with my coffee in hand, in the early pre-dawn, just looking out at the still-dark but gorgeous city, with all the lights shining on the street. What really is impressive is a rainy morning with the lights reflecting off the wet streets. Sometimes I can hardly believe I’m here in the darkness watching one of the most beautiful European-style cities, Buenos Aires, wake up! I did it and so have many of our compatriots. And so can you
Next, start to dispose of things you don’t really need. And you don’t need much! However, you can ship your household goods in, duty free, if you decide to do that. In each country there is a window in which you can ship personal possessions after you get residency. Usually that window lasts for about six months. The rules for what you can ship in, and when, are different, depending on which country you choose. For example, you can ship certain firearms into Uruguay, but not Argentina according to one moving company we have consulted. You can own firearms, legally, in Argentina, but you can’t ship them in. This is just one example. The rules in Uruguay say that you can bring a car to Uruguay–but the truth is that you can’t. Not unless you’re a returning Uruguayan. I would advise against it in Argentina as well.
Remember that power here is 220. If your present country of residence is not the same, you can buy transformers to use your 110 appliances. Some people say it isn’t worth it, that it doesn’t work all that well, and some people say that it works fine. For my part–I wouldn’t.
Many expats who disposed of almost everything have commented to us how surprised they are by how free they feel once theyare no longer tied to so much stuff. This editor feels the same. It is just easier to sell or give away things there and replace it here–for us. This is the decision you will need to make that may be the toughest one.
Okay, go ahead and get started and let us know how it is going. Please feel free to post questions or challenges that you have on the web site. Also remember that we answer all emails. If we can help you with information–we will.
We hope to see you soon in South America! But until then . . . See you right here next week . . .
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