If you choose to move abroad, get ready for tons of questions from your family and friends back home. They'll ask you things that may see obvious to you, but I find it's usually best to indulge them and be thankful you've been able to experience so much that other people haven't.
Here are five of the questions I get asked on a regular basis about my wanderlust life:
1. "So, you're really rich, right?"
Nope, not at all. You don't need a trust fund to move abroad. I am fortunate enough to have an amazing family who supports me even when they think my big ideas are absolutely crazy, but I pay for my life.
I lived in Germany in a wonderful apartment, equipped with a huge balcony that was really close to public transportation. I worked about 20 hours a week as an English teacher, and my boyfriend worked as a kindergarten teacher. Clearly, we weren't getting rich with those jobs, but we lived comfortably.
We weren't saving a ton of money (which we should have done), but we traveled often. We never bought much in terms of material goods, and instead, we spent more on great experiences.
Now that we live in Costa Rica, we are living with an even tighter budget as I try to get my website off the ground. We try to eat like the locals (a lot of rice, beans, fresh fruit and veggies) to save money. I need a new cell phone, but I'm waiting until the next time I'm back in the US to buy one since they're so expensive here.
We still go on awesome adventures every weekend, such as hiking volcanos, checking out tropical beaches and four-wheeling through coffee plantations. So no, you don't have to be rich to live abroad. You just have to be conservative and prioritize your purchases.
2. "So, you're studying abroad?"
No, I'm not studying abroad. I wish I had. If you have the option to study abroad, go for it. But if not, you can always move after you're done with school.
People don't seem to understand that it really is possible to move to another country without the organization of a job or university behind you. It's not easy, but it is possible.
That's exactly why I started writing about life abroad for Millennials. I struggled a lot when I moved to Germany because I couldn't find enough information geared toward young people who wanted to move abroad. Most of the info out there is directed toward retirees or families who are relocating due to work. I wasn't in that situation, and therefore, I could not relate to a lot of the information I found. But I made it work out for myself, and you can, too.
3. "OMG you live in Costa Rica? That's really dangerous, isn't it?"
I have learned to exercise a different level of caution than I ever have had to before. It can be dangerous, but if you're smart about the way you follow local customs and act in public, your risks will be minimized.
I was joking with my boyfriend the other day that the next time we're back in Germany and our friends ask us to go out partying, we'll say, “We can't go out! It's dark outside. OK, let me first put on my money belt.” The reality is, however, any place can be dangerous. You never know what's going to happen.
I lived for 22 years in the US without ever seeing a gun, and then I moved to Germany (a country with very strict gun laws) and had a gun pulled on me in a relatively safe neighborhood. Be smart, expect the worst and hope for the best. You can always prepare and deal with things as they come.
4. "You moved to Germany to be with your boyfriend. Normal people can't just up and move like that, right?"
Yes, and no. I think anyone can move abroad, but you have to really, really want it. It's a lot of work to try to figure everything out on your own.
Yes, I moved to the German city my boyfriend grew up in, but we both just moved to Costa Rica on our own, without speaking much Spanish or knowing anyone here. As strange as it may be, it was easier for me to adjust to life in Costa Rica than it was to adjust to Germany.
So yes, normal people can move abroad. But, different places will bring different challenges.
5. "How can you live in a country if you don't speak the language?"
Let's just say I have a whole new appreciation for the foreigners in the US who struggle to speak broken English. You can always get by on hand gestures, and usually you can find someone who speaks decent English abroad. But, that's not always the case.
I find this is much easier in Costa Rica because it's pretty obvious by looking at me that I'm not from here. People usually catch on quickly and speak slower as a result.
While living in Germany, I struggled a lot because people were constantly talking to me in public. I guess I look friendly, or as if I would know directions really well. I never knew if I should interrupt people right away, or let them finish their whole spiel before saying, “Um, my German is not the best. Sorry.” I know enough German and Spanish to get by on basic things like shopping, but if you plan on moving abroad, don't be like me. Learn the language.
I'm so thankful I get to experience life in different countries and have a wide world view. Moving abroad is not easy, but it's so amazing to get to answer all these questions for people who haven't been as fortunate as myself.
This article was originally published on the author's personal blog.