Living the Ex-Pat Life

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THE EX-PAT DREAM

What is an ex-pat you ask? Well here is the actual definition: An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing, as an immigrant, in a country other than that of their citizenship. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (“out of”) and patria (“country, fatherland”).

Being an ex-pat means being an adventurer of sorts. You are packing up you and your family and leaving everything that you know and are familiar with to travel & live abroad in another country. Whew, that was a mouthful!

Have you vacationed somewhere like Belize and thought maybe you could just pick up and move there for good? You aren’t alone. The dream of living overseas is sought by many but few actually make it a reality in comparison.

The lure of tropical landscape, turquoise water beaches, warm climates year round, friendly locals and living on “island time” is almost too much to ignore. It is a welcome change from living the American rate race. Everyone is the US seems to be racing from point A to point B at all times and never slows down. The desire to live simply is a conscious decision to alter your lifestyle and quality of life for the better.

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POPULAR COUNTRIES FOR AMERICAN EX-PATS

There are a few countries that hit top of the list for ex-pats coming from the USA and around the globe.

1. USVI- Virgin Islands

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The Virgin Islands are a very popular landing spot for Americans looking to live on “island time” and have a higher quality of life. USVI is made of 4 islands but only 3 are well known. We have the largest, St. Thomas. Secondly, there is St. Croix. Thirdly, the less inhabited is St. John. Lastly, there is little known Water Island. Water Island isn’t typically included but it’s worth mentioning for those that would love to live a very secluded, tropical lifestyle. The language is English here and their currency is USD, making this a much easier transition than some of the other destinations.

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC

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The gorgeous blue waters of the Caribbean await you in the Dominican Republic. You can not imagine just how beautiful this water is until you see it up close and personal. Dominican Republic shares their island and borders the country of Haiti. Close by is also Puerto Rico. Living in the Dominican Republic is very affordable, with some smaller cottages renting for just a few hundred dollars a month. If you are looking to live simple, your Spanish is decent and you love living with the locals, the DR just may be for you.

COSTA RICA

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Costa Rica is an ex-pat dream! Super laid back, slow and simple lifestyle of living here makes life ever so lovely. There are large ex-pat communities in different parts of Costa Rica and they have a tendency to be very close. Costa Rica is a very stable country to live in for Americans too. They have no formal army and have a very stable government, making it one of the most secure places to live as an American. Spanish, of course, is the native language but the locals are very friendly even to us Gringos. As with anywhere you live, you want to be mindful of your surroundings. Don’t think that because you are in a friendly country that crime doesn’t happen. It still does, just not as often as you think. All in all, Costa Rica is a magical place to live your life of adventure.

PREPARING TO TAKE THE PLUNGE

Depending upon where you are going, there are quite a few things that you must do before you move abroad.

Here are the Top 5 Must-Dos that will make or break your experience abroad.

Kill Debt.

Or at least seriously knock it down.
If you have overwhelming debt before you leave, then odds are good you’ll have even more debt when you return.
For example, if you can’t sell your old house, make sure a tenant’s rent will cover most if not all expenses.

Be Healthy.

Starting an adventure like this can be tough on the body and soul at first. Maybe the best preparation is starting with good health, physical and mental.

Smile. Go with the Flow

Packing your toothbrush is important. But not as important as packing a sense of humor. It really goes a long, long way when sharing someone else’s country.

Avoid Analysis Paralysis.

Don’t get bogged down in every detail. Sure, plan, but paralyze yourself from doing. For example, learn an overview of the neighborhoods in your target city, but don’t bother judging between streets. Some things are just better discovered when you arrive, listen and learn.

Prepare for the Unexpected.

This goes back to the thing above, about having a sense of humor. As an expat, there are so many times when you just think “What are they thinking?” or even “What the hell?!?”
Prepare to be surprised, even shocked occasionally. (It is called culture shock, after all)
Just understand that ahead of time, it will happen. No big deal.

There are tons of ex-pat websites on the web for you to surf and learn all the particulars of wherever your heart wants to take you. Take your time doing your research. But at the end of the day, follow your heart and your dreams! You won’t regret it.

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