The time has come: You’ve saved some cash, made a plan, told your boss that you’re leaving the 9 to 5 and are ready to live abroad in your new, location independent lifestyle. But wait. How do you break the news to your family? To your friends? To people who equate your new lifestyle of choice to that of “dropping out” of the real world? When these people express their concerns, chances are they are coming from a place of real kindness and caring. Maybe they have never imagined that location independence is a real lifestyle choice that exists for thousands of people around the world. And as for what the naysayers, well, they’re just jealous they don’t have the courage to go out and do it for themselves.
How to tell your family:
- Tell the truth: Chances are your family will have one main question: WHY? Why are you giving up your job, your friends and your chances of living the mainstream dream of toiling away for 30 years to achieve 2.5 children and a white picket fence? Whatever your reason is, tell them the truth. Maybe you want to volunteer at an AIDS orphanage in Africa, or study French in a quaint cobblestone-lined town or just to live a life filled with adventure and freedom.
- Be reassuring: Whatever you do, don’t tell your family—especially your parents—until you have a working plan in place. Oftentimes, ideas that are not well thought-out will simply be shot down, leaving you feeling deflated and defensive. However, if you can respond positively and intelligently to questions such as “How can you afford it?” and “Isn’t it dangerous?”, chances are your family members will take you seriously and realize this isn’t just a passing fancy, but a life-changing decision that you’ve thought long and hard about.
- Realize they’re scared: If your parents or siblings act less than thrilled at your idea of “throwing it all away” to live out your dream on the shores of Tahiti, realize that the probable reason is that they are scared for you to be in an unfamiliar location and sad for themselves that they will be left behind, missing you, with nothing but their day-to-day to keep them company.
How to tell your friends:
- Don’t brag…too much: Your friends are bound to be jealous at the thought of your new lifestyle. After all, if they’re your friends, they are bound to have similar life goals and aspirations as you. But maybe your friend is not in a place where they are able to take off and become location independent just yet. Be understanding, and try not to do too much bragging—they may start to resent you!
- Do try to entice them along for the ride: On the other hand, maybe telling your friend will have its merits. Thoroughly explain your plan. Tell your friends how you are going to make a life on the road your new reality and how they can do it too. Consider whether you’d like to invite a friend along on the epic journey you’re about to embark upon and if so, invite them along.
How to tell your boss:
- Don’t burn bridges: You may have dreamed of storming out of the office on the shoulders of cheering co-workers after you have delivered your boss a torrent of choice words. This is unwise. As much as you long to tell your boss off, don’t do it. You may think that with a new lifestyle under your belt, you’ll never have use for a resumé again. But years down the road you may decide to return, and you don’t want your bridge-burning antics coming back to haunt you.
- Be professional: Just because you’re ready to run to the airport and never look back, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t treat your co-workers and your boss with respect. Give your notice, whether it’s the obligatory two weeks or perhaps longer if you will have to train someone to take over your position after you leave. If nothing else, it’s good karma.
Expat forums around the globe feature ideas and a community for those living abroad or those who plan to make the location independence leap. Stories abound on sites such as expatfocus.com, internations.org and easyexpat.com, about the decision to make the move, and how it affected those back home. Yes, it’s normal to consider what friends and family think about your decision to live and work abroad, but the most important person to consider is yourself. If YOU are happy and comfortable with your new lifestyle option, you know you’ve made the right choice.