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Going Solo: Moving Overseas As A Single Person

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By Glynna Prentice, InternationalLiving.com

2013-09-26-PanamaCityHugoGhiara.jpg

Photo by Hugo Ghiara, InternationalLiving.com

This article comes to us courtesy of InternationalLiving.com, the world's leading authority on how to live, work, invest, travel, and retire better overseas.

The expat lifestyle is not "for couples only." We know many single expats living overseas -- and truth be told, many of them are women. They've fearlessly decided to move forward with their retirement dreams, partner or not.

Going solo has special challenges, though, that couples don't face. After all, singles have no life partner close at hand for companionship, conversation or commiserating. You'll need to make friends and a social circle in your new community for that.

But with a little strategizing -- and soul-searching -- you can make an easy transition to life as a single expat. Here are some tips that can help:

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Photo by Jessica Ramesch, InternationalLiving.com

Be honest with yourself. Again, it's about ruthless self-profiling. If you prefer having lots of social engagement, you probably shouldn't move full-time to a remote beach village with no cable TV and a bunch of fishermen. Instead, recognize that you need a city that offers plenty of people and distractions. On the other hand, if you're okay with just a few good friends, a smaller location where you can easily meet people may suit you fine.

Go where the expats are. Realistically, as a single you're better off moving to an expat haven than to a destination with few or no expats. After all, you've made a life-changing move, and your best bet for finding kindred spirits is among others who have done the same.

Rent before you buy. This advice is especially important for singles. Renting for even a few months allows you to see if the destination you've chosen is really right for you. If it's not, you can just move on with no regrets.

Have a strategy for meeting people
. The biggest pitfalls for single expats are loneliness and boredom. If you've picked an expat haven, you'll have expats around you. But how do you meet them? It's important to have a pro-active strategy; don't depend on anyone seeking you out. Take the initiative.

Start a project before you leave home. To combat boredom, start a project in your home country that you can continue overseas. Maybe it's a hobby you've never had time to pursue, or taking up a sport you enjoy. It can even be a business you plan to ramp up. Ideally, it should be something that gets you out of the house meeting people. Your project not only will keep you busy; it may also help you make friends and integrate into the community.

Learn the language. Learning the local language is one of the best investments you can make as a single expat. (It can even be that initial project to keep you busy while you settle in.) As a single person, you're the one who will have to deal with the plumber, the carpenter and the telephone repairman, all of whom rarely speak English. Don't depend (for long, at least) on more language-savvy expat friends to translate for you--or you'll quickly outlast your welcome among them.

And finally, enjoy the adventure
. Living overseas is fun. And, with just a little planning, your new life can be fun, too.

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