Could Leaving the U.S be the Ultimate Prep — and Do You Have What it Takes?

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leaving the USI have to admit, this is a difficult topic to bring up because, to many people, it veers way too close to betraying the country of our birth. However, I’ve been thinking about this a lot. If I truly believe that utter chaos is coming to America in the form of an economic collapse, EMP, or some other horrific event, then why stay here? Why not find a small, obscure country and hole up for a while, thus protecting my family and myself?

I began researching this subject a few years ago when a reader contacted me and told me about her move to Chile. She and her husband had decided to make the move after much research. They were loving the clean air, pure food, friendly people, and a change in their lifestyle.

I was intrigued. Hmmm…could leaving the U.S. entirely trump food storage, a bug out location, and all the other traditional preps? I began to research residency requirements of various countries.

My first discovery was a shocker. Very few countries want me! They don’t want me, my husband, my family, my parents. Rules for residency can be quite strict, sometimes even requiring the deposit of a large sum of money into one of the nation’s banks. Some countries are quite frank about preventing people like me from coming into their country. To do so, I need to provide:

  1. Proof of health insurance
  2. Proof of regular income
  3. Background check
  4. Health report from a doctor for each family member
  5. Financial information
  6. Birth and marriage certificates
  7. Possibly proof you can speak the language of this country

Additionally, there are strict rules regarding time in country and visa requirements.

This is a stark and startling contrast to the mass human migration we’ve seen in the past couple of years. If citizens of Central America, Mexico, and nearly every other country can walk past our southern border without any of the above, including personal identification, then why do other countries make it so difficult, and, more importantly, where can a law-abiding, hard working American citizen go when they decide to relocate?

(To be fair, the U.S. does have a lengthy process for legal immigration, and it’s quite a difficult path, thus the popularity of illegal immigration.)

Plenty of questions, no easy answers

At one time I thought my family could just pick a country and move there. The entire world was our oyster! Where should we go? Australia? New Zealand? England? Somewhere in Europe? Obviously, we would want to go where English was spoken and where we could quickly blend in.

Well, it didn’t take long to find out that if I’m over 35, Australia doesn’t want me. Other countries may let us visit for a time, but do not allow long-term or permanent residency. The countries that are left are an odd mix:

  1. Chile
  2. Panama
  3. Costa Rica
  4. Hungary
  5. Ireland (ancestry)
  6. Israel (If you’re Jewish or have Jewish heritage.)
  7. Belgium

There are a few more, but the pickin’s are slim when it comes to finding a country that has less restrictive residency requirements.

It boils down to having money, ancestry, time, and/or flexibility. $100,000 will buy a passport and citizenship in Dominica. Ancestors from Hungary, going back 4 generations, can smooth the way for residency in Hungary and Hungarian citizenship. Convert to Judaism and you may become an Israeli citizen, complete with mandatory military service.

If you’re about to have a baby, or are planning one, Brazil is one of only a handful of countries that provides citizenship to every baby born within its borders. Permanent residency can be obtained in Chile, after living there continuously for five years.

As you can see, there is no simple path to residency or, if you choose, citizenship. And then there’s the nightmare of dealing with bureaucrats, long distance phone calls, websites and applications in a foreign language, and, in many cases, visits to a consulate or embassy that could be hundreds of miles away.

Gaining residency in another country is possible. Just not as easy as one would think.

More complications and considerations

If you are able to find a country that will allow temporary residence, and possible permanent residency, then there are tax considerations. The United States is one of only two countries that taxes its citizens no matter where they live and regardless of how long the have been out of the country. I’ve read horror stories of people whose families left the United States when they were very young children, grew up elsewhere, and the were taxed by the U.S. on the income they had earned in that country. Yep, the U.S. and Eritrea share this same tax policy. The only 2 countries in the world.

Something to consider, when researching an expat destination and residency, is what the taxation policy is of your country of choice. Some countries, such as Hungary, has a double taxation policy, which allows them to collect taxes from non-resident citizens — but then there are loopholes and exceptions!

The U.S. is dead serious about collecting taxes from expats. Not sure if it’s out of greed, entertainment for the I.R.S., or stems from a desire to punish anyone leaving the country, but stories like this one are far more common than you might think:

I just found out that despite my income earned and taxed abroad being a) below the foreign income exclusion limit, and b) covered by a bilateral tax treaty between the country where I have lived for the past 49 years, the IRS wants to tax it fully, leaving me with an effective tax rate of 61% from now on.

