It has been one week since we woke up to a collective nightmare. Votes are still being counted, but it has been officially confirmed that Donald J. Trump, of reality show fame and sexual assault infamy, is the president-elect of the United States of America.
Prior to being named the Republican party’s nominee, I think we all, Trump included, felt that his running was a publicity stunt. Jokingly, last December, I even wrote a blog post titled, Countries to Move to If Trump Becomes President. I and at least 47.8 percent of the American population never thought this was a real possibility. But here we are.
Once the nomination was clear and the debates were real, many high-profile people announced that they would leave a United States led by Trump. Many people you may know personally may have said it. Now, Trump is president and while many celebs have reneged on their move, many people are still searching for an out.
For many people that have never lived abroad, the idea may be daunting. There are so many countries to choose from and many things to consider, beyond location. In the past eight years, I have lived in five countries, including Japan, the United Kingdom, Benin, Italy and the United States and traveled to 65 countries in between. Below, I will walk you through steps to take to make your life abroad a reality.
Why do you want to move abroad?
Escaping Trump’s America is a very valid reason, but take the time to think about why you want to move abroad. Are you interested in working abroad because it will look good on your resume? Do you want to learn another language? Are you looking for an adventure? Do you want to save money on graduate school? Are you looking for love? There are many reasons that people move abroad, and every single one is just as valid as the next.
Where do you want to go?
With 196 countries and countless other territories and overseas departments, there are many countries to choose from. One way to choose is to spin the globe (remember those?) and see where you land; the other is to be guided by your answer to the above question.
If you are guided by language, this narrows the field. For example, if you want to speak French, you have 29 options; Arabic, 26 options; Spanish, 22 options. Let wikipedia help you!
If you are looking for a graduate program, pick a highly-ranked university according to global standings so that in the event you move back home, employers will recognize the university, and it can be considered an asset.
If you are guided by the idea of love, hop on Google images to determine the country/region where you can find the aesthetic that you are most attracted to. If you love beautiful black skin as much as I do, you know exactly where your efforts should be focused.
As far as working abroad, this becomes a bit trickier as it depends on what your career goals are, what languages you speak, the industry that you want to work in and how much you are willing to work for. This requires a lot of research and patience.
How do you obtain a long-term visa?
Depending on why you are moving abroad and to which country, the visa process can either be easy or a long, drawn out pain in the butt.
Student visas are semi-easy. Most countries will require that you show enough money in your bank account to cover tuition and living expenses for the year. You can use US Federal Loans for many foreign universities. For the full list of covered schools, visit the Department of Education’s site.
Work visas are the most difficult to obtain. If you do not have a company processing your visa for you, I find that it can be a very frustrating and expensive process in a number of countries.
According to Business Insider, as an American citizen, we have access to 166 countries in either visa-free or visa on arrival. Most of these countries offer 90 days tourist visas with some even allowing up to six months. This includes all of the European Union, the U.K. and all other “developed” nations. Beyond that, you can go nearly anywhere in the Caribbean, much of Southeast Asia and even a few countries in Africa.
You could go to a country on a tourist visa and spend time on the ground looking for something long-term. Or, for those looking for an escape, but not quite ready to commit to a huge move, why not try going somewhere for 90 days? Just put your apartment on Airbnb, lock your closet and rent a small apartment somewhere for three months.
Living abroad is a rewarding experience beyond the escape from a country governed by a reality star. It allows you to learn a new language, see how other people live and really get to know life outside of America. If only for three months, pack your bags, board a flight and don’t look back!
Jessica Nabongo is a travel blogger at thecatchmeifyoucan.com and the founder and CEO of Jet Black, a boutique travel firm. Jessica is Ugandan, by way of Detroit, and lives nowhere, yet everywhere.