NOTE: My choice is Costa Rica — short flight from most U.S. cities; a history of peace without a military; low rate of violent crime; year-round perfect weather; and — most importantly — a strong local community that still produces food and offers a self-sufficient lifestyle. A friend of mine has started a business in CR to help people relocate and retire. More info. is available here:
For those seeking to move outside of the United States, figuring out the best country to move to can be a very daunting task. There are a ton of social, cultural, economic and safety issues to be considered. In addition, those who have never been outside of North America should not underestimate the severe “culture shock” that can take place when moving to another nation. While moving outside of the United States may seem like an attractive alternative, the truth is that it is not easy and it is not something to be done lightly. But there have been many Americans who have done it successfully and are now loving life. Our recent article, “Is Moving Out Of The United States A Way To Escape The Coming Economic Collapse?”, generated some really great comments about what various areas of the world are like for Americans who move there. Today we wanted to share with you some of those comments. These commenters have some very strong opinions about where the best places for Americans to move to are, but the reality is that each person and each situation is different so keep that in mind as you read these….
I’ve lived in China, Vietnam, and am currently living in Malaysia for the last few years. I’ve also traveled extensively during that time. Given the likely future problems in the US it’s certainly prudent to at least evaluate an alternative.
Our top two choices would be New Zealand (NZ) and Costa Rica (CR) with Malaysia coming in 3rd. NZ and CR are both beautiful countries and pretty much self-sufficient in needed resources. English, of course, is the language of NZ and it is widely spoken in CR. Though if you choose a country where English is not the native language; you’d be way better off learning the local language.
Some other options would be: Thailand; a beautiful very expat friendly country. Indonesia, in particular Bali. Vietnam and Cambodia would be OK for the more adventurous and they are cheap, cheap. Australia is fine, though the prices are pretty much US level. Singapore is nice if you want to live in one big city. Malaysia is interesting. It tries very hard to get expats to retire there. They have a formal program called “Malaysia My Second Home” (MM2H). You apply for it, and if you meet the criteria, you get a 10 yr, unlimited entry visa. There should be no trouble renewing it. You need to keep about $30,000 USD in a local bank account, buy a home that costs at least $175,000 USD, and have an income of $3,000 a month. I suspect these requirements will lessen. The program is relatively new and the government hasn’t seem to have chosen which expat group they’re really targeting: rich foreigners, well off investors, or retirees with more modest moola. The country is beautiful and fairly cheap to live in. We have a gorgeous 5,000 sf apartment with great, modern security features. Did I mention it’s on the beach with amazing views. The cost? About $2,400 USD a month!! Our electric bill, and we run the aircon a lot; is $25 bucks. We haven’t used our health insurance yet, as we’d not hit the deductible limit and the prices are very cheap. And the quality of care is 1st rate. My daughter twisted her ankle recently so we put the system to the test. The initial exam by an orthopedic surgeon, xrays, and a soft cast cost about $35 USD! Follow-up visits with the orthopedic surgeon cost $9 USD! Pretty darn good. My primary concern? The worry that the country will become too islamic. It is the official state religion though now it does treat the Chinese and Indian minorities relatively fairly. I’m just not sure it can resist the tendency for islam to become more intrusive and radical. Hopefully not, but the jury is still out.
Overall I’d suggest doing some research and find a few contenders. Then go to these places for a vacation. That will give you some 1st hand data. One thing you notice living overseas is that Americans are the least adventurous, 1st world; folks. We need to get over that.
Gringo in Brazil:
I recently made the move to Brazil with my family based primarily on the social and economic factors I witnessed and experienced. In Michigan, I found my business drying up, my home value plummeting, the job market disappearing, etc. More importantly, if the youth I saw at the malls and high schools are any indication of the future leadership of our country; we are in serious trouble. With less than 50% of our youth even graduating from High School, how do we stand a chance.
Fortunately I speak fluent Portuguese so I am able to adapt. I am earning about $1,300/mo plus commissions which is enough for a simple apartment and living expenses. My wife is looking for the right job and should be able to earn about the same which will afford us a modest lifestyle.
Most Americans couldn’t cope with the heat, mosquitoes, open sewers, long lines, hellish traffic, and other cultural issues, unless they could afford to live in a luxury neighborhood and have a maid and personal assistant. However, the outlook here in Brazil is very positive. Most young people are investing in their education and advancement. I liken it to stepping back 70 years in our country and being on the verge of a great industrial revolution that I can be a part of. I have decided it is better to be starting at the bottom of the hill, climbing towards the top, then to be at the top and sliding out of control towards the bottom.
If you can afford it, do what my wife and I did, we took a two month “vacation” a couple of years ago, rented a furnished apartment and did a trial “residency” in which we had time to evaluate the pros and cons. When we moved here last month, we were well prepared, knowing what we were getting into, bringing along the necessary items and resources to be able to live relatively comfortably.
