I love the idea of reinvention, relocation and starting over. It’s like someone flipping a switch on your life and yelling, remix! It’s like saying, let’s try this again, maybe we could make it even better this time. (Is my perfectionism showing again?) There’s nothing quite like dropping yourself in a foreign country where no one knows you, for complete life reinvention. To me it’s exciting, freeing and exhilarating. For others, er… not so much.
To some it can be terrifying, intimidating and lonely. To others, lonely equates to terrifying. So, all in all, not for everyone. But, if I could recommend anything to anyone it’s relocation. Go and live in another country for a while, or at least travel solo. You’ll learn things about life, the world and yourself, you can’t discover, back home or in a book.
Each one of the cities I’ve lived in, was like a different life to me. I’ve lived in 9 different cities in 7 different countries, as of this article, but I hope to continue on this nomadic lifestyle next year. So, it’s like I’ve lived 9 different lives.
Holy crap balls! I’m like a cat. Imagine living 9 different lives. You could essentially create 9 different versions of yourself. As the ancient proverb says, “A cat has nine lives. For three he plays, for three he strays and for the last three he stays.”
Of course, I didn’t go out of my way to intentionally ‘be someone else’. I’m not some government spy, although some people have speculated. I was pretty much myself each time, but because I had a different job, different home, different friends, different routine, ate different food, had different places to go, it almost seemed like a different version of me.
How could it not be when you’re faced with a different environment and facing different challenges, and growing and learning more and more, each time.
Relocation: More than an Escape
I can’t begin to explain the freedom you feel in a country where no one knows you and you don’t know anyone. I always wondered how people could hate their lives so much that they would want to take their own life, when all they need to do, is go somewhere else and start over. Blank slate.
That may be oversimplifying it, but if it’s the environment or the people in it, that make you feel that way, then remove yourself from there and start over. If ever we needed proof that we do have full control over our own lives and that we can design the life that we want to live, this would be it.
Some see relocation as an excuse for escape. For me, it may have started out that way back when I was 23. The death of someone I loved who was in another part of the world, had given me the courage to go out there on my own to go visit his family and grave and get the closure I needed.
I escaped the feeling of being trapped where I was, around people who didn’t understand and didn’t care how I felt. I needed to go out there to grieve but just going all that way to visit, wasn’t enough for me. I knew if I came back, I would mentally be back where I was, depressed and unhappy, so I relocated to escape.
But now, relocating means so much more. I go now because I love the adventure of new world’s and different cultures, rather than trying to escape my own problems or my life. I got a taste of that freedom and I got hooked I tell ya.
And Then There Were Deux
And now when I relocate, I’m not doing it on my own. I have my bf who also loves to travel, right there with me. While solo travel and relocation is great, enlightening, educational and thrilling, after a while, you wish you could share all those experiences with someone else.
You’ll wish you had someone to share that sunset with or have a drink with or reminisce about places, people and feelings with. You’ll want to share those memories, not just keep them to yourself.
It’s a completely different journey of course so I still do encourage you to go solo, at least at first and get to spend some time with yourself and get to know who you really are and what you want. Who knows, like me, your relocation could just be how you meet the love of your life.
I guess I class living in another city if you’ve been there for at least 3 months and you’re receiving mail, you’re renting one place for the whole time, you’re integrating yourself into the culture and surroundings and mixing it up, with and like, a local and you have no other place to call home.
I’ve visited cities for a few weeks to a couple of months, but I feel more like I’ve lived there coming up to the 3 month mark. As an Australian, my passport will usually allow for at least 3 months in most places that I’ve been, without a visa. If not, there’s always been a special visa or workaround in place i.e. border runs. Rules change all the time and so you need to research before you go.
For example, while in the Republic of Ireland at the age I was (24), I was able to apply for a 1 year visa to stay and work but I could not do the same for the UK, while in the UK. The UK working holiday visa needed to be applied for, while outside of the country, so I got that one later on, when I was 28. I believe 31 was the cutoff at the time.
But of course, you don’t need to go to a completely different country to start again in a place no one knows you. I’m sure there’s a city on the other side of your home country that you could settle into. You wouldn’t have to worry about language barriers, different currency, visa restrictions, bank accounts, cost of living or being too far from your old life. You’ll have all the security while still being able to reinvent yourself.
If you’re eligible, study abroad. I admire people who have done that at a young age, because that is something I wish I had done. Studying overseas is an incredible learning curve on so many levels.
I did participate in a student exchange program in Japan when I was 16, but that was only for a couple of months. We visited our sister city of Kagoshima, Japan and stayed with local host families. We lived with these families, went to our sponsor’s school and hung out with her friends.
It was an amazing experience and I was lucky enough to be with two lovely families, one in the city and the other in the country, over school holidays. I loved it. Maybe that’s when the travel bug bit me.
Studying overseas, opens you up to the world when at that age, most teens only think of their world as their circle of friends and going to the mall. Studying abroad is a lot more popular these days and I encourage everyone to do it.
If you’re over the age of studying, and really, you’re never too old, but if you’re ineligible for a study abroad program, you can still go and work overseas for a while and pick up a skill in the process. Just like in that tv show ‘Master of None‘ by Aziz Ansari, [spoiler alert] you could go to Italy and work and learn how to make pasta from a local, from scratch. I love that idea!
Leisure of Course
There are also things such as art and cooking vacations where you go and do an art course or take a cooking workshop in places such as France, Spain or Italy. Add that to your next vacation. Stay a little longer.
My uncle who is 70 years of age and into gemmology, went on a course in Thailand for it through his local gemmology club, that organised the whole trip. He had a dorm room and everything. You’re never too old to learn or travel so why not combine the two! It’s a fun and safe way to travel with people of similar interests.
Or, go learn a new language, by going to that country and taking classes there. You may need a special visa for it but I’m sure it’s doable. Look online for courses in the country you want to go.
I have to say, although I was studying Japanese in school in Australia at the time, it wasn’t until we were in Japan that my language skills got kicked up a notch. When you’re immersed in the environment and culture of the language that you’re studying, there’s no faster way to learn and improve than using it everyday everywhere you go and being surrounded by it.
If you’re like us, then you are location independent. A digital nomad. You work from your laptop, for yourself and all you need is a power outlet, some money and an internet connection. If that’s the case, then consider this for a moment… the world is your office.
You’re not tied to a desk or a cubical or a city. You may have friends, family and relationships that keep you there, and that’s fine. That’s great. But you actually do qualify for digital nomad status. If you want to, you could essentially go anywhere within the restrictions of the law or whatever. How freeing is that? You could work from the beach bar on a tropical island in the Caribbean or a coffee shop in Amsterdam.
The relocation idea is something that has been implanted in my brain for some time now. It’s the reason why we’re setting up our businesses online and why I couldn’t commit to a location craft-based business. We don’t want to have to rely on any company to control us or govern what we do or where we go or how much we get paid.
It’s living the dream, as far as I’m concerned, and it’s what drives us in our work. Of course there will always be visa restrictions for how long we can stay and we’re still having to pay taxes of where we register our businesses because apparently there’s no such thing as being a non-resident of any country, that we know of (if I’m wrong than please tell me), but other than that, we are free. You can’t put a price on that.
Relocation is one way of reinventing yourself but it’s not the only way. And sure, it’s costly, scary, has a steep learning curve and can be lonely, but if you’re openminded, flexible, comfortable being on your own, open to new experiences, not naive, too trusting or afraid to take risks and you’re someone who has your wits about you, then it’s well worth the journey. I highly recommended it, at least once in your life… or lives [wink, wink].