Ah, the allure of the tango! If you feel romanticized by the sensual tune of the accordion; if you envision yourself swiveling along the white-tile alleyways of Calle Florida; or if you dream of drinking a cool Quilmes beer at a Milonga (tango house) in Buenos Aires’ historic San Telmo neighborhood, then consider a move to the Paris of South America.
Situated somewhere between the third and second world, Buenos Aires might not be the ideal quarters for every expatriate, but living in Buenos Aires might be for you! So, don’t just sit there counting down the days until you may someday make the move, start planning today, and follow your intuition. If you feel this is something you would love to do then let’s find a way to make it happen for real. You deserve it.
How to Move to Buenos Aires
To move to Buenos Aires, all you need is two things: an unbreakable self-commitment and a plan.
I would say just go for it! Buy a ticket, get on the plane, and show up. The transition from being a dreamer to being a doer, however, is never that hasty. Also, since these types of decisions are perhaps a little non-traditional you may encounter challenges.
For example, some people will think that you have entirely lost your mind. You’re moving where? But … When? Why? How? A plan is necessary so you do not bail on yourself when others question you or inherently you will begin to question yourself and perhaps not follow through.
Step One: Commit
To achieve a great feat in life – climbing Kilimanjaro, running a marathon, winning a hotdog-eating contest – as with your decision to relocate, begin simply with this:
Tell yourself, “I am moving to Buenos Aires.” Not, “I am trying to …” Not, “I want to …” Make the statement affirmative, and believe it one hundred percent. No matter what happens or what it takes, this is your course of action. Period.
Once you have declared your goal, pick a date, and buy a ticket. Even if you don’t have all the kinks worked out yet, tell yourself that you will figure it out. You will, trust me. Decide how much time you will need to work out the necessary details and then purchase the ticket. The shorter the deadline, the better. I recommend three months because it’s just enough time to save up money, make necessary contacts, and work out everything you need to feel more comfortable.
At this point, you might be overcome by a sudden sense of dread. Find a closet, go inside, and scream. Better now? Okay, let’s move forward.
If you do not buy the ticket, you’re giving yourself the chance to continue putting off the move.
After you book the ticket, tell yourself, “I am moving to Buenos Aires on X date.” Write it on a sheet of paper, then put it on your wall. Wake up looking at it everyday and get excited! You’ve already accomplished something incredible.
Step Two: Make Your Decision Public
Once you have decided to move to Buenos Aires and you have booked a ticket … tell someone, but choose wisely whom you tell at first.
Choose the one person you know will support the idea, phone them up, and tell them what you did and why. You know who that person is. Telling someone is important because you need someone to hold you accountable. This could essentially be anyone, but if you come from a social circle that would believe this is an erratic decision then leave those people at peace for now. In order to feel secure, these friends will need more information. At this point, it’s probably too early for that. Choose the person that will think this is really cool. It is imperative to have someone on your team because you need the confidence and support, especially in moments of doubt and frustration.
When you are ready, unleash the floodgates. Tell everyone, even people you randomly meet at bars, cafes, or on the streets. Put it on Facebook, tweet it, blog about it. I’ll get into this in a later post, but basically in response you will get messages from the most random people who know good resources in Buenos Aires, even if you don’t currently know a soul there. This is crucial to answering your questions, planning, and making friends. Begin to form a network. When you do something bold, people show up to support you.
Now that everyone knows, letting them down will feel worse than letting yourself down; avoiding disappointment is an incredible motivator when it comes to following through on commitments. So, in this way you have locked yourself in.
On Dealing with Naysayers …
When I chose to move abroad, a lot of my nearest and dearest people completely wigged out. Unfortunately, people in shock do shocking things. It’s not personal, it’s just a natural response to fear.
For a while, people were calling me just to say hurtful things that would bruise my self-confidence in attempt to make me buckle. They also kept me up-to-date with the most recent fear-provoking articles in the news, even if they had nothing to do with Argentina. Unfortunately, Argentina falls victim to the “bad neighbor policy.” When border countries have miserable economic conditions, a hearty drug trafficking industry, or high murder rates, some of that negative perspective gets deflected onto other countries just because they sit on the same continent. Get informed. Find out the best and worst neighborhoods of the city. Find out the real situation by getting in touch with locals. What’s the truth? Is it really safe? In the case of Buenos Aires, I argue yes or at least I didn’t encounter any issues living there. Sure, have your wits about you and stay alert, but people are just as afraid of terrorist attacks in New York City.
