How to Move Abroad and Thrive

9 Things You Must Do to Prepare and Plan for Your Move Abroad...

As you read below, I will break down some of the things you should consider while planning for your new life abroad!

Grab a notebook and jot down some notes and steps to follow after reading!

Please Follow the Next Steps

Step 1.


People move abroad for all sorts of reasons. Having a clearly defined WHY is important to help keep you focused with your eyes on the prize. As you go back and forth on deciding to actually do this, it’s easy to get discouraged and/or convinced by family or friends that your idea is a bad one. Having your WHY is a way to help get you back on track when you start to doubt yourself.

For me, my why is clear … I’m nearing 50-years old, and I fudged up on my savings and retirement plan. While I made lots of money, I didn’t save any of it and I didn’t invest. I have no IRAs or 401K plans. There is no retirement plan for me.

In about 15-years I’ll be 65 years old. I don’t want to be hunched over a computer trying to understand Google search algorithms.

My reason for moving abroad is to cut my expenses by 50-60%, without sacrificing my quality of life, so I can get aggressive on saving and investing so I can play catch-up.

And so far it’s working out quite well … In 1-2 years I plan to purchase a house with outright cash. And hope to buy another property or two within 3-4 years solely as an investment property.

When you’re able to cut expenses by 60% overnight, many options open up to you.

So what’s your why?

I’ve met others whose retirement wasn’t enough to live on comfortably in the US. So they moved abroad to make their money stretch further.

$1,300 social security income is hard to live on anywhere in the U.S., but in some parts of South America’s Colombia, you can live extremely well on the same $1,300.

For example, you can live in a fully-furnished, 2-3 bedroom condo for just $375 per month, including utilities and Netflix.

There’s still enough money left over to go out and eat lunch or dinner twice a week; attend a new release movie; attend a nice concert, while still having enough to save and tuck away, and still enjoy the services of a housekeeper tidying up your house once a week.

And there’s still money left over to have a maid come by once a week to clean your place. While still tucking some of the money away to save for a rainy day.

And still, others move abroad for healing and finding peace; while others simply want to live and immerse themselves in other cultures that are of interest to them…

Identify your WHY and write it out clearly … You’ll refer back to this when you start to question your sanity, or when others try and discourage you from moving forward with your move.

Sipping on coconut water in Progreso beach - outside of Merida Mexico

Enjoying coconut water in Progreso beach; a 20-minute drive from where I live in Merida Mexico

Step 2.

Use Your Personality to Help Decide Where to Live

Every country or city has its own personality, and knowing yours can help you determine where to move to and live.

One of the most commonly asked questions on travel forums and Facebook groups is … ‘Where should I move too?’

As for me, I’m a laid back dude who enjoys living in small-quaint towns. Or as my friend Jackie likes to say, ‘Ross like living in these one-horse carriage towns’.

And he’s right … I really do.

I don’t like overcrowded places with lots of noise and traffic congestion. I like peace and quiet, and towns that move a snail’s pace.So a big city like Mexico City or Medellin ain’t necessarily for I’d enjoy living on a long term basis.I hate traffic and big cities tend to have lots of it and lots of bad air quality.I also wish to be in a city that’s very walkable or has multiple options for transportation.

Since moving to Mexico, I’ve lost a lot of weight without trying due to the excess walking I’m now forced to do since I do not own a car.

This act had my doctor suspending my need for insulin in as little as 60-days. So I wanted to live in a city that put me in a position to win as it relates to my health… So walkability was a biggy for me.

What’s your personality like?Do you like living in the big city? Are you a party animal and like to hit the clubs at night?Are you a foodie? Do you like trying out all sorts of new cuisine?

Do you like history or art or colonial style architecture?

Do you prefer being in towns that host lots of festivals? Or perhaps you like the beaches and milder (or colder) weather?

Do you have an affinity for a certain language? Is it Spanish, French, German or Italian?

I wanted to learn more Spanish … So going to Spanish speaking countries made sense for me.

Who are you? What do you like? Can you identify a town that works with you or your family’s personality?

Write out a list of ‘must-do’ or ‘must-haves’ … Putting this on paper ensures you have all your bases covered as you research and investigate various cities/countries!

Once you’ve narrowed down a list of places you think you’d like to live, dig in and do the research.

One of the best ways to get real feedback from people on the ground is to join Facebook groups where other ‘expats’ are living in those cities/countries.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: What is an ‘expat’? An expat is a person who lives outside their native country. ‘Expat’ is short for ‘Expatriate’.   

