Entries Tagged as 'Ex Pats'

10 Things You Need to Know before Moving Abroad

10 Things You Need to Know before Moving Abroad

10 Things You Need to Know before Moving Abroad

Are you dreaming about or perhaps even actively planning for an international move? It’s exciting to think about the new places, people and scenery you will experience but moving to foreign lands also presents challenges. Here are 10 things you need to know before moving abroad. You should think carefully about them to help your move go smoothly:

 1)  Why are you moving?

This might seem a silly question – until you actually think about it. People move for all sorts of reasons – adventure, escape, career, and climate. The destination they choose is tied up with this. By pin-pointing what it is you want to experience you may be able to choose an even better destination. Things to bear in mind: If you don’t have patience with learning languages, choose a country that speaks your native tongue (or one similar). If you plan to travel a lot, pick somewhere that makes it easy to jump across borders (e.g. Europe rather than Australia). And avoid places with ongoing conflict and unstable economies if at all possible.

2)  Get a grip on the language

Another note on languages. Relocating to another country requires a lot of communication. Knowing how to say, ‘My name is Jane and I have a cat,’ is not going to be particularly useful. If you are moving to a place which requires you to master a different tongue, start classes early, preferably yesterday.

Even if you are moving to a country where the same language is spoken, be prepared for a steep learning curve. From renting to working to taking out the trash, cultural differences can throw even the most prepped traveler.

3)  VISA timings vary – a lot!

That’s between countries, between types, and between individual applications. In fact, the guidelines you will find online are so unreliable as to be almost worthless. The only thing you can do about this is to pay for or secure as little as possible in your new country before your VISA arrives. So leave signing rental agreements and employment contracts or paying international moving company hire deposits until the very last minute.

4)  Tax gets messy

Probably the last thing you want to think about when you’re daydreaming about foreign climes is tax. Sadly, if you are an American, the IRS will not be as keen to forget about you. If you are single and earning $10,350 or more you will need to file your taxes in the USA or you could be in for a nasty surprise. If you are from another country you will need to check out the rules on tax.

5)  Health and banking choices matter

Did you know that you may be able to keep your ACA healthcare benefits providing you spend some of the year residing in the USA? Or that your credit score can be preserved if you keep your home bank open? Unless you have no intention to ever return to the US, take some advice on how best to get the maximum benefit from your health and banking set up. Even if you’re confident you’re in it for the long run, it may be worth coming back home for a few weeks a year to keep hold of your citizen perks.

6)  Your cell phone may not be mobile

Many travelers take their expensive cell phone abroad only to find that it is locked to a US network and won’t take a new SIM card in the host country. What would have been a simple case of paying to have their cell phone unlocked has become an emergency shopping trip for a new device. Make sure your cell phone is truly mobile by unlocking it before you leave.

7)  Bureaucracy is global

So you can’t escape taxes. Neither can you wriggle free from red tape. Regulations exist everywhere on the planet, particularly when you are uprooting from one life and setting up a new one. Whether you are filling in a landlord’s inventory, photocopying old statements for your new bank or wading through an 80-page VISA application expect to be kept busy with paperwork.

8)  Meeting people can be hard

Of course, no one expects to make new friends without effort but it can come as a shock how hard it can be to connect with others. People have their own family and work routines and these can be resistant to outsider interference. Seek out places where like-minded people hang out if you want to make connections. Expat groups (which are easily found via Meetup and other online sources) can be particularly supportive.

9)  You will rely on your travel buddy more than you think

Unless you are one of those hardy souls who are determined to go it alone, you will probably have someone in mind to go traveling with – maybe a sibling, partner or BFF. Choose this travel buddy wisely because you will almost certainly rely on them more than you think. From practical help with finances, carrying bags and emergency cell phone calls to emotional support when things get a bit overwhelming – and they will – your travel companion will be your rock (and you theirs).

10) You will never be the same again

This doesn’t happen to everyone but it’s common enough to deserve a place on the ‘need to know’ list. Many travelers adapt perfectly to blending in with a new culture. They handle the practicalities like a pro. They make a ton of new friends. In fact, everything is perfect until…they visit home. Sometimes termed ‘reverse culture shock,’ expats can find the return to their native land unsettling and even unpleasant. Even the barrage of voices in your own language can be overwhelming at first.

None of the above is designed to put you off your travel aspirations. On the contrary, going into your new life with your eyes wide open will increase your odds of making a success out of your move, wherever your heart takes you.

Pamela Taylor is a professional writer who has an interest in keeping things organized and in order. Her appealing strategy? Never. Stop. Moving. She currently writes on Mexico Movers for the oldest moving company in Mexico – Mudanzas Gou.

