Do You Want To Move Abroad As A Single Mom?
Whether you are still in just the thinking phase of moving abroad as a single parent or are totally ready to make the leap to another country, you have come to the right place.
Living abroad is a game changer for single moms. I have lived in 2 different countries besides the United States since leaving my emotionally abusive marriage back in 2016 and setting off on an adventure of full-time travel with my three daughters.
If you want to read more about our journey, start here. Moving abroad as a single mom is not only possible, it is something I highly recommend!
My life back in the U.S. was the typical single mom narrative of struggle and stress. My rent for my condo in Austin, TX was $1500 a month and my mortgage payment before that was nearly $1900 a month. I struggled to hold my head above water.
Now, here in beautiful Merida, Mexico, I can live well off of much less. I know moms who are living and traveling abroad with budgets as low as $1200 a month! It is pretty spectacular.
Not only is moving abroad as a single parent a smart move financially, but it is also a physical, emotional, and mentally smart move. I have learned so much from living abroad as a single mom.
I know moving as a single mom is scary. Moving abroad as a single mom can be even scarier but it can also be very rewarding. If your life is anything like mine was, you are overworked and overly tired.
You want to spend more quality time with your kids but you are either too exhausted at the end of the day or you can’t find the extra time in the day to even attempt to spend more time with your babies.
It is heartbreaking. You might have a job that pays well but you still find yourself struggling financially.
You are buried with bills and responsibilities and you might feel very alone. I know I sure did!
When I was living back in the U.S., I felt very alone and struggled to connect with others. They say it takes a village to raise a child, yet there was no one there to help me. I yearned for positive adult interaction but spent most days feeling like a lonely single mom.
I know so many others feel this way as well and it can be absolutely crippling.
Luckily, I have created the Single Moms DO Inner Circle where you can learn how to make the travel & living abroad life possible for you and you can connect with other single moms already living the lifestyle.
Here Are The First Steps To Moving Abroad As A Single Parent.
[affiliate disclosure: I may get a small commission if you make a purchase through the links on this page at no additional cost to you]
Moving abroad as a single parent has its own unique set of challenges. Here are the first steps you need to take to prepare you and your family for a move abroad.
1. Decide On A Destination
This is super important! For the longest time I dreamed of living in the Italian countryside with my children. About 10 years ago, I had fallen absolutely in love with Italy while on a short vacation there so when I started our full-time travel adventure nearly 3 years ago, I put Italy back on the list.
However, during this visit to three different cities in Italy, I did not share the same head over heels feeling I felt 10 years ago. Italy was knocked off the list of possible countries to move abroad to because of the high cost of living, complicated visa process, and a general overall feeling that it was not the place for my family.
It is important that you actually spend time in the country you want to move abroad to before attempting to move there. I have met so many people that have visited or moved to a place with high hopes only to discover that they absolutely hated the place. It happens!
Now, I understand that not everyone can spend a lot of time in a country before deciding to move there. I would rather mommas take the leap abroad rather than let the fact that they haven’t spent a lot of time in their country of choice keep them from never taking the leap. You can read my post on Choosing The Right Country For Your Family by clicking here.
Think of things that interest you. Are you drawn towards learning the Spanish language? Is there culture that you vibe with? Are you searching for a particular climate? If you are searching for cool weather then where I currently live which is Merida, Mexico will absolutely not work for you! It is blazing hot for a large chunk of the year and you just might die. Okay. I am only joking with that last part but it really is crazy hot.
Even with the crazy heat here in Merida, moms still love staying at the official Single Moms DO Travel House. The co-living house allows moms to try out living abroad.
2. Passport And Visa
It is super important that you have all your legal documents in order. Not just for yourself but you have the added layer of making sure that your child’s paperwork is in order as well. This can be tricky if the other parent is on the birth certificate. If there is no other parent on the birth certificate you are in the clear as long as all passports have at least 6 months left on them before your scheduled travel day. Some countries will not let you enter the country with less than 6 months left on your passport so be careful.
Check visa laws for the country of your choice. In Albania, I as an American was allowed to stay there visa-free for up to a year. We only stayed there for about 6 months but I love how friendly their visa laws are. In Mexico, we are allowed to stay for up to 180 days at a time before we have to leave the country to reset the visa.
I know people who have just left for a few hours and then came back in to receive their 180 days again. We call these border hops. Some immigration officers will frown upon this but so far we have had no issues.
We also travel a lot so for us getting actual residency which is a whole different process, isn’t worth it just yet. Just know that there is absolutely no guarantee that you will be given the full 180 days each time you try and reset your visa.
