Don't Confuse Vacation With Relocation

Don't Confuse Vacation With Relocation Abroad - Emily Bron

Lying on the beach and sipping margaritas, or strolling through ancient streets filled with cozy restaurants, have you ever thought “Wow, this place is paradise! I could totally live here.”? But hold on a second, my friend. That all-inclusive resort or organized tour might give you a taste of the local vibe, but it’s nowhere near enough to make an informed decision about moving to another country or even living there sometime. 

The allure of a vacation in exotic destinations often stirs up fantasies of leaving behind the routines and responsibilities of our everyday lives. The idea of embarking on a new adventure, immersing ourselves in unfamiliar cultures, and experiencing a temporary escape from the mundane can be incredibly enticing. However, it is crucial to distinguish between taking a vacation and making a permanent relocation. While both can offer transformative experiences, confusing the two can lead to unrealistic expectations and potentially disastrous outcomes.

It’s important to remember that while initial impressions are valuable, and memories/pictures of the well-spent time and discovery of the unknown beauty of the new amazing place are ” warming ” your soul,  they don’t provide a comprehensive understanding of what it’s truly like to live and thrive in a foreign land. In this article, we will explore the key distinctions between vacationing and relocating, helping you make informed decisions when contemplating a move abroad.

1. Look Beyond the Surface


As soon as you will start researching beyond the postcard-perfect beaches and tantalizing street food, you will discover a whole new world of complexities.

First and foremost, the cost of living is a crucial factor. While you might be lured by the affordable prices you encounter as a tourist, the reality can be quite different for long-term residents. Rent, healthcare, groceries, transportation, and even leisure activities can add up quickly. So, before you pack your bags, do your due diligence. Research the average cost of living in your desired destination, including housing prices, utility bills, and daily expenses. Make sure you are aware of the inflation rate in the new country and local region and acknowledge issues related to supply chains. Consider your financial situation and make sure you can comfortably sustain your usual lifestyle in the new country.

It is important to note that the longer your intended duration of stay in a foreign country, the more intricacies you will need to navigate. Beyond the initial considerations of relocation, there are various nuances that arise when planning for long-term residency. These include understanding long-term residency requirements, which may involve specific documentation, permits, or visas necessary for extended stays.

Tax considerations also become crucial as you establish a more permanent presence in a foreign country. Familiarize yourself with the tax regulations and implications, particularly regarding pension and social security benefits. Understanding how your finances will be impacted is vital to ensure a smooth transition and to optimize your financial situation.

Moreover, it is worth considering the practicality of trips back home. Whether for personal or professional reasons, the accessibility of airports becomes a significant factor. Research the ease of access to airports in the area where you plan to relocate and determine if they offer direct flights to your home country and what are the tickets price. Direct flights can save you time, money, and potential logistical hassles, making it easier to maintain connections and visit your home country when needed. 

In the case of Mexico, for Americans and Canadians, it`s very important to have an opportunity to drive your own loaded car to the new country. As it is more convenient for those who wish to avoid or be dependent on the flights, bring their own baggage, and have the flexibility of using a vehicle upon arrival and later – when searching for a place to live. For many Americans, driving across the border back and forth to visit family, friends, and business at any point is very important.

And let’s not forget about safety and healthcare. As a traveler, you might have felt secure during your stay in a particular region of the country, especially when you were participating in the organized tours or spent time in resorts ;). However, it’s essential to examine the conditions and ease of access to the healthcare system from a resident’s perspective. Look into official stats of the crime rates in the particular region, political stability, access to quality medical care, and health insurance options.  But do not rely only on the newspapers and official resources as it`s difficult to find the truth in the ocean of information on the internet these days. Being informed about these factors will contribute to your overall well-being and peace of mind.

2. Expat Challenges vs. Local Challenges


During my first years after immigration to Israel and Canada, I quickly realized that being an expat/immigrant came with its own set of challenges. While locals effortlessly navigated the language, bureaucracy, and social norms, I found myself stumbling through conversations, getting lost in government offices, and feeling like a fish out of water. It’s important to acknowledge that as a newcomer, you’ll face unique obstacles that locals might not even think twice about. 

Language barriers are often at the forefront of these challenges. From ordering food at a local restaurant to interacting with neighbors, I often relied on basic phrases and gestures. It’s essential to recognize that language fluency takes time and effort, but don’t let it deter you. Take language classes, practice with language exchange partners, or use language learning apps to improve your skills. The more you invest in learning the local language, the more doors will open for meaningful interactions and cultural integration.

Important to note, that some cultures more than others are accept people from the new culture and “easily forgive” when you are speaking their language with mistakes or just can not find appropriate words. For example, in Mexico, it is good enough to welcome people in Spanish or use basic words to describe your situation. Locals would go forward to understand and help you.

Navigating bureaucratic processes can be another significant hurdle for newcomers. Whether it’s obtaining a work visa, registering a car with local authorities, or opening a bank account, the paperwork involved can be overwhelming. Each country has its own set of rules and regulations, and it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with them. Seek guidance from professionals in relocation that can provide assistance in navigating these bureaucratic mazes. 

Important to note: simple and quick immigration and residence process would save a lot of time, energy, and money. Some countries (especially in Europe, some in Asia) are “famous” for their lengthy, cumbersome, and sometimes pretty expensive immigration process.  Being well-prepared, connected with reliable professionals, and organized will save you time, frustration, and potential legal issues.