While dealing with the people that doubt you, consider this: before you shut everyone out, remember that deep down they want what’s best for you because they love you. Even if someone says something God awful to hurt your feelings, it’s just because they are afraid of losing you and worry about your safety. If you get into a situation where someone is bullying you, get out of it by hanging up the phone or walking away. It sounds very fifth grade, I know, but hear me out. Trying to convince and win over a skeptic is powerless and will suck all the energy out of you. Picture it this way: if you were standing on a chair, someone could easily pull you to the ground whereas pulling them up onto the chair with you is near impossible.
So, interrupt them mid insult and say, “Because I love you and I know you love me, I am getting off the phone now. You are welcome to call me back when you are ready to listen and talk calmly.” Don’t wait for a response. Hang up. Listening and believing is a choice, and if you believe in yourself then you can choose to dismiss negative babble.
Show others you are right by following through on your commitment. It’s a way of demonstrating that you are the supreme decision maker of your life. You own your life, so do with it what you want and consider this a stage of growth for you. Regardless of moving to Buenos Aires, perhaps you needed this phase anyway to learn to assert who you are.
On Overcoming the Odds …
When I was 16 years old, my doctor handed me a certificate for a handicap placard. “I’m sorry,” he said. “Chances are you will never walk normally again. We can only make you feel more comfortable.”
After being diagnosed with an inflammatory connective tissue disease called Undifferentiated Spondyloarthropathy (a form of systemic, genetic arthritis) I couldn’t take a single step without pain shooting through my joints. I wobbled on the sides of my feet and had to give up dancing. Doctors gave me a handicap placard so I could drive to my college classes instead of walking because the day-to-day for me was too hard. I decided, however, that I would not spend my life as a victim of inconvenient, uncontrollable circumstances.
Eventually, I found a treatment plan that helped reduce the inflammation. My condition stabilized, and I got by for years without too much pain … until one morning, just two months before my move to Buenos Aires, I woke up completely blind. Without warning, my disease suddenly attacked my corneas causing a condition called uveitis, or a swelling of the inner eye. So, my pupils could not control the amount of light that entered my eyes, and the world became blanketed in a white, painful canvas of light. Even stepping outside made me wince because the atmosphere was too bright.
Unable to see the world, I kept a commitment to my dream and while healing I envisioned the world the way I wished to see it. I told myself, “This will not be my defeat. This will be my triumph.” Eventually, with rest, meditation, a healthy diet, and a lot of anti-inflammatory medications, the swelling went down and my vision returned.
The day I wheeled my suitcase through the Los Angeles airport and boarded my plane it felt incredible. I had done it.
Consider overcoming challenges as the chance to think creatively. Structure your life to accommodate your goals. That may mean doing things a little differently, but that is what makes you smart and unique. When a challenge presents itself, seriously, think about it. How can you overcome it? Are you financially strapped? Find ways to decrease cost. Do you have a health condition? Find ways to manage it overseas. Imagine yourself as an artist painting your life and have fun with it. In later posts, I will teach you how to use the world as your resource to help you achieve this.
On Love …
A person who really loves you will want you to be happy and will want you to realize your full potential. They will also be flexible with you if they are unwilling to give you up. Look out for that key question, “How can we make this work?” If you both believe the relationship is worth it, then you will come up with a plan. You may even decide to take a brief step back as both of you explore what is best for your individual lives. That’s okay. Stay in touch and investigate how you feel.
Sure, commitment takes significant negotiation and compromise, but too much sacrifice leads to resentment; so don’t lose yourself to someone else because you are worried they will not stick around for the most authentic you. Don’t you want to be loved for who you really are? You might be pleasantly surprised by their response. If not, well then we wish them the best in love and life and look forward to who is waiting in the wings.
You probably deep down know already whether or not this person is just another excuse for you to put off the decision or if the two of you are really in love.
On the Brevity of Life …
Despite your religious beliefs, consider this current life as your one chance to get it right. What if this is your one shot at living the life you want? Decide how you want to live it and follow through because there might not be a do over.
Breathe through the fear and get excited! You have to power to decide how you want to experience this world. Declare how you want to live now because you can and because it has to happen today. Tomorrow might be too late.
When you fall in line with what you really want for you the people who make the best partners and friends will fall into place.