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3 Big Steps to Move Abroad For Love

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You have a dream of moving abroad.  You are amazing for having this dream. Most likely this dream was born out of passion and love.  It could be one of several different types of love.  Love of a person. Love of a place. Love of an opportunity.

Moving abroad for love is, in my opinion, one of the best reasons to do so.

But moving abroad for love can feel silly.  It can feel irresponsible.  It can feel immature.  I understand all of those nagging thoughts and fears that you are having.  I moved abroad for love.  

I was living in Seattle, completing my pharmacy residency and I fell in love.  I fell in love with someone who had the incredible opportunity to move to Italy to advance his career. I wanted to support him and see him grow. 

I was nervous about moving abroad.  Nervous about what I would be giving up to follow and support my husband.  Nervous about learning a new language and making new friends. I worried about what people would think of me. I worried about how giving up the career I had trained for would affect me. 

I didn’t think I had it in me to move abroad for love.  

However, being the analytical mind that I am, I came up with a system to help determine if moving abroad was the right choice for me.  My system is simple and straightforward.  It only has two steps.  If you are dreaming of moving abroad but feel like your doubts and fears are holding you back, I encourage you to challenge yourself to overcome them by completing these two simple tasks.

If you or your partner are really having trouble with moving abroad, find out what to do if you want to travel or move abroad but your partner says no!

Step 1: Define what you want

The first and most important step is to clearly define what you want.  For those who love self-help and self-improvement, this is an easy and fun task.  For those who find introspection a bit more challenging, it can be a difficult and painful step.  Dig deep and take as much time as you need to complete this exercise. 

Because without clearly defining what you want for the future (and why you want it) it is impossible to know if moving abroad is right for you. 

To find clarity, first list all the reasons why you want to move abroad. 

Write them down. Be as specific as possible.  Get your emotions involved.  Describe how this will impact you financially, physically, emotionally, socially, intellectually, and spiritually.  Then describe why those changes are important to you.  

Unsure if moving abroad will be a good fit? Find out if it's right for you.

Moving abroad is not easy.  There will be times when you question your decision.  There will be times when you might feel like giving up. 

Having a strong, compelling, emotional reason why you did this will help ground you and help you to overcome obstacles.

For me, writing out my reasons why brought clarity to my decision. I felt more confident in explaining my decisions to others.  More confident that I could take any criticism thrown my way because I knew my heart.  I had something tangible to explain and support my desire to move abroad for love. 

If you find that you can’t come up with a strong emotional reason why for moving abroad, that’s ok.  Reflect and decide if maybe the time isn’t right for you at this moment. Don’t give up on your dream. Just know that you need more time to be ready.  Know that you can always come back to this exercise to determine when you are ready. 

Husband and wife who moved abroad for love enjoying their life in Italy
My husband and I having fun abroad

Step 2: List your obstacles and fears

The second step is to list all your obstacles and fears about moving abroad.  Drill down and be as specific as possible. 

*What are the visa requirements? 
*What documents might you need to collect? 
*For every obstacle you come up with, write a plan for how you will overcome it.  

Keep in mind you don’t need to have all the answers right now, just an outline for getting started.  If you don’t know what documents will be required for getting a visa, that’s ok. Describe how you will figure it out.  Write statements like “I will email the consulate and ask if they have a guide” or “I will spend 1 hour on Saturday morning researching the requirements for a visa online.” 

Having a plan is the first step towards achieving your goals. 

For all the fears you have related to moving abroad, I want you to take those fears and explain why they are bullshit.  

If you haven’t read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert I highly recommend it.  Her book changed my perspective on fear.  She believes that fear is boring. Fear always says the same thing. Fear wants to keep you the same, wants to keep you from changing, keep you from following your dreams.  Don’t let it.  Write out your fears and tell them that they are boring and you want more for your life than your fears. 

I would love to tell you that by writing out a plan for tackling your obstacles and fears makes them go away. But I can’t.  After creating my action plan for overcoming obstacles and telling my fears that they were boring, I still had lots of doubts.  I still worried about my ability to overcome the challenges I would face.  But I knew I had a system in place.  I had something to turn towards to help crush those doubts when they crept up on me. 

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Step 3: Take action

There is a third step to my plan that I didn’t tell you about before.  It only follows if you have decided that you are committed to this dream of moving abroad for love.  If you went through the first two steps and know that you are excited, motivated, dedicated, and prepared to move abroad then you are ready for the third step.  

The third step is all about action.  Taking your list of obstacles and actively working through them. 

You need to set a timeline for accomplishing all those tasks you described in step two. 

Keep it realistic and adapt as necessary.  But make sure you keep moving forward. Remind yourself frequently of your why.  Keep moving ahead and making progress toward your goal. 

You will never feel 100% confident and comfortable with moving abroad.

That is part of the beauty and allure of it. There will always be unknowns.  Things will take more or less time than expected. Global crises may or may not happen, (I’m looking at you COVID-19.)  

American expat working from home in her kitchen in Florence, Italy
Now I work from home from Florence, Italy

What you plan for is just a starting point.  It’s a way to show you, and show others, that you thought this through. This plan shows that you aren’t just a daydreamer following your heart foolishly.  You are a soul who knows her heart.  You know the risks of not following your heart.  And you know that establishing a plan to follow your heart is the best and most important thing for you to do. 

If you move abroad for love, you will have the motivation, the desire, the passion to overcome any obstacles that arise. 

You may feel discouraged or downtrodden sometimes. Life will not always look like it does in pictures.  But you will always be able to turn back to your love in those moments. Remind yourself that you are on this journey for a reason.  You will know that, in the end, your heart was leading you to where you needed to be. 

Want to read more by Katy? Check out her guide to living abroad in Florence, Italy!

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