It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change. —Charles Darwin
I know I immediately seem to be contradicting myself, but you’re getting used to living among contradictions. Yes, you will be most successful if you’re adaptable and mentally agile, but that’s when you’re on the ground.
When you’re deciding where to go, you really need to think about those things that you won’t compromise on. That’s how you should decide where you go.
Write down a list — maybe 10 items — that are absolute necessities to you. Try and be really high-level with this, but be honest with yourself. When I was moving to China, a friend told me she couldn’t live without the internet. I thought that was ridiculous….
…I lasted 2 months, and then I got a VPN.
Consider the things you really, genuinely want out of this experience. What’s important to you? Are you doing this to put yourself in some uncomfortable situations? Or do you really want to be comfortable?
- Salary: take into consideration how much you want to make VS how much you need to make. Lots of money won’t make you happy, and there are places where cost of living is low. If you can afford a lower salary, you’ll find you have a larger margin between income and expenses than ever before (even with a salary that’s a fraction of what you made back home).
- Time off: you can find jobs where you work 40 hours a week, but get paid well and have decent holidays. Or you can find places where you work 20 hours a week, but you have less holiday time. Do you want in chunks so you can travel? Or do you want more time in your day-to-day life to work on your own projects?
- Sick days: you’ll get sick. It’s just a fact of traveling. You encounter bacteria and pathogens you’re body isn’t used to. The first few months can be rough, but you’ll be stronger for it. That said, any work is awful if you’re really ill.
- Teaching Environment: public school? international school? language training centre? university? They all come with their benefits and disadvantages. Look into each one (the qualifications are different, so bear that in mind), and decide which is most desirable and available to you.
- Weather: goes without saying. If you can’t handle the cold, don’t go somewhere cold (unless you want to experience just that once). If humidity drags you down, don’t go somewhere humid. Weather impacts our mood, so find a place where you’re going to be comfortable.
- Infrastructure: do you need a metro? a sophisticated public transit system? Bigger cities will have better public transportation. But smaller cities will often have very cheap taxis.
- Population density: Are you a small-town girl living in a lonely world? Or is this your midnight train heading anywhere. If you want a big bustling city, there are some great places for you. But honestly consider whether you feel energized by the constant crowds and hustle, or if you prefer something a bit slower-paced. How fast do you want your days to be?