As the world is still navigating its way through COVID-related closures, many of us may be reconsidering what, or where, we will head to next. For women looking to experience an international way of life, look no further than this guide for female expats.
Susan Sontag once famously said, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” A plucky thought to be sure, but the problem with around-the-world travel lists and equally dreamy notions about living overseas is that they are rich in ambition and scant on details. When today’s Susan Sontag gets to Tuscany or Andalucía, how will she find an English-speaking yoga class or set up Internet quickly in her new luxury villa? And in London or Vienna, how can she connect with local entrepreneurs who share her professional interests? And in Bali or Kuala Lumpur, how will she find volunteer opportunities that allow her to experience life as a local?
It’s no secret that relocating overseas can be a challenge, particularly for women who are traveling solo. But the exciting news today is that as a female traveler, you needn’t be alone in your quest to find everything from housing, co-working spaces, and networking events to fitness-club memberships, schools for your children, work services, and job opportunities.
“If you want to hit the ground running, you need guidance.”
When it comes to helping Americans land on their feet, both before and after they have parachuted into a new country and a new life, Sacha Pryor is, in the words of one seasoned global nomad, “an expert’s expert.” A London-based associate/business development manager at Knight Frank, Pryor explains that those who use Knight Frank’s services are never alone in the relocation process. Instead, they have their own personal team of allies—deeply informed individuals who know the lay of the land like locals, be it in London, Singapore, or another destination.
“The idea is that you are handheld from the beginning,” Pryor explains. “For example, someone might desire a particular neighborhood but not be able to find any acceptable housing on their own. We have insider information that can get them into that area. And with women who are relocating, either as singles or with their families, we can alert them to potential security concerns that a normal broker might not want to raise. In short, we are different from most overseas real estate agents—we represent the person. We don’t push someone toward a property.”
Also noticeably different is the power that a company like Knight Frank has when it comes to closing the deal on a property. “Say we are working with a solo female,” Pryor explains, “then we would make sure to negotiate with the landlord that the property be professionally managed. That way, if anything goes wrong, we stand behind it.”
Avoiding unforeseen headaches is the critical, if unsexy, component of a successful relocation. “Ideally, you want to spend your time abroad meeting other expats, experiencing the new culture around you, and connecting with the locals, but too often that time is lost to finding the right co-working space and gym, or getting your Internet set up,” says Joyce McCaffrey, whose dream was to start a business that allowed her to do the work she loved while offering her flexibility to travel. In 2017 she cofounded a healthcare digital marketing consultancy—and the following year she was living in Barcelona. “If you want to hit the ground running,” she advises, “you need guidance.”
Pryor understands this dilemma all too well, especially for the female expats she has helped while at Knight Frank. “It’s why we have a very close working relationship with numerous third-party entities, be they in the education sector, furnishings, banking, visas, what have you. If our clients have a specific need or if something is important to them, we will find the exact person or company they should work with to ensure they have the best overseas experience possible.”
Sophie Cook, an account executive at Knight Frank, recently helped craft just such an experience for a young female associate from a leading New York City bank who was relocating to London. “The woman had never left the States before,” says Cook, “so she knew nothing about London, other than what friends and family had told her. She loved the idea of Notting Hill and Kensington, but she would be working extremely long hours in Canary Wharf, which was far from those neighborhoods. So I introduced her to Canaletto Tower, in Islington, which is a new-build block with a gym, a 24-hour concierge, and a bar on the top floor. The block was full of young professionals in a sociable and safe environment, and it all worked out really well for her.”
Mellisa Kasdras, a single woman (“no partner, no kids, no pets, no plants,” as she puts it), knows the benefits of a top-drawer relocation service. The California native found herself “in a job I hated, exhausted, and ready for a major change. I wanted to spend several months abroad. So after fantasizing about the idea for some time, I went for it. My house sold in two weeks, and I gave away or sold everything in it. For once, I had nothing to worry about. I read about Behere,” a firm that tailors the expat experience solely to the female traveler. “They had resource people located [abroad], and they provided a work-balance approach, hooking people up to a gym and a workspace in each location. There was staff who set up the itinerary, travel transfers, etc., before I arrived.”
Kasdras lived for a month in Prague, then in Split, Croatia, and then, in January of 2019, in Barcelona. “The last two weeks of my adventure were in France, before I returned to the U.S.,” she says. “To those thinking about living overseas, just take that first step and start the adventure. It was the best decision I ever made. It was a flawless experience. I was happy to have stayed healthy and safe, and to have such wonderful memories.”
RESOURCES FOR GLOBAL NOMADS
Whether you’re an executive being relocated overseas by your company or an individual with or without a family who is seeking the perfect setup on distant shores, Knight Frank has a team on hand to help you find your new home—and more. Each year, the company assists hundreds of corporate tenants and relocation agents with home searches, working closely with a global residential and commercial network.
Behere focuses on female expats, connecting them to co-working spaces, and linking them to a community of locals and fellow expats. “Many women want to experience the world, but they often have to think about safety more than men do when they visit new countries,” says Behere cofounder Meesen Brown. “We provide an opportunity where they feel supported and can be productive in new places.”
Remote Year helps you live and work in cities in Latin America, Europe, South Africa, and Asia. The service handles all logistics and provides everything you need to dive into your cultural adventure—from flights to activities.
Unsettled is a global travel community for those who embrace uncertainty and value human connection. With shared workspaces, local experts, curated events, and immersive community experiences in more than a dozen locations, the company promises that clients will feel connected and comfortable.
“Live your bucket list” is Hacker Paradise’s mission statement—and its promise to clients. With preplanned itineraries over multiple continents, the service handles all your logistical headaches, from co-working spaces and events to travel, so you can focus on enjoying the experience.
—By Cameron Swain