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Making a Plan to Live Abroad For a Year

Making a Plan to Live Abroad For a Year

At least half of the people who want help moving abroad are nervous about committing to forever. The answer might be to just tell yourself your going to be living abroad for a year.

Think of your leaving as temporary so you don’t talk yourself out of it. Cancel your Amazon, get rid of your plants, and stop agreeing to new commitments.

Almost nobody will try to talk you out of going on a year long adventure of living abroad. But, try telling people you’re leaving forever, all of a sudden they have endless objections and concerns.

Both you and your community will be able to feel less nervous about a short-term one-in-a-lifetime experience. See what it takes to start the planning process for living abroad for a year.

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making a plan to live abroad for a year

Deciding Where to Go

When you’re thinking about living abroad for a year, location is everything. Finding your perfect spot hinges on what experiences you seek. Maybe it’s the vibrant culture of Southeast Asia or the lush forests of Costa Rica.

Popular Destinations for First-Timers

  • Costa Rica: Experience pura vida in a land of biodiversity and adventure.
  • South Korea: Live within dynamic cities, tradition, and advanced technology.
  • New Zealand: For nature lovers, it offers serene landscapes and outdoor activities.

If it’s your first time, consider places known for welcoming expats. Some countries are notoriously difficult to qualify for long-term visas, while others actively recruit young people to come experience life there.

Great Ways to Embrace Local Life

  1. Language classes
  2. Cultural events
  3. Local cuisine tastings

Choose countries with a reputation for safety, convenience, and a robust expat community. Southeast Asia, for example, stands out for its affordability and warm climate. These factors often make for a smoother transition.

Researching the best places isn’t just about the destination. You have to envision your life there, from cozy cafe corners in Italy to the rugged wilderness of Vietnam. Embrace the idea of living abroad for a year, with all the growth and adventure it promises.

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Understanding the Essentials

When planning for living abroad for a year, getting your documentation in order is crucial. Visa requirements vary by destination and the purpose of your stay such as work, study, or tourism. Check if digital nomad visas are an option if you're working remotely.

Before departure, ensure your passport is valid for the duration of your stay. Keep digital and physical copies of your birth certificate and other vital records. It's advisable to arrange for comprehensive travel insurance and health insurance to cover unexpected incidents.

Financial readiness will save you stress. Open a bank account in your new country if you'll be receiving a paycheck or paying recurring expenses. Carry credit cards that work internationally, and always have some local currency even if US dollars can be easily exchanged.

Setting Up Your New Life

When you decide on living abroad for a year, finding a new home becomes a priority. Start with a thorough search for accommodations - options range from short-term rentals to homestays, depending on your preference and budget. Consider proximity to amenities, transport links, and community hubs where you can immerse yourself in the new culture and create new friendships.

new life in living abroad for a year

Navigating the New City 

Your new city offers a canvas for daily adventures. Familiarizing yourself with local transport, neighborhood maps, and essential services helps in establishing routines swiftly. Walk the streets, locate grocery stores, pharmacies, and clinics - they will form the backbone of your daily life as an expat.

Towards Cultural Integration 

Embrace different cultures by learning the new language, even basic proficiency can significantly smooth your transition. Engage with community events, connect with fellow expats, and locals to weave into the societal fabric. Cultural integration is a gradual but rewarding process that enhances your experience manifold.

Essential Practicalities

You have stuff back in your home country that you won't know what to do with. I propose these options:

  1. Become a minimalist and just rid of it all
  2. If you are a homeowner than turn your place into an Airbnb to create income
  3. Rent a storage unit as a cost effective way to store your items

Working and Studying Abroad

Living abroad for a year offers a blend of education and personal development that can be life-changing. If you're considering this adventure, it's vital to understand the dynamics of working and studying in a new country.

Explore Work Holiday Visa Options

Many countries offer a work holiday visa, allowing you to work legally and experience life in a new cultural setting. This type of visa typically caters to young adults and often requires you to be between 18-30 years old.

work holiday visa options

Teaching English

One of the most accessible jobs for native English speakers is teaching English. Your ability to teach a foreign language can open doors to various educational settings, from small language schools to large institutions.

Digital Nomad Lifestyle

If you're in the tech field or can work remotely, you might join the growing community of digital nomads. This lifestyle allows you to keep earning while soaking in new cultures, ideal for those with a flair for personal development.

Facing Student Loans?

Student loans back home might seem daunting, but working part-time during your study abroad can help manage repayments. Always verify job legality and visa requirements to ensure your working efforts are legitimate.

