Are you trying to choose the right country for your family to travel or move to?
Do you feel lost with where to start when it comes to choosing a country and city?
Are you overwhelmed by all the different options and details?
What if it didn’t have to be so complicated?
The truth is that it really doesn’t have to be so complicated.
You definitely want to choose the right place for you and your family.
The first step to choosing the right place for your family is to define your ideal life.
Do you want to wake up slowly, and then head for a morning walk on the beach?
Do you want to wake up, make yourself a hot cup of coffee or tea, and then slowly drink it on your balcony overlooking the bustling city below?
Do you see you and your family up in the mountains away from people, living off the land?
Get super clear on what IT IS YOU WANT your life to look like on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis.
>Stop reading and take time right now to write out your ideal day. I typically do something called “SCRIPTING” where I write in the present moment and focus on how I am feeling. Focus on what you are doing, who you are with, the weather, what you are eating, and how you feel. <
Here is an example of a script of an ideal morning for me:
I wake slowly to a cool morning breeze and the sun peeking through the shades in my cozy bedroom. Novella (my co-sleeping 4-year-old) is still sound asleep so I head downstairs to make a hot cup of plain black coffee.
When I get back upstairs, Novella is just waking with the biggest smile ever on her face. I jump in bed and cuddle with her for a little while before she heads downstairs to hang out with her super awesome nanny.
This is my cue to sit down at my wooden desk next to my giant window that lets in an abundance of sunlight.
Coffee on my right, journal and pen in front of me, I put on my headphones, turn on a Lo-Fi beats playlist on Spotify, and then write.
I can smell hints of cinnamon from my coffee and I am lost in a world of words.
After a few hours, I emerge feeling pretty damn accomplished at how much I wrote. I put the pen down and go downstairs to hang with my kiddos.
Without my headphones on, I can now hear the singing of traditional Mexican songs coming from the construction workers outside.
Your ideal day might look completely different from mine but be creative, let your imagination run free, and HAVE FUN!
Your ideal life is not going to come together without you taking ACTION!
Now, that you have scripted out your ideal day, let’s jump into the other steps.
The second step is to make a list of all the countries and cities/towns you are interested in based on the ideal day you just scripted out. What places would help you create that ideal day?
If your ideal day includes a quiet peaceful experience in nature then a big bustling city wouldn’t be your choice.
>Stop reading and write 2 to 3 countries that match your ideal day. A quick Google of the places you are interested in will give you an idea of whether those places will match your ideal day. <
Okay, now that you have 2 to 3 places, it is time to move to STEP 3 which is to look at visa requirements for each of the places you are interested in traveling or moving to based on your passport country.
Some countries will be a whole lot easier than others. For now, you are going to want to stick with the countries that are easiest to move to.
Please Note: We are in the middle of a pandemic at the time of the writing of this article so please also look at current restrictions due to the pandemic. You want to look at quarantine rules and everything.
Let’s look at Albania for example: Americans can stay in Albania for up to a year with no visa at all. An entire year, y’all!!
What the heck is Albania?
I know. You’ve probably never even heard of Albania. I sure hadn’t before I bought plane tickets while sitting in our small apartment in Bologna, Italy.
It turns out that Albania is one of the best kept secrets out there. I had the privilege of living in Albania for 5 months.
Not only is it absolutely beautiful but the locals are friendly and welcoming. It is unique, they have coffee shops on every corner, the weather is beautiful although my Texas genes did freeze my butt off in the winter.
Mexico is another easy visa stay. Americans and some other citizenships can stay for up to 180 days with only a tourist card that you receive on the airplane. No visa is necessary. You can leave after your 180 days is up and come back in to reset your 180 days.
It really is that easy.
There is no official stance on how long you have to leave for before coming back in. Some people cross the border for a few hours while others leave for days to weeks to months before returning. We typically leave for a few weeks and enjoy a nice trip somewhere.
Doing this, which is normally referred to as a border run, is what many choose to do instead of going through the process of actually obtaining residency.
Now, let me be clear here. A border agent DOES NOT have to give you 180 days. I have never had an issue and neither have any of my clients but I have heard in expat groups of others having issues, particularly those crossing by land at certain borders.
Here are 3 tips for a hassle-free entry into a country:
Have an address of an Airbnb or hotel you will be staying at. They will ask sometimes.
Have all your documents ready. Birth certificates, divorce decree, travel authorization letters. Passports, etc.
Be confident. Your energy is everything. If you are looking frazzled and worried they might suspect something. It is their job to carefully consider who they let into their country.
Look at YOU! You are ready to move onto step 4 in choosing the perfect country for your family.