One of the reasons is that many of the required subforms, e.g. W-2, do not exist in this country (Finland). I sent them my Finnish tax decision along with a translation. They accepted the amount of my earnings, but gave me no credit for the local national tax paid. They have given me three weeks to refile, but the information that they want, such as Social Security and Obamacare payments, doesn’t exist here or is irrelevant to my situation. I am a pensioner whose sole source of income is a Finnish state pension, and I am fully covered by the Finnish health care system. Having worked only in Finland, I never paid into and am ineligible for Social Security and cannot, of course, sign up for Obamacare. They are threatening with draconian fines and seizure of assets so as to leave me destitute for the rest of my life.

So, you may find the ideal country that welcomes you with open arms. You can learn the language and start a new life, but no matter how far you go, the I.R.S. will track you down and demand their pound of flesh.

Oh, and there’s a sweet little federal law, FATCA (Federal Account Tax Compliance Act) that requires foreign banks to reveal the identity of Americans with accounts over $50,000. They have to hand over names, addresses, account balance, account numbers and Social Security or other U.S. identification numbers. Banks who do not comply are punished, by the United States, with a withholding tax of 30% on payments from U.S. banks. Naturally, this has caused many foreign banks to refuse Americans wishing to open accounts, and who can blame them?

The Treasury Department has been unable to cite any constitutional, statutory, or regulatory authority which allows it to compel foreign institutions to collect and share the financial information of U.S. citizens.

Americans living abroad must file an annual report, the FBAR (Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts Report), by June 30, of each year, if they have a foreign account holding more than $10,000. Failure to file that report, and ignorance of the law is no excuse, can result in fines up to $500,000 and up to 10 years in prison!! Spreading that money between multiple banks may help you disguise the sum total for a while, but not forever. And, $10,000 is a pathetically small amount of money, considering the fact that the I.R.S. collected over $1 trillion in the most recent fiscal quarter — October, 2014 through January, 2015.

It looks like FATCA, FBAR, and these draconian policies are here to stay, forever, so it’s just one more consideration if you’re planning on leaving the U.S.

By the way, a little civics lesson here. FATCA was included in a quietly passed jobs bill. If a Senator or Representative would have voted against this bill, they would have been excoriated by the opposing party for voting against a “jobs bill”. The next time a politician you favor is accused for voting against a bill that seems altruistic, dig a little deeper to find out what else, exactly, was in that bill.

Loopholes & confusion

Countries that have lenient ancestry requirements still don’t make it easy for applicants. Take Ireland, for example. You may be granted permanent residency and citizenship:

A couple of years ago I was on New Zealand’s website, looking for information about residency and came away with a massive headache. A few forms on the Switzerland website were in German only.

To complicate matters (is that even possible?), these laws can change quickly and without notice. A country friendly to American expats could become hostile with just the election of a new president.

Lessons learned?

  1. Research, research, research!
  2. Simplify your lifestyle now and prepare to live on less money and with fewer belongings.
  3. Have your vital documents at the ready.
  4. Read the fine print.
  5. Take your time.
  6. Be patient.

Oh, be wary of professional expat advisers. I’ve come across a few that paint an alluring picture of the country and people but after more research, I discovered they were more interested in selling their services than in providing accurate info.

Why leave?

I answer that question and provide several historical examples of relocating — in fact, it’s highly likely your own ancestors relocated and that’s how you ended up an American citizen!

Are you ready to relocate?

After researching, studying, praying, and discussing a relocation, you’ve decided to take the plunge. But! Have you considered whether or not you are a good candidate for this major step?

One of the most critical factors in transitioning to a new location, whether foreign or domestic, is your ability to adapt to new situations. Is your basic temperament and personality one that is flexible? Do you enjoy new experiences and meeting  new people? When faced with an abrupt change in your life, do you adapt easily or do you resist the change? I know one woman who, after several years following a divorce, insists that she’s still married in spite of the fact that her husband is remarried to someone else!

A move to another country is going to plunge you and your family into a world in which most everything is different and new:

  • Language
  • Customs
  • Food
  • Holidays
  • Housing
  • Attitudes
  • Entertainment
  • Technology accessibility
  • Laws
  • Climate

Some personality types adjust to these changes more easily. Others will require more time.