In these groups you’ll be able to ask questions specific to that city/country. Questions like... what’s the best area to stay in… who do you recommend for a realtor… which areas are walkable … etc.

Be sure to join multiple Facebook groups in the area you’re thinking about. Each of these groups have their own personalities where some are welcoming and others are ‘click-ish’.

Also, another place to get a birds-eye view of a city or country is on YouTube. Many people will vlog their experience via YouTube’s video platform.

This is great because in many cases, these YouTubers are showing you the city via video. You also get to here why they may or may not like that particular town.

Subscribe to multiple channels that resonate with you. Not all vloggers will resonate with you.

Just because their experience of a place didn’t work out doesn’t mean it won’t work out for you. Each of us come with our own personal worldview and baggage that might distort our perspective and not necessarily yours. This is why it’s important to listen to multiple people and not rely on just 1 or 2.

Some of these content creators who share information like me may offer paid consultations. If you’re really serious about moving abroad, pay the money. Talk to a real person who is on the ground. Talk to someone whose going to tell you the truth.

Talk to someone with a kindred Spirit. If the person seems to have a negative vibe, talk to someone else before you make final decisions. Some folks just see the world differently.

My 13-year old daughter getting fitted for ballet shoes ... She attends an intensive ballet program in Mexico

Step 3.

Have a Reliable Source of Income

I’ve seen many people show up here on a whim, only to go back to the States weeks or months later because they ran out of money.

Any plan to live abroad will require a steady source of income. Many people living abroad are on some sort of retirement income/savings. Many others are remote workers with a steady income.

TEACHABLE MOMENTS: A remote worker is someone who is employed by a company, but works outside of a traditional office environment.

You also have entrepreneurs who have their own business and are able to live and travel about freely.

And you have others that saved a bunch of money and they live on a strict budget and may choose to stay in a location for a year or two and go back to the States to earn more money to travel again.

Most countries will not allow you to work in their country without having some sort of work visa; which can be quite challenging to get.

If you have a very specialized skill that’s in demand, you could probably qualify for certain types of work visas. Visit the country’s immigration website to check and see what options are available to you. These websites will usually have ways for you to determine if you’re eligible to work in their country under a specific type of work visa.One thing is certain … You MUST have money.

Find out if your employer will allow you to become a remote worker; or find a job that will allow you to be one.

I’ve also met folks who took on customer service type jobs where the company sends the equipment for them to use and work with from home. Once they get the equipment and set it up, they roll out and move abroad.

You can use the website to find similar type jobs.

Much of my income comes from online digital courses I created 12+ years ago. With online courses, you package up your knowledge or skill-set into a training program you sell online.

For example, back in the day, I used to go to antiques auctions. I’d buy chairs, stools and benches from the 1950s-60s (mid-century furniture).

I’d buy them for cheap (like $200-$500), and I’d resell them for $1,000-$5,000, depending on the value of the item.

I did extremely well with that and made a great income. So, I took what I knew and turned it into a ‘how-to’ course to teach others how to do the same thing.

I packaged it up and sold it online as a course. I made this course probably around 8 or 9 years ago and it still sells well today.

You can do the same thing too…

What do you know? What skill set do you have? What can you teach others? It doesn’t have to be anything super extraordinary…

Do you raise chickens in your backyard? People want to learn how to do that and you can teach them?

Do you braid hair? Do you have a bi-racial child and had to learn how to take care of your daughter’s hair? Guess what …. There’s a bunch of other people who need to learn how to do it and would pay to learn how you do it?

Did you lose weight from walking? Were you able to get off medication from high blood pressure or diabetes? That’s a course….

Do you have your own blend of shea butter? Do you have amazing meals and skills using cast iron cookware?

Are you one of those die-hard survivalists who got food stored away to last you 5 or 10-years? Well … others want to learn from you.

The worst thing you can do is downplay what you know. We often do that to ourselves because we think everyone already knows what we know.

They don’t… Period!!!

I almost missed out on over $4 million dollars because i almost downplayed what I knew. I didn’t think people wanted to learn how to start a t-shirt business.

I started one over 20-years ago when the internet was fairly new and sold millions of dollars worth of tees online.

I did extremely well. About 12 years ago I created a course called TshirtRiches and have earned a fortune from that course.

It still earns well to this date … 12-years later!I was able to secure influencer deals with major brands, earned hundreds of thousands more dollars in partnerships and was offered countless speaking gigs (turned those down due to my fear of speaking).

