Imagine waking to salt breezes blowing through your window each morning; having bake and saltfish breakfast on a balcony that overlooks a blue water horizon and doubles as your remote work office; taking afternoon strolls on the beach and eating fresh pulled from the sea lobster for lunch.
Now imagine there’s an app that provides you with the confidence, resources, and support needed to manifest this life. That was the inspiration behind Overseas With Ease, the new app helping Black Americans fulfill their dreams of living life abroad. Created by relocation specialist Amber Edwards, the app walks users through the research, planning and transition stages of the relocation process. It begins with adjusting our attitude.
“Once your mindset is ready, everything else just flows,” explains Edwards, who actively confronts negative beliefs that block many of us from making the move. “When people express doubts such as, ‘Oh, it’s not possible ’cause I don’t see anyone doing it,’ or ‘I don’t have a plan for means,’ I step in and say, the plan is easy. It’s possible if you want it. The question is are you ready?”
Edwards’ own expat journey began in April of 2018, when her then husband accepted a position that moved them from Washington D.C. to Qatar. Six months later, after the offer to get residency through his job was rescinded, the couple moved to Antigua and Barbuda where her pathway to residency was clear.
“That’s where my dad was from. I took my first trip there when I was 12 and had always dreamed of being a hippie, living on the beaches,” she says. “We didn’t want to go back to the States, and I knew I could get my passport, could become a dual citizen there. So, we chose Antigua.
“It was such a beautiful island,” she continues. “But you never hear much about it, not like Turks and Caicos, Barbados or Jamaica. Each of them have their own essence, their own dialect, culture. I wanted to showcase more of it, so I started hosting transitional vacations, bringing families to the island. And they’d say, ‘I’d love to do this, but I need a plan in place,’ or ‘I’ve always wanted to move here, but I don’t know where to start.’ So, I was like OK. I’m a Black woman, I know what we experience in the U.S. and what we experience during travel. I can definitely put a program together that teaches other Black women how to do this.”
Edwards began working on the program that would eventually become Overseas With Ease. At the time it was called 30 day Blaxit. The goal, to make relocating as stress free and seamless as possible. She launched 30 day Blaxit in November of 2020 and opened L.I.T. House, the residency part of the program, a few months later. Then Covid hit, ushering in seismic shifts to both her business and personal life.
Her marriage was coming to an end, and while the islands had treated her well, it was time to move on. After watching waves of Black Americans move to Mexico City, Merida, and Querétaro, Edwards decided to join them. “I was like okay, Mexico’s open. So let’s go test out the cities and see where would be a good place to put the next house,” she recalls. “I’m definitely grateful for Mexico, especially Merida. It’s a very healing place where I was able to properly mourn the end of my marriage.”
Edwards was searching for a way to take her program to the next level when she met Tara Reed, another Black expat entrepreneur, and the CEO of Apps Without Code. She enrolled in the program last September and released the app in January. According to reviews, it’s already changing lives.
Overseas With Ease is designed for the Black community exclusively, so it’s not available for download via digital media stores. Only those enrolled in the relocation planning program have access, and there’s an application process for interested parties. The seven-week program app is divided into two modules. Users receive daily exercises and at the end of each week, they meet with Edwards to go over the data to create a plan of action.
“Figuring out the why, how, and where they’re going is the first step,” Edwards explains. “We go through questions that help you discover what kind of lifestyle you want. What are your goals? Do you want to start a business? Or what brings you joy? What does your ideal day look like? No one’s really asking those questions, so we go deep to figure it out. If my client is like, ‘Man, I hate doing laundry every weekend so take that off!’ I’m going to suggest places where they can afford to do that.”
The second module is the integration side. It introduces participants to the local culture and walks them through logistics like getting residency, navigating public transportation and finding housing. Once participants complete this level of the app, they’re invited to the L.I.T. House for a three-week scouting trip that’s focused on building community and getting a firsthand view of what life will be once the official move is made.
“Here we get into specifics. Like what does it look like to get money from the ATM? What about going grocery shopping, going to the market, or where to get grits,” she laughs. “Going to restaurants, seeing the price differences, and learning how to order from the menu… especially if it’s in a different language. We also go over how to do things we don’t normally do in America. For instance, I have a sugar lady in Mexico. How does one go about making that appointment? We’re giving them information that would normally take months or years to figure out on their own.”
“That’s what the LIT in L.I.T house stands for, Local in Training,” she adds. “I’m teaching them how to be responsible residents so that we’re not out here colonizing and gentrifying.”
Growing a community of emerging expats takes effort, but Edwards believes her reward comes from witnessing them reach for the life they want.
“There’s something that happens to Black women when we live in another country,” she says. “We experience a sense of freedom and choice that simply takes longer to reach in our home country. And that shifts how we think, how we act and how we react to the ups and downs of life. When you see people who look like you blossom into their true self, it’s truly a beautiful thing.”