3. Child Letter Authorization
Now, this is a big one. You need to make sure you can legally move abroad with your child. Even with your child’s passport in hand, you can not necessarily book tickets and head to your new country. Believe it or not. You need to have a letter of authorization from the other parent allowing you to go to another country with the child, court papers stating you have sole custody or with a detailed living abroad and travel section like my paperwork, or the other parent needs to not be listed on the birth certificate.
I come across so many moms who do not know about the letter of authorization needed alongside the passport to make your travel and living abroad dreams possible.
If you want a more in-depth guide on How To Legally Travel and Live Abroad As A Single Mom then click here.
4. Book Those Tickets!
Now, that the legal side of things is covered, it is time to book those tickets. If the thought of paying one large sum of money for tickets scare you, you can always use Airfordable to make payment plans on your plane tickets. If you sign up by using my code here, you will receive $25 towards your next booking!!!
For finding flights, I highly recommend both Google Flights and Skyscanner. Both of these sites allow you to put in your country of choice to fly out of and into. This will allow you to be able to see which are the cheapest airports for you and get the best flight deals.
5. Unlock Your Cellphone
Chances are slim to none that you are going to want to keep your U.S. phone plan while living in your new country. One of the best things about living abroad is cheaper phone plans. I pay about $20 a month here in Merida, Mexico. You need to make sure your phone is unlocked before you head to your new country so that once you get there, you are able to purchase a sim card for your new phone. If your phone is locked, the sim card will not work.
6. Disable Two-Step Verification
I had to learn this step the hard way. You need to disable two-step verifications on all accounts prior to leaving the country because when you try and log into your various accounts while in your new country, they are going to want to send a code typically to your U.S. based number that you will no longer have access to. I am currently going through this super annoying process with a few of my accounts. Lesson learned!
7. Inform Your Bank
A lot of people forget to inform their bank that they are going to be in another country. When we forget to inform our bank that we are going to be in another country, they end up blocking the account. You will go to purchase something only to discover that your card doesn’t work. This is super frustrating and sometimes embarrassing. Make sure all your credit cards and banks know that you will be in a new country.
8. Income Source
This is the biggest question I receive and one of the most important parts of moving abroad.
You will absolutely need an income source of some sort. That might mean a nest egg, retirement, an online job, your own online business, any remote income, or an actual job abroad. There are endless possibilities. If you want it, you absolutely can make it happen!
-Starting Your Own Online Business
I highly recommend starting your own online business! This takes very little money if any at all and you can utilize social media to promote your business for free.
I created a membership site for single moms to help them create their dream lives and when I started it, it only cost me $60 a month to run so you DO NOT need a ton of money to start your own business.
Start with your passions and go from there. Learn everything about creating your own online business.
There are tons of businesses you could start with very little initial investment. Don’t get discouraged. Explore your passions and find out what people need and then package it up into your very own business.
I recommend checking out Jason and Caroline Zook. They are amazing business coaches unlike any other. I joined there Wandering Aimfully Unlimited program and it has done wonders for my life and business. Go to their website and read all their amazing, in-depth, and free articles.
If you need digital nomad job ideas, click here to read the ultimate list of digital nomad jobs.
-Teaching English Online
A lot of the moms that I meet or talk to teach English online to finance their living abroad lifestyle and travels. Teaching English online is a great way to earn a remote income and not every company requires a degree.
Here are just a few companies that you can work for online:
There are so many more so please do your research for all the opportunities out there.
If you want to get started with teaching online, I highly recommend you join my friend Aileen Williamson’s Face book group How To Start Online Teaching Information And Support Group! She has helped countless women get started with online teaching for free!
After applying online in Mexico, I was hired by the online tutoring company, Cambly. It was super easy to apply and required no degree but it is also the lowest paying.
Even though I was hired over a year ago, I have yet to teach for them because I would rather put that time into my own passions and have been having way too much fun with my own online business of mentoring women on how to live this lifestyle and, of course, writing for this blog.
I was also hired by Verblio, but I only wrote a few articles before deciding I wanted to focus exclusively on my own business.
If you work 6 hours a day for Cambly, that is about $1200 a month. You could work as much as you want or as little as you want. The great thing about a lot of these online teaching and writing companies is that you get to choose your own hours and schedule.
-Landing A Job In Your New Country
Most people I know that live abroad have a location independent income but I do know of moms who have an actual physical job in the country they moved to. The most common job is teaching. You can read more about teaching abroad by clicking here.
