My Journey to Expat Life: Carmen Melseth

by | Feb 11, 2022 | Global | 1 comment

My Journey to Expat Life: My Golden Handcuffs Come Off

After fifteen years in the corporate world, I realized that those golden handcuffs weren’t enough. All the money in the world wasn’t worth missing out on being present and enjoying life. I just didn’t know how to make the transition, how to start my journey to expat life.

I regularly did the math on the “rule of 75,” and always felt discouraged that retirement was too far away. My parents talked about moving abroad and helped me see I could live on a lot less if I did the same.

But then I got into a bad relationship that sabotaged my dreams of living abroad. When I was finally strong enough to leave him, I was also strong enough to leave the job. And why not leave the country while I was at it? It seemed rash and rational at the same time.

My boss told me I would regret leaving the company and would never find something like this again. He was the outlier.

My Journey to Expat Life: Outliers, Supporters and A Heavy Loss

Cuenca's signature blue-domed cathedral By Carmen Melseth
Cuenca’s signature blue-domed cathedral By Carmen Melseth

Others rallied around and supported me. Especially my mentor, Rudy. On my last day, he said something like “Carmen, I’m so proud of you for making this decision. When you get back from your exploratory trip to Ecuador, I’ll throw a party so we can hear all about it.” His support meant everything to me.

On that exploratory trip, I received terrible news: Rudy had been running the Wounded Warriors marathon in New York City and suffered a fatal heart attack. Like anyone who had the pleasure of knowing him, this devastated me. It also crystalized my conviction to make the changes NOW to live a happier and more fulfilling life. We just don’t know what tomorrow will bring.

My Journey to Expat Life: Questions and Answers

exploring Cuenca with my parents By Carmen Melseth
Exploring Cuenca with my parents By Carmen Melseth

For the entire tour of Ecuador, I forbade myself from deciding until the end of the trip. I needed to make sure this was the right fit, not just an easy escape route from what I wanted to leave behind.

My buddies and I used a pros and cons list to help ensure this was a balanced assessment. We looked at the basics like:

  • climate,
  • cost,
  • cuisine, and
  • safety.

Then we asked questions like:

  • Would we find it interesting?
  • What vacations could we take from there?
  • Would this meet our needs for adventure?
  • Would we be able to navigate with limited Spanish language skills?
  • What would it take to bring our pets? Would the healthcare system be adequate?
  • Would we enjoy being part of the expat community?
  • Would we ship a container of our possessions or could we buy everything we need/want there?
  • Would we be able to rely on public transportation and taxis, or would we need to buy a vehicle?
  • Would it be difficult to fly back to the United States occasionally for work or family activities?

My Journey to Expat Life: Decision Time

At the conclusion of the trip, my travel group unanimously decided to make Ecuador our new home. Cuenca was a good starting place for all five of us. We then started looking for a facilitator, getting our paperwork in order, and started selling our possessions. Six months later, we were living in South America.

It may have been a roller coaster path to my journey to expat life, but I wouldn’t change a thing. No regrets!

Let us know your thoughts, share your decision-making process. Here at TCI, you can talk to expats from all over the world who are dedicated to help you the place that’s just right for you. Where will you land?

by: Carmen Melseth