Believe me, I hear you on this one. Having two school-aged kids, my husband working in a location-dependent job, and various other life complications (ugh), we can’t just up and leave. As much as, some days, I wish we could.
But that’s no reason to just throw in the towel. There is still a lot you can do to start the Plan B process without actually having to move right away.
I addressed this similarly in my article called “The Steps I Took to Start Building My Plan B”, but that looked at things from a decision-making and implementation perspective, whereas in this article, we are going to discuss things from a preparation perspective.
The world can feel pretty crazy and frustrating some days and it can be tempting to bury your head in the sand and just give up. Holding on to hope and actually doing things that are real, instead of worrying about things you have no control over, is vital to keeping your sanity.
So, let’s talk about some of the steps you can take to prepare, even if you can’t move right now, so, when the time comes, you are ready to go.
Ask yourself the tough questions
You need to get real with yourself about what you actually want from building a Plan B and eventually moving overseas. And what your motivations are for doing all this. That means asking yourself some tough questions.
- Are you running away from something? Or to something?
- What do you want your future to look like?
- What don’t you like about your current life situation?
- What are your offshore motivations and goals? Lifestyle? Freedom? Tax reduction?
- What are you willing to do to make this happen?
- What do you need to do to make this happen?
- How will you make this work for your spouse and kids?
- Have you discussed the potential of moving overseas with them? Do you have their buy in? Have you engaged them in the process?
These are just a few of the questions I’ve asked myself as I’ve considered my Plan B strategy. I think the hardest question is the first one, because I have to admit that part of my motivation is about running away from a country where I feel under threat by my government. Identifying this as a partial motivation means I need to be careful that I am planning properly and not making rash decisions.
Getting your spouse’s buy-in is another crucial element that must be in place for moving forward with an offshore strategy. Any plans will be dead in the water if you don’t include your significant other in the process. Luckily, you can’t just up and move anyway, so you have the time to discuss with your spouse and, hopefully, get them on the same page.
Take the time to ask yourself the tough questions up front, and continually throughout the process. It will help to guide you in your decision making along the way.
I got into this in my previous article about this but it’s definitely worth repeating. Research as much as possible so you know what your options are. There are so many free resources out there that cover practically every part of this whole Plan B process from start to finish. Some of the free resources I used were:
- YouTube videos
- Informational websites – including Escape Artist, of course!
- Free guides such as the Nicaragua Handbook, Panama Handbook, and Honduras Handbook
- Free webinars
- Expat Facebook groups
- Other online expat communities
Once you have a little more clarity on where you want to focus your efforts, or maybe even just to gain clarity on where you should focus your efforts, you may want to look at connecting with people who can answer any specific questions you have. This is where you may need to think about paying a little money in order to gain access to information and advice that is specific to you and your situation, or that is just more in-depth than what is available online for free. Some of the paid resources I used were:
- Escape Artist Insiders magazine
- Consulting calls
I think it’s safe to say that for most people, the research phase takes a long time! Probably years for most, especially if you have a family. So, take your time with the process, and don’t be afraid to pay for good information and advice.
Let’s face it, we all have a lot of stuff. Usually far, far more than we actually need. Thus, it is going to take some time to downsize, and you don’t want to put it off until right before you decide you are ready to take the leap and move overseas.
So, start downsizing now. Take the time to go through your things and start selling them, slowly. You can probably even make a decent amount of money by taking this methodical approach, rather than dumping it all in a mad rush.
This is an area that I haven’t done much work on yet, to be honest. Mostly I am getting rid of toys and clothes the kids have grown out of, but I have not really gone beyond that. Life has been far too “exciting” for me lately to focus on taking on a new task like that at the moment. But I vow to get to it eventually!
Just because you can’t leave permanently or even for more than a week at a time, it doesn’t mean you can’t still travel!
Make a point of going to the places on your list to check them out. Get your kids used to the idea of traveling. Get yourself used to the idea of traveling.
I think we get so trapped in our own bubble sometimes, that we forget there’s a whole world out there! Getting out of your own country and experiencing other cultures is so important to keeping a good perspective and not getting trapped in a negative feedback loop focused on all the things you don’t like about where you currently are.
We might feel like our country is going to hell in a handbasket, but the rest of the world is out there living their lives. And that is really the point of this whole exercise, right? Finding a place where you and your family can live your best life. So, get out there and live it.
Renew your passports
I’m not sure if any other countries experienced this like we did in Canada, but, for a while last year, it took an extremely long time to get your passport renewed. Like, 6 months. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like the idea of not having my key travel document when I need it. I need a Rolaid just thinking about it.
In Canada, you can renew your passport once it is within a year of expiry. And, for both of our kids, that’s exactly what we did. As soon as it hit a year of validity remaining, we sent that sucker in for renewal. We knew we had a set period of time where we would not be traveling so, in the event that the passport took an extremely long time to come, we wouldn’t be pressed for time.
Generally, when you travel to another country, and definitely if you are applying for residency, you need to have at least 6 months remaining on your passport. We renew our passports early, as a rule, so we are never in the situation where we don’t have it when we need it, and so we always have more than enough time remaining on it.
It’s a small step you can take to be prepared and it saves a lot of stress!
Conclusion: Control the controllables
I am not someone who enjoys being out of control. Over the past few years, I have felt out of control a lot. But something I have been working on is the concept of controlling the controllables.
You may not be able to pursue a Plan B to the extent you would like because of any number of issues. And I’m right there with you. But there are a ton of things you can do in pursuit of your goal even while being somewhat shackled to your country. It’s not about doing everything; it’s about doing something. And the great news is, generally, there will always be something you can do to prepare for when you have more flexibility in your life.
So, take advantage of this time. Relish it, even. This is kind of a fun time where you can do something without really doing something, if you know what I mean. These aren’t necessarily high-stakes activities, but they will prepare you for when you actually need to do those things.
And don’t just take it from me, take it from Abraham Lincoln himself:
“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four
sharpening the axe.”
Perhaps it’s time to start sharpening your axe.
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