There’s nothing like a pandemic to bring clarity to everyone regarding what is important in life. For some, it is spending more time with family. For others, it is more traveling. And for a few, it is both.
With remote work now an option for so many, people have discovered they can not only work from home but from anywhere in the world. Granted, not everyone wants to sell everything and live on a boat in the Azore Islands. But more and more people are opting to spend extended periods in another part of the country or abroad.
Most U.S.-based workers don’t have the luxury of one month off from work, so spending time abroad for any length of time will most likely involve some workdays. Intrigued? Let’s take a look at how one month abroad can be a possibility for you.
Slowmads and Snowbirds
Spending a month living somewhere other than where you normally do may have been on your radar for some time, or you may have decided that bucket list living is now how you roll. We aren’t talking about being a digital nomad (people who move several times a year to different locales and don't have a permanent residence). We’re talking about living your normal life, just in a different location.
A mash-up of the words “slow” and “nomad,” a slowmad is someone who isn’t just visiting a place for a few days or a couple of weeks like a tourist or nomad. Slowmads live like a local for a month, or months at a time, and get to know the country they are in.
What can this potentially look like?
● Single. Share an apartment with another remote worker in Shanghai for a month while you immerse yourself in learning Chinese, making business connections for your company, and partaking in a different noodle shop each week.
● Married. Rent a flat in Oxford for two months while your spouse finishes up their international law degree classes and you continue to work remotely, enjoying train trips together on the weekend to the English countryside.
● With Children. Exchange homes for a month with a family from Madrid. You and your kids learn conversational Spanish while they attend soccer camps and you work remotely three days a week. On the other days, enjoy tapas and museums.
Yes, I know you are thinking of the retirees from North Dakota who head to Arizona each winter to escape the snow. You may not be retired, but you can be a snowbird, too.
● Warmer. Perhaps you and your family need (for health reasons or otherwise) to spend a month somewhere warm in the winter. A popular keto cookbook author lives with her family in Wisconsin for the majority of the year. But, come January of every year she, along with her husband and two young sons, rents a home in Maui to ride out the winter.
● Cooler. The other side of the coin: you like to escape the intense summer heat where you live and head north to Canada each July.
Six Things to Know Before You Go
While it would be great to just pack a suitcase, buy a plane ticket, and go, living abroad for a month or longer requires some preplanning. The more you know before you go, the fewer unpleasant surprises you will encounter.
1. Work Situation. Depending on your work circumstances, you will want to check out several things. If you are self-employed, you make your own rules. But if you are an employee, ask yourself a few questions such as:
● Will your employer allow this? Many federal jobs and jobs with required in-office days may not be okay with you working outside of the country. If your company has a local office in the country you are going to, you may be able to plug in there.
● What time zone? Say your home office is on the U.S. East Coast and requires you to be on an early Monday morning Zoom meeting each week. Is that going to be feasible from your new time zone?
2. Current Living Situation. Will your home sit empty for a month or will you rent it out? If you do rent it, you can fund some of your expenses overseas. Or perhaps you are in-between homes. True story: a family’s rental lease was expiring, and their new home build was still a few months away from completion. The couple along with their two kids moved to Spain for six months. Amazingly, they brought their golden retriever with them!
3. Home Base Abroad. If you live in a suburban neighborhood, it may be fun and exciting to rent an apartment in the center of a big city or vice versa. Should you have minor children with you, be sure they have access to age-appropriate activities and events close by. If you have family or distant relatives, this may be a chance to reconnect with them and have a ready-made connection in the country you are going to.
4. Health Insurance. Check with your current health insurance provider regarding coverage while out of the country. Global health insurance plans are available and offer coverage in many countries as well as prescription refills.
5. Taxes. Research the country you are going to regarding tax requirements. Most countries will not require you to pay local taxes if you live there for less than six consecutive months, but it does vary from country to country. As a U.S. citizen, you’re required to pay taxes even when you’re living outside of the United States.
6. Work Space and Wi-Fi. Slow Wi-Fi is a real thing, especially in certain locales. Look for options to join a local co-workspace where the Wi-Fi is fast and stable. You will also be among other remote workers like yourself.
Spending one month of the year abroad isn’t as far-fetched of an idea as you may think. Singles, couples, and families are doing it all over the world, and with a little preplanning, you can too!
Written by Matthew Delaney