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Where should I call home?

01 December 2016

This is an excerpt from The Four Toolkits for Life -

This choice has a special significance for me (Ian) as through the years I have noticed the hugely diverging life paths of friends of mine who I studied with in England. Over three years I met friends from all over the globe and have been fascinated by where they later chose to call home and how that impacted the lives they went on to lead.

The most telling contrast was in respect of students from South Africa and Zimbabwe. While this is only my observation those who stayed in the United Kingdom or moved to USA were winners on almost all dimensions (professional opportunities, social stability and security and opportunities for their children). In contrast those who returned to say Zimbabwe and stayed under the Mugabe regime have had limited opportunities on many dimensions. Essentially that country has not has the Social Capital, starting with the rules of law and security, on which people can build sustainable opportunity and wealth.

Not everyone has a choice in this decision. But if you do, then the right choice can lead to exponential changes in the opportunities available to you and those you love - from freedom and the possibility to build a better future for you and your family, to giving you access to a new career or finding a community where you belong. Your home-base matters.

This is also a big decision that you’re already likely to take seriously and think hard about it as it probably involves personal sacrifices (leaving your family, leaving a job, investing money, etc) and a great amount of courage. We hope to add to your reflection by giving you a mental framework to think more broadly about the decision ahead and hopefully giving you the confidence to back yourself when D-day arrives.

Overall the four mains questions that the Toolkits will help you think strategically about are:  


Where can I authentically be who I am and who I aspire to be?

  • What does a rich and fulfilling life look like to me and in which country can that best be achieved?
  • Am I growing in my current domicile? Is it a land of opportunity or not? Does this country inspire my pride?
  • What really matters to me? Will I find it in my current home or in a new country?
  • Where is my community? Is it time to explore and find my tribe?
  • Does this domicile celebrate the strengths, values and purposes that are essential to me as a person?
  • In choosing where to live, what tensions are there between my career ambitions and the lifestyle I want to lead? Is there somewhere where they can be more closely aligned?
  • How will changing my home base impact other areas of my life and how do these compromises stack up (eg health, education, career)?
  • Has moving to another country been one of my dreams? If so, what’s been holding me back?
  • Is it a country that will offer me greater personal freedom? …which will respect the values which are important to me? (eg Is it a domicile which will allow me and my same-sex partner to marry?)
  • What are the implications of this decision for me and who I am connected to? (my kids, partner, dog, friends, family, etc)
  • Who is invested in making this personal decision with me and how do they feel? How can I create the space to have an open discussion with them about it?
  • What are the big reasons for making the change? How do I make sure they come off?


What are the opportunities that become available in calling this place home?

  • Is it a country where the business, economic and social framework will provide wide-ranging opportunity?
  • Does this new home offer the chance for me to drastically increase dimensions of my life that would not be available in other places?
  • How does choosing to call this home compare to other alternatives? Do I need to spend more time exploring other cultures and parts of the world before I choose to settle?
  • Who would have some interesting insights to help me better understand different perspectives on making this choice?
  • Do I understand how much investment is necessary to relocate? Do I have the time, energy and attention to make a success out of this move?
  • What are some of the internal opportunities that making this leap could create for me? (the potential to heal, to create space, to get outside my comfort zone, to challenge myself, etc)
  • In the new domicile will I be able to practice my profession without significant retraining? If not, how much retraining is necessary? 


Would choosing to call this place home help me live smarter not harder - maximising my life, while not draining all of my energy?

  • How much would having this as my new home change what is possible for me?
  • If I choose this new country, what is my life likely to be like in 5 years time?
  • Am I prepared to take the risks of the journey because I believe I will have a better home in a new land? – refugees (whether political or economic)
  • What are the ingredients for success if I decide to make the move?
  • Is the timing good? (Not necessarily perfect!)
  • What are the estimated living expenses in this new home and how will that impact my lifestyle?
  • If my potential home involves a different language am I prepared to give learning the new language a sizeable chunk of effort to give this transition the best possible chance of success?
  • Who are potential role models? …Potential mentors? Do I have the courage and opportunity to speak to them?


Is choosing to call this place home sustainable?

  • What expectations do I hold when thinking about this decision? (my expectations of myself? Of others? Others of me?) And which of those expectations really matter?
  • What does a sustainable life look like to me and in which country can that best be achieved over the long haul?
  • Will I find employment there? Will it be satisfying?...rewarding?...stable?
  • How will this move affect the other people who are really important to me and in part depend on me (partner, children, parents….)?
  • What will give me the resilience and patience I will need in this new country? 

At the end of the day even with hours of reflecting you’ll still have to make this decision on imperfect information and put trust in your intuition and courage to take a chance. This will be easier if you have set aside some time by yourself or with a trusted friend or partner to reflect on your version of the above questions. This is a big decision, the stakes are high and little bit of reflection can help you to uncover the right solution for you.

Good luck!