Along with adaptability are expectations. How realistic are your expectations for this move? Are you expecting a smooth and seamless transition? Thorough research, talking with other expats, and then actually visiting and spending time in the country or area of your choice will help keep your expectations well grounded.

Then there are the practical issues of age, health, time, and money. There’s no perfect age for moving out of the country. Younger people are likely in better health but with fewer career skills and less saved money. Young couples have each other to depend on but having younger children will make this quite difficult.

Imagine, or remember, taking all the kids to Target or the grocery store. That’s no easy task! Now, imagine taking them to a foreign country where English isn’t spoken and trying to find a place to live, decipher even the most basic written information, stand in line in various bureaucratic offices to get one license or document or another, and adapt to a completely different lifestyle. No matter how young and fit you are, this just might push you over the edge into insanity!

The process will be easier if your kids are older but then, at the high school age, they often don’t want to leave their friends, sports, and other activities. How easy will it be for them to develop new friendships in this new location and how will they go to college, in particular, if they aren’t fluent in the language?

Growing up in this new country, the kids will probably meet their future spouse, who may very well be a local. Now, with grandkids in a country that is not the U.S., will you ever want to leave them? Those with grown kids and grandkids now, face the challenge of moving away and, possibly, never again being a part of their lives. As we age, health issues ultimately become a fact of life.

The health of each family member may impact whether or not a country allows residency. For example, Australia has been known to prevent families with autistic kids from coming into their country, even when the parents have viable, well-paying jobs waiting for them. And, if there are health issues of any kind, will you be able to find the doctors and care necessary in this new location and how will you pay for those services? Some countries, upon granting residency, require a fee for their national health insurance. Fair enough.

Now, the issue of money. Bottom line: the more you have, the easier it will be to find a country willing to grant residency quickly and the easier it will be to settle into a comfortable lifestyle. No surprises there.

But expenses add up even for the non-millionaires among us. It’s highly recommended that you visit the country, or area of the U.S., first before taking the plunge. That’s going to require travel expenses and time off from work. One family I know had their hearts settled on Belize. They did the research, had contacts in the country, visited once, and on the second visit, realized the country was not for them at all, but by then, they had sunk a few thousand dollars into the venture.

The moving process can be quite expensive. What do you take with you? If it’s just the clothes on your back and whatever a suitcase or two can hold, that’s no problem. Most of us, though, will want to take other possessions. Yes, you can sell it all, but how expensive will it be to replace those items once you relocate and will the quality be what you want? A shipping container costs money and may take several weeks to arrive at the dock of your new country. In the meantime, you may have to live in a hotel or a furnished apartment.

In addition to the expenses of checking out different locations and the moving process is the financial requirements of just about every country I know of. Examples:

  • Costa Rica requires a deposit of $60,000 in a Costa Rican bank for those in the “rentista” category. You are paid $2500 per month out of that balance for 24 months and this becomes your monthly income, at least in part.
  • Antigua has an “economic citizenship” program that requires a government donation of $250,000, plus another $50,000 per family member.
  • Belgium requires that you have a salary of at least € 50,000 per year.
  • Hungary has a residency bond program. Deposit a little over $300,000 in one of their banks and you’ll have to pay another $60,000 as a processing and administration fee.

All countries will have fees for visas and whatever other bureaucratic fees they choose to apply. If the paperwork is not in English, that’s a hurdle to overcome and many countries require a face-to-face interview. In their language.

So what if you have little to no money? Is becoming an ex-pat out of the question? Not at all. In fact, if you’re adventurous, you may even prefer the much simpler lifestyle it brings. Rather than being barricaded in a luxurious neighborhood behind guarded gates, you can live among the locals, shop where they shop, hang out where they hang out, and learn the language and customs very quickly. This is pretty much how I lived when I traveled for months at a time and ended up living in both Germany and Israel.

In this video, I explain a few more considerations before you jump into the decision to leave the U.S.

Emotional ties

I’d be remiss if I didn’t bring up the issue of deep, emotional ties to your home country and the loved ones you’ll leave behind. It’s interesting to see who can do this easily, without looking back, and who can’t. It’s not a matter of being callous and without emotional attachments, as these people wholeheartedly love the family members they leave behind. In some cases, they plan to help move them to their new location as soon as possible.

