If You Could Live Anywhere You Wanted, Where Would You Go?
What if you could go anywhere, do anything, and spend your time and your money any way you wanted?
My question is not rhetorical, for, indeed, you could go anywhere, you could do anything, and you could spend your days and invest your capital however strikes your fancy.
All you have to do is to open your mind to the possibilities.
On the one hand, this living and investing overseas thing is terrifying. The opportunities, risks, investments, and speculations I introduce to you in these dispatches can seem intimidating, especially at first. The easy thing would be to ignore them and keep on living the way you’ve been living. What a thing to create a whole new life for yourself in a foreign place. What a terrifying thing.
And what an exhilarating adventure.
In the nearly three decades that I’ve been covering this beat, I’ve spoken with many thousands of people just like you who are, in fact, already living and investing overseas. And I’ve never met one who regrets the experience.
Sure, sometimes, things don’t work out as you expect. Markets zig when you’re positioned for them to zag. Currencies go up when you’re hoping they’ll move down. Real estate values increase…but they also fall, sometimes quick and sometimes far, as we all recognize, I think, in this post-2008 world.
Sometimes, Paradise comes with humidity, bugs, broken-down taxis, and zero zoning.
You can be sure of a place or an opportunity…and then you can change your mind. A country can seem perfect…and then you realize that no place is perfect.
What’s the worst thing that could happen if you take the leap and start down this live and invest overseas path? Maybe you end up someplace you don’t want to be?
So you move on. You make another change. You could always go back home.
However, here’s my prediction this 2014 New Year’s Day: Once you embrace these ideas and begin to act on these opportunities, you’ll never look back. You’ll be launched into a new phase of your life that you’ll treasure and that will lead you to places and experiences you could never imagine as you read this today.
Lief and I have been living outside the States for more than 16 years. We met in Ireland 16 years ago last spring, where we both were scouting for new business ventures. I was intending a move from Baltimore, Maryland, to the Emerald Isle, with the business I was running at the time and my then 8-year-old daughter. Lief, living in Chicago, was thinking of ditching his cushy career-path job Stateside and pursuing adventures abroad, starting with a real estate development project in Ireland’s Sunny Southeast.
Along the way, we have had a child (Jackson, a dual citizen, born in Ireland)…launched businesses in seven countries…renovated apartments…and houses…bought and sold real estate in two-dozen markets…made good deals…and some not-so-good ones…educated our children on two continents…shipped container-loads of furniture back and forth across the Atlantic Ocean…organized residency visas and work permits…opened bank accounts…paid taxes…hired staff…vetted attorneys and tax advisors and property developers and real estate brokers…
Would we go back home?
We are home. In Panama City now, our little family has made a home.
We were home in Paris and in Ireland, as well, and sometimes I miss those lives. We all miss Paris so much that we’ve agreed that city is part of our long-term plan. We’ve just invested in a second apartment there to act as our Live and Invest Overseas Euro-base starting in this New Year.
Yes, sometimes, I also miss my life in the States. I miss my family, of course, and my hometown friends.
Mostly, though, I recognize that we haven’t finished our journey. Panama isn’t a terminus. It’s a stop we’re embracing and enjoying and that will lead us who knows where. I couldn’t say right now.
Opening your mind and your heart to these living, retiring, and investing overseas ideas comes with practical, quantifiable benefits. You could move to a new country and cut your cost of living to less than US$700 per month. But, as I pointed out yesterday, a reduced cost of living isn’t the only or even the best reason to launch a new life overseas. Living or retired overseas, you could also reduce your overall tax burden, maybe to zero (legally and safely). You could cut your cost of health care in half or more. You could live where the weather is better, the cities safer, the neighbors more interesting, and the view from your bedroom window more pleasing.
Shift your perspective, and you realize that, despite what the talking heads are telling you, there’s a world beyond the doom and gloom. Things are not, in fact, tough all over. In some places, in fact…from Panama to Uruguay, from Ecuador to France, from Malaysia to Belize, and from Thailand to Colombia, to name only a few…the living can be good, safe, healthy, cheap, and engaging.
When we moved from the States to Waterford, Ireland, some 16 years ago, we never could have imagined that, come New Year’s Day 2014, we’d be living full-time in Panama City. We couldn’t have predicted any of the turns or adventures along the way either. Of course, not everything has gone according to plan. But Lief and I and our children carry Ireland with us now…and Paris…and we’ll carry Panama with us, too, when we move on. The experiences and the memories are with us for the rest of our lives.
Back home in Ireland, in Paris, and, yes, in the States is our “family.” In each of the places where we’ve spent time, where we’ve been at home, we have made friends that have become permanent parts of our lives. We take them with us as we continue to move around this world.
When I began reporting on these ideas 30 years ago, they were ahead of their time. No more. You have more good reasons right now, as we move into New Year 2014, to launch a new life in another country than ever before.
Where will 2014 take us…take you? I have no idea, but let’s go find out.
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