The “American Way” of the 1950s made sense but the “American Way” of today does not. Whether it’s the high cost of living, atrocious medical bills, higher taxes, reduced social services, or lack of employment opportunities, many of us have concluded that America has lost it’s way.
Find out how a new breed of freedom seekers are living healthier, more prosperous, and happier lives abroad. Here are three examples of real people who took the plunge:
Chuck is a retired biologist from Florida who loathed the idea of wasting away in a retirement home playing shuffle board. Chuck paid a visit to Ecuador and was amazed by what he saw and how he felt. “I felt more energy, I had more time for enjoyment with less stress, and I cut my monthly expenses down to less than half what I pay in the States”. Chuck plans to relocate permanently to Ecuador with his wife.
Mary said “yes” to the adventure when she, her husband and two kids moved from Hawaii to a tiny island off the Pacific Coast of Panama. When her friends and family asked why, she replied, “why not?”. Mary feels her kids have received an education their schools back home could never offer. “They’ve learned to appreciate the simple things, and the cultural immersion has broadened their horizons. They’ve sidestepped a lot of the negatives coming from the TV culture back home.”
Karin discovered the lifestyle she always wanted when she and a friend visited Puerto Vallarta five years ago. “Now I spend every winter in Vallarta and I am so happy with all the new friends I’ve made”. “I can afford to practice my art here, and not worry about paying a mortgage because my rent here is so cheap”.
What do all of these people have in common? They all ignored what their friends said and “escaped” from their boring daily lives. And now more than ever, the benefits of moving overseas are many.
The American Way – Who Really Benefits?
Wall Street bankers were the first to get bailed out by the government as the recession got underway, while the middle class people lost their jobs, their home equity, and a good chunk of their stock portfolio and pension funds. Those who are still employed will carry all the burden of future debt and taxes to support the unemployed, not to mention a government rapidly sinking into mountains of debt.
Rather than promote free market enterprise and limit government involvement, America has gone in the opposite direction by subsidizing the entire mortgage finance industries, the auto industry, and very likely the health care industry.
A Better Life Abroad?
Want somebody to cut your lawn in the U.S. – that’ll be $50.
How about a massage? $150/hour please.
Would you like someone to clean your house once per week? Here’s a bill for $250 per month.
Need a cavity filled? $325 + tax.
Go to Ecuador, Panama or Thailand and the rate for labor drops to under $10 per day.
A full time live-in maid costs $150 per month. A one hour massage is often less than $15 and if you need a hand with your landscaping it will run you about $8 per day.
Best of all, these service providers are happy to do the work and do so with pride, patience, and a smile on their face. They are truly grateful for the opportunity to work and provide for their families.
In the U.S., a fine meal for two will set you back $100, complicated medical procedures often exceed $10,000, and the only thing really cheap is junk imported from China.
In Argentina, Costa Rica, Mexico, Vietnam or Brazil for example, you can anticipate a 50% – 75% savings off many common expenses. Many American retirees find they can live well off their social security check without needing to work or worry about making ends meet. Everything from medical care, housing, food, and entertainment are a fraction of the price found in the United States.
Less than 10 years ago, there were many sacrifices to make when moving to a “third world country”. Slow internet, terrible roads, corrupt police and risks of riots or civil war are just a few examples.
However, in the past several years, developing countries have modernized rapidly. High-speed internet is now available almost everywhere and makes it easy to maintain communication with friends and family back home or to continue work or business online. Satellite TV, top-end vehicles, appliances, advanced medical care, and other conveniences are widely available at reasonable prices in nearly every country in the world.
A lot of people ask about crime and security in developing countries. They assume that the crime rates in “those poor countries” must be off the charts and that security must be a constant source of fear and anxiety.
However, the reality is that the murder and crime rates are much higher in the U.S. than almost anywhere in the world. Of the hundreds of people we’ve consulted for over the years, none of them have felt a greater risk to their personal safety after moving abroad.
Not only is health care much cheaper in the developing world, but people’s lifestyles are healthier (less drug and alcohol consumption, less consumption of prescription meds, lower fat intake, and more exercise).
There is no secret to good health, it’s all about lifestyle and not about the drugs your doctor prescribes. Of course, in the U.S., “big pharma” (multinational pharmaceutical companies) are the ones who tell your doctors what to do about your symptoms, but we won’t get into that for now. The point is that many people who move abroad feel healthier because their lifestyle has changed for the better.
Well, surely there are no employment opportunities abroad. What could you possibly do for extra income in a place like Panama, Ecuador, Brazil or Chile? On the contrary, we’ve met with hundreds of people who are putting their skills and educational background to use in their new home – often with far better results.
Due to the economic growth of many countries around the world, all kinds of skills are in demand abroad. No longer is teaching English the only option – opportunities in real estate, construction, tourism, information technology, and health care are immense and in high demand throughout many “paradises” around the world.
We won’t even bother discussing this one. We’ll leave the tropical beaches, the eternal spring like climates, and lack of snow and ice found throughout most of the developing world for your imagination to ponder.
Entertainment and High Society
What about all those snazzy restaurants, social events, artistic expressions and creature comforts in the U.S.?
In countries like Panama, Argentina, and Brazil, there are classy restaurants, world class theater, impressive art galleries and many other cultural expressions in addition to a plethora of local festivals and celebrations.
While political stability is still an issue in some countries, many attractive destinations have very stable democratic governments in place. Even if the government is considered socialist or left wing – let’s face it, the U.S. government now subsidizes the entire mortgage finance and auto industry. It doesn’t get much more left wing than that!
Per capita GDP is not a measure of true wealth. A measure of true wealth is affordable access to healthy food and water that is locally produced, a sense of community spirit and respect for one’s neighbors, and a lack of unnecessary government regulation and taxes. By these measures, the developing world nations are among the wealthiest on Earth.
At the same time, the U.S. is no longer the world’s creditor, it is the world’s biggest debtor nation and owes what is left of its financial stability to the world’s creditors like Japan and China, who lend their excess cash to the U.S. by purchasing U.S. Treasury Bonds.
The financial realities of today’s economic order are already posing a serious drag on the standards of living of those residents who choose to remain in the U.S. through increased health care costs, reduced services offered by the state, higher taxes, and higher insurance premiums.
Education and Immigration
Education and immigration patterns shape our future more than anything. People often forget that it was a dynamic blend of immigrants who built the U.S. into a strong, prosperous economy.
Now immigration trends are beginning to reverse. A recent article by the Associated Press lists examples of college grads who cannot find work in the U.S. and are instead finding better paying and higher level jobs in China. Chinese, Indian, and Brazilian students often complete their college degrees in the U.S. but instead of staying and looking for work, they return to their home countries for jobs and careers.
How To Get Started
With more than 180 countries in the world – where to begin? Well, we’ve done a lot of the research for you and the reality is that some places in the world are much more attractive for lifestyle and retirement than others.
As a follow up to this article, we’ll be commenting on some of the best places to live and invest in future issues of Escape From America Magazine. Alternatively, you can enter your email below to receive a free report right now about the top places in the world to live, retire or invest.
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Editor’s Note: Michael has traveled to more than 35 countries and has lived and done business abroad for over 10 years. Michael has been interviewed by the New York Times and Newsweek for his comments about living and investing abroad. Michael is the author of:
- The Top Five Places To Retire Worldwide
- The Top Ten Retirement Visa Programs Worldwide
- Panama 101 – E-Book Guide To Living and Investing in Panama
- Ecuador 101 – E-Book Guide To Living and Investing in Ecuador