As winter turns to spring (and in some places, back to winter) people often get a little restless and dream of leaving their soggy, April-showered home for the sunny beaches of the Caribbean or Latin America. For most people, this is just a daydream, but for others this can set the groundwork for an adventure of a lifetime. While there are many reasons that moving abroad is not the right choice for everyone, here are some questions to ask yourself to see if moving abroad (even seasonally) might be the right choice for you.
- You’re easygoing
- You have a lot of patience
- You’re open minded
- You’re innovative
- You’re financially capable
Regardless of whether a country is geographically an island or not, to Americans who are accustomed to having everything done quickly and with a customer-service smile will be shocked to see how “island time” operates in this region. “Today” might mean today as in the next remaining hours of the actual day, but it could just as well mean tomorrow, later this week, or maybe next week. Ditto for “tomorrow”, “later”, and “sometime”. Side note: this holds true for everything not just time. Sometimes you’ll wake up and you might not have water for your shower. Sometimes your neighborhood goats will take over your yard and not allow you to leave in your car. You’re going to have things happen out of your control and how you respond to them will make or break your time abroad.
While the Caribbean (not including Mexico and Central America) has roughly one-sixth the population of the United States, the time you spend waiting for nearly everything seems almost tenfold. Need to go to the bank? There’s a line. Waiting for a bus? Get in line. Want to buy movie tickets? Line! Bring a bottle of water and a book with you at all times and just enjoy these little time-outs, it’s all part of island time.
One of the most natural reactions to culture shock are thoughts of “this is weird/uncomfortable/illogical” and so on. If you’re going to be stuck on how things run at home, moving abroad is probably not for you. If you’re willing to step over those thoughts (and toss your used toilet paper in the trash can..we’re serious!) then you might be a perfect candidate for life abroad. A dash of humility, an open mind, and a sense of humor are vital to making your experience a positive one.
Innovation might seem like a strange prerequisite for life abroad, but go with us here. Things break all the time in the Caribbean. Between the salt, sun, and sand there are a lot of elements working to break down your house/vehicle/devices/body/etc and there is often a remarkable shortage of common goods. Need moisturizer? Better bust out the coconut oil. Have a leak? Grab the duct tape! It’s best to brush up on your MacGyver skills and watch a couple of “life hack” videos before you go!
Life in the Caribbean can be as luxe or budget as you make it, but even the least expensive Caribbean locations require some way of supporting yourself. Those who choose to take this adventure during retirement can see additional benefits (see Panama for Retirees for more information on how Panama entices retirees), but those who are not retired will need to find a way to sustain their lifestyle. While it is possible to work in some Caribbean and Latin American countries, it is advised to make arrangements prior to leaving your home country. Do not show up in another country and expect to find work. Another popular option is to work online (thus not requiring a work permit in your new country), but those coming from the United States should be aware that this income will be taxed by the U.S. government and possible that of your host country. Also, internet speeds vary wildly around the globe, so long story short, do your research and have a plan before you go!
Still think moving abroad is the right choice for you? What are your biggest uncertainties or questions? Let us know in the comments below! Want to see the housing options available in your chosen location? Check out the great deals on RealtyHive available here.