Moving Overseas is a Leap of Faith…So Use a Safety Net

When we talk to family and friends about our lives now that we have moved to Ecuador, they are often amazed. “That’s such a big change,” they say. “I could never make such a big leap.” And it is true that moving to a foreign land, where you will experience a new culture, new lifestyle, new foods, and may not even speak the same language as most of the people around you, can be quite a leap of faith.

Luckily, it doesn’t have to be blind faith. There is a wealth of information available for someone who is contemplating the expat life. Whether you know it or not, you have a group of people with decades of experience in making the move to another land, and the benefit of “boots on the ground” reporters to help you every step of the way.

When my wife Rita and I were first starting out more than four years ago, it all began with some International Living Postcards. We had explored retirement options in the U.S., but nothing seemed to be quite right for us. Coastal properties were generally too expensive, places that were warm in the winter were stifling hot in the summer, and so on. Then we started reading in the Postcards about some of the options available in Central and South America.

Researching on the International Living website brought us more helpful insights, and soon after we subscribed to the magazine, we decided that Ecuador looked like a country worth some more investigation.

We read everything in IL that we could find about Ecuador, looked up Ecuadorian history, and scoured YouTube for videos about people who had visited or were living there.

Finally, we just had to schedule a trip to Ecuador to see it for ourselves. Again using International Living to help narrow locations, we planned a trip. Within three months of that visit, we had found and purchased our condo.

Four years later, as someone living in Ecuador and writing for International Living about our lives here, I have an opportunity to help others who are in the same position we were, what seems like a lifetime ago. We have met people at “Fast Track” conferences, and will be doing so again this month in Quito. The conferences are a great chance to meet experts on legal and logistical matters, as well as people like Rita and me that actually live in the target country. Plus, you get to do this while spending some time in your prospective home, so you can see for yourself.

We also enjoy talking with people in the special VIP lounges during breaks, and the group VIP outings after the first full day of the conference is always a treat. Last year in Quito, we enjoyed dinner, drinks, and a show at Los Milagros, a church in the historic district of Quito that has been expanded into a kind of open-air dinner theater. Events like that provide a look into the culture and opportunities of your new potential home in a way not available to most expats-to-be.

My wife and I used many tools when we were considering and then preparing for our leap to a new life. International Living has been a valuable resource during that process, and I am proud to continue to be a part of paving the way for others, and smoothing the transition for those who have made the leap as well.

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