Why you should quit your job and move abroad

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Why you should quit your job and move abroad

“The most dangerous risk of all–the risk of spending your life not doing what you want on the bet you can buy yourself the freedom to do it later.” — Randy Komisar via AnnieAndre.com

The more people I meet, the more I hear that people aren’t happy with their day jobs. They want more out of life and are tired of the daily office grind. Maybe you want to travel the world, become a digital entrepreneur or just find work that’s meaningful to you. If becoming an expat is what you’re after, I’m here to tell you it’s not some unattainable goal. If it’s just something you’ve been toying with to do in the future, maybe today is the day you should take action. Nothing is that far from reach…

Read more!

Why you should quit your job and move abroad

First, let me say that moving abroad isn’t for everyone and might not be a goal of yours. But I’m certain that you’ve been meaning to do something in your life for a while now, so allow my “quit your job and move abroad” example to serve as a metaphor for whatever you’ve been putting off in your life.

Maybe for you, that thing you’ve been meaning to do is closer to home like opening your own business, starting a blog, coming up with a new fitness routine, cleaning out the garage or just finding balance in your life. Not everyone wants the same thing and that’s OK.

This post is about getting off your butt and doing something.

We can all identify with that.

First, if you’re perfectly content with your day job and every single thing in your life, then this post isn’t for you. Plenty of people enjoy their jobs and are happy. But I know many of you reading this have toyed with the idea of living abroad, doing that thing you’ve been meaning to do and maybe experiencing life from a different point of view.

Let me share my take on making a major life change that may not be comfortable at all:

JUST DO IT ALREADY

No one is going to hold your hand and force you to do something you’ve always wanted to do. Before you know it, you’ll be 90 years old wondering where your life went and why you didn’t make stuff happen for yourself when you had the chance.

Why wait until some undetermined point in the future to do something that you know right now you want to do?

I’m not OK with working my butt off day in and day out with two weeks of vacation per year. Doing this all the way up until retirement to live the way I want at age 70+ doesn’t make sense to me. So that’s why I changed my life.

Many people have said to me, “Oh Diane, you’re so lucky. You live in France…” And I stop them right there. Luck had nothing to do with it. I didn’t fall out of bed one day to find my suitcase packed, money in the bank, with a first class ticket on Magic Fairy Airlines, destination: France.

No. It never works like that.

My goal was to move to France and my choices leading up to that move got me here. This didn’t just happen to me while I idly stood by. I moved to France last year to be with Tom, but the first time I moved to France in 2009, Tom wasn’t even in the picture…

I got to where I want to be because I made it happen.

Make a plan, be patient, then take action.

By no means am I saying to recklessly quit your job and move abroad (or do whatever it is you want to do without forethought). That would be stupid. But take the steps necessary now to set yourself up for success in the future. 

In my case, I worked a corporate job for several years out of college and saved money in the process. I knew I wanted more than the same old day-to-day office life but wasn’t sure what. So until something caught my eye, I kept saving. I had always been fascinated with France ever since visiting at age 16 and made sure I had a few things to look forward to during the work week to keep me motivated enough to keep working toward my goal. I took French classes at Alliance Francaise both in NY and NJ to quench my thirst for French, took tennis lessons and made sure that my time spent outside of work mattered. But I wanted more.

When I found a teaching opportunity in France and applied, I was hoping I’d be accepted and dreamed of what my life would be like abroad. A few short months later, my dream was just a few weeks away and I quit my job to embark on bigger and better things.

So be realistic in the planning stage and research. After the vacation mindset wears off, you’ll see that life abroad is hard work. I got a taste of the French bureaucracy for the first time in 2009 when I had to get my visa and work contracts all sorted out. This would probably discourage a less tenacious person.

I handled these frustrations with a few glasses of wine and a whole lot of complaining. But guess what? I got through it.

