In a Nutshell: A Way Abroad helps women figure out the logistics, including work opportunities, necessary to move to other countries. The website produces a wide range of reader-generated articles, ranging from how to get a digital nomad visa to where to find reliable internet in more remote areas. The platform was founded and operated by Kat Smith, an American who embraced the expat lifestyle more than a decade ago. A Way Abroad shares the hundreds of different ways women can feasibly develop their lives outside of the United States.
Kat Smith, Founder of A Way Abroad, didn’t start out with the goal of creating a website that helped other women travel the world. But an injured ankle changed her career trajectory.
A decade ago, Kat started teaching abroad after a stint in the Peace Corps. That kind of work is what she thought she’d do indefinitely.
But while she was teaching preschool in Vietnam, she hurt her ankle so badly, she needed surgery.
“After that, teaching three year olds was an absolute nightmare! So, I decided to quit my job. And if you ever meet me in person, you’ll quickly realize I get bored quickly, so the idea of sitting still to rest was the worst thing anyone could tell me,” Kat said with a laugh.
Her husband, a web designer, convinced her to start a website to stay busy while recovering. She knew she didn’t want a personal blog, so she identified what personal knowledge she could share with the world.
“I realized that I had a big community of mainly women all around the world who worked in really cool jobs. And they had all of this information to share,” she said.
So Kat reached out to a few friends, asking them to write articles on their areas of expertise. One explained how to get a working holiday visa in Australia, while another contributed a post about teaching in Prague. Her site took off from there.
By the time Kat was ready to go back to teaching, she realized that she preferred running the website.
“So that’s how I turned a bad situation into a good one, but that was not really my intention. I thought it was just going to be something I did for a few months, not a few years!” she said.
Today, A Way Abroad has a large readership of women (and some men) who want to learn how to live and work in other countries. And Kat and her community are more than happy to help with information on a wide selection of global destinations.
Find Work at Organizations Abroad
One of the most pressing questions people who want to move abroad have is how they can earn money. Kat suggests the first thing individuals should consider is the pros and cons of in-person vs. online work.
Some people may prefer working in the countries where they live so they can meet locals more easily. Remote workers don’t have the same bridge to the local community that those working there do.
“If you’re working in person, you have co-workers who are locals, or you have co-workers who are other foreigners who have been there longer. So, you have your community on day one of starting the job. Whereas as a remote worker, you’re kind of an island,” Kat said.
On the other hand, remote work does have its perks, especially if you want to live in a country that has a lower cost of living than in the United States. For instance, if someone worked for a US company that didn’t require them to come into the office, they could move to a country where they could live comfortably on the salary they earn.
Or they might be able to start out in a career they were too nervous to begin in America.
“If you want to spend three months in Vietnam, that’s smart. It’s a lower cost of living there, and it gives you that breathing space to start something that you might not have in the US, where your cost of living is a lot more expensive,” Kat said.
She added that cost of living shouldn’t be the only factor, or the primary motivation, for moving abroad. While the potential for savings can be a valuable perk, not considering other factors could lead to disappointment.
“Living abroad is more than just a new address — it’s a new culture, customs, language, and food. Even going to the grocery store will become a mission when you don’t know the brands or can’t read the packaging,” Kat said. “To me, this is one of the thrills of life abroad but for those that are looking to replicate their exact same lifestyle they have in the States but for a fraction of the cost, the nuances will wear them down.”
Remote Work Opens a World of Possibilities
Kat said she has seen how many people have discovered the possibility of working remotely in the years since the pandemic started. She and her husband had already been working remotely for years when COVID-19 hit, but only then did she see an increased interest in learning about how to work remotely from anywhere.
If women are looking for remote jobs that let them live abroad, Kat suggests they start by taking stock of the skills they already have. Then, they can begin searching for remote jobs without specific state or country requirements (some remote jobs have these). For instance, digital marketing, coaching, and copywriting are industries that promote both remote jobs and freelancing.
But more industries than ever are offering remote work and flexibility.
“The list just kind of goes on and on. It’s cool, how it’s opening up,” Kat told us.
Some people who want to live abroad may be concerned that they can’t work remotely or freelance in other countries, but Kat wants to put this misconception to rest.
“There’s been an explosion with digital nomad visas. These are visas that are for remote workers to stay in certain countries for a year or so. I’ve been focused on providing information about those because I think they’re a really great opportunity for remote workers who want to move abroad,” Kat said.
Kat also understands that each person’s journey is unique, which is why she offers a one-on-one mentorship program through which she answers pressing questions and can help come up with a plan of action. She also provides plenty of encouragement and inspiration for those who may think the process is too daunting.
But a lot of times, people look to her for realistic options in a life abroad, be it permanent or temporary.
“Unfortunately, I’ve had to burst a lot of bubbles; you can’t just show up in France and stay as long as you want!” Kat said with a laugh.
Sharing Diverse Options for Building an International Life
Some of A Way Abroad’s content is designed to inspire women to move abroad. A lot of it, though, is highly practical, focused on the nuts and bolts of moving outside of the United States.
For instance, a common issue most travelers encounter is how digital nomads can be sure about internet and phone service when they move abroad.
“Good internet will exist, but it might not be the regular. So you’ll want to be aware of that when you’re looking at apartments. Say, ‘hey, let me run a speed test.’ I also personally prefer to buy SIM cards where we go. The US makes getting a SIM card and data incredibly difficult but in most other countries, you can simply go to a corner store and buy a SIM card with a lot of data and plug it right into your phone,” Kat says.
Teaching readers about the less romantic nuances of living in another country is one of Kat’s goals. She also wants to make sure women know which countries are safe and comfortable for them.
“I’m really focused on knowing that the women reading these articles are getting information from other women that share their same safety concerns. For example, there have been places that if I go and take the dog out at 10 at night, I come back, and say, ‘I’m not doing that again.’ because it felt too sketchy for me to be comfortable. My husband on the other hand usually doesn’t notice that kind of thing,” she said.
Kat suggests that thinking differently about how to live — something necessary for anybody who wants to move abroad — is liberating. If someone wants to move to Mexico, for instance, they may be able to live comfortably while working at a less-lucrative job. Someone else may be able to pursue their dreams in ways they couldn’t afford to in the United States.
Whatever an aspiring traveler’s goal, Kat wants to produce content that will show them alternatives are possible.
“Every time I meet someone who has lived or worked abroad, I say, “I didn’t know you could do that; tell me more!” This whole thing is about knowing you don’t have to limit yourself. You don’t have to be a social media manager or a freelancer to make this happen. That’s only one of 10,000 different ways you can do it,” she said.