10 Years Ago, I Left The United States Without a Plan, Much Money, Or a Visa

Here’s how I made it work

Michael Thompson
7 min readOct 5, 2020


When I first arrived in Barcelona in the early spring of 2010, I positioned myself as a chaser and someone with the stones to see the world. But that was a lie.

The decision was a Hail Mary. After being financially wiped out by my ex-business partner's dad in Central America 18 months earlier, and responding by choosing to turn my life into the lyrics of a bad country song, I needed to do something — anything — to try to smile again without having to fake it.

Barcelona was never intended to be the destination. Just a stop. Thailand maybe. Or Vietnam. The only plan I had was to figure out a way to ground out enough cash to keep moving forward until I found a place I didn’t want to leave. It just so happened I found whatever it was I didn’t know I was looking for here in Catalunya.

Maybe it’s because the streets are named after artists instead of kings of industry or politicians.

Or maybe it’s because three months after arriving I had lost the 60 pounds I gained during my year and a half long bender by doing nothing except living like the locals.

Or maybe it’s simply because I thought it was beautiful and it made me want to finally breathe again.

Whatever it was, the moment I stepped foot on Catalan soil, it felt right.
And sometimes that’s enough.

That being said, every month or so over the last 10 years, a few people who also want to move to a different country reach out to me with questions:

How did you find a job?
How much money did you save before leaving?
Was it hard to find a place to live?
I love Vicky Cristina Barcelona!

The speed at which these questions have been coming in has only intensified since I’ve begun writing online and that intolerable snapper-head was somehow entrusted with keys to the White House.

I wish I had easy answers for people. But when moving to a new country a pretty solid argument can be made that I did everything wrong.



Michael Thompson

Co-creator of two cool kids with an equally cool woman • Word strategist • Storytelling coach • Free "story" guide: https://bit.ly/3h1KZeT