Any decision as big as moving abroad is bound to spark fear.
For years, my fear of starting my own travel business and blog -- and then failing -- kept me from taking the plunge. Actually, I started businesses I didn't really want to start simply to avoid starting the one I really wanted to do and having it not work out.
When it comes to moving abroad, there are a long list of reasons people put it off, but almost all of them come back to fear. And when you make decisions from a place of fear, you self-select out of the things you've always dreamed of doing.
If you want to move abroad, the timing will never feel perfect. It will always be hard to leave family and friends, and your career will always be in flux. But if you wait for your fears to somehow fade away, you might be waiting forever.
Here are three tips for getting over your fear of moving abroad and finally making it happen. They're based on my experience moving abroad to Mexico City, London and Italy.
1. Set yourself up for success with careful planning.
One way to approach your move abroad is to pick a place you think you might like, save money, buy a one-way ticket and hope that you will get a job once you are there.
This approach has worked for many people I know, and it can be a great way to get a fresh start. But if you're feeling held back by fears around moving abroad, then you can front-load your research and set yourself up with a job in your new country before you even buy your plane ticket.
Thorough planning can cancel out many of the common fears around moving abroad, including that it will set back your career or that you'll be lonely. You can even start to cultivate a network of friends well before you move.
It all starts with picking your ideal country and city, which you can narrow down by establishing a set of criteria, and then selecting your ideal job title.
If you want additional tips, you can download my step-by-step quickstart guide to moving abroad here.
2. Accept that it might not work out how you imagined.
I've never met someone who told me that moving abroad was a mistake. Even if they hated where they lived, even if they hated their job and even if they missed their family, they still say moving abroad was one of the best decisions they've ever made.
If you set yourself up for success with careful planning, it's highly likely that you will be able to build the life that you want in another country. But there is always the chance that it won't work out as you imagined.
Realize that this won't be the end of the world. You can always go back home, or you can always move to another city or country. This is not your only shot, and if you decide your new home isn't for you, it's perfectly okay to reconsider.
Come up with a set of milestones, like having one close friend or feeling like you can truly call your new city "home," plus a timeline for achieving these things. But remember that building a life in a new country takes time, and there will be ups and downs, so make sure your timeline is realistic.
When I moved to Mexico City, it took me about four months to find my first true friend and about a year to feel completely at home.
3. Start to build your network before you move.
One of the scariest things about moving abroad is the idea of making friends from scratch. You might not know anyone in the place you're moving to, and that can be pretty terrifying.
Expect to be lonely at first. There is always a period of loneliness when you move, whether you're in a new city in the country you're from or an in entirely new country.
Again, planning is your secret weapon. During the time you spent networking to find your dream job abroad, you probably came in contact with people in your age group who live in your chosen city. Just before you move, or right after, reach back out to them and invite them to have a coffee.
You can also contact your alumni office and ask for a list of people who live in your new city. Then send them an email that says you share an alma mater, that you're moving to their city and that you'd love to have coffee once you're there.
Additionally, you can join Facebook groups for expats living in your new home. Go to Facebook and type "Expats in [country/city name]," and a list of relevant Facebook groups should come up. Next, spend time reading through group posts and start to participate in any threads that are relevant to you.
If you notice someone in the group with whom you seem to have something in common, send them a private message saying you're moving to that city and that you'd love to set up a call (or get together once you're there).
If you're strategic, you can start to build friendships in your new home before you even get on the plane.
It's okay to be afraid of moving abroad. This means that you want to be conscientious about making such a huge change in your life and do it in a way that sets you up for success. But make sure your fear doesn't stop you from doing the thing you've always dreamed of.
Chloe Mason Gray is the author of Onehourbehind.co, a publication for the Millennial traveler. Get her free quick-start guide on planning your move abroad.