I receive your Mailbag questions for me direct to my inbox each morning. Reading through them is one of the highlights of my day.
Wednesday morning last week, I opened the file of questions that had been received overnight to find this one:
“Hey, Kathleen, I have a few questions for your organization.
“How does this topic of living and investing overseas challenge or rewrite the concept of the American Dream?
“What are the benefits or goals of practicing this concept? Examples of this practice in real life. This is for a school project so if there is any way you can get back to me as soon as possible, then that would be great.
–Stephanie W., United States
Wednesday morning I had just arrived in Paris… was struggling to wake up my jet-lagged brain… while trying to keep up with my daily deadlines, meetings, etc.
I’m not able to respond to every reader question. I receive a dozen a day on average. However, this one got my attention… so I set it aside with the thought that I’d reply as soon as I had a few free minutes.
Then, Friday morning, this:
“Hello, Kathleen, my name is Katie, and I am from Raleigh, North Carolina. I go to an all-girls school called Saint Mary’s, and, in my English class, we are doing a project about what the ‘New American Dream’ might be.
“As I came across your site I thought this would be great thing to talk about!
“I was wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering some questions I have about Live and Invest Overseas.
“In your opinion why do you think it might be beneficial for one to try a new lifestyle of living and investing overseas?
“And, second, do you have any success stories about people who have participated in Live and Invest Overseas?
–Katie P., United States
I don’t know if both of these young readers are attending the same school… or if two schools had the same great project idea at the same time… but, receiving these two questions back to back, I knew I needed to make a real effort with my comments.
So here goes…
Dear Stephanie and Katie,
For me, the American Dream is about believing in the future and believing in yourself.
We Americans are the world’s optimists. We believe in our individual and collective ability to figure things out… to make things better… to make things work. We’re dreamers… and wanderers. We value hard work, we like efficiency, and we pride ourselves on our willingness to act on an opportunity when we perceive one.
What’s over the next hill? Let’s go find out. What could we do tomorrow that we didn’t do today? Let’s get up early in the morning and figure that out. How can we make this thing, this idea, this effort better? Let’s roll up our sleeves and see where a little elbow grease leads us…
And, critically, for me, the American Dream means that, when opportunity seems lacking wherever we happen to find ourselves, we go off in search of it.
America was built by people doing just that. The original settlers came in search of religious and other freedoms and a chance to make their own way and determine their own futures. Later, Americans pushed the boundaries of the country as far as the Pacific Ocean because, again, they sought more freedom, more independence, and more opportunity.
I see living and investing overseas as the natural next step for us Americans.
Can’t get a job where you’re living in the United States? Have a business idea that might be too costly to get off the ground in the States? Worried you don’t have enough money saved to live comfortably through retirement?
Or maybe you’ve no particular agenda in mind but are interested in new opportunities in the broadest sense. Maybe you’re simply curious to know what lies over the next hill or around the next bend… and where what you discover there might lead…
These are all versions of the American Dream in practice… and all great reasons to think about taking the American Dream abroad.
For me, the American Dream has no borders. It is about recognizing what is best about being an American… our uniquely American perspective on the future… and applying it… anywhere.
To answer your question more directly, I’d say that the two primary benefits of living and investing overseas are diversity and abundance of opportunity… and new purpose.
Reinventing your life in a new country can mean an opportunity to live cheaper… to live better… to enjoy better weather… to find a better job… to have a better chance of making a go of the business idea you have… to chase adventure…
It can also be a chance to discover a new reason to get out of bed each morning… a new way to give back, to contribute, and to improve—both yourself and your piece of the world, whatever form that is taking at the moment.
Living and investing overseas doesn’t hold the monopoly on those ideas… but it definitely can help to make them easier to identify and easier to follow through on.
Do I know any Live and Invest Overseas success stories?
Boy, do I!
Here are a few examples of American dreamers living out their dreams overseas…
I hope this gives you guys what you need to score A’s on your projects.
If not… write again. I’ll be looking out for your follow-up questions.