The beginning stages of wanting to expatriate

I get it, I’ve been there. The pandemic hit me hard and I realized I was generally unhappy with the way things were going for a long time. I also realized my ability to change the things I don’t like is minimal at best. So like many people, I began looking for places where the grass may be greener.

I almost left the U.S. a decade ago but it didn’t work out.

I moved to what may as well be a foreign country — the Midwest. It was foreign to this California girl! Honestly, hear me out. Kansas will always be the first foreign country I lived in and the first island I ever lived on. I came here having full-on fish-out-of-water syndrome! I actually moved here from Phoenix, but that city generally thinks it’s East Los Angeles anymore. I also moved to Kansas without ever having stepped foot in the Midwest. I was afraid it was going to be nothing but Bible thumpers, homophobes, and casseroles.

What I found instead were more open-minded people than I imagined for a red state. (We have a Democrat governor now and my area just elected a transgender lawmaker). I discovered foods like Bierocks (which aren’t gluten-free, sadly) and a Kansas-famous combo of chili and cinnamon rolls rather than just “casseroles by Karen.” But yes, this is a Bible-heavy land and I did eventually become a thumper of the Good Book myself — and the Big Book, as I got sober here. (I did eventually leave AA).

If you can handle one “foreign country,” why not tackle more, right?

I started out wanting to become an expat ten years ago because I’d seen other friends do it. I heard horror stories of taxes but also watched a friend fall in love with Germany after her husband got a job there. I lived vicariously though her adventures, which she posted on Facebook, photos of elegant German buildings and enormous Oktoberfest food portions.

Other people showed me it was possible while also cautioning me about the pitfalls. The idea of paying BOTH British and U.S. taxes stopped me cold when a friend told me about how that was the worst part of working overseas. So I’ve been here in the U.S. devoid of a job offer abroad for all these years. But now, I’m willing to change that.

But where to go?

I think like a lot of dissatisfied Americans, Canada and New Zealand became the first options I looked toward. Canada is still on this continent, people are nice, they’ve got Tim Hortons, and they speak English. Before Election Day here I sew a lot of “Canada or Mexico?” posts on Facebook. (Mexico; the answer is ALWAYS Mexico!)

Like many during the pandemic, I looked at how American life compared to that of New Zealand. Their Prime Minister is a woman, she gets things done, she managed to protect her country from covid for months after an unusually vicious lockdown… It was 30 days of NO ONE going out; here, you could go to the grocery store, the vet, etc. Not in New Zealand! Everyone went home for 30 days. And it worked!

Here, I just saw cases rising and rising. They’re still rising.

It’s been very telling to see how various countries are handling the pandemic.

Obviously, the U.S. has failed and lost the trust of its citizens. If you’re reading this from outside the U.S., please understand that the majority is ashamed and embarrassed at what America has become this year. I’ve lost loved ones to covid. My anxiety is at an all-time high. I haven’t eaten at a restaurant in longer than I can remember.

Most of my life is online now. I go only to work, the gas station, and the grocery store. A divided America has half the country decrying science and acting like covid is a hoax while the other half pushes mask wearing. We are begging for more or faster testing.

There’s no unity in countries like Taiwan or Vietnam. An expat friend in Vietnam told me they couldn’t imagine Americans being told to wear masks and deciding to go against it. I tried to explain what it’s like since they’ve been away and they only became more irritated.

Now that the election is past, I still have a desire to expatriate someday. In the least, my soul needs to travel more. I want to see other places and experience life in other countries. If I don’t like it, I can always come back. I just don’t want to wait until retirement to see the world! With CJD running in my family, I can no longer wait to travel as I’ve always wanted to. I think we all have dreams and this is mine. Many of us are confronting what is left to do in life as we endure the pandemic. As attend (online) funerals for friends, all I can think about is my own bucket list because covid took each of these people too soon.

Ready to expatriate? Planning a long trip? International student or exchange visitor? Check out your options for travel insurance, visas, green cards, health insurance and more here.

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