9. What about schooling?
For most of our travels and living abroad, I chose to unschool/worldschool my kids. Recently, I switched them to an amazing private school here in Merida, Mexico that they are absolutely loving.
Some moms choose to put their children in a private school abroad, public school, or online school. I know moms who do all three. Private schools, even though they are abroad, can still be pretty expensive but they might not be as expensive as they can be back in the United States. You have to do your own research for your location of choice. Luckily, the unique private school I chose, is not expensive at all. Both my teens attend an amazing private school here in Merida, Mexico for only about $180 a month!
If you are interested in unschooling, check out our YouTube video below or read more about it here.
The best part about living abroad in a more affordable country is that you can get really nice accomodations for a lot less.
I recommend booking an Airbnb or a place on booking.com for a week or month and then getting a realtor in your future country to help find you a place on the local economy. You could also look in the local paper, join the expat groups and ask around, walk around looking for rental signs, or look on Facebook marketplace.
After staying in two different Airbnb here in Tirana, we finally found a place with a realtor on the local economy. We love our new home.
The best part about it is all I need in order to sign the besides the deposit and for us two months rent was my ID card.
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Communty is important no matter wehere you are at in the world.
We have learned that it is super important to connect with others beforehand in the city you plan to move to. This can make a huge difference in how quickly you adjust when you move abroad as a single mom. Here in Guanajuato, I reached out to a momma prior to coming and she was super helpful. Look on Facebook for expat groups for the country and city you are interested in. There are loads of information within these groups as well as potential connections you could make prior to your move. Having some sort of support system is important especially for single moms. For example, I got super sick when I first arrived in Mexico. Two of the single mommas here helped get me groceries and helped with my kids. I am so thankful I made those connections prior to coming.
10. Choose Accommodations
The best part about living abroad in a more affordable country is that you can get really nice accommodations for a lot less.
I recommend booking an Airbnb or a place on booking.com for a week or month and then getting a realtor in your future country to help find you a place on the local economy. You can easily get a good discount on Airbnb by booking for at least a month and also by asking for a discount. Read my post explaining exactly how to go about doing this by clicking here.
In Merida, I hired Barbara Blanco from Merida Moves ( a relocation expert) to help find me the official Single Moms DO Travel House that was featured on HGTV’s House Hunters International. This is a co-living home for single moms who want to try out traveling and living abroad. You can read more about this amazing space by clicking here.
You could also look in the local paper of the area you are interested in, join expat groups on Facebook and ask around, walk around looking for rental signs, or look on Facebook marketplace.
During our five-month stay in Albania, we stayed in two different Airbnbs before hiring a realtor who found us a place on the local economy.
The first time we visited Mexico back in January 2018, we used Airbnb at first as well. After that, we used a realtor to find our home. However, I made a big mistake in Mexico by signing a lease for a big fancy villa that was completely unfurnished. I paid a deposit and first month’s rent.
One day we were out shopping for couches when I had a complete breakdown. We set out on a journey of full-time travel not living abroad shopping for furniture.
I was not quite ready for a home base and to settle down so I decided to break my lease. In Mexico, this means you have to pay one month’s rent as the penalty. That meant losing my deposit which was not the end of the world but it was a huge lesson.
After that, we did not sign another lease for almost a year when we fell in love with Tirana, Albania. In both Mexico and Albania, breaking a lease is not that big of a deal.
I know that can be hard to understand because it can be such a big deal in the United States. Just expect to lose your deposit if you do break your lease in either of those countries but not much more will happen. I always factor losing the deposit before signing a lease now.
Healthcare is amazing and affordable in Mexico. During our first trip to Merida, my oldest daughter got sick. The doctor came to our hotel instead of us having to go to him for only $25. There is no way it would cost that little in the United States.
I do have health insurance through the military, luckily, in case anything major happens but I have always just paid out of pocket while traveling.
If you are interested in getting health insurance for traveling, check out World Nomads.
A community is important no matter where you are at in the world. We have learned that it is super important to connect with others beforehand in the city you plan to move to. This can make a huge difference in how quickly you adjust when you move abroad as a single mom. In Merida, Mexico, there is a large dynamic community of single moms. We have our own Facebook messenger chat and we get together as a group often.
Making friends around the world is one of the amazing things about living abroad as a single mom. Somehow, this lifestyle allows you to make deeper connections with people. It is pretty amazing.
Look on Facebook for expat groups for the country and city you are interested in. There is loads of information within these groups as well as potential connections you could make prior to your move. Having some sort of support system is important especially for single moms.
Now, you are ready to move abroad!