Know what didn’t factor in? Fear of the unknown and the what-ifs. They’re paralyzing if you’re not careful. I knew what I wanted and took the steps to get there. And found a fantastic husband in the process. I am happy with the choices I’ve made. Was it easy to make such life changing decisions?

No, but nothing worth doing is ever easy.

road block

You might feel stuck like you can’t quit your job and move abroad.

Let me tell you right now that you’re not as stuck as you think you are.

Yes, you may have a mortgage, personal debt, a dog, a family, this and that and the other thing. But you’re not stuck. Those are just roadblocks your mind is putting up as excuses as to why you can’t take the next step in your life that you so desperately want. The roadblocks come from fear. And your rational mind will tell you 101 reasons why pursuing your dream to live abroad/make that change is not a good idea.

But what does your heart tell you?

What would your life look like if none of those things could get in the way? Would you be on a far off beach somewhere sipping pina coladas? It’s not impossible. It just takes some planning. Maybe you feel stuck because you don’t know what to do or how to start.

Well, to find inspiration, take a vacation to the place you’ve been putting off your whole life. Go talk to the person who inspires you most. Do whatever it is that will light a fire under your butt. You will not regret this.

Let me tell you that nothing amazing is going to automatically fall into your lap. Just jump already!

Quit your job and move

Some of us are luckier than others and great things fall into our laps, but if you just wait around for some great opportunity to present itself, you may be waiting forever. Whatever you need, figure out how to get it. Need help? Ask people for it. What’s the worst that can happen? They say no and you’re right back where you started?

Remember that things do work out in the end.

At the time, a job loss or a missed opportunity may feel like the end of the world, but once those things are in the rear view mirror, you’ll be able to pick yourself up and move forward.

People love to crush others’ dreams and hopes and happiness…

…and tell you why it’s so hard to quit your job and move to France/work from home/run a marathon/etc. I know this firsthand. People said, “Oh, it’s so hard for an American to find work in France…” and they proceeded to rattle off a whole bunch of reasons why this was so. Numerous people told me this. But after my teaching contract ended, I was offered a regular full-time job in Paris at a corporate language school. Yes, the salary was miserable and the timing wasn’t right for me, BUT the point here is that if you make things happen for yourself, they happen.

I think it’s easier for others to tell you 100 reasons why something won’t work than for you to focus on finding the two reasons why it will work.

Anywhere you look, there are hurdles to overcome, right? So why would moving abroad be any different? Don’t let others get you down. I say ignore the naysayers. There are plenty everywhere you look…

Here are some resources that may help motivate you and/or help you to find a job abroad:

JobsInEurope: For English speaking jobs in Europe. You can check out country specific jobs or just search by industry. This site is updated frequently.
IELanguages: Jennifer was an English language teaching assistant in France and is now studying in Australia. She has a jam packed site full of language learning info and great French slang guides.
Ash of The Middle Finger Project is a digital entrepreneur and has a sassy style that will inspire you from the first paragraph. She could get a vegetarian to eat meat in heaps. She’s that good.
ExpatForum: Curious about what life abroad is really like? Browse the Expat Forum where thousands of people all over the world come to together to answer questions and provide support.
AnnieAndre Practicle Adventure-ology: Annie will help you to take a career break to live your adventure from anywhere. She’s living proof it can be done.

Do you want to quit your job and move abroad or make a change in your life? Tell me all about it in the comments!

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Comments (30)

  • Shirley Billson

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    Love, love, love this article….so many people put off what they really want – or deny themselves what they deserve – because they have been seduced by someone else’s vision of the world, which is smaller and limited and fearful.

    Factor in the ‘I can’t afford it’ too (whether it’s the time or the money) – and you have the perfect recipe for an unfulfilled life full of what ifs and if onlys.

    Thank you for sharing this.