Deeply felt ties to America aren’t quite as easily cut as many think. “America” isn’t just a land mass but a way of thinking and how you view the rest of the world. And, it works the other way, too. Locals in other countries will have a different worldview and cultural norms. One article asks, “Does everyone in Chile lie?” You’ll miss living in a country where everyone pretty much has the same social norms.

You’re going to miss favorite foods and restaurants and ease of living. You’ll miss your favorite brands of clothing, your church, holidays spent with friends and family, and Amazon Prime! Depending on where you move, you will probably have to leave pets behind.

On their own, these may not seem like much, but together, combined with the foreign-ness of a different country may make assimilation far more difficult than you’d ever imagined, which circles back to my original question: How adaptable are you?

Is it even worth the bother?

Based on the huge number of hurdles and hassles, is it even worth considering leaving the U.S.? Well, that depends on your reasons for leaving. One family who chose to relocate to Chile did so because they believe a nuclear war is coming, it will mostly affect the northern hemisphere and they don’t care to suffer the long-term consequences. (Both have backgrounds as scientists in the nuclear energy field.) Based on their last email, they are still very happy with their choice.

If you’re convinced beyond the shadow of a doubt that war is coming to the U.S., or an EMP, then why would you stay here and subject your family to the aftermath? Some believe that God’s judgment is coming on America — why not escape that, if possible?

My point is that the hassles and hard work of leaving will be worth the effort, or not, depending on your motivation. Once you make the move, remember that it’s not necessarily forever — if that thought helps get you through the rough patches.

A reader on Facebook wrote, “We tried it out in Panama for 2 years. I did not like it at all. I wanted to kiss the ground when we arrived back in the US a year ago. We made a ton of expat friends (and some local friends). But it wasn’t for me. You have to adjust to a very different way of life. I was unable to adjust. For those who are interested in learning more about Panama, there is a group, ExPats in Panama, that my friend admins. There are tons of people who’d love to talk to you about it.

We saved a ton of money by living there. We work remotely for a company (get a paycheck, even though the company was our own company), and so we were able to claim the foreign earned income tax credit for 2 years. It is fairly easy to become a resident of Panama, but I don’t know why you’d want to become a citizen.  If you lived like the locals live, you could easily live on $1,000/mo. If you want to live the same lifestyle in the US, then it would be more toward $3,000/mo as reasonable.”

Could you ever leave the U.S. for good? What is your motivation to leave, or stay?

Learn more

I’ve learned a lot from these resources:

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24 thoughts on “Could Leaving the U.S be the Ultimate Prep — and Do You Have What it Takes?”

  1. This is not a politically correct comment, but what the heck. Back in the 60’s some of the people in our community decided they couldn’t deal with the Civil Rights Bill, integration of the schools, and so on. So four of them grabbed their families and make a quick departure for Australia. All of them hated it, none of them were successful, one died there of a heart attack, the other three divorced, and basically it all went south in a hand basket very quickly. They lost all their savings, publicly humiliated themselves, traumatized their children, and once they returned they never did achieve the status in life as compared to what they had before they left. Leaving this country should be done, as you said, only after considering and reconsidering the losses/benefits equation. Personally, I’ve traveled the world and have never felt welcome, except for the money I put into the local economy. Therefore I know beyond a shadow of doubt that if someone does move and if for whatever reason the retirement checks stop coming then that American would find themselves in grave danger very quickly. good article and thanks

    1. Jeanmarie F Gardner

      I can totally understand your perspective regarding leaving the U.S. However, if the SHTF in America, no one (except the elite) will be safe or have any of the freedoms we think we enjoy today.

      Well thought out article and research …. thanks for all you do Lisa!

  2. I’m a Brit. I think Americans underestimate the freedoms they enjoy in the USA compared with the rest of the world, even Europe. Some life experiences can only be achieved here if you are born into the nobility. Here, the pursuit of happiness is only available to the few. There are so many infringements on civil liberties here. Think before you leave America.

  3. It’s a fine article and very accurate – becoming an expat is not easy in any sense of the word and can be fraught with danger and hardships. However, as for taxation – if you’re leaving because the ship is sinking, why would you want to keep the citizenship? Renouncing citizenship kind of removes any and all power the federal government has over you. It’s actually the easiest step of all of it – the hardest being, becoming a citizen anywhere else.

    The one thing most people don’t consider is a simple question: “What are you running from?”