Mover Mike Hit 2,000,000

After an incredible June, Mover Mike hit 2,000,000 page views. I have been blogging since 2004 and it is nice to see that more people are finding this blog. Sometimes, I have considered quitting, thinking why bother, no one reads me. However, conservative fiscally, Libertarian socially, this blog joins many others who don’t like the path the U.S. is on.

No longer can we discuss things rationally and heatedly.  Now it seems the play book says to ignore the message, savage the messenger. We are seeing that currently with Trump and we read that Hillary hasn’t answered the press questions in two weeks. AND…more and more people are considering leaving the country.

Mexico”sends” their unemployed to the U.S.. How long will 93,000,000 unemployed and under employed wait to move south? How long will the drought stricken  in the south west wait to move? What happens when the U.S. becomes like Greece and can’t feed the 43,000,000 on EBT?

Stay tuned, dear reader. I hope to cover it and provide some answers. Thanks for reading Mover Mike

“South of Normal” By Norm Schriever

· Print Length: 344 pages
· Publisher: Authority Publishing (April 19, 2013)

When I move to Mexico or even more south, I want to have read all I can about what it’s like to live there. In “South of Normal” Norm Schriever invites us, to experience Tamarindo, Costa Rico. He doesn’t live in the resort towns, but a true, native, surfer town before the developers come in. Sounds a little like Sayulita in Mexico. Schriever introduces us, with love and humor, to the people who make this paradise home. These are the people that provide the services, scramble for work, party and hookup. They struggle, day to day, to provide for themselves and their families, yet, love where they live.

Schriever shares some of the reasons we want to move south:
· “Some people come south to die.”
· “Some come south to save their lives, to rekindle their joy in the sunlight that sets them on fire every dawn…”
· “Some come south to escape the frozen winters…”
· “Some come south to simply be…”
I read of many expats that simply want more from life than the rat race they experience every day. Maybe, Schriever suggests, many of us have lost the mere ability to feel! “Most people live a life of quiet desperation.”

Many expats say they don’t have many native friends and don’t get invited into their homes. Schriever seems to have succeeded by learning the language and giving away his love as if it were a commodity. He seems to have found a way to live and be loved as an expat. Schriever lived a year in Tamarindo while writing his first book.

Time for Expatriation?

I keep asking myself this question: Is it time to become an expat? I personally favor becoming a snowbird or more where Spanish is spoken and the weather by the sea is warm. In this guest post by John Gower, some other areas are considered that may be more appealing to you.

The U.S. economy is in shambles and with no clear exist strategy to help bolster the country’s once booming economic environment, is there a better time than now to consider expatriation?

The corporate tax rate is the one of the highest in the United States among industrialized countries, so it is no surprise that more businesses are looking to foreign markets to set up shop and prosper in a new land of opportunity. As increased taxes are an inevitable necessity to help back a bloated government pay back deficits from its out-of-control spending, more Americans are looking to move abroad for better economic prospects.

In 2008, Forbes reported, “The global expat population has continued to boom–according to the World Bank’s Global Links Report 2007, the number of people living outside their home country has more than doubled since 1980 to 190 million–despite the weakening global economic climate, with companies continuing to bear the higher costs of foreign postings.” The numbers continue to rise for those looking to escape what is largely perceived as escaping a U.S. economy in perilous condition. Those Americans looking to expatriate should do so quickly as it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain the documentation and other logistics in which to leave. The cost for passports has more than tripled in recent years, while increased travel security and other governmental measures to tax foreign income are becoming more extreme.

Unfortunately, thanks in part to these measures, Americans with fewer financial means will find it difficult to become an expatriate. It often takes time to find a job, residence, and obtain the permission for both, so those with a substantial balance in the bank will inevitably experience an easier transition.

The options are plentiful

Polled Americans looking to leave have ranked Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and Belgium as some of the best locations to become an expat. Southeast Asia is also a popular destination since most major cities are incredibly affordable for Westerners, especially compared to the exorbitant cost of living in many American cities. With booming markets and a large, secured expat population already based in places like Singapore, Thailand, and India, Southeast Asia provides an exotic, affordable, tax-friendly region that Americans and Europeans alike might enjoy.

Places like the United Arab Emirates often allure potential expats with the promise of luxurious lifestyles in a rapidly growing country. Those in global trade, finance, and transportation and a variety of other industries have made their way to such destinations. As China opens up, more expats are venturing to this massive nation, which offers incredibly cheap food, drink, and rental spaces. International corporations operate here under the close watch of the government, but in many ways expats are relatively immune to the oversight of China’s ruling party. As a result, Hong Kong has made its own enclave within the country, housing billions of dollars in GDP for China from a busy and productive expatriate community.

