Q&A With James Clark: An Expatriate’s Guide To Living Abroad

July 21, 2015 8:00 AM

Photo Courtesy of James Clark

Photo Courtesy of James Clark


Packing everything up and moving can be an exhausting and nervous adventure. For most, moving generally happens locally, while for others it can be across the country. Now imagine packing everything up and moving to a different country and living as an expatriate. The stress and planning can be a bit much, however, the excitement of starting over in a new country can often outweigh any move-related stress.

Just take a look at James Clark, author of ”Nomadic Notes.” He has been living around the world for the past 12 years and is a self-described “location independent wanderer.” Let’s take a look at what Clark has to say about his nomadic adventures and tips he has to offer those considering a life filled with global moves and excitement.

Clark started living a nomadic lifestyle because of his desire to spend more time traveling. In the beginning he was renting a house in Australia and traveling half of the year. Eventually, it made more sense to stop renting the house and become a full-time nomad.

“When I first started out I did not know that I was becoming nomadic,” he says. “I realized I was able to do my work anywhere, so I was spending more time overseas.”

In the beginning, Clark was motivated to start his web publishing business because he was not happy with the work he was doing. His bonus was being able to live in places around the world where previously the opportunities were only available to executives in multi-national corporations.

“The greatest reward has been to be able to establish a business I love doing while getting to travel the world,” he added.

Clark continued to offer advice on how to find a location, determine when to move and other tips for becoming a full-time nomad.

Finding A Location

According to Clark, the methods to finding a new place to live will vary from country to country, but he usually books a room for the first few days and then looks for a place to live after he has arrived.

“Listings for accommodations that you find in expat accommodation sites are usually more expensive than you would find on the ground,” he continued. “For example, I spent a month in Playa del Carmen in Mexico. I had friends on the ground there who scouted for an apartment and ended up getting a place for half the price that was listed in expat property sites.”

Clark also suggests using Facebook groups to help find accommodations. To do so, search for “accommodation + city” and you will find groups dedicated to places for rent in the city desired.

Tough he cannot just pick one favorite destination, Clark did mention a few of his favorites, including Switzerland, Mexico, Thailand and Vietnam.

Related: Travel Guide to Paris, France

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


Arrival

One of the first things Clark does upon arriving in his new country is to find the nearest supermarket and the best cafes to work from. While working at these cafes he gets to know the staff and regulars, which help him integrate into the local culture. This helps him to learn the hot spots places of interest only a local would know.

“It’s hard to integrate into any culture in just a few months, so I do not pretend that I am a local expert within just a one month trip,” Clark said. “You can get a better insight into a culture by spending longer time in a place and becoming a regular in a few locations. For example, I will go to the same café a few days a week and pretty soon I will become known to the people who work there. I have been invited to parties and dinner just by doing that.”

Related: Top Tips for Safe Travel Abroad

Staying Connected

Traveling around the world can make it difficult to keep in contact with family back home and the new friends you meet while traveling. However, with advancements in technology, keeping in contact with friends and family is so much easier today than it was in the past. Clark regularly uses email and Skype to stay in touch. He also makes annual trips back to Australia to visit his family.

Photo Credit: Thinkstock

Photo Credit: Thinkstock


A Piece Of Advice

Living as an expatriate can have its own set of adventures, wonderful experiences and (of course) problems. It is definitely a change of culture, lifestyle and whereabouts when one lives in another country. One should also be aware that living as an expatriate can bring with it a whole new level of employment problems, as it may be difficult obtaining a work visa or, as an expatriate, one may have trouble securing employment when the locals may favor their own local people as potential workers. Clark suggests that those who are serious about experiencing the expatriate life should find work or start a business that can be operated from anywhere in the world. This way, local employment may not necessarily be the biggest concern, and one can get on with enjoying the beauty and culture around them.

For more information and research on the subject, visit Clark’s digital nomad resource page by clicking here.

Heather Landon is a freelance writer with more than 20 years of experience. She has combined two of her passions – writing and travel – to share her experiences with others. You can read more of her articles at Examiner.com.