    Unfair taxes? We’re still one of the best countries for tax laws that *have* viable jobs.
    Crazy Healthcare system? It’s still saner than the other countries out there…

    Whatever the reasons to leave, there’s always one good solid reason to stay – this is our country, for good or for ill and it’s our ancestors’ blood that kept it free. You wouldn’t leave your wife or husband or kids when they need you the most, why would you do it to your country?

    Food for thought.

  4. What I’ve often considered is not immigrating to another country but using a visa to just stay in other countries all year ’round. As a simple example, suppose I spend winters in Mexico and summers in Canada. The US visa permits entry into either country for six months at a time. I could work remotely and live in an RV. Follow the good weather.

    I’ve Googled this but unfortunately not I’ve come up with enough information to make a decision to do that. Anyway I’m not yet able to fully work from home 100% of the time so it’s just a dream at this point.

    Supposing there was a national crisis, this could be a good way to avoid the worst of it. Anyone have any thoughts on the long-term viability of this? Would it be significantly more expensive? Troublesome? Who is doing this? What tips are there?

    Using the simple example you’d spend money on gas driving between locations but you’d more than make up for it by not spending lots of money on heating and cooling 🙂

    1. My aunt and uncle did something similar for several years. We loved seeing them every year on their way through. Ultimately, they ended up stopping for good.
      My aunt could work 100% from home, and still does, but doing it while travelling was stressful. Nor was there any savings by moving or staying. They had to stay put one year for health reasons, and their running costs were about the same.
      The stress of driving will wear you down.

  5. This post is a lot more thorough than I usually see about bugging out to another country.

    However, I think the whole idea of bugging out to another country by an American is ill-advised under, really, all circumstances. It seems to be a reoccurring theme in the prepper community as a last-resort option. Actually when someone writes about it, it’s more of a think piece rather than a real on-the-table option. To echo the Brit above Americans in general don’t realize that, even with the current assault on the traditional American values, it’s still WAY better in the US. This is not acquiescence – I’m just being objective. Maybe the idea of moving to another country conjures up thoughts of Wild West pioneering and living off the land or some modern version of it, but the truth is that doesn’t exist anymore. Or perhaps, the excitement of the unknown of a new country blinds the eye to the realities. “But David?” You ask. “What makes you so sure of this?” – glad you asked.

    I am writing this from Argentina. I’ve lived here for the last 4 years (my Argentine wife & I along with our 3 kids). I’ve lived in Chile a while and visited many countries. There is no place I would rather “bug out” than the US. In fact, my “bug out” plan is to go to the US! LOL. ALL of the countries mentioned in the article as viable places to relocate (and all those not mentioned) have cultures that heavily rely on government intervention to solve ALL problems. Generally, these cultures do not help themselves. This means that you probably will be all alone in your foreign prepper efforts. Image, if it’s hard to convince “independent” Americans about the need to prep, how hard would it be to convince your neighbors in a new country that see the government as their savior? A few quick points to consider: Gun ownership in these countries is highly restricted, unless you’re rich – how will you earn a living?, where do you bug out if your new country goes belly up?, many countries don’t allow foreigners to own property or it’s restricted to certain activities, if your money is in the states, how will you get it? (I guess you’re counting on the US still being functional? remember you can’t travel with that much cash)…I could go on…

    Argentina is always used as an example of what could happen to the US. Well, the good news is Argentina is a disaster economically, but life goes on. It’s not the end of the world! To invest in your local community and build relationships with other local preppers is far more valuable and cost efficient than bugging out to another country. The money spent on moving to another country could be better spent on land and efforts of self-sufficiency in the US, where the hope of a recovery is far more likely.


    1. The Survival Mom

      You’re the second expat living in Argentina who has written to me with your mostly negative experiences. Here’s what that other person wrote, see if it sounds familiar:

      “As an ex-pat, living in Argentina, the only expats I found there had trust funds, income producing internet work, and home government subsidies (unemployment from England for several years gave rise to significant migration) or living off their savings. Almost no one could find productive work sufficient to the cost of medical insurance, cost of living, etc. Those married to Argies with good jobs often worked “black” (off-the-books) for local wages but had their medical costs covered by the spouse’s family policy from work. Economic roadblocks are massive and disheartening. Check expat blogs and chat site and track all the “everything must go… moving back home” ads to get an idea of local conditions.

