People routinely “vote with their feet,” meaning that they choose to relocate to a better environment when the opportunity arises.
This could be as simple as moving closer to a job to shorten the commute or it could mean obtaining citizenship in another country that offers more personal and economic freedoms. The search for a better life is the main driver of immigration across the world.
Have you ever considered voting with your feet? Have you ever asked why would someone make such a daring change? Here are five reasons why you should vote with your feet and move to a better place.
Every year many people in the U.S. and around the world move for financial reasons. People in New England get sick of high-income taxes and move to no-income-tax-Florida. People from very expensive cities (Hong Kong, New York, Washington DC) realize they can actually afford a house or perhaps a McMansion if they moved.
Perhaps moving because of money seems like a no-brainer. But it takes some math and perspective to tell just how much where you live matters for your standard of living.
For instance, the math might be as simple as checking up on income or sales taxes in your locale and then in the neighboring jurisdictions. There’s a friend of mine who grew up in Illinois across the border from Indiana. He likes his hometown and manages to make an average income, but it is hard for him to save. However, over the years he realized through conversations with folks from Indiana that just by moving over the border he would save an average of $2663 a year in taxes.
Imagine that! No wonder he finally made the move just a year ago. He can now put that amount away every year for retirement. In thirty years that could be worth over $200,000! (Assuming he contributes $2663 a year for thirty years to a Roth IRA at 6% interest). Imagine that! Had he stayed in Illinois, only a few miles away, the government would have taken that money away instead!
Here’s another example. I like to talk to my Lyft or Uber drivers because you meet all kinds of fascinating people from all walks of life. Just this past week I met a guy from Venezuela who came to the U.S. fleeing the man-made catastrophe of socialism that’s been unfolding over there.
He moved to another country on another continent and is now learning a new language just to survive. He moved to the U.S. with little in savings and with no professional credentials to do the higher paying jobs that he used to hold in his homeland. Yet he made it here and he’s making a better life for himself and his family. He took the leap because here in the U.S. there is food and medicine on the shelves and because the money he makes driving for Lyft and Uber can actually be used to put a roof over his kids’ heads.
Perhaps you’re one of the thousands of taxpayers or businessmen from California who have moved to Texas to avoid excessive regulations on your business.
Maybe you’ve heard about California mandating that all coffee be marked as a possible cancerous agent. Maybe you’ve heard about how California now has the highest poverty rate in the United States. Or maybe, you’ve heard about how business owners in Seattle, Washington will soon face a $275 head tax on their employees. Or how would-be cosmetologists in Maryland have to go through 1,500 hours of training and a two-year apprenticeship just to get a government license to practice their trade.
Regulations like these hamper the average citizen from being achieving his or her full potential. Too often governments get in the way of people living their dreams.
Better to move to a place that doesn’t have the same level of red tape. If your votes at the ballot box aren’t effective, maybe it’s time to vote with your residency and your tax dollars.
By moving to a place that is freer, you reward your new community with your economic and social contributions.
Spending money on the best products rewards the best companies. Why not support jurisdictions with better laws and less restriction? This encourages voters and elected officials to pursue the right policies and punishes those who don’t.
A proper market for government could eventually force bad jurisdictions to change their regulations and taxes to be more competitive.
Maybe you’ve dreamed about being an expatriate overseas, doing your freelance work remotely and living it up like a king in a cheap paradise like Thailand. Maybe you’re sick of the cold and are looking for a nice, warm place. Or maybe you spent your whole life in the heat and humidity, and would really like to live someplace cool and where you can hike outdoors without breaking a huge sweat.
You have the whole world out there.
For the US: New Hampshire, Indiana, South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Alaska all ranked in the top five in the U.S. index of freedom, with low tax and regulatory burdens, high personal freedoms, and relatively stable finances.
These are some of the best states for people who work online.
These are some of the states people are fleeing.
For overseas: Bahrain, Costa Rica, Mexico, Taiwan, and Portugal ranked the top five best places for expats according to the expat community site InterNations, which does an annual survey of expats on their preferences.
That survey scores countries according to five indices: ease of settling in, quality of life, personal finance, working abroad, and family life. These four are the best combination of those indices, resulting in popular destinations that are affordable, relatively familiar, and that have thriving expat communities. They also offer a wide variety of climate, culture, and cuisine.
There are communities all over the world that you can find and plug in to. These include many expatriate forums and sites online as well as civil society or interest organizations based on just about anything.
Do you want to find people who are all from Texas or who all like board games? Would you like to find friends who share your interest in travel or who share a particular faith? Sites like Meetup.com and international clubs exist throughout the globe with many different local chapters you can join.
Moving to a new place can be scary and challenging, especially if there is a major cultural difference. But you can find people like you who are already there and willing to get you acquainted. They were once in your shoes. The surveys and rankings of InterNations show which places are the easiest to adjust to.
I met a lady on a flight who said that a few years ago she had flown one-way to Singapore because she had gotten sick of her office job and had finally saved up enough to go. I was surprised when I asked her if she had any friends or family there and she said no. She smiled and told me it was okay because she knew what to do.
From the moment she got there and checked into her hotel she pulled out lists of every group she could find that shared something with her- the fellow Argentinian expatriate club, the women business leaders club, the Jewish club, organizations and events held at the Argentinian and Jewish embassies, swing dance groups, the singles in their 30s mixer, and so on.
She had made these lists ahead of time, before she left for Singapore, and she had contacted many of these groups asking for advice and introducing herself. When she landed, she met many of the people she had contacted ahead of time and also networked every single day with all of these groups and clubs. She kept it up and it wasn’t long until she found the friends and connections she needed to get herself started and feeling at home in her new land.
Now that is commitment. And that kind of commitment works and is much better than blindly trying to make your way without a single friend or ally in a new place.
Over one million people move to the U.S. every year and three to six million Americans live abroad at any given time. In addition, about forty million Americans move around in the U.S. each year. That’s a lot of movement. People are constantly choosing new places to live because of finances, a new job, college, marriage, climate, retirement, or just wanting to be freer.
It won’t always be as intense as my Lyft driver who made a dramatic move from Venezuela to America. Remember that my friend in Illinois only needed to hop over the border to Indiana. And then there is everything in between.
And of course, The Daily Bell’s two-year plan highlights the story of a couple who went from Massachusetts to Florida. In just two years they drastically reduced their local and state tax bills, slashed their financial liabilities, and became more self-sufficient.