Since you have already read my article on How To Finance Your Travel And Living Abroad Lifestyle As A Single Mom, you already know what your monthly budget is.
While keeping your monthly budget in mind, it is time to look at the cost of living for countries and cities you are interested in moving to.
A great website you can use to compare the cost of living for countries and cities you are interested in is NUMBEO.
Remember, it does not matter how amazing a place is if it is currently out of your budget.
Base yourself somewhere that is great for your family with a lower cost of living, then work on increasing your income so you can choose a place with a higher cost of living. Boom!
Remember to drop those limiting beliefs and this whole process becomes a lot easier.
Here are some other things you want to consider when choosing a place for your family:
Proximity to the US. Do you want to still be close to the US so you can get back easily and cheaply to visit family and friends?
Does the city you chose have a major airport? If you are wanting to travel from your home base, make sure that there is a decent airport nearby. You can look on Google flights to see how many flights are available to places you are wanting to visit and look at the costs involved. Although Albania is in Europe, it actually isn’t that cheap to fly to or from, unlike other European countries. It can be super cheap to fly to other countries in Europe. I am talking less than $20 flights on budget airlines throughout Europe.
Other expats? Are there expats and communities where you are going? If you are looking for a totally immersive experience with very few foreigners, then you want to choose a place where you won’t find a lot of expats. However, if you are wanting to be around other expats, you will want to choose a place with an expat community that you can connect with.
A great way to find out more information about a place is to join the expat groups on Facebook. Although I am not the biggest fan of Facebook, it can serve as a great resource when it comes to finding out more info about an area from people who actually live there.
Just type in expat and then the city/town name and something should come up.
Here are some questions you are going to want to ask to ensure you pick the right place for your family:
1. How is the healthcare system? Is there a hospital for any special needs your family might have?
2. How are the schools? Do they have any recommendations for schools?
3. What are some family friendly neighborhoods/areas? Why did they choose the neighborhood they live in?
One of the biggest reasons we chose to base ourselves in Merida, Mexico after two and a half years of full-time traveling was because of the amazing community here. In all our travels we had never found such a connected and fun community.
As a traveling single mom, I find community to be one of the most important things in life. It is a game changer.
Not only has being a part of a community brought my joy level up but it has also helped me improve my business and not give up on this entrepreneurial journey because I am surrounded by other entrepreneurs that get it.
I am also surrounded by other like-minded single moms, which is a rarity in this world.
As much as I loved Albania it lacked the sense of community I was searching for at the time.
If you are wanting to be a part of a community, make sure there is one in the place where you are going to or be ready to create your own.
What About Safety For Traveling Single Moms?
Before I ever visited Mexico I was terrified of it. You can read my current fears of Mexico by clicking here.
I heard all the stories you have heard about the cartel, murders, and kidnappings.
I was going to drive to Mexico but changed my mind at the last minute and instead chose to fly because I thought we would get car jacked.
As soon as we arrived in Mexico, a sense of peace overcame me. Everyone was so kind and helpful. I was actually confused.
Riding in the back of a taxi on our way to our Airbnb in Guanajuato City, I felt cared for and loved.
No one tried to rob me or take advantage of a single mom of three. If anything, they were even more willing to help.
Please note: You MIGHT NOT have this same experience in a more touristy place like Cancun. I absolutely hate flying into Cancun. I find myself pissed off within minutes of landing. However, I don’t blame the locals for this. I know that they have to deal with a lot of crap tourists.
With all that being said, it is a good idea to look at the safety of different places. I have never had any issues as far as safety in any of the countries I have lived or visited.
I am from the US where I do not feel safe half the time. Seriously, every time I go back to the US I am on edge and I don’t feel that way in Mexico for the most part.
When it comes to safety check your resources wisely. In other words don’t believe eveything the news tells you. Read facts about safety as far as tourists and expats are concerned and don’t be fooled by sensationalized news because you will miss out on a lot of great places due to it.
People were concerned about our safety in Albania, Mexico, and Guatemala and I found those three places to feel the safest out of all of our travels including the US.
If I had listened to others I would have missed out on some pretty magical places and the kindest people ever. 😍
Have fun choosing the right country for you and your family. Remember, if you get there and it turns out to not be for you, then you can always choose to go somewhere else. It is not permanent unless you want to be! Happy choosing!
If you need more help with choosing the right country for your family, make sure to join the Single Moms DO Travel Academy.
P.S. You are going to want to make sure all your legal ducks are in a row for traveling with your littles as a single mom so click here to read my in depth article on How To Travel Legally As A Single Mom.