      Almost no expats will admit that there are severe security issues in Arg… even when they admit to have been robbed several times at knife-point (guns are expensive there… if you are robbed with one, be nice to the guy, because he stole it from someone else, or is an off-duty copy working as a part-time robber). Trust me… unless you live in Chicago or Detroit, you are living in a more secure area now. Please never, never, never consider moving to Argentina with school age children unless they are half Argy.

      The current government encourages expats… but, gaining Argie citizenship requires renouncing your US citizenship… not the best choice for most of us. Permanant Residency is difficult and expensive for folks that are NOT married to native Argies. As I am married to an Argie, it took me about two years to get my Resident ID, tho I hear it is about 6 months after completing the paperwork. I recommend completing all the paperwork via a local consulate prior to the big move. As always, most people recommend spending several 3-6 months visits prior to finalizing plans to immigrate.

      Feel free to refer folks for advice if they are seriously ready to commit to immigrating anywhere except Singapore, Canada or Europe. By the way… Panama is still the best choice for LatAm for most of us.”

      1. Thanks. This is very interesting.

        I don’t really share the bleak outlook, but it’s hard to find positive things for preppers to consider. My experiences have been rough, but not near as bad as the other person’s apparently. In my post, I was keeping in mind, that your blog is about prepping not the general woes of living in the 3rd world. Also, these things are NOT unique to Argentina. This is very important to keep in mind! There is no where in Latin America that will be ‘very’ different – really in any country that is 3rd world (and a lot of 1st world countries).

        Here are a few quick thoughts:
        ► I work via the Internet for a US company. I don’t depend on the local economy. I did for a while though and it was really tough.
        ► My wife is an Argentine & Italian citizen. My kids have all 3: US, AR, IT
        ► Crime is really bad here. I have multiple friends that have had their homes robbed at gunpoint – but worse is the inability to defend yourself and lack of justice. It’s likely you would be prosecuted if you shot and killed an intruder. You can own a gun, but you better not use it!
        ► It’s really hard for people with connections to get important stuff done – a never-ending nightmare for someone with no connections (think govt forms)
        ► My wife homeschools our 3 kids. She gets a LOT of resistance from locals because “only properly trained people – think government – should do that”. In Germany it’s illegal to homeschool, in Argentina they’ve never heard of it.
        ► Utilities & rent are cheap, but food and anything else is cheaper in the States. For example: a box fan in the US at Walmart is ~$10 & same quality fan here is $80-100 (doesn’t leave much for other stuff). In Chile & Uruguay the cost of living is much much more.
        ► Basic/routine Healthcare here is really good and VERY cheap compared to the US, but if you get really sick with something serious or mysterious, I’m making a bee-line to the Sates. Healthcare here is old-fashioned, in the good sense and the bad. example: I got a root canal for $50, but the crown was outrageous – in the states a dentist would never do them separately. I’m happy though!

        These are common things in the 3rd world and a lot of 1st world countries. These are the things that Americans don’t know about or consider when contemplating “bugging out” to another country. I can’t image how a middle-age or retirement-age person would ever remotely consider moving to another country as a bug-out plan unless they are highly traveled or have experienced it beforehand. Young people that bug-out are called backpackers! Well, for me & my family, we are somewhere in the middle.

        Sorry for the long post…there’s just too much here to discuss.


        1. The Survival Mom

          There are a LOT of things to consider. Everyone has a different breaking point for causing them to leave the U.S., or at least seriously considering doing so. For some, that breaking point will be enough motivation to leave. Also, in my 2nd video and the last portion of this article, I talk about temperament. Some people aren’t fazed by anything. Others can’t tolerate even a minor deviation from their normal routines! So, it’s hard to say whether or not any specific person could handle life in Argentina, Panama, or any other country. There are tons of American expats throughout Mexico and Central America, in particular, and most of them seem to love it.

    2. Jeanmaire Claire

      Wow … great insight from ‘boots on the ground’; it’s refreshing info, albeit negative. Thanks for that, as I’ve been considering for several years becoming an expat elsewhere (other than the U.S.). I continue to do research and review expat forums, but I have to say this article in itself was refreshingly honest and to the point, with the good, the bad, and the ugly.