    Love and appreciation

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Thank you, Shirley. Even if moving abroad isn’t on someone’s short list, I feel like this post could apply to so many things that people have squashed due to fear or someone else’s vision of the world, like you said. And for many, feeling fulfilled is a lot closer to home. I appreciate your comment. 😉

      Reply

  • Kimberly, The Fur Mom

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    Nope, but I do want to quit my job and work on Keep the Tail Wagging full time. I’ve given myself 3 years and on September 1 2015, I’ll be giving notice at my job. I’m excited just thinking about it!

    Reply

  • wintersundays

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    Yes! I am moving to South Korea (February 2013) to become an ESL teacher and first time expat. I am beyond excited. I love that you posted resources at the end. 🙂 This post reminds me of the saying/quote: “Jump, a net will appear.” Thank you!!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      I like that quote, and I think you’re right. A net does make itself available when you need one. Best of luck to you in S. Korea!

      Reply

  • Stacy Reeves

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    I am in the process of doing this right now. A few months ago my husband and I decided to stop making excuses for why we couldn’t do it and just commit to doing it, no matter what. We had SO MANY THINGS holding us back – no money in savings, day jobs we couldn’t afford to leave, a house that we were underwater on, a dog that most airlines wouldn’t allow us to fly overseas, family that we had responsibilities towards, etc. Once we committed ourselves to doing it, it was so amazing how everything fell into place. We started selling everything we owned to cover the loss we would take on our house, we talked our bosses into letting us work remotely, we hired a pet relocation company to get our dog to France, we talked it out with our families, and we pared down our spending to build up our savings. We thought it would take us years to be able to make the move, but in reality it only took around four months. We leave in a few weeks for Paris to fulfill our dream and we couldn’t be happier. There are certainly lots of obstacles and frustrations, but to say that it’s worth it is an understatement.

    This is such a GREAT GREAT GREAT post and I hope it inspires someone to just take the leap! We did, and it was the greatest decision of our lives! My #1 piece of advice is to set a date for your move and COMMIT to it in some big way, by selling your house or your car or buying a nonrefundable one-way ticket, or announcing your move to all your friends, or something like that. If you keep it a secret it will probably stay a secret forever and nothing will ever change, but if you go public with it and set a move date, you’ll be much more motivated to follow through and make it happen, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re actually living your dream.

    The Four Hour Work Week is also a really fantastic resource for those who are considering a major lifestyle change. It was the biggest inspiration for me, and it gives really practical, useful advice on how to do it rather than just saying “You can do it!” like a lot of books. It also has a list of books and websites at the end for those who want to learn more about long-term travel, working remotely, or moving abroad.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      So glad you enjoyed the post, Stacy!! You’re going to have so much fun in France and although it’s not easy to take that step and just go for it, I know it’ll be rewarding. So congrats!

      Reply

  • Jennifer

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    This post is so very well written. You have packaged all of the doubts and anxieties about living out one’s dream and put them neatly into a little nutshell.

    Want to know why I love this post so much? It’s because my husband and I have just quit our jobs, notified the kids school that they won’t be back next year, and reserved a 20-foot container to ship all of our belongings to France. It has been a long process of saving money (still don’t have much), selling our house, getting the family used to the idea, etc., but now we can say that we will not wake up one day and wonder why we never lived out our dreams.

    Your post and whole blog inspire me, so thanks for taking the time to write about your experiences.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Awesome, so glad to hear that Jennifer! I really feel like we have to take full advantage (within reason of course) of what life has to offer, so that post was just getting off my chest — so glad it inspires you. When will you be arriving in France? Please stay in touch. All the best to you!