While there are pros and cons to any of the places you may be interested in, many countries will offer a unique experience without the burden of big government and high taxation. Growing countries often welcome the skills and business of American expats and offer a safe haven from burdensome taxation and a decrepit economic outlook here in the U.S.

John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a website dedicated to helping consumers make the most of their savings with the best bank cd rates, low-fee checking accounts, and more.

Will You Be Forced To Buy Treasuries

They say it can’t happen here but I believe it can and back in January I told you so now look at what’s happening elsewhere according to Zero Hedge: Following Hungary And Ireland, France Is Next To Seize Pension Funds

Our only question: how soon before the US administration takes this hint of what every proper socialist country does with funds apportioned to it by a gullible public and ends up investing trillions in the worst possible asset classes (while in Europe this obviously means sovereign bonds, in the US by and far the proceeds will be used to make further purchases of such equities as Apple, Amazon and Netflix, in whose continued successful ponziness lies the fate of a vast majority of US-based hedge funds, whose LPs may at some point, in the distant future, actually pay domestic income tax).

On a similar subject see my post at Mexico Calling: Are you going to move to Mexico? Why do you want to move?

Rebecca Roth Released!

Rebecca Roth

Almost two years ago I posted about Rebecca Roth as the woman who spent two years in a Mexican prison — now they want 23 more.

The Oregonian reports

A former Lake Oswego woman arrested in Mexico more than four years ago in connection with an Internet scheme that she claimed to know nothing about was released Tuesday into her family’s care, relatives say.

The Canadian government came to the aid of Brenda Martin, her fellow worker, but Roth was held in a squalid Mexican prison for almost four years and received little support from the U.S. government. Last week a three-judge appeals panel ruled that the case had to be completely retried, and Roth gave a new deposition. The prosecution declined to retry and Rebecca Roth was released.

Congratulations to Roth. Does she want to live in the U.S. again? Too bad we can’t get our elected representatives to help U.S. citizens in foreign countries. After all, isn’t that why we are so fortunate to live here and pay taxes?

She’s spent two years in a Mexican prison — now they want 23 more

I’ve noted the move to Mexico by Americans in at least two articles: Ex-Pats In Mexico and Could You Pack Up And Move?. Called ex-pats, it appears our government, based on the story in Sunday’s “O” in The Oregonian, is not helping its citizens in Mexico. Margie Boule writes,

More than two years ago Rebecca and a Canadian woman named Brenda Martin were arrested by Mexican authorities and thrown in an overcrowded prison. They were charged with organized crime and money laundering.


The women had held low-level jobs in the employ of a Canadian man named Alyn Waage at the beginning of the decade, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. Unbeknownst to both women, they claim, Waage was running one of the biggest Internet pyramid scams in history.


The Mexican government claimed Rebecca’s wages and the money she’d been given to pay Waage’s utilities were “illicit funds.”


Rebecca Roth and Brenda Martin were convicted and sentenced in April. But they weren’t given the same sentence.

From the moment Brenda Martin was arrested in 2006, Canadian politicians worked hard to help her. There was outcry from the public and the media.

Within two weeks of her conviction in April, Brenda Martin was in a Canadian prison. Days later, she was released.

That’s not how the American government reacted to Rebecca Roth’s predicament. Within days of her conviction, Rebecca filed an appeal. “I’m not guilty of these charges,” she said by phone last week, from a Mexican prison. “All I did was pay bills.”

Rebecca and her family are angry at the injustice. They’re angry that U.S. authorities have done so little. They’re upset that U.S. politicians have done “virtually nothing to help us,” says Barbara Roth.

I know life isn’t fair, but when illegal aliens come to this country, they have their babies and the babies become U.S. citizens with all the rights. We pay for illegals by giving them welfare, free medical care, education in our schools, we give them rental rights and we cry big tears when an illegal can’t get into college.

It’s time that politicians protect the rights of ex-pats by up holding the rule of law. WE are called the mightiest country to ever stride the planet. What good does it do us if we dont use our power to support The Rule of Law?

Could You Pack Up And Move?

In March I posted about Ex-Pats In Mexico. No one knows how many citizens of the U.S. have moved to Mexico, “howerver, combining host-country with US census information, it is clear that citizens over 50 are a growing number in the exodus.”

Many of the factors credited with the accelerated exodus of US citizens to Mexico and the Panama include rising taxes, reduced reliability on pensions, increased medical costs, and the desire for a more active lifestyle at a lower cost.

