T-Minus 30 Days and Counting...
Exactly one month from today, I will arrive at Ezezia Airport in Buenos Aires, having left my home in the US permanently. For the last couple years, I've been between countries -- spending time in Buenos Aires when I can, but always returning to the US. A number of things were always bringing me back -- the house, the business, the unfinished degree, all my stuff. For me, making the decision to expatriate was a long and gradual decision.
Very slowly, almost subconsciously really, I started removing the barriers to leaving. I sold my house last year, leaving me no property to worry about or take care of. I gradually worked on structuring my business to do most of my marketing by Internet, so I didn't have to be in-town to go after clients. Finally, I'm finishing my degree this May (graduating just before my departure date, in fact).
With that taken care of, all that was left to hold me back was all this stuff in my house. Could I take it with me? Would I have to sell it? Well, if you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know that I ended-up selling everything instead of shipping it. As I sit, typing this entry in an empty apartment, I can tell you that selling everything you own gives you a liberating feeling. I thought I would be a little sad to see everything I owned walk out the door with a new owner -- that hasn't been the case at all. What it does is make you realize what's truly important, what you actually miss and what you don't. I haven't missed much.
Two Types of Expatriates
I've always believed that there were two types of expatriates -- people who became expatriates because they had to, and people who did so because they wanted to. When your company asks you to take a foreign assignment, or your spouse asks you to follow them abraod, or you're being deployed with your unit, you're becoming a forced expatriate. Sure, one can always turn their employer down, tell a spouse to forget it, or disobey orders, but if you're a career-minded professional, a devoted spouce, or a loyal soldier, you go and make the best of it.
On the other hand, there are people who have an instinct to leave home, to explore, to get away from the familiar. As a young boy, I was lucky enough to have my parents take me all over Europe, giving me a look at places and people that were totally different than what I was used to. When I was 18, I wasted no time in leaving home. When I visit a city for the first time, I like to take a day just to walk around on my own and explore, with no particular destination in mind.
I guess the best way to describe it would be to say that just as some people find themselves "drawn" to a place, I find myself "drawn away" from the US. Something inside tells me that I need to leave. Before I settled on Argentina as a new home, I knew I wanted to go somewhere -- Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica -- I thought about each one.
Reasons for Leaving
Even though I've spent a lot of time there, I still don't know entirely what to expect once I'm living in Argentina full-time. I'm not sure whether or not I'll find what I'm looking for, probably because I don't know what that is yet. Even though I have a business in Argentina and I tell people that I'm going because of work, that's not really the whole truth.
I'm going there because I can't stay here anymore. But I don't say that because I don't think most people would understand. Though, maybe some readers here will...