Will the wrong peanut butter ruin your life?
This is a serious question, and the first one anybody thinking of moving abroad should ask themselves.
It’s called profiling yourself. And I suggest you do it ruthlessly.
Try this—get a piece of paper and a pencil. Now list all the things you think make your life worthwhile…the things that, if you didn’t have them tomorrow, would essentially ruin your life.
Be honest. If it’s having a good bowling alley nearby, add it to the list. If it’s a particular brand of roasted red peppers, add it to the list. If it’s 500-thread-count, all-cotton sheets, add it to the list. If it’s weekly visits with your daughter or granddaughter, add it to the list. If it’s your favorite brand of peanut butter, add it to the list.
Now imagine moving to a place where you won’t have these things.
How will your life feel? How will it change?
If it will make life so unpleasant as to be unlivable for you, you have found your “deal-breakers,” the things that will determine not only where you should relocate abroad, but if you should relocate at all.
Most expats don’t even think about the things on their personal deal-breakers list before they move abroad. They discover them after the fact, once they find themselves in a place where one or more of their personal deal-breakers are missing.
That’s when the expat rubber hits the road, so to speak.
Then one of two things will happen.
You’ll find a local substitute or workaround to replace your deal-breaker. This is what successful expats are excellent at doing—staying light on their feet, imaginative, and flexible.
Because the most basic requirement of happily living in a foreign country is flexibility.
Or…you won’t find anything or any way to fill the hole left by the absence of your deal-breaker in your adopted community, and you will be miserable.
That’s why brutal honesty is so important when first developing this list. If you honestly can’t live without two-day delivery from Amazon, admit it, because it can make or break your plans to move abroad.
There is no shame in honest self-knowledge. If Amazon deliveries or the right peanut butter or the ability to order a pizza on the phone in English makes your life worthwhile, that’s fine. Knowing this beforehand is the key to maximizing the success of everything else in the process of becoming an expat.
Know your deal-breakers—as much as possible- before; you come face-to-face with them in a foreign country, and plan accordingly.