  6. Hello
    Find all this conversation very interesting .
    About living your country, this is a tough decision anyway . I could have moved to Australia tne years ago , butdid not do it .
    Here in Europe there are some differences between the countries . For example a lot of retired german and scandinavian live in Spane and French are in Portugal or Morocco also. In a “big crunch ” situation there will be no safe place anyway
    In a little village , with still some farmers and good neighbors we had experienced 2 weeks without electricity , 4 without water, and managed to help ourselves with wood stove, helping the others ( cutting trees on the roads and so), fitrate wate …
    It was the 09′ big tempest .
    the elders have still the skills ( those who knew WW2 and these rude times ) .
    My next goal is maybe to find a B plan and a good place in a little valley in the mountains , south from here .
    two points at this step
    no way to do anything alone
    listen to the rumour of the world
    good thoughts to all

  7. The article and commentators focus on land-based homes, and dealing with government agents… exactly the people they want to leave behind.

    We travel using our sailboat as homebase, occasionally excursioning onto that place we call ‘Insaneistan’. Our extended sailing families are our community. In case of SHTF on land, we meet a couple hundred miles offshore in peace and safety.

    We had a good laugh at “government agents moonlighting as crooks”! What else is new!

  8. I read an article somewhere not long ago ,that Hawaii and Alaska would be exempt in an EMP attack or a nuclear attack. they would suffer the same economically. If your wanting to find a safe space to hunker down because of an EMP or the big bomb, these two places would actually be a pretty good idea. Like I said though its the economic downfall that would affect these two states. I think I would move to either of these places first before I left the country all together. Like any other state or country though just learning to live on a LOT less, will help you survive an economic collapse.

    1. The Survival Mom

      The reason those 2 states aren’t generally recommended for bugging out is because they are so isolated and the majority of their food and goods have to be imported. Perhaps other countries might come to their aid, though. Who knows?

    2. Hawaii and Alaska are not “immune” from an EMP attack. They are not within “line of sight” of the point of the most likely EMP attack, which would be over the center of the continental U.S., located over Kansas. But anyone who has the capability to attack us with an EMP weapon could direct another EMP attack to a location that would target Alaska or Hawaii. And both Hawaii and Alaska are relatively isolated and depend on imported food, energy and other goods from the rest of the U.S. If the continental U.S. is attacked successfully with an EMP weapon, Alaska and Hawaii will be cut off and not receive the food, medicine and other essential products they now receive from the rest of the U.S. So, they might enjoy some temporary advantage, but they would soon find themselves in a worse situation because they would not receive the many supporting things they now receive from the rest of us.
      Bottom line, if some hostile nation succeeds in attacking us with an EMP weapon, almost 90% of the affected population would be dead within one year of the blast.

  9. I’m kind of shocked at the defeatist “it can’t be done” tone of this article. You can make your home into a bunker in your own culture but feel it would be too hard to learn a new one? That seems like giving up easy.

    For those who want the expat life it takes time to figure out what country is right for you and how things work there. The official rules are not always what actually happens, there is a lot of variation. If it was truly so difficult to do I wonder why so many U.S. citizens are living overseas?

    I speak from my own experience. We sold everything and left the U.S. to travel almost 2 years ago. We’ve been in Mexico (which I was surprised to see no mention of) exploring the Yucatan Peninsula with our 2 daughters, ages 7 and 9. They’ve traveled since they were toddlers and I find children adjust to change easier than adults do. We had them in school but chose to homeschool to fit our lifestyle.

    We don’t have a lot of money. Our income currently comes from remote work out of the U.S. but our dollars go much further here, allowing us opportunities to do things we could never afford before.

    We don’t have residency because honestly we didn’t expect to stay in one place this long. We plan to keep traveling through Central and South America, but for now we have been leaving Mexico every 6 months for a few days to renew our tourist visas. Yes this isn’t what the rules say to do but I’ve met people who have lived here this way for 20 years. We bought a car here, we rent long term, and we have not felt unsafe although we live far from tourist areas.

    There is a huge expat community here, it feels like we aren’t even in Mexico at times with Wal-Mart and Costco and Starbucks. There is a lot of help to be had from those who have gone before you, expat forums are on facebook for many places.

    We are slow travelers rather than truly living in one place, but I just wanted to let you know that it can be done, and it can be amazing. Just like any big change it isn’t going to happen overnight or without work, but if you want to try living outside of the U.S. there are a lot of options.

