It is no coincidence that many expats are self-employed. There is something about the decision to take a leap into the unknown, whether it be to a new country or via a drastic change of professional life, that seems tempting to some and terrifying to others.
Skip and Gabi Yetter’s recent release, Just Go! Leave the Treadmill for a World of Adventure, caters to those expats who decided to make the leap both in terms of career and country changes.The dedication aptly sums up the overall feel of the book:
“This book is dedicated to the human spirit, and to all who embrace change as a means of exploration, fulfillment and adventure.”
The first part of the book deals with the Yetters’ own experience of moving abroad. Alternating between relatable anecdotes, descriptions of how they first made their move, and passages of ‘tales from the road’ that read like diary entries, it takes an end-to-end look at expat life.
The reasons why people move abroad are manifold. Many expats relocate for work; some to be with their partners, family or friends; and others because they visited a place and fell in love with it.
Skip and Gabi first moved to Cambodia after spending some time in the country and reading a lot of inspirational books. As a person who gets most of my ideas from things I’ve read, this appealed to me: I liked that this type of inspiration was set out to be equally as valid as moving for work or other more “serious” reasons. Too often we hold ourselves back from doing something we care about because we fear the reactions of others, but it is the spirit of Just Go! that speaks to this part of the reader.
Having said that, the expat experience isn’t viewed through rose-tinted spectacles throughout the book either. There are numerous passages devoted to helping the reader to understand the challenges and difficulties of expat life in general, and of moving to Cambodia in particular. This helps to present a well-rounded and realistic view of life as an expatriate and includes useful advice for those who have not previously lived abroad.
Just Go! is largely set out like a story, and is written from a personal point of view, but there are still a lot of facts contained within the book which are particularly pertinent for US citizens. The writing style helps to not make the reading experience too dry – even in the section about finances, which is quite an achievement!
About halfway through the book is a chapter on contrasts between life in the US and life in Phnom Penh. This is an interesting one as it is split into two sections: Gabi’s Story and Skip’s Story. As a couple, they made the move together, but each individual’s thoughts and experiences will always be different, and I liked that the book played up to this. Even if you meet someone who is from the same place as you, who shares much of the same style of life and who moves to the same foreign city, your experiences may still be quite different. This is, of course, one of the problems with taking other people’s stories as inspiration regarding what to do with your life – you will never have an identical experience to theirs, and the challenges you encounter along the way can come as a nasty surprise. So it is good to see attention being called to this fact in a book that is largely positive about the expat experience, and no doubt both Gabi’s and Skip’s stories will prove useful to potential and current expats alike.
Following on from the theme of sharing their own individual stories, the Yetters opened up the whole final part of their book to allowing other expats to do the same. These are grouped into sections, making it easy to find the people whose current lifestyles sound the most similar to your own: “Midlife and the World is my Oyster”, “And the Family Came Too”, and “All the Way Outside the Box” being examples of section headings.
Once you’ve read through the rest of the book, the final chapter deals with the cost of moving to, and living in, a new place. Yet again this is split between several people, including those whose stories were shared in the preceding section. This means that if you’re moving from the US with a family, you can look down the list and easily find someone else in a similar situation to see how much the transition to expat life cost them.
The book ends with several resources, many of them online, which provide extra information about life as an expat.
Just Go! is one of those inspirational books that allows you to take your wildest dreams and place them firmly in reality. Highly recommended for anyone considering their next – or first! – expat move.
Just Go! is available to buy in paperback or ebook from Amazon.
You can keep up to date with Skip and Gabi's ongoing adventures at TheMeanderthals.com