Best Jobs to Seek

  • English Teachers: Always in demand, teaching can help you integrate quickly.
  • Service Industry: Bars, cafes, and restaurants often offer flexible hours.
  • Internships: Relate to your field of study for educational continuity.

Embrace Personal Development

Balancing work with study may challenge you, but it’s a great way for personal development while funding your year abroad. Living abroad contributes to your global perspective, making you a more rounded individual both professionally and personally.

personal development while living abroad

Practicalities and Logistics

If you're contemplating living abroad for a year, advanced planning is paramount. Your first step is to thoroughly research the destination country's residence permits and permanent residency requirements. These often involve complex legal criteria and paperwork that can take time to assemble.

Long-term stays typically require a visa or residence permit, depending on your home country and the foreign country's regulations. Begin this process early to ensure you have legal status upon arrival. Check the destination country's embassy or immigration website for the most current information.

Every single step of an immigration process will take longer than they say it will. I often need to follow up on steps of the process multiple times after they said I would hear back by certain dates and never do. Frustration doesn't begin to describe dealing with bureaucracy. Take deep breaths and focus on the wonderful outcome of living in a new country.

Settling In

  • Accommodation: Secure your living arrangements.
  • Employment: Seek job opportunities that comply with visa rules.
  • Local Networking: Connect with locals for advice and opportunities.

Locate and secure housing as soon as your legal status is obtained. Each country has unique labor laws. Investigate these so that your employment is legitimate and secure. Establishing a local support network can be invaluable for practical advice and job leads.

Living abroad for a year is an exciting journey, and attention to these details will smooth your path to a successful and enriching experience.

Embracing the Experience

Living abroad for a year offers a myriad of fresh encounters that can enrich your life in untold ways. When you step out of your comfort zone, the challenges of navigating a new culture can lead to profound life lessons. New experiences await at every corner, from trying local delicacies to participating in traditional festivities.

Meeting new people can be both exhilarating and insightful. You’ll find conversations with locals and other expatriates can help ease the impact of culture shock. By engaging with the community, you'll not only make friends but also gain a deeper understanding of the local culture.

The transition of living abroad can lead to an improved quality of life. Many find that embracing this journey is a good thing. It’s a chance to reassess what's important, often leading to a more relaxed and rewarding lifestyle. The benefits of this adventure lie in your willingness to embrace every moment and learn from the world around you.

Financial Planning for Long-term Travel

When considering living abroad for a year, budgeting becomes key to a fulfilling experience. You'll need to calculate the cost of living in different countries, aiming for a balance between your dream destination and affordability. Prioritize destinations with a low cost of living to ensure you have enough money for the entire year.

financial planning for a long-term living abroad

Create a Monthly Budget

Outline your regular expenses to avoid overspending and depleting your savings. This budget should include rent, food, transportation, entertainment, and health insurance. Adjust your budget to accommodate the affordable cost of living in your chosen country compared to your own country.

Essentials VS Luxuries

Distinguish between what you need and what you can live without. For instance, favor public transport over car rentals and cook at home more often to save money. Remember, simple choices can lead to significant saving money while abroad.

Manage Bank Accounts

Make sure to inform your financial institutions about your travel plans to prevent fraud alerts on your account. Consider keeping a U.S. bank account active for ease of transactions and keep an eye on any international fees that may apply.

By planning your finances carefully and choosing your destination wisely, you can make the most out of your long-term travel without breaking the bank. Keep a close track of your spending, and you'll enjoy every moment of your adventure abroad.

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Navigating Local Transportation and Geography

When living abroad for a year, getting around will be part of your daily life. Understanding the local transportation systems is key to exploring your surroundings. You'll be using various modes of travel, from buses and trains to bicycles.

Mastering Public Transit

  • Buses and Trains: Check schedules often as they can change.
  • Payment Options: Find out if cards, cash, or mobile apps are required.
  • Transit Apps: Use local apps to plan routes and track transit in real-time.
public transit

Getting Around by Foot or Bike

  • Walking: It's one of the best ways to become familiar with the local geography.
  • Cycling: Often faster than walking, it's eco-friendly and provides good exercise.

Using Maps Effectively

  • Digital Maps: Use GPS on your smartphone for real-time navigation.
  • Physical Maps: They come in handy where digital signals are weak.

Hopping on a plane to your destination is just the beginning. Once you arrive, navigating the local geography becomes your new challenge. Traveling within your new city, you'll encounter unique transportation systems and geographical layouts. Local maps become vital in understanding your new environment, whether paper or digital. Keep an eye out for travel deals and transport passes that can save you money while you're exploring your new home. Embrace the journey and the many paths it takes you on, making your experience living abroad for a year truly memorable.

