3 Ways to Know When it’s Time to Leave Your Expat Home

Travel is about transitions, but sometimes it can be difficult to know when to get up and get moving again.

I’ve been living as an expat in Guatemala for a while now, mostly due to a broken foot, but I’m starting to realize there can sometimes be a bit of an expiration date to this kind of life. I think I’m about done with this traveling without moving portion of my trip and it’s about time to get back on a chicken bus.

I’ve been trying to put my foot (no pun intended) on exactly what it is that causes this stir to get moving and have pinpointed a few of the reasons I’ve experienced in different place. Yours’ might be different and I’d love to hear them.

Everyone’s gone

Ok so this isn’t entirely true, there are still tons of people here, but no one that had started here with me.

When you first get to a place, whether you’re there for a day, a month, or a year, you generally arrive at the same time as a few (or a lot) of other people. Perhaps you arrived on the bus, boat, or plane together. Maybe you started volunteering, working, or learning a language together.

It can be natural that these people form the core of the group of friends that will carry you through a good portion of the time you spend in one particular place. It’s not that you don’t want to make new friends, in fact it happens nearly every day, but often however, the longest, and often strongest, connections will be with the ones you met near the start.

Slowly as with any expat location, people will leave. How long they stay can vary, wildly depending on stage of life, where you’re calling home, and their travel intentions. Working or volunteering often being the longest reasons to call a foreign country home.

With the loss of the close friends that have left, you start to wonder, is it time for me to go too?

Life is Just Like Back Home (Not in a Good Way)

I remember a pit stop on Koh Tao in Thailand during my trip through South East Asia and thinking how awesome it would be to become a dive instructor and live there for a while. Given I was just starting my open water certificate I think that would have been close to 6 months. Wow, 6 months on a tropical island!

Before I settled on this grand idea I took a number of courses over 2 weeks to get a feel for the place and diving in general. It became clear to me that a number of people were there to escape their lives back in their home country, not because they did anything wrong, but just as the way most travelers try to escape.

I noticed something a bit different with some of them and I know I’ve felt it myself living in some cities. They weren’t happy. They might have been when they first got there but they’ve fallen into a rut and hadn’t yet realized that maybe they needed a change.

When the paradise you live in has just become another workaday trudge, maybe it’s time to pack up?

You Want to Experience Somewhere Else

This is a simple one; you’re traveling to experience culture, food, sights, and people.  After living somewhere for a while you get to know most everything there is to do around you and have very likely already taken part if you’ve wanted to.

After a while it can be time to pack up to go experience a new city, country or culture.

The Exception

Getting tired with a long term location doesn’t always happen. Sometimes you find yourself weaving your way into the local culture and the people that live there permanently. You make local friends, get a great place to live, and maybe even find a local partner.

When you find that place that enchants you, nearly every day it can be magical, and that’s how you know it’s time to stop moving.

How do you know when it’s time to uproot again?



One thought on “3 Ways to Know When it’s Time to Leave Your Expat Home

  1. Wow – so true. I have lived in many places as an expat and I am yet to find my magical place.I often wonder if I ever will and have even started contemplating maybe my home country is as bad as I thought it was


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