Leaving America...why I'm getting out
by Chris Campbell
The greatest irony in modern America may well be that while argument and discord prevail in the edifice of American Democracy, the best and most thoughtful citizens have already left the building.”
JOHN WENNERSTEN, Leaving America: The New Expatriate Generation “My life used to suck,” John Midas confesses on Liberty.Me.
“I was a libertarian who was debating everyone I met, trying to convince people about the horrors of the current system. After years of fighting, winning tiny battles and losing the way, I figured that it was hopeless. So I decided to try something new. “I went abroad.”
Some time ago, we talked a bit about medical tourism. And all the ways to sidestep the flailing healthcare system in the U.S. Today, we’re going to take those ideas a step further: Getting out.
If you’re unsatisfied with what’s happening in America, the most American thing you can do is leave. This nation’s very foundation was built on the backs of explorers. Pioneers, in search of a better life. When times got hairy, they struck the dangerous seas and desolate lands in search for new soil and new opportunity. Today… making it to new land is the easiest it’s ever been. And living and working from wherever you want isn’t a pipedream -- it’s a reality for millions of people all over the world.
“To those who have not tried living for years abroad,” says Midas, “I can, from the top of my intellect, strongly recommend it.
“The strategy has been working for hundreds of thousands of years, and those who use it wisely have harvested an abundant life.” It’s a rising trend we’ve been tracking closely. And it’s one, we suspect, will only continue to accelerate. More and more Americans are bugging out in pursuit of greener pastures. Not just in America, either: According to UN Statistics, nearly 215 million people lived outside their home country in 2011.
In 2013, according to one Forbes article, the total number of American expats alone shot up 221% in only two years. And if I had to guess, I’d say that number is flying through the roof as you read this. Each expat has his or her own reasoning for exiting his or her home country. And each reason is equally valid. If nothing more than that it’s a conscious choice on behalf of the exiter.
Take one expat, an American woman living in France. She runs a blog called Becoming Madame. Her reason for leaving is something I think we can all relate to at some point in our lives: “I felt an unexplainable void and an indescribable need for new air, new scenery, new people, new everything. And to be quite honest I didn't want any part of the life that I had -- even if it meant giving up a lucrative career, a fiancé, a long-lost love, and my family. I was prepared to start all over again, which is the single most important part of an adventure like the one I'm on. You have to be willing to start again from the beginning.”
Or, not quite as extreme, here’s Sharon Hiebing (1), 46, who moved from Oakland, CA. to Belize: “I never thought I’d be “that person” who would stay in her hometown her entire life, but slowly, that was what my life was beginning to look like. I realized I did not want that, and since I wasn’t getting any younger, I needed to act. So, in January, 2010, I put my pool and spa business on the market. Eight months later, I was on a plane to Belize.” -
And one more expat (2), who moved from Jacksonville, FL. to Dubai said: “From an American perspective, people really don’t understand why someone would get up and leave America for somewhere else. For me, when I graduated college, I knew I wanted to try something different and have opportunities to see the world. Staying in the U.S. would have hindered me. I’ve been here for seven years, met my wife here, and we are still enjoying a tax-free lifestyle. I don’t know if we will be here forever, but it was definitely a good place to ride out the economic crisis.”
Just out of curiosity, I want to know: Would you consider moving abroad?
No matter your answer, be sure to check out the five most important things to consider before you plant your new flag below. They are the very things I am considering before I make the plunge myself. But I’m getting ahead of myself here. More on that in a moment…
First, Michael Fielding from The Dollar Vigilante has something to say to America. And uncovers the truth about what America truly is.
“At first glance, you look like the greatest of all social systems,” Michael Fielding, an expat, writes in his open letter to America. “You seem like a stable and sturdy structure. “People look at you,” he says, “and see strength. They see freedom and opportunity, democracy and unity. “But a peek behind the curtain reveals a scared old man, desperately trying to maintain an illusion. Your size and complexity hide a simple truth: that you don’t physically exist.”
The only things real about America are its individuals, the land they live on, and the things they build. That is the country. America itself, though, is simply an idea. And the original idea of America is getting lost on itself. America was founded on, says Bill Bonner, “the idea that people were free to separate themselves from a parent government whenever they felt they had come of age.”
In sharp contrast to any other country on Earth, America is a country of individuals who chose to be here. “And where,” asks Bill, “did its government, its courts, its businesses and saloons come from? They were all invented by us.”
America, therefore, Fielding chimes in, is “nothing more than a system of human interaction; not a thing in and of itself, but the result of a widespread pattern of behavior.”
Any country, just like money, is a complex series of agreements.
And when its citizens begin to lose faith in this agreement, or in our case, “the dream,” the country ceases to exist as expected. It revolts against itself. It might carry the same flag for many years, but how it operates… its dynamics... are changed forever.
Therefore, a country is more a mental construct than an actual “thing.” The lines that separate counties, states, countries, and continents, are all illusions. Try to look at the world in this way. Zero boundaries. From that perspective, the world begins to open up to us. Opportunities abound and depend solely upon how far we’re willing to go to find them.
Fortunately, we have a choice. We can choose where we want to hang our hats. And as the gilded luster quickly chips away and America becomes ‘just another country,’ much of the rest of the world has caught up, and in many ways, surpassed, the U.S. Out of 207 sovereign states, for example, 180 of those have freedom. The world is full of it. And among the best countries with freedom, the United States, in many respects, fares among the worst.
