10 Things You Can Do During Covid-19 To Prepare For A Move Abroad When The World Opens Back Up

PUBLISHED: Aug 27, 2020 8:23 AM

If you’ve been considering a move abroad but postponed your plans because of the global pandemic, there are still ways that you can plan your escape for when the world reopens.

Travel expert Jackie O. says not all is lost when it comes to travel.

“Covid-19 is giving you the time and space to really plan your BLAXIT,” she told Travel Noire.

Jackie O. has crisscrossed the globe for the last 20 years. Her experience of living and working in seven countries, and traveling to more than 70, is why she launched a coaching service to help aspiring Black expats come up with their own plan to live and work aboard.

If you don’t know where to start, she has outlined 10 things you can do right now:

1.Understand Your Why

Moving abroad isn’t for everyone.

Have you heard any of this from a friend, colleague, or family member once you explain that you want to move abroad?

  • Racism is everywhere!
  • How will we see you?
  • You don’t know anybody there!
  • How will you support yourself?
  • You trippin!!!
  • You will get raped, robbed, murdered etc!
  • You are taking your baby where?
  • Why would you leave your job?

The people who make these comments to you aren’t the folks that should be moving abroad.  They are locked in a narrow mindset.  

Moving abroad requires a mindset shift, you have to want it and fully understand why you want it. The beautiful thing about stepping into your authentic self and living life on your terms is that the choices are endless. Your ideas, dreams, and thoughts don’t have to match those of people around you.

Photo courtesy of travel expert Jackie O

Spend a week journaling why you want to move abroad. List every single reason you want to move abroad both big and small. Get crystal clear on your why. The only person who has to believe in your dreams is YOU and ONLY YOU. Naysayers can go on for days about the way they want you to live your life and knock all your dreams. Ignore the noise. They aren’t moving abroad. It isn’t their dream, so they don’t have to understand it, but you do.

Also, write down your biggest fears from moving abroad. For example, if your biggest fear is running out of money, write down a minimum of 10 ways that you can earn money.

2. Make the Decision and Stick with it

Now that you understand your why, make the decision that you are moving and commit to it.  Most people will tell you that once they truly committed to moving abroad and started taking steps to make it a reality, doors literally started opening for them.

3. Choose a Country/City

Start researching countries and cities/towns. Remember that visiting a country is very different from living there full-time. So make a list of at least three-to-five 5 countries and write out the pluses and minuses of each country.

If you have narrowed your focus down to a specific city/town, research the pluses and minus of that city/town. Pluses and minuses will vary depending on your why.

For example, if one of the reasons you are moving is to escape the traffic of Los Angeles, then Lagos, Nigeria would be a horrible choice for you because the traffic is some of the worst in the world.  If you want to escape Buffalo winters, then you may not want to move to Patagonia, Argentina, because it is pretty cold all year round.  And if you are moving to escape the harsh realities of American racism, then you should be well informed of the history of indigenous and people of color in the country to which you want to immigrate.

4. Find Out Visa Information

Research the types of visas available in each of your countries and the cost and timeline for obtaining one. Decide what visa would work for your particular lifestyle choices, for example, some people live in a country on a tourist visa and simply make visa runs to a border country every 90 or 120 days.

Some people come to countries on a tourist visa and find employment during their stay and get sponsored for another visa type.  Know and understand the visa types for each country and what particular protections they offer.

5. Create a Budget

Perhaps you have been able to narrow your list down from three-to-five to two and three countries, but It is okay if you still haven’t decided on a country or city. 

Create a budget for each country that you are interested in living.  Use this budget to figure out how much income you need to generate to live the sort of life you want to live abroad.  Be generous with your budget.  Take the time to envision your life abroad:  Do you want a nanny? Eat out frequently?  Housekeeper? Frequent travel? Etc? Use this budget to determine how much income you need to earn to live in your chosen country or countries.

6. Find a Remote Position or Ways to Generate Legal Income Abroad

Now that you have a budget, start looking for ways to generate income.  If you aren’t independently wealthy or retired, you can start a business, work remotely, or find a position in your desired country.

