Whatever your reason for wanting to become an expat, it is important that you do your research first and understand the requirements that will allow you to get your affairs in order and enjoy your retirement. If you are considering living the life of a green expat the n there are some considerations besides the cost issue to take into account, for example, the country you are considering moving to.

Decide upon a Location

The first thing to do once you have made the decision and dedicated yourself to living the expat lifestyle is to decide upon the country you are going to spend your formative years, and as mentioned before if your priority is greener living then there are countries that can accommodate you. In recent times there has been a change in the philosophy of certain countries with regards climate change, and several countries are making dedicated steps to reduce their carbon footprint. It would make sense then, to consider these countries as a priority to see if you can find a comfort zone within their economy to enjoy the retirement you dream of. It is important however, to not to sacrifice your own happiness simply to placate an ideal, after all, you have worked your entire life for this, and it is your time to enjoy.

 That being said however, there are small changes that expats can make in order to impact the desired lifestyle such as, recycling, reusing bags and repurposing disposable packaging. These small changes can impact heavily, so, it is not the be all and end all of your decision and in fact it probably should not impact your decision to drastically unless you are completely committed to the green lifestyle, becoming an expat is a big decision and as selfish as it sounds, it is one that you should make for yourself and not the surrounding world, so if the green lifestyle is not that high on your list of priorities, you need to look at other factors when choosing your destination. Be honest with yourself about your requirements.

Donít follow the trend

Climate is one of the biggest and most contributing factors in deciding on a destination; there is little point in giving up your life and waving goodbye to your children and grandchildren if you are not going to be completely happy with your new life. The majority of people opt for warmer, sunnier shores, which sounds good in theory, but it is again important to make sure that you are not simply following a trend here.  Itís all well and good to dream of suntans and hot weather when you are overlooking a blanket of snow covering central park, but it is a different scenario when you arrive in the humid heat say of many south American countries. It is often difficult to acclimate and many people find that they cannot tolerate it for too long. This sets back all the plans and potentially ruins the dream before it has been afforded the chance to sprout wings.

Do your research

Again though, this is still only one piece of the puzzle for potential expats, you must also look at things like the economy and the crime rate. There is nothing worse than having packed your life up and relocated half way across the world, only to discover that your money will stretch as far as you had hoped in your new countries economic climate and youíre stuck in a crime ridden part of town, forever watching your back and questioning your safety.

Follow your own desires

The crux of the matter really lies with you and your desires. When deciding to move you need to consider all the potential stumbling blocks that could prevent a smooth transition into your new life. These stumbling blocks can be obvious ones, like the previously mentioned family ties or the severing there of, and this also includes pets as there are often strict guidelines regarding the transportation of animals. But they can also be a little bit more difficult to bring to mind when you are at the thinking about stage rather than the actual being there stage. For example, if you are into your gadgets, you need to ask yourself if could survive in a country that is behind the times compared to where you are now? It may be that the television service is limited and cell phone range is non-existent. Although these issues sound miniscule, they can prove to be a heavy burden upon a personís satisfaction.

Go on vacation first

Once you have picked a location and are happy with it, you may think that things will become easier; however, this is not necessarily the case. You now have a destination but, do you have the means to get there? Do you have the correct paperwork and meet any visa requirements? You will need a house in which to live, this can be hard to achieve if you have only seen the place via the internet, so try to visit the country for a holiday or maybe two before you commit. Find a property that you are happy with and make sure the sale has gone through seamlessly before selling your own property. The more you do now, the less stress you will have when you make the move.

Weigh up your options

Become familiar with the local companies, especially transport and temporary car rental companies as often the public transport can leave a lot to be desired, and also can be a lot more expensive. Therefore, when moving to a new country you may benefit from using a car rental service, at least until you get settled. If you have decided to move to a big city or somewhere that has a good public transport system, you would probably be better off utilizing it and renting a car only when necessary. In fact, recent surveys have concluded that you can save money renting a vehicle, not only on the general running of cost, but also by ruling out the depreciation factor, which is the biggest expense when buying a car. There are other advantages too, take for example, when you need to transport some large items such as furniture, instead of renting a van or hiring a delivery company, you could be better served renting a minivan or one of the many 7 seater cars on the market to perform the task. Little things like this can go an awful long way in easing the transition to your new life and can give you that little bit of extra time to acclimatise to your new situation.

Look after your health

Another thing to consider is the healthcare system of your new country, it may not be what you are used to, and you may find that if you are on regular medication that you need to change to something that is more readily available in your new home, also be sure to keep up to date with your shots. Make sure you make an appointment with your doctor at least 3 months before your arranged moving date.

Be prepared and persevere

If you are not at the retirement age or simply want to continue to work in your new country, then you need to make sure you have original diplomas and certificates to show your qualifications as copies, often will often not suffice. Also, if you can arrange employment before you make the final move, it is advisable to do so, as this will be one less hurdle you will need to get over.

They say that if you make it past the six month marker in a foreign country, you are more likely to stay there, so be tough and persevere. It will be hard to leave behind the life you are used to, the family you raised, and the community you belonged to, but, always keep in mind the reason you are doing this and have the confidence to stick it out, even when the novelty has worn off, you should always keep the knowledge that those feelings of loneliness will dissipate with time.

Join the community

Remember, you arenít alone out there, there is likely to be strong expat community ready to welcome you with open arms. The importance of this type of support cannot be spoken about highly enough, simply talking and socializing with people who are going through or have been through similar, if not the same experience as yourself, can allow you to justify your decision during times of doubt.

Once you have adapted to your new life in your new country, you will never look back. The rewards for your perseverance and preparation are great, and you may discover that your standard of living far exceeds the level that you originally planned for. If you have ever harbored dreams of living abroad and you are serious about doing it, then with a little preparation, lots of research and hard work, you can change your life for the better and achieve your dream life. The road to that dream may be the hardest, but it can also be the last one you ever need to travel down.


Eve Andover grew up in Phoenix Arizona but is currently living in a small town in Sardinia (off the coast of Italy) where she writes travel articles on behalf of an international automobile rental agency.  Website