3. Overcoming Cultural Barriers


Cultural differences can also pose challenges for expats. From social norms and customs to communication styles, adapting to a new culture requires an open mind and heart, plus a willingness to learn. For instance, when I relocated to Mexico, I encountered a rich and vibrant culture that was somehow distinct, but in some aspects familiar to my own. Mexicanas are very family-oriented people; they support family members and friends in times of loss and need; they have high respect for good and wide education; and value culture in many forms and shapes.

I knew that I need to adjust to various customs and traditions that shape daily life in Mexico from one side, but openness, desire to help, and general hospitality of the Mexicans are very supportive and important factors during the period of “absorption”.  

One of the cultural aspects I had to adapt to was the concept of “mañana”. The word “mañana” literally translates to “tomorrow” in English, but in Latin American countries, its meaning goes beyond a simple reference to the next day. 

”Mañana” reflects a slower pace of life and a focus on enjoying the moment rather than rushing through tasks or appointments. This cultural norm acknowledges that some things can be postponed or delayed without significant consequences. It’s important to note that the concept of “mañana” is not an excuse for laziness or irresponsibility. I have also had personal experience in the past adjusting to the “Mediterranean” or, as they say, “Levantine” perception of time and life in Israel, so I am pretty familiar with this type of mentality 🙂

Unlike the punctuality-driven culture I was accustomed to in Canada, Mexico simply operates on a more flexible schedule. Understanding and embracing this cultural norm helped me navigate appointments, social gatherings, and daily interactions more effectively.


Respecting local customs is essential for integration. In Mexico, for example, there is a strong emphasis on family and community ties. Participating in community celebrations, such as the Day of the Dead or local festivals, helps to connect with the local community, understand their values, and appreciate their rich traditions.

However, it is understandable that adjusting to a new “norm” can be challenging for some individuals. While vacationing in a foreign country provides a glimpse into the local culture, it only offers a limited perspective. Moreover, these experiences are often curated to showcase the positive aspects of the destination. In contrast, when you reside in a country permanently, you are exposed to the full range of cultural peculiarities, both positive and potentially challenging.

Living in a new country means encountering cultural norms that may differ significantly from your own, and it is natural to feel some level of discomfort or frustration. What may have seemed charming or intriguing during a short vacation can become a source of annoyance when faced with these cultural differences on a daily basis.

It is important to approach cultural differences with curiosity, respect, and a willingness to learn. Embracing the customs, traditions, and communication styles of your new host country can lead to a more fulfilling and enriching experience.


So, before making any decisions about relocation, it is crucial to reflect on your motivations and goals. Consider the following questions to gain clarity:

  1. Is your desire to relocate driven by a temporary longing for change, or is it a genuine, long-term aspiration?
  2. Have you thoroughly considered the potential consequences and challenges that come with relocation, such as language barriers, cultural differences, and potential homesickness?
  3. Are there alternative ways to fulfill your desire for exploration without permanently uprooting your life?
  4. What long-term goals can you realistically achieve through relocation that cannot be fulfilled through temporary vacations or local opportunities?


I would outline additional important factors for Retirees, looking for relocation abroad:

5. How the new local year-round weather and climate would affect your health and well-being?

6. How far away is the hospital and what is the state of the local health system? Would it be able to find doctors who speak English? Important note: many Americans and Canadians would be surprised to learn from their own experience that in many other countries health systems (especially private ones) are really on the high level and more affordable).

7. How often and easily you can travel “back home” if you need to see your adult children, grandchildren, or elderly parents?

8. How the particular international taxation rules between your ‘home’ and new country and bilateral agreements (or lack of it) will affect your financial situation and planned retirement income?

9. How long would you need to adjust to a completely new language, culture, and mentality? How welcoming is a new country to Americans and American culture in general?

10. How would you feel after the completion of the first “honeymoon” period in a completely new cultural environment?

11. How important for you to shop in the familiar brand names, and stores (Home Depot, Costco, Walmart, HEB) to find services, food, and entertainment types you are used to?

12. Very important for many: how many other expats, especially Americans and Canadians can you find in the new place? What is the perspective of an active social life and opportunities to find other like-minded people, who speak the same language as you? What about a local expat community and options for active leisure, sport, and rich cultural life?

There are many other big and small important personal, immigration, and financial factors I am taking into consideration when working 1: 1 with clients to help define, navigate, and guide the relocation process.

Remember, relocating to another country is a thrilling adventure, but it requires careful planning and understanding. When contemplating relocation, seeking professional guidance can be immensely beneficial. And if you ever need expert guidance tailored to your unique circumstances, don’t hesitate to book a consultation with me. I can help you not only choose which country and specific region in this country to move to based on your goals, budget, age, health conditions, and wishes, but also offer guidance on visa requirements, financial implications, and cultural integration, minimizing risks and maximizing your chances of a successful relocation. 

Adventure awaits, my fellow explorers!



Hi, I am Emily Bron.

After living and working in 4 countries (3 continents), experiencing several immigrations, changing several professional fields and being an avid traveler, I created International Lifestyle Consulting to help you to find the best matching place and to relocate abroad for a better quality of life, work, or retirement.

As a professional Baby Boomer and Remote worker, I am relocating again!

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