Recently, according to a report written by Tom Kelly in The Concrete Producer Online, housing sales in Mexico as in the United States are down, but Mexican developers are making it very attractive and easy to buy condos in tourist areas. For example,

a Puerto Vallarta-based marketing company operated by Mexico City native Benjamin Beja offers affordable, well-located, attractive condominiums starting at $145,000 along with elegant waterfront residences with price tags well over $1 million on the Bay of Banderas, one of Mexico’s most popular tourist destinations.

The downpayment programs at two developments are extremely flexible, especially for investors. While the minimum downpayment is 20 percent, MexicoAlive will accept $9,000 at signing and then the difference in monthly payments, interest free, until the buildings open. For example, if a buyer decides on a $140,000 unit, the 20- percent downpayment would equal $28,000. After the $9,000 at signing, the buyer would make payments of about $1,000 for 17 months.

Then just a mortgage of 112,000 and it’s all yours.

I’m one of those who could pack up and move, especially after the cold and wet spring we’ve experienced in Portland, Oregon.

Ex-Pats In Mexico

When I mention Mazatlan to people, I hear about some book written by ex-pats living in Mexico or I hear about someone contemplating moving to Mexico. Bev and I had dinner with friends that vacationed in Mexico four years ago, now they have a house in San Miguel de Allende and are planning to pull up stakes and move there permanently in the next year or so.

I got to wondering, how many Americans have moved there? This table is courtesy of the 2000 census, the last information we have available and available at LifeTwo.com:

Total population Foreign-born US-born
1970 48,225,238 191,159 97,229
1980 66,846,833 268,900 157,117
1990 81,249,645 340,824 194,619
2000 97,014,732 519,707 358,614

The report states:

…there is very little actual research done on the demographics of the US citizens abroad or their settlement choices. Howerver, combining host-country with US census information, it is clear that citizens over 50 are a growing number in the exodus.


None of the data above captures the second-home buyers, a segment of the real estate market that is growing at very high rates in both Mexico and Panama, and which would be interesting to add on.

I found this map showing where ex-pats are living at Latin Lista:

Popular destination points for American retirees in Mexico.
(Source: Migration Policy Institute)

Here are two books, one I’ve read and one I’m currently reading:

“The Plain Truth about Living in Mexico: The Expatriate’s Guide to Moving, Retiring, or just hanging out” by Doug Bower and Cynthia, M. Bower

“On Mexican Time: A New Life in San Miguel” by Tony Cohan

And today I heard about “Lost and Found in Mexico”, A Documentary Film by Caren Cross.

Are we thinking of following in so many footsteps? Right now it is just an idea that will take much investigation. I’ll keep you informed of our progress.

The New Mexico

Interesting article in last Monday’s USA Today, In Mexico, an energized economy raises hopes.

…many Mexicans say their future looks brighter than it has in generations.

The economy is growing steadily, and poverty rates are declining significantly. Crime is down, public health and education levels are improving, and Mexico’s democracy is more robust than at any time in its history.

An improving economy is encouraging many Mexicans to stay home.

The brighter economic outlook in Mexico is one reason the number of migrants caught by U.S. border agents has declined 20% during the past year or so, although tighter border enforcement and the slowing U.S. economy also are factors…

Other factors helping Mexicans: NAFTA. Didn’t Democrats oppose NAFTA?

The 1994 North American Free Trade Agreement opened a huge market for Mexican-made goods, spurring the construction of factories along the U.S. border.

Curbing spending:

…a new generation of government technocrats, many of them Ivy League graduates, began to tame the runaway public spending and inflation that had locked the Mexican economy in bust-and-boom cycles for generations.

Election of conservatives:

In 2000, the conservative Vicente Fox became the first president from outside the PRI in seven decades. Under Fox and his successor, Felipe Calderón, inflation has averaged about 4% a year with no major financial meltdowns.

One thing is becoming obvious, the quality of life is improving.

Mexicans are living longer 75 years vs 78 in the U.S.
Infant mortality is falling, 15.7 deaths per thousand vs 6.37 in the U.S.
Extreme poverty is falling to 3.0%
Earnings have risen in last ten years. GDP per capita has risen from $3,084 to $8,190
Car and light truck sales are rising
University enrollment is rising.

Obviously, many Mexicans have found the U.S. attractive from a wage standpoint. Many Americans find Mexico attractive for its cheaper housing and lower food prices. You can also hire a maid, a cook and a gardener, all for a total of $30 a month. For a retiree that’s music to one’s ears.

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