Are you an ELECT-PAT?
Are you an ELECT-PAT ?
Yes- I just made that up; be the first in your friends list to adopt it ;) Are you dissatisfied with the political process in America – are you pledging and crowing about leaving the country if the election doesn't turn your way for party, perception and politics? Many will think you are just full of vacant puffery of playground pouting – you are just an impetuous child that didn't get their way and wants to take their ball and leave. I get it. I left the US after the 2012 Election confirmed a second term upon Barack Obama. I know what it takes to pack up, leave the borders, and move to a foreign country – permanently. I am on year 4, country 4 abroad.
If you are serious – then there are life changing considerations and preparations you must make beyond the social media caterwauling and meme posting. Moving to another country will open your eyes to many things that you are not prepared for, not ready to meet. Consider this your first brush with a wake up call.
First, let's be critically honest – only 3.5% of the 35% of Americans that Have Passports – Travel Abroad ( Canada & Mexico are ADJACENT and not ABROAD ).
If you do not already have your passport – you should secure it NOW. The process is at least a 6 week turn around, and if the social media rush is any indication of demand – that wait time is surely going to increase. Your Passport will require an OFFICIAL photo – no Selfies. The State Department is your first source for all current information and requirements for your passport. I have had mine since 16, and renewed it 4 times – remember it is only good for 10 years at a time. IF you already have your passport – make sure you have a long time horizon on your expiration date – nothing worse than getting out and realizing you have to renew it overseas in just a year or two. ;)
Now is the time to sell off all your possessions – Summer was the height of Garage Sales – and Craigslist is your friend. You want to sell, donate, gift nearly everything – especially if it doesn't fit in a standard luggage and carry on. The charge for carrying extra baggage on a plane is nearly the price of a full passenger ticket. Pare down your travel weight. If you think you are easily and carelessly driving across the US Border with a full U-haul of household goods, you are sorely mistaken. Your cargo will be gone through in depth looking for smuggling, drugs, guns, money etc.
This is my 'travel kit' - yes, I always pack a moto helmet. I ride in every country I land in; it is in my blood.
Yes, countries across the world 'love' the US Dollar. In fact – so do the American Legal Authorities – there are strict and specific limits on how much hard cash you can withdraw at one time, and how much you can transport with you. You will ping several 'Watch Lists' with a large sum of cash …. what is 'large?' Surprisingly – it is under $10,000 for a trip wire. Further, when you are in a foreign country – your ATM may not work – despite it being issued with the Visa / MasterCard Logo on it. I have been in 'modern' capital cities abroad, and only had half a dozen workable ATMs across the entire city – are you prepared for this new cash reality? Your bank and international withdraws and transfers – notify your bank that you are moving abroad – otherwise they will freeze your ATM card for 'fraud' when suddenly showing activity thousands of miles away from what was your 'home'. Additionally, your bank will have limits on how much money you can withdraw or transfer out of the US. And of course, machines and cards will have their own transactions per day / amount per day considerations. You need to know those numbers NOW – not when you are time zones away from your branch location.
You dream of just waltzing into Canada.... sorry to let you know. You are not.
Like the author, I have Canadian Citizenship because my father was a National. I never used it, nor claimed it – until I decided to pack up and get out. I lived in Seattle for decades, I thought that Vancouver or Victoria would be an easy transition for me. The process to get your Canadian citizenship is not a cake walk. Even as a child of a Citizen – it took me 9 months to secure the second passport, and all the access for living in the country for work, home ownership and driving licenses. Upon arriving in Canada – I found the realities – the property prices in those two cities are HIGHER than Seattle, and as a 'Canadian', living and working in Canada – nearly HALF of your income will disappear in taxes to fund all the 'social utopia' ideals of education, health and social support constructs. More on Taxes.
As an American Citizen, you are in the unique minority of the world population that lives in a country that taxes you no matter where you live, no matter whom you work for. You will be required to file annual tax forms for your income. Yes, there is a steep allowance for overseas cash (currently your first 75,000) of income is not taxable..... but in the climate of the Panama Papers – expect the IRS to change that number shortly. They don't want their money overseas in private hands, and they don't like their owned assets roaming out across the world without an appropriate leash. Fail to pay or file taxes ?!!? Don't worry, international banking regulations of FATCA will require any international bank to report deposits from Americans back to the IRS....and ObamaCare long ago gave the IRS direct access to your domestic bank account.
You think the world is your oyster because you speak English. As I have already said – Canada is not going to be the breeze walk in you think. So where to you land as an alternative? With the current rhetoric over a border wall – Mexico may not be a good landing spot for you either. Less than 7% of Americans have college level foreign language capability; and these are the skills you will need to LIVE in a foreign country. High School language classes will be quickly found useless. I have years of language training; I have a two years of immersion training from University and 9 deployments overseas using the language, plus I have been immersed in my choice language for 3 years. Russian is a tough nut to crack – luckily my accent is gone, while my word count hovers around 5,ooo. On average – the text speaking American will use less than 2000 individual and unique words in their day to day lives.... trust me, if this is your level – you are NOT ready to move to a new international life abroad in a foreign language country. And Google 'Translate' is NOT your friend, it never works for idioms, slang, localization idiosyncracies and most choice epithets.
Safety, Security, Crime:
You are a target, you are a 'rich' American. At some point overseas – you will be fleeced, shorted, pick-pocketed maybe even mugged, assaulted or kid-napped. Without fail – your only mitigation elements are how much they get, what are you prepared to lose. You can take precautions and considerations to limit your exposure and loss – but you are always a target; always. Additionally, there are a whole host of countries that as an American - are highly recommended that you do not travel to, much less relocate. The State Department is your first guide to that reality.
IF you are still curious / serious about getting out - CONTACT ME. I can assist you with planning, preparations, security concerns and specific hurdles you will need to overcome to get abroad. Contact me via email or chime in below, and I will help you analyze your personal situations and individual risk set. Moving abroad is more than loading up a back pack for a weekend in the mountains; do not go unprepared. This is after all - not tourism, but relocation - a new life.
I am a joint service veteran with 15 years military intelligence experience; specializing in country analysis, risk assessments, security protocols, translation and peering into All Things Russian. I have an education in Russian Language, Culture, Economics, Government and Military. I have been living abroad for the last 3 years.