How to leave everything behind and start a new life (24-point checklist)

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So, you think it might be time to start a new chapter of your life, or maybe even a whole new book.

You’re considering leaving everything you know behind and starting a whole new life somewhere completely different.

You’re thinking of moving to a new city, or maybe even a totally new country.

You’ve got an established life where you are right now, but something is pushing or pulling you to take the leap and make one of the biggest changes possible.

Of course, this isn’t a decision to be taken lightly.

It’s a decision that will make a huge difference to the whole course your life takes from here on out.

And that’s incredibly exciting, but it can also be overwhelming.

If you’re umming and erring over the right course of action, or you’re convinced you’ve made the right decision but just want to make sure you’re being sensible, then it’s time for some soul-searching.

You need to ask yourself the big questions, and give yourself some honest answers.

After all, a new start can be amazing, but it’s never a walk in the park. You will face challenges.

There are questions you should be asking yourself before you take the plunge, and everyone’s priorities will be different.

Here are a few of the most vital questions that will help you gain clarity on what you really want, and how it will all work on both a practical and emotional level so that you’re prepared for what’s in store.

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1. What’s pushing you?

What is it that you aren’t happy with where you are right now?

The people? The job opportunities? The lifestyle? The weather?

Is there just something about your current home that isn’t ideal, or are you actively being pushed to leave?

It’s important not to run away from your problems, because if you leave things unresolved, they could follow you wherever you go.

2. What’s pulling you?

Is there something about the place you have in mind that is drawing you there?

Although you may have just put a pin in a map, and some people do just up and move when the mood takes them, it’s probably not a random decision you’ve made.

There’s a reason you’re doing it, and a reason that, with the whole wide world available to you, you’ve chosen that particular spot.

You might be moving for a job, or you might be moving for a significant other.

If that’s the case, ask yourself whether you’d have ever considered moving to the place in question if it wasn’t for that one particular thing pulling you there.

If there are other reasons you’re moving, these will help to take a bit of pressure off that dream job or relationship, which otherwise might struggle to live up to your expectations.

3. Can you see yourself living there?

In your mind, can you picture yourself living there?

Can you picture what your home might look like and what you might do with your weekends?

When you imagine it, does it seem real and tangible, or do you struggle to picture yourself there at all?

4. What’s holding you back?

The answer to this might be ‘nothing,’ but if you’re reading this then you’re probably not yet convinced that leaving everything behind is the right course of action for you…

…and that might be because there’s someone or something holding you back.

Be honest with yourself about what that is, and reflect on whether or not you’re willing to let it dictate your life.

5. How long have you been dreaming about this?

Some free spirits make decisions overnight, and that can be a wonderful way to live life if you’re willing to face the potential consequences.

However, if you’re more careful than carefree, think about how long you’ve been dreaming about this.

Is it just a whim that you’ll forget about again within a few weeks, or is it something that’s been bubbling under for years, that you’ve finally got the chance to act on?

6. How will you finance your new life?

You might be making the move specifically because of a job and not have to worry too much about the financial side of things.

But if you’re not, this will be one of your primary concerns.

Have you got savings to tide you over if it takes a while to find a job?

Are you planning on living on savings for a while, and taking a well-earned break?

Do you have an idea of what the job market is like there?

Will your qualifications be valid?

How will you go about finding a job?

Do you have the necessary language skills?

7. Will your career prosper? Is that important to you?

If your career is a priority for you right now, will this be a good move in the long run, or are you worried you might come to regret it?

Or, is having a solid career that you can progress in currently quite low on your list of priorities?

That’s totally your prerogative and a very valid choice, as there’s far more to life than work…

…but just be honest with yourself about your ambitions, and whether, if you want to be climbing that ‘career ladder,’ this move is going to help you onto the next rung.

8. If you have a job waiting for you, how secure is it?

If you’re upping and moving for a job and only for a job, then you need to be sure that it’s something you can rely on.

Is it a temporary or a permanent contract? How would you feel if the job didn’t work out?

9. Where will you live? With who?

Would you like to live alone? If so, will you feel lonely? Will you be able to afford it?

Would you like to share a house or flat? How will you track one down? Have you looked into options?

It’s important to have a clear idea of what you’re expecting from your accommodation, and if that’s realistic.

10. Do you have an emergency fund?

If things all go belly up, do you have a cushion of money to support you?

Some of us are lucky enough to have families that would be able to bail us out if necessary, but some of us aren’t.

Much as your family might love you, they might not be in a financial position to help you should you need it.

So, you need to be sure that you have some money saved that you can fall back on in an emergency.

11. What’s the cost of living like in your prospective new home?

Is the cost of living higher or lower than where you currently live? Will you be able to afford it?