Cultural Integration and Community Engagement

When you're living abroad for a year, immersing yourself in the new culture is ideal. You'll discover that community engagement is a practical pathway to integration. Engaging with the local community through volunteer work or participation in integration events can significantly enrich your experience.

Embrace Local Traditions

Begin by embracing local customs and festivities. It’s a fun and meaningful way to connect. Participation in local events will introduce you to new friends and customs.

Language and Social Integration

Make an effort to learn the local language. It's key to feeling at home in a foreign country. Regular practical use of the language accelerates your integration. Join conversation clubs or language exchange meetups.

language and social integration

Connect Through Volunteer Work

Volunteer work offers an avenue for deeper cultural understanding. You become part of the community while contributing positively. Seek out opportunities that align with your interests and skills.

Adapting to your surroundings enriches your journey. Integrating is a gradual and rewarding process. Your openness to the new culture will transform your year-long stay into a lifetime of memories.

Education and Personal Development

When you decide on living abroad for a year, you're signing up for an education beyond the constraints of a classroom. New cultural settings become your immersive learning environment. You gain practical knowledge that complements your academic studies.

Developing New Skills

  • Adaptability: Learning to adjust to different cultural norms and expectations.
  • Problem-solving: Navigating day-to-day challenges in a foreign setting.

As you soak in your surroundings, your personal development blooms. You're likely to return with a transformed perspective on life. Engaging with a diverse range of individuals broadens your worldview and enhances your social skills.

Mastering Languages

Embracing life in a new country can also lead to fluency in a foreign language. This valuable skill not only serves as a personal accomplishment but also boosts your employability. You'll find that your language skills improve significantly when you're required to use them in real-life situations every day.

Preparing for the Unexpected

When living abroad for a year, it's crucial to prepare for unexpected events. Emergency situations can arise without warning, and knowing how to handle them is key. Stay informed about potential natural disasters that are common in your new country, such as earthquakes or floods.

Medical emergencies require a prompt response, so familiarize yourself with local emergency services and hospitals. Make sure your insurance adequately covers you internationally. It's essential for mitigating costs related to health emergencies and accidents. Keep a list of emergency contacts, including the local embassy, family members, and friends, both at home and abroad.

In the event of an unexpected emergency, having a contingency plan will give you peace of mind. Here's a quick checklist:

emergency plan

Emergency Plan Checklist

  • Research local hazards and emergency protocols
  • Secure comprehensive health and travel insurance
  • Store emergency numbers in your phone and keep a physical copy

Your time living abroad for a year should be thrilling, not anxiety-inducing. By preparing for the unexpected, you pave the way for a smoother and more secure adventure. Remember, a little foresight goes a long way in ensuring your safety and well-being while embracing life in a new country.

Reflecting on Your Journey and Planning for the Future

After living abroad for a year, take time to reflect on your experiences. Consider the challenges you've overcome and the skills you've gained. These reflections are stepping stones for setting future goals.

Identify Your Accomplishments

  • You've adapted to a new culture.
  • You've possibly learned a new language.
  • You've built a global network.

Goal Setting and Career Planning

  • Use your international experience to shape your long-term career goals.
  • Highlight your adaptability and cultural experience in your resume.
  • Align your newfound interests with future job opportunities.

Future Planning

  • Plan your next steps, be it further travels or returning home.
  • Ensure the continuity of professional contacts.
  • Explore opportunities that leverage your expanded worldview.

Reflecting on your journey isn't just about reminiscing, it's also about strategizing your future and career with the unique perspective that living abroad for a year has provided you.

future planning for living abroad

Embracing the Journey and Looking Forward

Living abroad for a year can be the first step to becoming a full blown expatriate. Almost everyone who comes to me for coaching starts off saying they aren't sure they want to leave America forever. Think of this first year as an experiment.

By embarking on this adventure with the thought that it's temporary, you're allowing the experience without the pressure. You will become a different person by the end in ways that are impossible to predict.

Some people are eager to go home after their year abroad while others are determined to never go back. My family fell into the later category. We booked a one way flight without a plan and now we are getting close to four years abroad.

Embrace the changes within you as you gain global perspective.

*If you're reading this and you currently live in America, I want to tell you that as a mom I breathe deeper knowing my kids will come home safely from school. The anxiety and fear that exists for mothers in America is just too much. Stay safe wherever you are out there in the world.

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FAQ: Living Abroad For a Year


  • Veronica Hanson

    Veronica Hanson blogs from whatever country she happens to be in at the time, currently she's hanging out in Japan. She's been living as a nomad remote entrepreneur with her family since 2020.

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