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Sarakiniko -- Milos' moonscape by the Aegean. Photo by Clark Norton
If you want to move to Greece, an expat suggests, hire a local language tutor. Photo by Clark Norton

With the U.S. presidential election nearing and emotions running high, it seems a good time to start plotting a possible escape abroad if your candidate loses.

So as a public service, I’m running this piece from the editors of International Living, a publication that has provided ex-pats and would-be expats both inspiration and solid practical information for decades.

They call it their “Election Escape Plan,” but it contains some good timeless advice.

“While travel may be restricted currently,” they write, “this is a smart time to begin laying the groundwork for a smooth transition to a better, less-expensive life overseas.”

And they offer this additional suggestion: “Consider making a move in smaller steps. Think about a three-month escape or a year-long getaway. Come at this idea with a ‘one-step-at-a-time’ attitude and it’s likely to be easier and more enjoyable.”

Of course, a morning-after election hangover may spur you to act a bit faster. So here are three things potential expats can do right now to prepare for a move, according to the report by International Living:

  • Engage a Native Online Language Tutor

“I hired an online language tutor one year before I moved to Greece, and it was tremendously helpful,” says expat Lynn Roulo. “My Greek tutor lived in Athens, and we did language lessons via Skype while I was still living in San Francisco.

“The lessons were inexpensive, and my tutor, Rania, gave me advice on neighborhoods to explore, insights about the Greek economy, and even helped me find my first apartment to rent when I did eventually move.

“Having a local, friendly contact who is interested in your success is extremely helpful during your move to a new country.”

There are many helpful websites like www.italki.com or try a free language exchange through portals like www.mylanguageexchange.com

Expats recommend finding a tutor who shares some basic interests; post a question to an online expat group for your target area and see who the local expats recommend for online tutoring.

  1. Join Online Social Networking Groups Based in the New Location

Most people who move abroad need to make new friends and develop a social network. The good news is potential expats can start that process now.

“I joined several Facebook groups including ‘Expats Living in Athens,’ and ‘Foreign Girls Living in Athens’ to help start my new chapter,” Roulo recommends.

“In these groups, you can pose questions, follow conversation threads, and get a general sense of community.  And you don’t need to limit it to expat groups,” she advises. “You can find local groups in your new town or city that match your interest in things like hiking, painting, or whatever it is you are passionate about.”

Meetup is another great resource where you can see posted events you will be able to attend when you move, according to International Living’s report.

Meetup is an events portal that was formed by a group of friends in New York after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. These friends noticed they felt better when they would “meet up” and started to organize around the idea.

Now Meetup is a worldwide site offering activities to locals and newcomers alike. While it may not be possible to attend events in person at the moment, it is a good time to start making connections. These groups also can serve as a basis for a social life in your first weeks in a new place.

  1. Research and Plan Reconnaissance Trips

Though folks may not be able to right travel now, it’s a great time to plan a trip for when travel opens up again. 

For those serious about a move abroad, International Living recommends planning a trip that lasts at least three or four weeks. If possible, go two or three times for several weeks at a time to live in the area in different seasons. 

It’s a great way to do research and begin looking at neighborhoods to explore, road trips to take, even restaurants to eat at. Planning is fun and with all the online resources available, a tremendous amount of legwork can be done before flights are even booked.

“Equally important is to figure out how you will leave your home during these reconnaissance trips,” says Lynn Roulo.

“If you have pets or plants, you can consider housesitters through sites like TrustedHousesitters.com.  If you worry about missing mail, you can set up services like Earthclassmail.com.

“And if you wonder how you will communicate while abroad, you can set up international telephone numbers via Skype or install free mobile phone applications like WhatsApp or Viber. Start getting these pieces in place so when you go on your research trips, you are prepared.”

More information on International Living’s Election Escape Plan, including “Three Things You Can Do Right Now If You Are Considering a Move Abroad,” can be found, here: Three Things You Can Do Right Now If You Are Considering a Move Abroad

READER COMMENTS:

Thank you. All excellent advice BUT the safest and most glorious place to live is here in little old Vermont back to the days when we gathered wild edibles to eat. Cut up enough wood to heat our homes. Now, if we could only close our borders and be THE INDEPENDENT STATE OF VERMONT. Dream on — barb.sttn@gmail.com

In the historic center of Barga, one of the most beautiful towns in Tuscany, a 500-year-old apartment with stupendous views can be purchased for less than $150,000. I’ve been here the more than two decades (and Clark has been among my visitors). Italy a wonderful place to live. — Frank Viviano
fviviano@gmail.com

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