You can do this too if you’re bold enough to believe in yourself… And if you're bold enough to believe you’re good enough to teach your subject matter … That’s all it takes.

I’ve helped others create multi-million dollar courses over the years and I believe anyone can do this.

It’s a great source of revenue and an income stream like this can allow you to travel abroad and live a good quality life. All you need to work is an Internet connection.

This is how I’m able to travel and live abroad; revenue earned from courses I create.

If you’re interested in learning how to package up your knowledge or skills into a course, e-mail me & let’s setup a paid consult:

In order to live abroad, you must have a steady source of income you can rely on. There’s just no way around that at all.

Meeting up with another expat to get my daughter's hair braided ...

Step 4.

Know the Costs to Move Abroad

How much does one need to move abroad?

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size fits all answer to this question. It varies from person to person.

I’ve met folks who’ve packed up and came down with one suit-case and the clothes on their back; with just enough money to make it until their next social security check deposited into their bank account.

I’ve met others that came down with 3 and 6-months worth of living expenses based upon a budget they came up with after finding an apartment on AirBnB.

The best thing to do is RESEARCH. Get online and check AirBnB listings to see how much it’d cost for an apartment, house or condo.

Get connected to a local real estate agent that’s recommended by other expats you met in local Facebook groups. They can often find you much cheaper deals than you’d find on AirBnB!

Find out from others what they typically pay for their utilities so you can have a general idea of what it costs. Find out what others pay for Internet, cellular services, etc.

Find out what the average cost one pays for taxi and uber each month.

Once you get all these numbers figured out, then it’s easier to determine an estimate of what your monthly costs would be.

Again … your costs to move abroad may vary significantly.Some people choose to ship their household goods and that can easily cost you anywhere from $15,000 - $30,000+ depending on where you’re going.

Others choose to allow their family members to only bring 1-2 suitcases each. That’s what I did … my kids were able to bring 2 suitcases each. I sold the rest of our stuff and we were out!

Many places you travel to will have places you can rent furnished or unfurnished. Renting furnished units will give you the opportunity to instantly move into a place without the stress or financial obligation of purchasing a household full of furniture and/or appliances.

The downside is you’ll generally pay a little more for a furnished place. And that’s fine if it works with your budget.

I ended up getting an unfurnished place because I felt the house and location was just right for my needs, and I was tired of looking around and I was ready to be done!

So I signed a one-year lease and started furnishing my own place one room at a time (well … we all got mattresses/beds on day one) lol.

He’s the real … if you were getting by from check-to-check in the US, you’ll be able to do the same here (as long as that check is guaranteed to arrive in your bank account each month). Theoretically, you should have more money left over because the cost of living is significantly less in many of these countries (assuming you’re looking to live in countries where your dollar goes much further).

Now most won’t agree with my stance on the paragraph above, but let’s be real … Most folks lack significant savings and most folks don’t live on a budget. Most folks just get by … If you’re gonna ‘get-by’, do it where your quality of life significantly improves, while your cost of living drastically decreases.

Also, don’t forget to calculate the costs for establishing a formal residency in the country you’re wanting to live in. Each member of the family will have to pay and depending on where you’re living, these costs can be significant.

Some countries are much easier while others can be extremely costly. Investigate it.

My kids getting a real and up close and personal history lesson on the pyramids and Mayan ruins!

Step 5.

Go Visit the Country You're Considering Moving Too

I shouldn’t have to list this but you’d be surprised how many people show up to these foreign countries after selling their homes and all of their belongings, lol …

And then 3-weeks later they’re leaving because they hate the place!

Don’t you be that guy or gal okay!All of this stuff looks great when you’re watching YouTube videos and following others on Facebook living their lives.

Without truly understanding or knowing their ‘WHY’, you can’t assume it’ll be all peaches and cream for you!

The customs and cultural differences in these countries can wear some folks down … Some people just won’t adapt no matter how bad they want it to work.

The best thing for you to do is to go visit and stay a while …

How long is a while? A week could be long enough for you… While a month may be long enough for others.

Stay as long as you need to in order to determine if this is the right move for you … Don’t stay in the tourist part of town either; stay where the real locals live so you can get a true sense of the visit.

Here in Merida, Mexico, the pace is much slower and the people are much more relaxed.

When you schedule a service, they may tell you they’ll be at your house in the morning at 10 a.m. … but won’t show up til 1 p.m. the next day… There’s no phone call, no text … NOTHING!

