Wednesday, February 8, 2012

How To Become An Expat

Try harder.

So you want to try that greener grass thing. It isn't as easy as just leaving one day and announcing your arrival at Sunny Wherever.

For example, where is it?

First you have to find a place to move to.

One way is going to the library and stealing a map. Then take it home and throw darts at it. But what if you forgot to steal darts? You go to Plan B. This is getting a copy of the internet.

A copy of the internet can be expensive even in paperback, so if you get lucky and find one in a trash bin, good. Or try the recycling center before the grinder gets to it. An older copy is fine. Countries don't change all that fast anymore.

So take your copy of the internet home -- dog-eared is OK, and a few missing pages is OK too -- and flip through it. For every country that doesn't look too bad, tear out that page. After a while you have all the good ones (there aren't too many), and you get down to research.

Once you pick your country, begin loosening your ties.

A good first step is paying off your debts. Even better is tricking someone else into doing it for you.

For a good talker this is pretty easy. Just borrow money, pay the bills, and vamoose. It isn't like they'll ever find you, the way the IRS can. To be extra safe, change your name en route.

Don't plan on coming back for holiday visits either, even if Mom lets you.

Given no other option, get a job, work hard, build up a reputation, and then go for the cash drawer as soon as they trust you.

Or do it the really, really hard way and cut back on your beer budget until you've paid off all of your debts. However distasteful that is. But if you go this route maybe you aren't sharp enough to live with foreigners, so give it some thought.

Now to get "overseas", which is the kind of lingo that true expats use, you'll need transportation.

Most people use airlines, and you have to buy a round-trip ticket, even if you can't come back because of all the money you weaseled out of Big Eddy. But on the bright side, maybe you can sell the back half of it to some gullible local and at least get pocket change out of it.

Details: Make sure your passport is up to date and you have all your shots.

Save a few bucks on the medical by going to a willing veterinarian. You probably have lots of them in your home town, no matter how small it is, and they all need cash. Plus, they're trained professionals. They just don't have the fancy license that "allows " them to work on people.

This is yet one more layer of government bureaucracy that is driving you away, and learning to step around it is good practice wherever you end up.

So, once all that is done, have a good breakfast, shower up, and put on clean clothes. You want a running start.

And, before we forget, be sure to take along a few essentials.

Hard as it is to believe, firearms are frowned on in most places, even on planes, so you may have to let someone else smuggle your hogleg in. Better they rot in a 4X4 cell for 10 years than you, anyway. Right?

Generally, you want to pack as light as light as possible, and there's nothing with a better value to weight ratio than $100 bills. Make sure they're genuine.

Carry them in your underpants. Preferably taped right to your skin.

If your last job (the one where you built up a good reputation) had a lot of change in the cash drawer, or better yet, had a vault, you're probably set on this account, as long as you manage to hang onto it.

Take extra socks. You can never have too many clean socks.

Finally, say goodbye to anyone who will miss you and won't help the bounty hunters track you down, no matter how high the offer goes.

This is likely to be close relatives who will be glad to join you and help with your export business, though the Mexicans really have a lot of the options bolted down pretty tight by now. Still, there's always room for someone with seed cash, good ideas, initiative, and a few expendable relatives.

And then get on the plane and go. Remember not to make any jokes about "skyjacking" or "crashing" or any of that stuff.

Buckle your seatbelt. Appear amiable. Keep your mouth shut.

That's about it.


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