      Reply

  • Oliver the loner

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    Diane
    Although i’ve been an expat since i was 17 as a student, and i still am. i dream about living in Europe, and no one or anything is going to make me change my mind and your article just reinforced my burning desire! I’m sick and tired of my country i just can’t stand the idea of going back and work there for the rest of my life! i’m going to fight tooth and nails for the realization of my dream.
    But again, my fellows, not everyone wants to leave their country some are so called patriots who think that they can change their countries : like someone i met who though my idea was ridiculous this is no right person to share this kind of goals with
    Thanks once again Diane

    Reply

    • Diane

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      I apologize for the late reply to your comment, Oliver. I think it got buried in my comment list. I’m so sorry! Anyway, I think where there’s a will, there’s a way and if you want to live in Europe, you’ll make it happen. Just make a plan and stick to it. Everyone wants different things and there’s no wrong or right, so I applaud you for taking steps to lead your life the way you want to. Best of luck to you!

      Reply

  • Kristi

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    I recently quit my soul-sucking job (http://wp.me/p3CEav-15) and while I don’t have any immediate plans to move abroad, I am moving on to a more UNunhappy state. I hope to one day live in England or France but for now, I’m enjoying the freedom of a life that is open to possibility. Thanks for writing this inspiring post! (And are you enjoying Le Tour, are you planning to go watch any stages?) Merci – Kristi

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi there, congrats to you for making a change to something more fulfilling. For some people, their office job is fulfilling, but for me (and you), seems like that’s not the case. So glad you have some goals for the future and are focusing on what makes you happy. Unfortunately the Tour de France isn’t passing by my area this year, but I did watch the opening stages on TV. Fun to watch! Thanks for your comment!

      Reply

  • Molly @ Toffee Bits and Chocolate Chips in Paris!

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    I love this post!! I’m living in Paris right now studying pastry, but my visa is up in March. I keep falling head over heels in love with the country and am already looking for how I can possibly stay. I think the hardest hurtle will be finding a way to support myself- currently I’m working remotely and part time for the company I used to work for in the states. They have a Paris location but my French is no where near the level it needs to be for them to even think about hiring me- let alone all the headaches they’d have to go through to obtain a work visa for me. yish! I’ve got several months though to figure it out, and you are so right – it’s about planning ahead! It took me a full year to plan moving abroad to go to the Cordon Bleu- and once I got here, the transition was just about seamless because of the amount of time I had put into researching. Now I just have to figure out how to stay!! haha

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You have a good attitude and like the saying goes, where there’s a will, there’s a way. I have a feeling something will fall into place for you. Keep your eyes open and the right opportunity will come along!

      Reply

  • Chloé

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    Hello! I just found out about your blog and I find it really interesting!
    I am French and my dream is to move to the US, unfortunately visas are very difficult to get but I want this so much that I think I will get there somehow!
    By the way, I loved your article about the strange noises French people make, people made fun of me about the “growl” abroad!

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Chloe, what is it about the US that makes you want to move there? I think if you find a job, the visa will be pretty easy. Not sure what your background is, but just check job boards religiously and you’ll get there. So glad you liked the strange noises post! Good luck!

      Reply

  • Louise

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    I have been talking about moving to France for over 12 months now, and after losing my job 2 months ago I think now is the perfect time.
    I just find it so hard to get my head around all of the logisitcs – ie, where do I store all my possessions, what do I take with me, what will my family say, who will “take” my rabbit, where will I live, how will I earn a living….I have a british passport as well as an Australian passport so I “think” I am ok for a visa, but not even sure where to start.
    I know if I don’t do it now I will regret it forever, it’s the doing that scares me.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi! I wish you all the luck in the world, Louise! And if I can be any help at all, do let me know. You’re right about probably never doing it if you don’t do it now, so just go for it and the rest will fall into place. Just make sure you have enough money to support yourself for a while though just in case!

      Reply

  • Medha

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    I am 22 and I love my Boyfriend who is German. He will soon move back to Germany from India as his contract would get over and he would have no option. We are both engineers but he is an expat already while I on the other hand got a job in Mumbai after 6 months of struggle, which I know that I will have to leave in the next 3 months to move to Germany with him because we cant live without each other!

    It is a very scary thing for me- to leave the job that i would love to work (I am hoping)… It is extremely scary to leave a stable job for an uncertain future. I am in two minds but this article is so amazing and inspiring and it is making me confident to move to Germany and look for a job that I would love to do along with living with the love of my life!