And that’s the norm here … No one gets mad, that’s just how they do. But that might be a problem for you. It took me a while to get used to it but now I’m okay … Just like them, I’m in no rush to get home when they tell me they’ll be there at 5 p.m. I get there when I get there … And honestly, much of the stress I wore on my back has gone away since I’ve adapted to this new way of life. They don’t worry so much down here.

I’ve gotten used to taking cold showers now … Didn’t think that would ever happen … But now I appreciate it. But some days the hot water don’t work, lol … And no one is in a rush to come fix it …

Again … This might drive you insane, but it is how it is down here…The pool guys and service folks ain’t the most reliable … I’ve just taken to cleaning my own doggone pool because I got fed up waiting for these guys to show up …

But these are minor nuisances in exchange for the big benefits you get for living here… But most folks can’t see the big picture like that.T

hat’s why it’s important for you to experience things for yourself before making a drastic decision like this.

Did I wait and come visit when I moved about … Not exactly!

But I’m a different breed of person, lol. I can usually adapt to anything and stay put anywhere for a year.

And if I truly don’t like it, I’m in a position where I can get up and get the hell on and be totally fine with losing my deposits and giving up all the furniture I bought without losing any sleep. I can make that decision instantly and without pause.

I don’t say this to brag, but I say it because I know my mindset. I know what I’m capable of doing. I have a higher tolerance for loss than most folks … I’m not attached to ‘stuff’ like most people are. I’ll leave it all behind and get moving if I’m unhappy.

I did it when we were supposed to live in Montreal Canada … After 5-days I canceled my lease and got the hell on, lol… I didn’t like it there and I wasn’t gonna stay and spend another dime.

So we left and flew to Colombia in South America!

Fishing and hanging out in Mexico with other expats living here too!

Step 6.

Decide How You'll School Your Child(ren)

I homeschool our kids and have been for the last 5-years. It’s a little easier now because mine are a little older. I don’t have to teach them how to read and all that stuff, so it’s all good.

If you’re not a patient person, this may be challenging for you; but it's certainly rewarding and beneficial.

Not everyone who travels abroad homeschool their kids. There are many parents who enroll their kids into the local school system in the country they’re living in.

It ain’t all that weird … Just think about the foreign kids who you went to school with. There was always someone enrolling in school who didn’t speak English.

One thing about kids is that they will adapt. You as the parent are probably more worried and concerned than they are.

There are a few options for you though.

Many countries will have an international school in which you can enroll your children. Expats and children of diplomats or parents who work for international businesses will typically send their kids to these schools.

These schools generally follow a curriculum that’s different from the host country.

Oftentimes, the schools are English speaking, and it’s not unusual for locals to enroll their kids in these schools so their kids can learn English.

These schools will typically follow a national or international curriculum.

If you enroll your kids into one of these schools you’ll generally have to pay tuition. Investigate the costs if this is the route you plan to take.

Alternatively, you can simply enroll your kid into the local school system. Depending on their age, they’ll adapt. For older teens this may be challenging.

Also, depending on where you’re at, the local school system may require residency requirements to be met.

Do your homework.

Skyline of Manizales

Step 7.

Practice the Language of the Country You Plan to Live In

In many places, you can get by without knowing the language of the country you’re in. I was able to get by in Colombia and Mexico without knowing much of anything.

Now … It was challenging and frustrating, but I got by. I do recommend you learn the language at some point, sooner rather than later … It will make your experience there much easier.

Do you need to know the language prior to arriving?

No … You don’t.

But the more you know, the better off you’ll be. You should at a minimum learn some of the very basics.

At least know how to count to 10 … Know how to say 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80, 90, 100, 500, 1000.

Knowing these basic numbers go a long way in understanding your money … You can get yourself into trouble by not understanding some of these basic numbers.

While most folks are honest, some will take advantage of you. So the more you know the better things will be.

Learn basic words like good morning, or good afternoon, or good night.

Once you arrive in your new country, enroll in local classes or take zoom classes … Putting in the work now will pay off huge.

Here are a few words and phrases I find helpful to know in Spanish:

Hello | How are you | My name is | What’s your name | Nice to meet you | What time do you open | What time do you close | Stop | Here | Turn right | Turn left |

Here | Yes | No | Can I have | Do You Have | Help | How do you say this in Spanish | Please | Check please | One more please | Where are you from | Are you from |

I’m on the way | Thank you | I am from the United States | I live in |

These are just a few of the common phrases I use on a daily basis… You’ll learn more as you go out and about.

Learn how to count your money… Learn the process for converting the local currency so you know how much things cost.

