Travel & Destinations

Dipping Your Toes in the ExPat Pond, Part 2

Where To Go?

Above photo by Claire Tardy ~ 

sidebar1Most people don’t realize how inexpensive life overseas can be. Less work, if you want. More fun. Regardless, taking the leap to move abroad should be all about improving your daily life.

Once you’ve made the choice to start a new life abroad, you need to decide what your surroundings will look like in your new locale.

A beachfront cottage and laid-back lifestyle in Costa Rica?

A high-rise in Malaysia with everything at your fingertips?

The gentle European breeze of Porto, Portugal?

How about Uruguay’s Gold Coast, just across the river from Buenos Aires?

Deciding where you want to live can be both the most exciting and the most terrifying part of the equation. But, if you take your time and think through the process, you can find your ideal place.

Take The Time

If you have a partner, make sure you include them in this process. Brainstorm a list of all the places you’d ever want to go and explore. Of those, where would you like to live? Where could you see yourself living?

Consider your special skills. What languages do you speak, or want to learn? What kind of charity work do you love?

In your current life, work out ways to have more time away from your day job. Cobble together a couple of weeks. Rent an Airbnb. Book a flight. Travel to different locations in the world. Get a taste of what living in an area would be like for you.

Once you arrive, live like a local for a few weeks. Tip: Bring a carbon monoxide detector with you, when you travel, since they’re not standard in every country!

Take notes. If you’re exploring this new lifestyle, do it over several years. When it comes time to make your decision, it may be difficult to remember your favorite features. Keep your notes and makes lists. Rflect upon and compare each place as your adventure continues.

Find Your Ideal Place

Make a note of eight essential factors.

  1. Low cost of living.
  2. Safety and stability.
  3. Healthcare you can trust.
  4. Great climate.
  5. Appropriate adventures.
  6. Languages spoken.
  7. Ease of access to an international airport.
  8. Robust and reliable internet access.


For city living, consider Chiang Mai, Dublin, or Lisbon. For mountain life, check out the Andes. For tropical beaches, consider Belize, Costa Rica, and Panama Costa Rica. They’re just a few hours’ flight from the US.

Revisit each locale a few times a year. Dip your toes in. When you’re ready to move, you will have an excellent idea of which location is right for you. Then you’re prepared to dive in, full-time. If you can check each of the above eight boxes, throw caution to the wind, and ask yourself: Why not go?


Gail Clifford

Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for more than 25 years, has traveled to five continents and all 50 United States. An avid traveler she has enjoyed trips with her parents, her siblings, and her daughter. Travel writer, photographer, coach for other professionals interested in the next step career... she is an avid adventurer.

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