They say that the best things are never easy.
The latest European jaunt, this time to Budapest, Hungary, sure as hell didn’t make things any easier for me. As I sit on this ten-hour flight home, I’m not sure what I want out of life. I had hoped that this trip would leave me with a concrete feeling that moving to Europe is what I want to do. While I had a great time, I’m not so dead set on it that I’m making plans to start selling my stuff when I return to Los Angeles.
But maybe it’s not supposed to be.
A flight is as good of a time to sit and reflect, so maybe spitting a little word vomit on to my blog will help me sort things out. As always, I’d love to hear comments and thoughts from those reading; whether it be encouragement or bringing up a point I hadn’t previously thought of.
So, Should I Move To Europe?
Let’s start with the quality of life. For simplicity’s sake, let’s assume I would move to a Central or Eastern European city where the American dollar goes farther. I would likely make Poland (Warsaw, Krakow, or Wroclaw) or Budapest my first home, and then take short weekend/5-day trips to other countries to explore more; other countries that interest me are Croatia, (parts of) Italy, Russia, and Turkey.
There is absolutely zero doubt in my mind that I could move to a foreign city, and within a few months I would have a nice little harem of beautiful foreign girls. In most places I’m considering, I’ve found girls to be very receptive and happy to meet a foreigner, especially from Los Angeles. It wouldn’t necessarily be easy, but a few months of grinding some online dates and making consistent approaches would definitely get me there.
The club and nightlife scene would wear me down ultimately, so I’d have to fire up my OKCupid profile again or start doing more daygame. Sure, going out a couple times a week would be acceptable but I definitely couldn’t be doing what Jeremy, Lucky, and I did this week on a consistent basis – which was going out and drinking heavily until the crack of dawn every day. The last night, I managed to talk myself out of going out and went to sleep at midnight. Prior to that, the earliest I’d gone to bed was about 4am.
The average? 6:30-7:00am.
Of course, part of the appeal for girls is the…
I’m a realist, not a romantic. I recognize that to an extent, sex is a transaction. Therefore, it’s important to include this.
Let’s say I could live well in one of these cities for about $1,500 USD a month. This would include a nice apartment in the city center, going out for drinks/food a few times a week, a gym membership, and the occasional travel. It’s not much, but how do I obtain that? This blog makes a little less than a thousand a month off of book sales, etc. I could probably get that up to the necessary $1,500 with some work.
In Budapest, you could honestly play baller game pretty well for $1,500 a month.
But I’m having a hard time figuring out how to walk away from a career that pays me nearly six figures at 23 years old. Is it suicide? If I take a few years off, I will fall behind on the technology and may not be able to return. I understand that sometimes risks must be taken in order to get the most out of life, but it doesn’t make a lot of sense to throw away my career at this point…I don’t want to fuck myself financially now because I want to live in Europe.
Option 1, Teach English
One option I’ve considered to keep a steady paycheck is to teach English, but it seems foolish. To go from what is basically a Senior Engineering position to teaching English abroad doesn’t look good on a resume. Teaching English abroad would make me around another $1,000 a month with twenty hours of work a week. I could do private tutoring for another ten hours at a higher rate, so maybe I could make $1,300-$1,500 total off of teaching English.
~20 hours a week: $1,000
~30 hours a week: $1,300-$1,500
That would take me at least to that $1,500 line, probably even more. On top of that, it would free up twenty hours a week for me to pursue other interests; as in I wouldn’t be stuck rotting away in my cubicle. I just wouldn’t have much money leftover to save; I manage to save about $1k a month here in Los Angeles and would like to continue to do that. Working just to live and get by is not my style.
Option 2, Find Remote Work
I have done some poking around and there are actually quite a few jobs in my field that allow you to work remotely. If I wanted to live in Europe, these companies would likely have to be U.K. or German-based. I’m not sure how feasible this is with the work visas, etc., so it’s something I’ll be looking more into in the coming months (and of course posting all about it so that everyone can learn something!).
These positions could pay anywhere from $75,000 to $150,000, which would obviously be a killer salary in a place like Budapest. I would be able to save significantly more than I do now. If I had to travel into the office in a different country on a quarterly basis, I’d be able to afford to do that, too. In this case, I wouldn’t even be tied to a singular country in Europe – which would be AMAZING.
Option 3, Freelance
I recently completed a web design project and am working on updating my portfolio. Once this is done, I plan to start applying for jobs on oDesk, eLance, etc. As I look around on these sites I realize I am pretty versatile in my skillset.
- I can write which opens up lots of jobs from editing, writing books, etc.
- I can do advanced web design; i.e. I know more than just installing a WordPress database and theme. I can drill down and get into the code, and have experience with other CMS systems, too (Joomla, etc.)
- I have some skills from my job in VMWare, Windows administration, networking, etc. from my day job.
Freelancing probably my favorite option since it means that I’m reporting to no one but myself. The two things that concern me are:
- I’m not currently established, so I’ll need to put in some long nights in the coming months to see what is feasible as far as earning goes.
- It doesn’t build a brand or a product – there’s nothing that will sell and result in a payout at the end. I will have to continue to work to generate work.
Of course, the largest advantage of this is that as my portfolio and client list builds, I can charge more and be more selective of my clients. On top of that, I can work the hours I want, and as much or as little as I want. This frees me up to write more books and work on other projects.
Conclusion For Job Opportunities
Those are the three options I see for work abroad. There are pros and cons to each of them.
Teaching English is a downward path in the career but would allow me to immerse myself nicely in the culture.
Finding remote work in my field may be very difficult but would allow me to live a baller lifestyle. I’d also be stuck reporting to someone.
Freelancing in a bit of everything would be the hardest to get going but the most flexibility out of anything.
Don’t Fix What’s Not Broken
At the root of all this is the fact that I’m not unhappy in Los Angeles, by any means. I have a great girlfriend, a great apartment/location, and a great paying job – although it’s a bit boring. It’s just that I have no chance whatsoever of paying to live here doing the freelancing idea, nor would I want to. And I would really like to break free of working in an office. I’m not someone who hates California or talks shit on it at every turn, but I would like a change.
Of course, packing up and moving to Europe is just a very big step in general. It’d be hard to leave family, friends, and all the comforts I know behind. Regardless, I have to stay at my job until October due to my contract, and I wouldn’t move to Europe in the middle of the winter; I did grow up in California, after all! Baby steps. But maybe what I need to do is just man up and do it.
The risks are almost always worth the rewards.
As someone who lived in Europe last year for 5 months all I can say is that you’ll kick yourself forever for not taking the chance. Right now I’m in the same boat you’re in (great job, things settled nicely). If I could find a stable job somewhere abroad I would take it in a heartbeat. Who knows if you’ll get the opportunity to move again when you’re in your early 20’s.
To quote: “The truth is inside of you, you know why you’re here….go for it”
Thanks for the comment, I’m glad that you’re in the same boat and feel the same way.
I gave it a lot more thought last night, talked about it with my parents and some other friends, and have pretty much decided I am going to make the move. I’m locked into my current contract at work until October, and would prefer not to make the move in the middle of winter anyway, so I’ll hold off until early next year. By then, I should be able to pull in a couple grand a month off web design freelancing, and I’ll hopefully have other projects in the works, too.
You’ll hate when you have to leave but you’ll hate yourself more if you never went.
The most dangerous place is never to have left….I could go on with the philosophical quotes but I’m glad you get the idea lol.