Ever wanted to live in a new country for work?
After this last month and writing my book I had a lot of people reach out to me asking about how to write a book (thats another blog) and also about moving countries. It got me thinking about it and having been raised in the UK felt I could write a few words on this.
A friend of mine says that your life goes in 7 year increments. Maybe that is too slow moving for many but for me my life has somewhat gone in that direction.
At 17 I found snowboarding which basically meant all I could think about was leaving the mountain less, snowless UK and heading for France to Val D’isere to be precise. Off I went and it was a case of Beg, borrow, sleep on floors, wash dishes, whatever it took to make it work and I spent the next 5 years there with some university added in between for good measure. France is a wonderful country and at the time was so easy for British people to get jobs (Brexit really screwed us on that now…. Boooooooo). You could work on the beaches in summer in the mountains in winter, hitch hiking was easy and cost of living was good.
Then we found Austria. Even better mountains, even cheaper cost of living so off we went. Serving dinner to drunk dutch tourists every evening and snowboarding all day long. Nothing better. With good powder, friendly people and plenty of nice easily accessible places like Innsbruck close by it meant you could live in the mountains but not feel cut off from the world. After a while then my work situation called for a move and off we went to Oregon. As a European I couldn’t have been any luckier to move to Portland. It has a football team, great coffee, amazing people and 90 mins each direction you are either at the mountains of Mt Hood or the beautiful Oregon Coast so we could surf or snowboard most weekends. The beauty of the outdoors in Oregon is unreal. Very different mountain ranges to Europe based on Volcanos and then coastal ranges with mile long hikes into beautiful secluded beaches. We also did some amazing road trips on the I5. Oregon to Mexico in a 2005 Land Rover. Like a couch on wheels on the freeway and then a discovery wagon on the beaches of Mexico.
We then recently started writing our next chapter in this global living adventure by moving to Portugal. What started as just me that at some point became me plus 1 has now grown to me, my wife and two kids to Portugal. We wanted a return to Europe and with 2 friends living here in Ribamar we decided to make the jump. So in total the living list looks like : UK, France, Finland (studying), Austria, USA, Portugal.
So whats the 7 pieces of advice for anyone thinking about moving countries.
- Have a couple of friends where you want to move. Maybe this is me being lazy but it helps so much if there are a couple of people on the ground who can help with ideas on accommodation and the general set up. Not a hard stop rule as we didn’t have this in Austria and figured it out but it would have been faster.
- Be humble and aware. With the shift in how we all work and the rise in remote work is putting incredible strain on destinations around the world. Ski resorts, beach towns have seen explosions in people wanting to move full time to these places but that means less accommodation for seasonal workers who serve the holiday makers who are crucial for many of the businesses to survive. So just bear that in mind. If your earning money in a foreign country make sure to support as many of the local businesses regularly as possible.
- Remember that a country won’t change for you. The number of people I hear who get crazy frustrated at Portugal and its bureaucracy is quite funny. Yes they love some red tape. However thats a hangover of the country and its past dating back thousands of years, do you think they want to change for me so I can come in and remote work from here? No…. I didn't think so.
- It will cost a bit of money in the beginning whilst you get yourself sorted out. Internet, phones, short term accommodation etc.
- Yes researching online helps but sometimes the easiest way to figure things out is to just go there and make some connections. Yes that means at coffee shops and bars but thats generally the best and easiest. Online we’re all just a avatar. In real life people understand who we are.
- There is a quote from Bailey Richardson who now “unsurprisingly” is in charge of building community at substack. “If you don’t see it, create the community you want to be part off”. I have thought about this quote so often. One thing I love to do is set goals and doing it with friends in person is even better so when we landed in Portugal after a few months we said, “why don’t we hold a goals workshop” which has been going now for 3 years and is such a great way to spend time focusing on the bigger picture.
It will work out. Maybe this depends on your own expectations but I always find that with an open mind, friendly approach you can get most things sorted living in a new country.