For Spanish, I think the most important thing is learning the sounds of the alphabet. Find videos on YouTube and practice your sounds and practice how to count.

Learn your ABCs. It’ll go a long way.

Step 8

Investigate Options for Residency

I touched upon this earlier in this guide. If you plan to live in any country long term, you must do it the right way.

Mexico has 3 main types of visas:

  1. Mexico Tourist Visa: these are valid up to 180 days (depending on where you’re from). Primarily issued to those coming to Mexico for tourism, business, education, etc.
  2. Mexico Temporary Resident Visa: If you’re wanting to stay beyond 180, but less than 4-years, this visa is for you. The temporary resident visa is broken down into a student visa, work visa and family visa.
  3. Mexico Permanent Resident Visa: This visa type is for those wanting to permanently live in Mexico. You’ll find this is common for retirees with their own source of income. If you’ve lived in Mexico as a temporary resident for at least a period of 4-years, you’re eligible for this type of visa.

Source: VisaGuide World

I’m not an attorney, so I’m not going to get all involved in how you should apply for these visas because each country is different. I’m only talking about Mexico’s process now because I’m currently here.

To begin the Temporary Resident Visa process, you have to initiate the process with a US Embassy in the country you’re from (or at a Mexican Embassy near where you live).

It’s a fairly straightforward process and can be done rather quickly. Contact your local Mexican Embassy (they’re all over the US) and get information on how to get started.

Visiting Mexico as a tourist for your exploratory visit:

If you are a US citizen, you DO NOT REQUIRE A VISA to visit Mexico under the following conditions:

  • The purpose of your visit is for tourism
  • The duration of your stay doesn’t go beyond 180 days

It is necessary that you have

  1. A valid passport with more than 6 months of validity (Mexico only requires 30-days of validity, but the transit countries and airline companies may have other requirements - most require 6-months and are known to not let you board the aircraft if you have less than 6-months validity. Don’t risk it; in most cases you will not get a refund for your tickets).
  2. A properly completed Multiple Migratory Form (FMM). The FMM can be obtained from the airline or at the port of entry (you’ll generally fill this out on the plane). Keep the FMM in a safe place during your trip! You will be asked for it at your departure from Mexico. If you don’t have it, you’ll have to pay a fee for each one.
I recommend you come for a visit to ensure you like the place you’re considering living. I personally wouldn’t recommend starting the temporary residency visa unless you’re certain you wish to move and live here (assuming you’re thinking about Mexico).

The same applies for other countries as well … Mexico has a fairly easy process. Other countries can be much more difficult and more costly.

Make sure to do your research to determine if it’s affordable and doable for the country you’re considering.

Seriously research this because some countries may require large investments in order to qualify for a visa to live in the country.
Cali Streets

Step 8

Decide if This is Really a Viable Option for You and Your Family

Can you really do this?  Is it realistic and possible?

It absolutely is. You really can do this if you’re willing to get outside of your own thinking and programming.

My advice … Get your butt on a plane and come for a visit. No amount of research and planning and prepping can take the place of personally walking these streets and seeing things for yourself.

Get out from the computer and stop watching all of these videos on YouTube and Facebook. You’ve already seen enough.

Come down and walk these streets. Go to these beaches. Eat the local food. Go dance at a local restaurant. Watch a live band while you eat. See how nice the people are.

Try to talk Spanish and laugh at yourself for fumbling over words and see that it’s not the end of the world.

Come see how this feels in your spirit!

No amount of planning will prepare you for what you’ll experience within those first 24-hours of arriving!

Some of you will decide within minutes of arriving that this is the place for you…

Others may take 24-hours … And some may require a week or longer!

If you ain’t digging it and feeling it, you can always go back home and say you tried (or visit another country/city).

But don’t drag this out… Come visit and make a decision!

While you're here, take advantage of some of the difference in costs for services back home ... For example, need to get a cavity filled or your teeth cleaned or whitened? Book an appointment and get it done.

Need an MRI or some other tests that costs a fortune back in the U.S.? Get it done while you're here ...

Need a hearing test? Need labs? Need an eye exam? Need an ultrasound?

Schedule a visit with a doctor and get everything you need while you're here. Save yourself some money and see for yourself what's it's really like to enjoy the benefits of living in the country you're intending to move too!

Decide today!

Need A Little More Handholding?

I hope you’ve found this guide helpful. I offer a variety of consultation and concierge packages if you so desire. Book a session now and my project manager will follow-up to schedule a day and time!


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