Sunday, May 12, 2013

How Realistic is Relocation from the United States ?

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.



Brigid said...

This is totally off topic Jane but as I don't have your email address I just wanted to wish you a very Happy Mother's Day.


JaneofVirginia said...

You are welcome to be off topic any time you like !

Thanks so much for the Mother's Day wishes. Right back atcha to all who mother children, animals, or other people !

BTW, my e-mail is

I enjoy your blog, and I love Barkley !

Sunnybrook Farm said...

Wait until the government goes after 401k accounts to solve the financial problem, they have been looking at all of that money for years and haven't thought up a big enough emergency to grab it yet. That is the danger of having electronic money, it is easy to grab.
I have already gone into poverty (by US standards) it is like living similar to what my ancestors lived like in the 1700s on the Virginia frontier. Not so bad, you just have to adjust your thinking. Some of my ancestors were natives and others were confederates so seeing the US government as an enemy is not a new thing.

JaneofVirginia said...

I have no doubt that our government will grab the 401Ks and Roth IRAs etc. Unfortunately, it is not enough to prevent the wholesale default of the US government. I personally am wondering if Virginia can ultimately function as its own republic. I know Texas is half way there already.

Sandy said...


First, Happy Mother's Day!

Great post. I've really never thought about leaving the United States permanently. I have friends who would like too go to Japan or Honduras.

Kathy Sendorski said...

Pretty good post. I just stumbled upon your blog and wanted to say that I have really enjoyed reading your blog posts.
Any way I'll be subscribing to your feed and I hope you post again soon.

Medical website marketing

JaneofVirginia said...

Sandy, It's good to have you staying here with us ! Thanks for posting.

JaneofVirginia said...


I hope you had the happiest of Mother's Days.

Thank you for the kind wishes. It's always a tough day here.


JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Kathy,

I tend to post every couple of days or when something annoys me. LOL. I have several posts in the works which are awaiting completion. I try to talk about various aspects of family preparedness which include medical care, emergency food, document storage and protection, care of animals/pets during disasters and evacuations, etc. Of late there have been many discussions with regard to firearms and politics simply because they are issues about which our readership is concerned. Welcome.

BBC said...

"How Realistic is Relocation from the United States ?"

Have checked into it a number of times and in my mind it's not very realistic for any number of reasons. An uncle moved to South America and got a 14 year old mate for forty bucks, and she came with goat, but that was years ago.

While this country isn't perfect neither is any other country. My solution for years has been to live in quieter areas, the fewer the people the better.

Someone should kick my ass for moving from a remote part of Utah where I had 60 acres and no close neighbors.

JaneofVirginia said...

I am right with you BBC. We sit on 50 acres in a secluded place with few neighbors with whom we have trading arrangements. However there is an ever encroaching world outside, and a man in the White House with an administration which is making changes which make me nervous. There is isolation and difficulties with television signals and internet when you live in a secluded place. However, I will take it !

Linda said...

I had a professor from Iran who was very knowledgeable and could speak English very well. But, he did not "get it." He could have gotten in trouble. He thought I was lying/teasing when I noted jay-walking was illegal as he led a group of us to his office. He had lived here for 20 years and had never heard of it. Other students assured him I was correct. He thought we were ganging up for this joke.

He dated and wanted to marry a beautiful blonde from one of the more country areas of AL. She ended up refusing to date him. He did not know what happened since the parents had him to dinner and included him in family affairs. HE said he was shocked the father waved as they left the house, saying, "Have fun!"

He did not know that parents fully embrace someone they consider not suitable for their child, encouraging the outsider to join in so the child can compare the outsider with others in her group and have her peers disapprove instead of the parents. If the child is dating an outsider out of rebellion, then that strategy is not working since the parents approve.

He assured me that I was wrong. I pointed out that this was my knowledge since I was a child, that adults talked about why they allowed someone they highly disapproved of to date their teen.

