As expats go, we're very lucky in a number of ways. But one of the best things we have going for us is that we are each other's best friend.
If you are lucky enough to have married your best friend, that's huge if you move overseas... especially if, like us, you move around a lot. No matter where you go, no matter what you do, your best friend is there to share it, endure it, marvel at it, commiserate about it, laugh about it, cry about it, etc.
But what about folks who go abroad by themselves? What are their chances of making friends overseas that they can share their experiences with and look to for help and support?
Surprisingly, the chances may be even better than they were back home.
Look at it this way... what is one of the best foundations for lasting friendships?
Photo courtesy of InternationalLiving.com
We submit that it is shared interests. You have a much better chance of forming a strong bond of friendship with someone who likes the same things you do and shares a passion for a particular topic or activity or way of life that you do than with someone who doesn't share those interests.
And the very act of moving overseas instantly gives you a shared interest and something in common with almost every other expat who is doing the same thing.
We can't tell you how many times we've seen it happen, especially with single women who are out in the world exploring their relocation or retirement options by themselves. As most will tell you, we expats can usually spot each other -- we tend to stand out a bit against the background of another culture, especially if we're just starting out.
And a chance meeting at a mercado or museum or craft fair or expat watering hole or even just during a morning stroll around the town square can lead to a conversation, a dinner, an invitation to join a trip to the local cloud forest or reef or cenote... and a friendship that can last for years.
Think about it... if you're in Nicaragua and you meet another expat while browsing the pottery shops of San Juan de Oriente, you don't really have to strike up a conversation with, "Oh hi, do you like to travel and experience new cultures, and do you share with me an interest in Latin American craft traditions in general and the Nicaraguan inciso pottery style in particular?"
No. You can just say, "Nice, huh?" And you and your potential new friend are already on the same wavelength and ready to see if you get along well enough to try the churrasco at Zaguan's in Granada together for dinner.
Even on a more fundamental level, expats have something very basic in common... a taste for adventure and a willingness to try new things. It's very hard to move overseas successfully without those traits.
Which means that, if you move abroad, you'll have at least those traits in common with almost every other expat you meet... along with the fact that you're actually living the expat life.
And in our experience, that alone has been the basis of more lasting friendships than we can count.
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