Updated: Oct 20, 2021
What are your "must haves" for living happy and quality of life?
We all have necessities and desires to live a happy and quality life. Even at different stages of life, whether you're married with a family, retired, a single young professional, or newly divorced I share how to find your "must haves" when living as an expat woman.
“Your lifestyle and stages of life influences your needs, so if you're a married mother of 4 following your spouse career your must haves will look very different than a single child free woman"
Your Lifestyle: Needs & Desires
We all have basic needs: shelter, food, family/friendships, an ability to make a living, transportation, community, and safety. As a woman, I cannot stress safety enough, as being a foreign woman in certain cities & countries may attract the wrong attention, due to stereotypes, or being targeted as because you're a woman and more easy to be take advantage of. Aside from that, essential needs to live a happy expat life, is achievable, and the first start is writing down your "needs" based on your lifestyle and stage of life you're at. Your lifestyle and stages of life influences your needs, so if you're a married mother of 4 following your spouse career your must haves will look very different than a single child free woman. So what are your needs? Do you need to live by parks and good schools? Do you need to live in a city that has good public transportation? Do you need to live in a city that has a place for you to pray (Mosque, Temple, Church, Synagogue)? Do you need to live in a country where English is widely spoken? Do you need to live in a country where the cost of living is low? Do you need to live in a condo that is pet friendly?
We all have desires, I like to call desires "dessert" it sweetens life. A desire can be living in a place where you can easily pick up the local language. Example, French or Spanish speaking countries like Spain or France, there are many opportunities to learn the language, whereas Thailand, China, or Russian, it will take much longer, with dedication, to learn the language. Another desire may be a place that has a big expat community or a place that's used to seeing foreigners. Another desire, you may want to live in a city where you can find a pilates studio, public swimming pools, or a place to garden. Reasonable desires are perfectly attainable, and an opportunity to start a hobby or business if you cannot find your niche desire.
Again, your lifestyle largely influences your needs and desires, but it's good to be prepared and flexible as your circumstances can change. Job loss is real, having kids changes everything, getting a divorce, or even losing a spouse can happen. And these will dramatically change your ability to live in a country as a foreigner (unless you're a dual citizen).
Compromising: What Can You Live Without?
Having it all is a myth, not only just for women but for men too. Can you have it all at different times in your life, absolutely! As an expat, you go through different phases, the honeymoon phase, the reality sets in phase, and settled in phase. Even living in your homeland, building a new life abroad, even if it's a year, takes time, so if you're an expat it will take time to settle and get all your needs and desires. So, it's important you make a list of things you can live without, temporarily and permanently.
For example, American style kitchens with big stoves/ovens are not common in many places around the world, rather hot plates or small stove tops. If you have a need to have a big spacious kitchen, you will have to spend a lot of money or buy the appliances yourself. Another compromise may be not having a car, as some cars have very good public transportation systems, buses and trains, and if you must have a car, it can take time.
Being an expat is an adventure, so be prepared with a list of your needs, desires, and things you can live without!