If you can master the native language sufficiently (or take an immersion course when you arrive for 6 months), you can often get a job at a language school, or company needing bi-lingual workers or professionals. Best bet is to scour the classifieds online ahead of time so you have something guaranteed when you arrive.
Australia is the best country in the world to live in. This is the statement of Australians who have been to USA and other countries. It is what USA used to be years ago. It will be a few years before Australia becomes like USA. USA has left its Christian roots and I am afraid there are those who will make sure it never goes back.
Singapore is the best place to live and work. It has a real future and very reasonable taxes. Peaceful, modern, they even speak English (kind of). Bring your best attitude and a necktie, because you have to work and you have to be kind to your neighbors. Who wants to be cloistered nervously behind a wall, anyway?
Best places as far as quality of life? Social Democratic countries like Scandanavia- Norway, Finland, Sweden, Denmark.
If language is a problem Canada would be the closest best choice, then Australia, New Zealand, and for Central America, Costa Rica would be the number one choice for climate, civility, medical care and a beautiful environment.
For most places that provide good quality of life, expect to pay high taxes, which most civilized countries, yours excepted, equate with civilization. I’m afraid you folks are letting your inherent selfishness, ignorance of other cultures, militarism and a “screw you Jack, I’ve got mine” mentality destroy you.
Better than moving, stay there and try to turn things around. You have too much that is still good to lose it all. We’re all hoping-well, your firends are anyway- that you’ll pull out of this before its too late.
Time is running out folks.
Not all Americans are “ugly Americans.” We are guests in the host country and most expats act as such. I retired in Sept 2009 and plan on living, teaching, and writing in Thailand. I have lived and worked overseas before, so this is nothing new for me. You make do and blend in and stay out of trouble. Leave your attitudes and preconceptions at the door when you check in. Otherwise, you will be creating problems for those of us who wish to live in peace and enjoy the pleasures of a different culture.
There are over 100,000 Americans living in Costa Rica and loving it. Things are getting stronger here everyday and in most schools they teach English for half the day and Spanish for the other. The majority of the people like Americans and if you want to have it shipped here you can get everything here that you can get there. WalMart is the largest retail chain here as well as there.
This week Costa Rica moved ahead of the US in medical care. A huge % of the national income is from Medical Tourism. They are using adult stem cell treatment here to cure MS, Heart Decease, diabetes, Spinal Cord Injuries, Cancer and many other conditions. A good source for getting information on Costa Rica is the Association of Residents of Costa Rica.
They have a seminar once a month that brings in Doctors, Lawyers, Dentist, Shippers, Realtors, Investment Councilors and many other experts to brief you on the pros and cons of moving to Costa Rica. There are many communities here that are all American and the “Culture Shock” is nonexistent. The weather is perfect and they have never had a hurricane.
We moved to the French Riviera 10 years ago when we retired. Cost of living here in Nice is much less than New York or any other major American city. We’re on the sea, a big plus, near Italy, also a big plus, and we enjoy terrific food that we can afford. The medical system in France is incomparable and truly inexpensive compared to the U.S. We calculated our fixed living expenses for the year: it came to 11,000 Euros, or about $15,000 for all our taxes, medical coverage, utilities, condo fees, dentistry, etc. We live in a 2 bedroom top floor condo with a very large terrace and 2 balconies. There’s plenty of money left for travel, dining out, movies, and quick jaunts up to London and Paris for culture and ethnic food (especially London). Don’t regret the move at all.
I moved to Ensenada Mexico in 2000. It was the best thing I ever did for my future because there is no future in America. I now enjoy more freedom than I ever had in the US. Spanish is easy to learn and the people are much more friendly here. There are lots of ex-pats here also. In the coming years the US is going to be the worst place to be. Escape now while you still can.
I am an American that immigrated to Australia in 2001 (after Bush took office). My wife and I didn’t like what we saw coming. Politically, culturally, financially and socially.
When Big Media first started covering the US’s economic problems here in 2008 they drug out the old phrase “When America catches a cold Australia gets a flu”. Two plus years on and this couldn’t be further from the truth. The economy here is going great guns, and demand from Asia and a better government are a good part of the reason.
House prices are having solid gains every year, unemployment is reasonably steady, and the federal reserve is trying to raise interest rates to cool the economy (.25% again today)
To that point, the government here doesn’t subsidise 30 year fixed mortgages the way they do in the US, so they can still manage the economy by slightly manipulating interest rates. The longest you can fix a mortgage for is 5 years, at a very high premium, so most people don’t.
America has become an after thought, if not the laughing stock, of many Australians. It saddens me to see how far everything has fallen over there. I no longer try to defend the US or the American people. The time for real public outrage passed many years ago, and I have not only given up on the government, but also on the people themselves. So many dear family and friends spend their lives watching TV while their freedoms, lifestyle, culture and wealth were/are being destroyed around them. Ignorant and apathetic to the realities of the real world. Living with some strange notion of the past as if it represents the present.
Not all is doom and gloom here. And although it could still come, if it does it will have little, if nothing at all, to do with the problems in America.