|This is part of Belize, the former British Honduras|
Somehow, probably as a result of writing my blogs, I have wound up on the mailing lists to a variety of "Escape from the United States" type information services. The information is interesting, especially to those who like to travel. They contain everything from visa and legal entry information to certain places, how to set up an internet business there, to how to protect one's assets. Apparently, Americans who can are leaving our nation in droves, for one place or another.
Having a part-time place in Canada you might think that I am open to the idea of fleeing the US, but in actual practice, for many, this is unwise. My place in Canada was an investment during a bad economic time in the US and in Canada, and it allowed us to keep some assets safe from a flattening real estate market and out of the stock market of which I have a very limited understanding. Getting some vacations there to help do some maintenance, was gravy.
Several companies now send me information on becoming an expatriate in Spain, France, Cambodia, Germany, Belize, the Cook Islands, Bermuda, New Zealand, Iceland , Argentina, Costa Rica, Belize, the Phillipines, Bulgaria, Mexico, Ireland, and many others. The companies who do so make their money when you are impressed by the information, and then buy their guide to relocating to a particular country, at a cost of about $100. US
Some people wish to exit the US and live elsewhere because they see our freedoms being diluted by this particular administration, and because they fear civil unrest, economic collapse, and intrusive laws which will not only seize your assets as the country descends into poverty, but will require you to buy health insurance to a substandard program, and seize your guns, if you have them. Relocating to another nation, however, comes with some very tough nuts to crack. You and your family have adapted to life within the country and the state in which you have lived and in which you have raised your children. A thousand different issues will emerge that are done differently than in your region, and they will not all be improvements upon the way things were done in your state now. Sadly, we can't really compare the joy of a vacation somewhere to what it is like to actually live somewhere, and perhaps try to earn a living or hold on to your investments.
The first one is language. Going from a nation where you understand not only the language and the nuances of language sufficiently to enter into contracts to buy things, and going to a place where the language is not fluent for you, is frustrating in both the short and long term. You don't understand the contracts to anything, and therefore you are a sitting duck when purchasing anything from a car to a washing machine. It is frustrating to, in essence, be a child in terms of your understanding of a language, and you may miss important cues by not understanding the language. Yes, your language ability in your new adopted language will improve, but likely after you have misunderstood some purchases, and made some costly errors. Yes, there will likely be a small to moderate sized expatriate group of Americans. What if you don't like them ? What if they don't represent the best of America's ingenuity, but the most negative aspects of America ? I don't like all Americans right here in the US, and chances are, you don't either. A lot of expatriate support services focus on "the good life" and on relaxing in the sun. A lot of Americans might see such people as slackers, as many Americans, including myself are very hardworking. Would you be happy in a place so laid back that appointments are a casual thing ?
Secondly, unlike the US where there seem to be all sorts of freebies for illegal aliens, the rest of the world is not that way. Although some countries will allow you to move there, some of them, Belize comes to mind, charge $50. a month at some juncture, to extend your visa. How would you like to be ninety years old someday in the future, and by then, paying $100. a month or more to stay in Belize, for example, when you are too frail to fly out of there ? There will be immigration issues in a new land. Citizenship is almost always hard to come by.
Thirdly, many places outside the US are said to have excellent medical care. Canada won't let people move there easily and they certainly don't want Americans using their already clogged national health service, or taking even a part time one of their very limited number of jobs. How would you like to do a very sought after job of separating your towns different types of recycling from trash ? In Canada, that is a good job. Belize has good medical care for the issues which normally surface in their population, but they are unable to offer heart catheterizations, cardiac ablations, and open heart surgery. These are the very procedures that many if not most Americans will eventually need, even after relocating, and eating nothing but fish, melons, mangos, and lobster.. People who need these procedures in Belize, are shipped out to Mexico, if they can afford it. The clot busters which can limit a stroke if administered within the first hour, are not available in most of the province where my house in Canada is located. Since specially certified units, nurses and physicians are necessary to administer and monitor those who receive this treatment, it is unlikely that it is available in Belize, Bulgaria or Cambodia. The stroke you have there, you will likely keep. Even if you buy excellent health insurance, you are taking a risk by going to many of these countries to live. A cancer which is curable by a major US university's standard in the US, may not be controllable in Ireland, Bulgaria, or the Phillipines, for example.
|An unusual "painted" home in Cambodia|
Fourth, most of those of us who consider leaving the US own real estate here. We would like to own real estate in our newly adopted country. Certainly, the month when we make our initial trips there will be condos, beach houses, cottages, and even coconut farms available for sale at low prices, but buying something before you have lived in a country and know something about the areas involved, and the scams which are possible, is unwise. Ideally a couple should rent a property without a lease, and then learn about the country while there before sacrificing capital acquiring a home, which could be impossible to sell if you change your mind or find yourself in the direct path of an annual hurricane. Not all nations allow foreigners to own property. Those that do, may levy higher inheritance taxes when the original purchaser dies. There are unexpected and unusual real estate laws in many places. Here in the US, we tend to buy things freehold. This means that we are buying the item completely and will be able to pass the item on to whomever we deem in our Will. However in England, and in many of the giovernments set up by the British, properties are leasehold. This means that you own the property for only the number of years specified in the Contract. My relatives in England owned their home for 99 years. This would not have been a problem in their lifetimes, but it could have been in mine, should I have decided to keep their property. You need to understand any real estate contracts you make, with an attorney or solicitor. There are many real estate pitfalls in other nations, just as there are a few here.
|This is a renovated home in Bulgaria. Many Europeans are moving there.|
Fifth, many of us have adult or teen children. What will the opportunities be for a teen you take with you to a new nation ? How many college majors will he be able to consider there ? Will there be work for him ? How will he be perceived as an American ? If your children are grown, will you be able to afford to travel and fly to see them as much as you would like as they remain in the US and have children ? The flights to Belize for example, are surprisingly expensive from the US. What you save in taxes you may well be spending on air travel. It may actually be a damaging proposition for your adult or near adult children.
Sixth and probably most importantly, you need to realize that if you move, the income you have right now, and the assets you have right now, may well be all you ever earn. Although it may be cheaper to live in most of these countries, it may be impossible for you to earn money there, either due to laws which protect the jobs of natives, or due to the fact that there are minimal opportunities to earn money there anyway. There is a reason that American expatriates are penning these guides on their newly adopted country, and then selling them on the internet for $100. US . Nurse Practitioners, for example, may find that in many of these countries, such a role does not exist, and that physicians are plentiful, and not paid very well.
Seventh, what if you really don't like the culture in your new home ? There are problems in the US, but some of these dwarf in comparison to some of the problems which exist in the Third World, that we don't even consider here in the US. Don't expect most of these places to permit you to own a handgun. Some of them wouldn't allow possession and use of a rifle, especially if you are not a citizen.
The only reason it makes sense to ride out the storm in the US by temporarily relocating to another nation, is if it has always been the heart's desire for you and your spouse to live in another nation. To do so, your finances, your health, and your grown children, if you have any, should be very stable.
I am afraid that there is nothing practical to do, but stand and fight for our once great nation, and be hopeful for her recovery, even if a financial and social collapse is imminent, as many believe it may be.