What are rent prices typically like? Will you be able to save more money than you do now, or less?

What’s the cost of eating out, and how expensive is travel?

Will you have to cut down the number of times you eat out per week, or will you be able to loosen your purse strings a little?

How important is being able to get out and about and socialize to you?

12. Are there any visa restrictions?

This is the boring part.

Much as we’d all love to just be able to roam free around this beautiful planet, borders and visas are unfortunately still very much a thing.

If you’re going abroad, will you be able to get a visa for the country in question?

How long does that visa allow you to stay there? Would you be able to stay long-term if you wanted to?

13. What’s the deal with healthcare?

No one is immortal, so you need to be very clear on your healthcare arrangements before you go anywhere.

Your country might have a reciprocal deal with the country you’re going to, but you’ll generally need to make sure you’ve got an appropriate insurance policy in place, that covers you for the place you’re going to be and the activities you’re going to be doing.

14. What are you leaving behind?

Think about all the things that you do have in your current life, whether it’s your job, your friends, your family, your home, or your partner, and ask yourself whether you’re really willing to give all that up.

If you’ve got to this stage, the answer might well be yes, but you need to make sure you’re fully aware of exactly what it is you’re leaving behind.

After all, as they say, you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone.

15. What will you do with your stuff whilst you’re away?

And we’re back to the practicalities!

You’ve almost certainly accumulated quite a lot of stuff in your time on this planet.

What are you going to do with it?

Are you taking it all with you? Are your parents willing to sacrifice space for you to store your things? Could you leave some stuff with friends? Will you need to pay for storage?

And, how attached are you really to all those physical objects? Could you sell everything that doesn’t fit into a suitcase and indulge in some minimalist living?

16. Do you need to take much stuff with you? How much will it cost?

If you are planning on moving lock, stock, and barrel, taking multiple suitcases or even furniture, how much will it cost to get it all there? How will it work logistically?

17. Do you have a back-up plan?

Imagine it all falls apart.

Imagine nothing unfolds the way you want it to.

What will you do?

Will you turn tail and come home? Will you stick with it and make it work? Do you have another grand plan in mind?

18. Do you have a support network in place that you’ll be able to contact?

The beauty of the modern era is that no matter how far away we are from our friends and family, they’re only a phone or video call away.

Who are the people that you know you’ll be able to rely on when you need their support?

19. Do you cope well with loneliness?

Moving to somewhere new can be incredibly exciting, but loneliness is a reality.

It’ll take you a few months to find your feet and find your friends, and those first months can be very lonely.

You may have met people, but it will take you a while to build friendships and a new support network, which means that you’ll end up spending a lot of time on your own.

Do you deal with loneliness well?

It’s not an easy thing to experience, but some people are more naturally independent and self-sufficient than others.

Admitting you struggle to be alone isn’t a reason not to take the leap, but it’s just important to expect the first few months to be a little rough, and be prepared to push on through.

20. Are you open to adapting to a new culture?

In your new home, chances are things don’t work like they do where you come from.

You need to be open to embracing a new culture and adapting to the way things are done.

I’m not saying you need to completely change the way you behave and operate, but you need to be open to changing small things to adapt to what’s considered polite or how life is structured in the city or country you’ve picked.

21. Will you make the effort to make new friends?

Friends aren’t just going to come to you.

You might not be very practiced in the art of making friends if you haven’t ever moved somewhere new, but you need to be willing to get out there and make an effort.

That might involve going along to social events, taking classes, playing sports…

You need to force yourself to make offers of friendship to people you like and make an effort to build the connection.

Accept the fact that most people already have their life and their friends and are busy, so you might have to make a bit more effort than you’d think to create a bond.

22. Might your expectations be too high?

Have you got unrealistic expectations of what it’s going to be like?

Sure, you might be moving to paradise, but there are still going to be rough patches.

It’s best to expect things to be tough, so if it does all go perfectly to plan, it’s a pleasant surprise.

23. Is this permanent, or for a set period of time?

Are you going for 6 months? A year? Three years? Might you, all being well, stay forever?

Will you move onto somewhere else, or will you be moving back to your current home?

24. If you don’t do it, will you regret it?

If you decide against taking the leap, will it be something that sticks at the back of your mind?

In ten years, will you regret not having taken this opportunity?

Would it be better to give it a shot and have it all fall apart, than never try at all?

Not sure how to start a new life? Speak to a life coach today who can walk you through the process. Simply fill out this short form to get quotes from several coaches along with details of how they can help.

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About The Author

Katie is a writer and translator with a focus on travel, self-care and sustainability. She's based between a cave house in Granada, Spain, and the coast of beautiful Cornwall, England. She spends her free time hiking, exploring, eating vegan tapas and volunteering for a local dog shelter.