How likely is it that in some foreign country we will break a law, one that is usually ignored and be jailed or heavily fined when locals are not? How likely is it that we don't know how to read cultural cues? How likely is it that we do not understand cultural aspects of a society that are not written anywhere?

I do not want to be old in a country where I am an outsider, and maybe perceived as wealthy and will be at risk of my "wealth" being a liability. I like my rights as a citizen in a country where there is no doubt about my loyalties.

Language and verbal/written communication is the easy part. However, nuance and innuendo are hard sometimes even in a native tongue just across a river or some barrier, like a long distance. We don't know the inflections and what they mean. Take the sentence "Where are you going?" Emphasize a different word each time you repeat the sentence and see how meaning and innuendo change. I cannot possibly know all the vagaries of another language. The words are easy. Full meaning is not.

I will stay here.

Dani said...

The grass isn't greener anywhere else. Unless civil war is impending, hunker down, ride out the bad times, and enjoy the good ones. :)

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks Dani, Wise words from a wise, inventive, and creative woman !

JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you Linda,

Yes, you not only understood my points, but made some very good ones of your own ! As much as many Americans would like to think "we are the same the world over", there are a million cross cultural no nos. I once made one in Russia when I placed my new, clean purse on a table at a restaurant. This is simply not done, and shows "poor breeding" there. (Because in Russia, women's purses also rest on the lavatory floor as they have not yet discovered hooks.) My purse was new and had never been anywhere but the store there, and the dinner engagement, but it was a serious faux pas of which I did not know. This alone would have been something which could have prevented a good fit or a good adjustment to a new place.
I feel sorry for your Iranian professor. Everything you said is quite true. I have one Iranian friend now, a former prof. of English from there who is having a very difficult time making ends meet now. Seems she is regarded as a spy everywhere she goes. This one isn't, and yet does not fit in here either.

russell1200 said...

My most popular book I have reviewed is Neil Strauss' Emergency. It is non-fiction and he goes through the personal steps he took in learning about prepping and the steps he took.

One of the major themes is his getting a foreign passport to a Caribbean Island Country. He has more cash than most people, and it was a huge headache. From his writing, it seems like the type of strategy that is used by the 1% who are worried about monetary confiscation. The cost involved is more money than most of us have to confiscate.

JaneofVirginia said...

I know a fair number of people who think a supplemental passport is a good idea. I really don't. My mother was a British subject and kept her British subject status all her life rather than accept American citizenship. Because of this and a fluke as to the year I was born, I am actually entitled to a second passport for England. I do not have it, and have no plans to get one. I don't think that paying for renewals of another passport or muddying my citizenship for American officials is an intelligent strategy or a sound financial one. Then again, maybe I just don't have that much money.
The only tangible benefit to a secondary passport is the ability to exit somewhere when Americans might not be able to. Anyone who still holds a US passport is going to be subject to confiscation though, no matter where in the world they live.

David said...

Good points. Especially to be considered is the fact that for some of us of limited means, relocating out of the country simply is not an option. After the debacle of last years election I decided that instead of panicking and running around screaming "the sky is falling!" like Chicken Little, I would just continue to live my life as I always had, but with an extra emphasis on conserving my personal resources in case of hard times, and helping thy fellow neighbor. America has gone through tough times and bad presidencies before, and though the times may get hard, I believe that America, much like nature, will always find a way to right herself in the end. I'd rather believe that than buy into doomsday scenarios that I have no control over, and do nothing more than give me anxiety and paranoia.

JaneofVirginia said...

Thanks for posting, David. That is a good point. Most people could not afford to "try out Panama", for example. To get there, they would need to liquidate their home, and all their possessions, to find perhaps that they can't stand the climate. Then where are you ? Needing to go home and regretting the sale of everything you had which you can't get back now.

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JaneofVirginia said...

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Ajay Gupta said...

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JaneofVirginia said...

Thank you Ajay, Relocation may not always be what it's cracked up to be.