If you want to start a business, you have several options – to start an online business or start a business in your desired country.  Both options will require you to do research.  If you are starting an online business, there is nothing stopping you from starting it during the pandemic and beginning to generate income.  If you are interested in starting a business abroad, research the requirements and tax laws in those countries.

Photo courtesy of travel expert Jackie O

If you are interested in a remote position, start looking and begin your search with your current job. If you are currently working remotely due to Corbid19, ask your employer if you can work remotely permanently.  If that doesn’t work or you aren’t currently working remotely, start your search looking for positions that advertise as remote.

If you are looking for a position in your desired country, your best options are to search for international companies, organizations, agencies, and/or the US State Department and other federal agencies with personnel overseas.

7. Get Your Affairs In Order

Make sure you have a passport and it is valid for at least six months to a year. If you have children, make sure they have passports (both parents listed on the birth certificate will have to sign documents for a passport to be issued to a minor child) and that these documents are valid as well.  If you are not in contact with the non-custodial parent, check out the State Department website, there is a form called a DS-5525: Statement of Exigent/Special Family Circumstances – Issuing a Passport to a Minor Under Age 16 that can be filled out.  

Always speak with an attorney if you plan to leave the country with a minor child/ren.  If you are a single parent with an existing custody order have discussions with your co-parent about moving abroad with your child and amending the existing order.  If no order is in place, but you are still co-parenting as for a letter of authorization from the non-custodial parent to move abroad with the child/ren.  

Get a will and power of attorney. If you are a parent (married or single) prepare guardianship (directly who should raise your child/re and how you want them raised) for your child/ren should something happen to one or both of you.  

Make out a will and appoint a power of attorney.  A power of attorney is particularly important because it will enable someone in the US to handle your affairs should the need arise while you are abroad.

Be clear on your tax obligations when you leave the US. Speak with a tax consultant so you fully understand your tax obligations both in the US and abroad.

Check your bank for fees for international withdrawals. Many banks charge fees when you make international withdrawals.  These fees can add up over time and if you plan on keeping at least one bank account in the US, then you should switch to an account with no fees.

Make sure your cell phone is unlocked and download apps like WeChat and Whatsapp to your phone to stay connected with family and friends while abroad.

Get a virtual mailbox. Have important mail sent to your power of attorney and all other mail sent to a virtual mailbox.  Virtual mail services will accept mail on your behalf, scan it, and make it available to you digitally.

Get a physical and make sure you have all the required immunizations to enter your desired country.  Research health insurance options within the country as well as travel insurance in case you ever need to be evacuated back to the USA.

Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) through the US State Department.  It is a free service to allow U.S. citizens and nationals traveling and living abroad to enroll their trip with the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.  The benefits include: 

-Receiving important information from the Embassy about safety conditions in your destination country, helping you make informed decisions about your travel plans.

-Helping the U.S. Embassy contact you in an emergency, whether natural disaster, civil unrest, or family emergency.

-Helping family and friends get in touch with you in an emergency.

8. Connect with Other Expats in those Countries

Start building community before you leave the US by joining Couchsurfing, Facebook, Meet-Up, and LinkedIn groups of expats in your country.  Some of my favs are:

Schedule informational interviews with expats already living on the ground where you can chat via Zoom or Whatsapp and ask detailed questions.

9. Prepare Yourself Financially

Start saving money. A little bit of savings can go a long way in most countries in the world, so save as much as you can.  Use your budget as your guide. I recommend having at least 3 sources of some sort of income before you depart.

10. Prepare Yourself Culturally

Do not move to another country without a basic understanding of its history, people, languages, and culture.  Read books on the history of the country. Read news articles on what is happening there currently.  Watch movies. Follow any local and expat vloggers/bloggers in the country.

Start learning phrases in the language of the country you are planning to move to.  Learn to count from 1-100.  Learn basic greetings and to say, “I don’t understand.”  A little bit of a local language can get you far in terms of breaking down cultural barriers.

Photo courtesy of travel expert Jackie O

Bonus

Be curious and excited even while you are quarantining. Do not expect your new country to be like America.  Work on letting go of your own cultural biases.  Be realistic.  Reread your “Why” statement constantly. Stay safe and healthy in the US until international borders open and then BE OUT!

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