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Walking through my decision to move abroad

7 March 2020

How did I decide to move abroad?

It started while I was working for a political nonprofit, my first “real job”. I was fired from that job in July of 2016, which in the political world, was a horrible time to be fired. It was the beginning of election season, followed by holidays. This meant that DC essentially ground to a halt for six months, as everyone in town stared at CNN, FiveThirtyEight, and Twitter instead of working. People wouldn’t start hiring en masse until January of the following year. Throw in 1-2 months of interviewing, and it may well have been March of 2017 before I found another job in that area. Sure, I could have gotten lucky and found a job the following week. But that was a best-case scenario, not what was likely to happen.

So, if working in politics wasn’t a near-term solution, maybe I could have got a job at a restaurant or store to bide my time and earn some money. The thing about those jobs is they don’t pay much, and the DC area is very expensive. I probably would have had to move back with my parents, as a minimum-wage job isn’t enough for someone to live on their own in that area. I have just moved out at the beginning of the year, and I wasn’t about to go back.

I had an interest in teaching English abroad. I was actually getting my TEFL certificate online at the time I got fired. I was planning on leaving to teach the following year, but since unemployment gave me a lot of extra time on my hands, I thought “why not just do it now?” I thought about the worst-case scenario: I moved abroad, failed to find a job, ran out of money, and had to move back with my parents. The end of that worst-case scenario, moving back in with my parents, was what I’d likely have to do if I stayed in DC. So, to me, there was no downside. Only the upside of a great adventure.

The asymmetric, high upside, nature of the opportunity is why the decision to move abroad so quickly didn’t feel risky to me, even though it may have looked batshit crazy from the outside.