Americans sidetracked by the recent financial crisis may not realize that a growing number of their fellow citizens are moving abroad to places like Costa Rica, Panama and Argentina. Retirees, entrepreneurs, investors and families – the motivations may be different, but most will be glad they shifted their horizons offshore and moved out of the US. Here are some of the reasons why:
The average US social security income is US$1,200 per month. In dollar stretching economies such as Nicaragua, Panama, Belize or Costa Rica this kind of monthly budget can easily pay for a luxury lifestyle. Choose your country carefully and you’ll be able access all the comforts you’re used to for a fraction of the price. How does $5 for a seafood meal with all the trimmings sound? How about a beer for $1, a full time maid for $120 a month, or $25 for a doctor’s visit? Sounds tempting, doesn’t it?
In many emerging markets you are not taxed on foreign-derived income. But the benefits can go beyond even this. In Belize, for example, there is no capital gains tax. No corporate tax. No inheritance tax. In other countries, if you are of ‘retirement age’ (which is often as young as 45), you should be eligible to become a resident under a ‘retirement program’, which affords you a wide range of additional tax exemptions and discounts.
When living in a foreign country, you’ll find some things are familiar and others are new, and perhaps even a little strange. But one of the great benefits of living in a new place is that it helps us discover ourselves. By understanding and accepting different cultures you may see your own more clearly than before and perhaps even adjust a little. That may sound a little esoteric, but really it’s when we experience new things, get out of our rut, and make new connections that we start to grow as individuals.
You’re standing in the cool breeze, wiggling your toes in the sand and watching the sun setting slowly over the water. Your suddenly realize that; “Yes,” you can afford a view like this one. That your dream of an oceanside home is within your reach. Start hunting around, and you’ll discover that real estate in most emerging markets is available for far less than comparable properties in the US. Maybe you don’t have to give up on that dream after all.
Fancy being fluent in Spanish? Or calling yourself a Portuguese speaker? There’s really no better way to learn a new language than living in the country that speaks it and immersing yourself in the local culture. And remember that you’ll also get far more out of your life overseas if you can speak even a little of the local language.
Mingle at a typical expatriate event and you’ll generally find an adventurous group of people with completely different life stories to your own. It’s the diversity that makes expatriate communities seem vital, energetic and exotic. But a word of warning. Be careful not to mix just with Americans. Get involved in the local community and make local friends too. Your new overseas life will be richer for it.
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