    1. The Survival Mom

      Amy, you are living my dream! Our kids are teenagers and it’s my dream to hit the road one day soon and travel just like this! Thanks for a vote of confidence that it can be done.

  10. i found it somewhat amusing that you were shocked that so many countries didn’t want you or other americans. why the heck would they? there are tons of articles, stories and postings from people and the governments of other countries that condemn americans. and to think that you would move to any ‘foreign’ country and blend right in? shoot you can’t even move to a different section of this country and ‘blend’ right in. think ‘accent’. you’re going to stand out. you may appear like those who live around you but as soon as you open your mouth the masquerade is over.

    as far as being rich, having money in the bank or very self supporting? of course that goes without saying. most all countries have all they can handle as it is right now with taking care of their own people and the people who have already moved/immigrated there. they surely don’t want to add anymore to the burden. especially those with out means, without sponsors, without a job, without a place to live, etc.

    americans have ‘globe trotted’ for decades, even before WWII and have given all of us a bad reputations. we are, ie rude, obnoxious, loud, arrogant, unmannerly, loud, self-centered, demanding, elitist, expect things given to us, unlawful, therefore we think that we are untouchable by foreign laws and rules, inconsiderate, expect people and businesses in other countries to bend over/turn inside out to accommodate us, etc. and we believe that we, ourselves and our country is the best superior to any other in the world.

    you want to immigrate to an new country? you had better have something to offer other than just your ‘splendid american’ presence.

    you want to move/immigrate to another country? then you should learn the language first!!!!! then by all that’s holy do everything to leave your american attitude behind. do everything imaginable and possible to learn assimilate into the country, the locale, the customs, the laws and the community. do not limit, confine or isolate yourselves with other expats.

    what this country has become and is becoming even worse now, it’s basically our own faults. we have voted in the the people, those who are in power and who rule our lives. and the worst of them have continually been voted in over and over. we have become brainwashed and complacent in our thinking that we as citizens are the best and that our country was and is the greatest on earth. and now our voted in leaders are insulting and alienating every country, even our allies. our government is isolating this country. if it succeed our country will go into the biggest tailspin ever. the new depression will wipe out memory of the 20’s and 30’s. we have millions more people and millions less jobs. we do not have the infrastructure to support ourselves. we don’t have the manufacturing, the steel for maintaining what we have now or to build new, the home grown farmers nor the mills to process the steel and the crops. and we honestly no longer have the technology that would be needed. so much of what we use now and buy is plastic. does anyone honestly think that what few glass plants that have survived out sourcing could even begin to produce the amount of glass that would be needed if the production and importations of plastic stopped?

    those that think that we can??? they had better grab their azzes. this country would be flat within a month if it were isolated and cut off. we wouldn’t just be a 3rd world or worse country. we would be in the dark ages, maybe worse? how many truly could survive if this world was reduced back to the mid to late 1800’s? or even just this country? if it were just this country, you had better believe that it would not remain america, the land of the ‘free’ for long.

    1. The Survival Mom

      Do feel better after all that negative venting?

      Trust me, it’s not just Americans who aren’t familiar with other countries laws. I am in a number of international travel groups and every single day people from _____ country want to know about moving there, and locals everywhere complain about tourists — not just from America.

    2. Your evaluation of America is inaccurate. In fact, America is one of the few nation-states on Earth that could be self-sufficient. The only reason we’re not entirely self-sufficient now is that we have allowed China and a few other nations to provide us with cheap alternatives to manufacturing our own products.
      Glass is not the only alternative to plastic. Consider how many Scandinavian nations wrap their consumer products in recyclable paper and cardboard. Yes, we could do without plastic, and especially without the cheap schlock we get from China. We do NOT need their sh*t in our supply chains, and hopefully this pandemic has awakened us to this.
      Americans can be offensive, but we’re not even close to being the worst. Depending on where you are, there are just as many offensive Chinese, Russian, British (soccer thugs!) and other nationalities who greatly offend people. Frankly, it appears that you just don’t like America and Americans, and this emotional dislike has distorted your evaluation.

      1. The Survival Mom

        I’ve found that people like “Echo” haven’t traveled much around the world and only parrot what they hear from their favored news and entertainment sources. We’ve traveled extensively and some of the most offensive tourists and locals we’ve seen have been non-Americans. But, it’s cool to badmouth America and Americans.

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