• Jill Reed, Ph.D.

How Moving Abroad Prepares You for the Coming Economic S**t Storm


Let go of stuff and cultivate a new identity.

"The part people will find the hardest is letting go. Letting go of their image, their past, their idea of work, their old home, their stuff, their feelings, their potential ignorance of this situation. You deal with what is coming by making a decision to do whatever it takes. You commit to the future, and to what counts: family, love, happiness, productive work you enjoy. Everything else isn’t so important." Tim Denning The Economic Season Is About to Drastically Change Medium June 26, 2020

This morning’s curated articles from Medium included this piece from Tim Denning, an Australian blogger and writer for CNBC. He carefully crafts a brief guide to preparing for the worst financial forecast the world has seen in a long time. 

Essentially, the public assistance funds and the banks’ collective patience will run out next month if you live in America and a little later if you live elsewhere. This means next month when mortgage payments and electric bills are due they may not get paid and the economic fumes we’ve all been coasting on will completely disappear.

The good news is that you can prepare now by cutting back expenses even more, selling off possessions, starting proactive conversations with your bank and reinventing yourself for the new employment frontier. 

All of Denning’s suggestions make good sense. 

The reason his article stuck with me, though, is for the quote included at the top of this piece. It’s the letting go. It’s committing to do whatever it takes to prepare and survive.


Who can honestly say they’re ready for this new economy?


Me. I can. Spend a year making, tweaking and implementing a plan to move abroad and you will be ready for the letting go. 

Many people move abroad or travel for adventure, but most hang on to the place they call home, a safety net to fall into just in case. We did not. Once we started selling all the furniture, rugs and art we inherited from two sets of dead parents, it was easier to list the farm.

Something has to click in your mind. You have to be willing to let go of the stuff, yes. But you have to also be willing to let go of history, image, comfort, tangible memory, and tethers. What ties you to the past can also hold you back. You must allow your brain and your heart to work together in order to see the stuff for what it is. Stuff. 


Stuff doesn’t define you.


This past year felt like slow motion, but looking back it was more like ripping the band-aid off quickly. In one year we auctioned, sold, donated, passed to family, and gave away to friends the large majority of the stuff. 

With multiple dwellings on the farm we had more than enough stuff to furnish three houses. We shipped one away to our new place, sold one with the farm, and gave the majority of the rest away, with the exception of a handful of family heirlooms.

Downsizing from forty acres, three houses and multiple storage areas to one small rented storage unit and one home abroad was no easy feat. Letting go of stuff includes letting go of identities you’ve created around the stuff. 

You are not your grandmother’s reproduction secretary, your mom’s dining room table, your dad’s Naval uniforms and law books, or his Washington & Lee chair. You are not fine Italian ceramics or roman shades your mom made for your son’s first nursery. You are not the leather Chesterfield sofa or the club chairs, both gifts from loved ones. 

It is hard and sad and draining to disassociate your identity from the stuff, but it can be done.


Here’s a secret. When you do, it will be liberating.


When I walked away from our home the first time to make the initial move abroad, I knew I was reinventing myself on a different level, but I also harbored the notion that I could return to the farm if necessary. Once the pandemic struck and we made the decision to hunker down in our new country, the same farm that sat in a stalled market for almost a year, suddenly became a hot commodity. Not only did the buyer want the farm, they wanted everything in it. The stuff!

Never had it been easier to cut and run. Rip off the band-aid.

It is freeing to sever the tethers. It makes launching into the reinvention so much easier. Releasing the identities attached to the stuff will push you to new levels of motivation and creativity. Don’t hold back. You don’t need to move abroad (that’s a bit drastic), but you can start letting go.

This is the time. The world is pushing for you to break barriers. We are becoming the people who can get comfortable being uncomfortable (see recent news). You can let go. You can reinvent. You can take the leap and prepare for what is coming.