So what is the greatest country today?
The “greatest” country these days, we say, is simply a matter of taste. The answer is subjective. To some, it is the United States. To others, it exists outside of it. No matter what your idyllic lifestyle consists of, this Earth provides it somewhere. And it’s possible for you to live there.
If you’re not satisfied with your life in America, again, the most American thing you can do is leave. If, that is, you can muster untangling from your nest.
Next year, I’m doing exactly that. On Jan. 1, 2016, I’ll start the year in a new country…
That’s right. In a little more than six months from now, I’m moving abroad. For a three-month “trial period,” I’m going to see what the life overseas is all about. (I decided this, just so you know, well before the riots broke out here in Baltimore.) If it works out, I plan to spend the entirety of 2016 outside of the U.S., hopping from country to country all over the world. First? Thailand. Of course.
Don’t worry. I’ll still write your missives. It’ll just be via laptop. And I’ll be doing so while stomping on new ground, just as our ancestors did… and have done… for millennia. But I won’t be the only one.
I’ll meet several expats who are making their own way, living how they want to.
Such as one artist (3), who moved from Chicago to San Miguel de Allende, Mexico. He said: “What do I do for work/money? Pray. Just joking. I’m living off of savings and income from the sale of my Chicago condo, which was sold “just” before the crisis hit. I moved to an apartment in Chicago for two years before moving to Mexico. I’m also painting and have already sold three paintings, and being represented by a very modern high-end store right now. I’ve only been here a few months.
“My strategy to make my money last longer was to leave the U.S. There, it felt like my money was pouring out the door. Now I feel that the flood has become a trickle. I will be eligible for Social Security in 1.5 years, which you DO get here. I want to paint and make it my life’s work.” [Note: Even if you renounce your U.S. citizenship, you’re still entitled to your Social Security, and will be until it either goes bankrupt or you croak. Whichever comes first.]
Or another, Ande (4), who settled down in Buenos Aires: “I have two websites, Wander-Argentina.com and Wander-Argentina.org, and also do freelance writing, editing, photography and translation. I took advantage of the wonderful educational opportunities here, completing a low-cost, one-year course in documentary film at the film workers’ union and now occasionally do short feature and travel videos. Thanks to my Latin American lifestyle, I had the time to figure out how to build a website and now Wander-Argentina.com is now among the leading English websites about travel in Argentina. Recently, I started a secondary website, Wander-Argentina.org, about work, study and volunteer after watching the number of first-world immigrants to Argentina explode.”
And another, Marshall Creamer (5), 25, who lives in Hong Kong wrote:
“I left the United States because I had a deep desire to continue my travels around the world (I studied abroad in Italy my junior year of college, that experience changed my life) and to experience something new. I had a lot of things motivating me to leave the U.S.: money, the opportunity to travel, and the ability to be in a different political situation. I am a Libertarian, so Hong Kong has a lot that appeals to me.”
If you’re considering taking the leap too, here are 14 ways to become an expat. And five things to consider before you take the plunge.
Here are all the different ways you become an expat, courtesy of the Expat Yourself blog…
There are several ways to plant your flag in a new country temporarily or permanently. How easy or difficult it is, of course, depends on the country.
And here are five things you need to consider before you too take the plunge…
According to the book Getting Out, written by Mark Ehrman , here’s what you need to consider first:
YOUR AGE: “Some countries, like Canada, have laws favoring immigration by younger people with their entire working life ahead of them. Other countries, such as Panama, make it easy for seniors to retire there. Students and recent graduates can avail themselves of a host of programs that facilitate transfer overseas, and even arrange work permits. Younger folks are probably more willing to take a few months or years doing odd jobs than someone in mid career.”
INCOME: “How long can you live off your savings? Some countries offer residencies at a price, whether through investment or straight cash transaction. Can you afford to “buy” your way in? Many visas are contingent on providing you make a certain amount of money, or have a minimum bank balance. Indeed, few countries will let you in without you somehow demonstrating that you have sufficient income/savings on which to live.
SKILLS: “Having the right skill set makes a big difference. There isn’t a nation on the globe that doesn’t need nurses, for instance. Information technology professionals, engineers, and business and marketing professionals tend to have the run of the globe.”
PREFERENCES: “Why are you leaving the U.S. and what do you expect from life abroad? Do you prefer fast-paced urban excitement or lazy days on sunny beaches? Do you want good governance, economic liberty, or cheap living? Easy entry or guaranteed healthcare? And if you can’t get everything you want, what difficulties and restrictions are you willing to tolerate?
YOUR FAMILY TREE: “Having a parent or even grandparent who is or was a citizen or resident of another country can facilitate citizenships and residencies that would be more difficult or even unavailable to others. Likewise, children and blood relatives. Spouses of foreign citizens generally have it relatively easy, and often even domestic partners and engaged couples. Needless to say, just knowing someone there can make a world of culture and make the process far less alienating than having to go it alone.”
What do you think?
Chris Campbell is the Managing editor, Laissez Faire Today © 2015 Laissez Faire Books, LLC.
Quotations from Mark Ehrman's Book, 'Getting Out'
1. Sharon Hiebing, Age 46, 'I got out' , p. 25
2. Anonymous, Age 29, 'I got out' , p.29
3. Anonymous, 'Getting By: Jobs and Other Hustles', p. 97
4. Ande Wanderer, 'Getting By: Jobs and Other Hustles', p. 113
5. Marshall Creamer, p. 38