    If I dont do it now, I do not know if i will be able to do it while I am happy with my job already in few months. It is the start of my career and on a bright side- I have no loans or mortgage to pay.. This article is THAT good that it is already making me positive about my decision.

    My friends say that I will screw my career if i leave the first ” real job” of my life.
    In Germany- everything is ok for me, I can live on an Au pair visa with my partner’s family and polish my german language and look for jobs- but it is just so scary.

    Any comments? I would love some encouragement and insights…

    Again, thanks Diane for the inspiring article. It was a great read…

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Medha, thanks for your comment and so happy to hear the post spoke to you. 😉 I think that you have to figure out what your goals are for the short term and long term and base your decisions off of that. If your relationship is strong and you know you want to be together and being in the same locale as your boyfriend is your top priority, then I’d cautiously do whatever you need to to make that happen. I say cautiously because you both seem to have great career prospects so I wouldn’t want you to put a stop to something that’s just starting. A stable job is great and many people don’t have stable jobs. So is it worth it to you to give that up? Are career prospects good for your industry in Germany? Only you can answer that. Ideally you’d get a job contract squared away before you move but sometimes things don’t work out that way. What else can I say… You’re 22. You don’t have a ton of responsibility and like you said it’s better to leave now before you get too attached to your career. You have time to let things work themselves out. I’d make sure you have enough money in savings to support yourself for 6 months or ideally a year with no job. I’m all for taking risks (within reason) but you need a plan. And once you have that plan, just go for it and don’t doubt yourself. Good luck!

      Reply

  • Laura

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    Thank you for this! I am doing exactly this in only a few weeks time. There have been so many “naysayers” along the way but we are committed to trying out a new life. I will be finishing up my work here in Bermuda and my husband’s permit just ended. (I am American, he is British) We have saved up enough to live for 1 year and figure out if France will work for us. I am going to share this post because I feel like maybe some of my friends & family will stop saying “you’re so lucky” about my choices. They’ve taken a lot of sacrifice along the way to be able to try this dream.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Laura, thanks for sharing your story and taking the time to comment. I actually have a post coming up soon about when people say “you’re so lucky,” so stay tuned for that. I think there will always be naysayers — for anything. If you change jobs, move across the country, go back to school, and especially if you move abroad. People’s motivations usually don’t come from a bad place in my opinion but they always have to voice their opinion. Most of the time I just smile and move on but sometimes I’m so tempted to say, “well good thing it’s not you who is {insert whatever it is you’re doing}.” I think just go with your gut and make sure you have a backup plan just in case. Enjoy!

      Reply

  • Mary

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    This post was just what I needed! Merci!

    Reply

  • Julia Weich

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    Hi Diane! I just “discovered” your blog. My husband and I are in our early 60s and we are working towards moving to Tours, France. We love the Loire Valley and spent two months in Saint Aignan last year. This post is very encouraging. Looking forward to reading more of your posts! Thanks.

    Reply

    • Diane

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      Hi Julia, thanks for writing and glad you enjoyed the post! Let me know when you get to France 😉

      Reply

  • Marie

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    Hi Diane,

    Thank you very much for your post! It’s really positive and inspiring.

    I am in this situation, French, desperately trying to move back to the US. I put everything in place for years to make sure it will happen and here I am, finalizing my contract with a US company, and scared like hell to know if I made the right choice!
    I am thinking about everything that could go wrong (dog, funny you mentioned it, boyfriend, job)…

    Anyways, thank for the prep talk 🙂

    Reply

    • Diane

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      You’re very welcome. I hope everything goes smoothly for you. Will you be in a big city or a smaller town? Enjoy!

      Reply

      • Marie

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        A rather big city, Philadelphia!
        Thanks, I still have a long way to go, no visa yet!

        Reply

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