There’s a vast world outside of the U.S. waiting for you to discover it. You know that but aren’t sure about leaving what’s familiar to you.
There are many ways you can get around the overreaching laws and regulations, the political manipulation, and the social pressure. You can change your domestic lifestyle, work toward a freer life in the U.S.
But if you have the itch to go global, there are nearly 200 countries out there and a multitude of alternative routes leading to personal freedom.
When you leave the U.S., you don’t leave “first world” healthcare behind. The World Health Organization (WHO) ranks the U.S. healthcare system a lackluster 37th worldwide. Compare that to 22nd ranked Columbia, where copays average about $3 for people who possess a national ID card and monthly premiums range from $70 to $85.
There’s quality care in many countries. In 2016, Malaysia had more than 1 million medical tourists. Most doctors there speak English and were trained in institutions in the U.S., Australia, or the U.K. It also costs a fraction of the care in the U.S.
In India, healthcare facilities and hospitals in major cities attract hundreds of thousands of people per year.
Every major city in Mexico has at least one high-quality hospital and insurance costs around $350 to $450 dollars a year.
Depending on your work situation abroad, you can legally avoid some or all state and federal taxes.
Whether you are an employee of a foreign firm with a residence permit or are self-employed with a travel or business visa, you still need to file with the IRS.
But if you work and live abroad, you will be eligible for the U.S. Foreign Income Tax Exclusion, which, as of 2017, applies to incomes of up to $102,100. Even if you work online for a U.S. business or have U.S. based customers, you can still avoid paying taxes on the first $102,000 you earn. And then there is a housing exemption on top of that.
Depending on where you go, taxes may be very low or non-existent. Territories like the Caymans, Bahamas, and the Virgin Islands don’t tax, but might be too expensive for those who can’t afford to plop down hundreds of thousands of dollars in a bank account or on a property.
Costa Rica and Anguila, a lesser known British territory, are much more affordable, tax-free destinations. None of these five beautiful destinations tax foreign-sourced income, so you can continue to work remotely and worry-free.
Georgia, Guatemala, and Paraguay are all low national-tax options (10% or less) and don’t tax foreign-sourced income. For those not averse to living in the often politically volatile Middle East, a slew of countries including Oman, the UAE, and Qatar, have no national income tax.
As of 2018, the U.S. ranks 25th out of 115 countries in Cost of Living Index. That means at least 90 countries are cheaper to live in compared to the United States.
In the U.S. people spend a lot on their transportation–registration and inspection laws, excise taxes, car loan/insurance payments, and maintenance and gas expenses.
Plan your move abroad based on a city with cheap public transportation.
Purchasing prepaid subway, bus, and taxi cards frees you from the litany of arbitrary, revenue-hungry regulations, and saves thousands of dollars per year.
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia is one of the cheapest cities for transport. It’s close to Singapore, but without low cost of living. Panama City, Panama is another worth looking into.
And you get a bonus on top of the savings: no more petty, competitive urges to “keep up with the Joneses.” These distract you with temporary comforts while ensnaring you to liabilities dependent on future payments.
Freedom isn’t all about shrewd financial maneuvering. It’s also about the mind. Six months, 12 months, two years or longer — how long you live abroad depends on how deep you want the experience to be. You will have the opportunity to step back and see your native country objectively.
If you were to become used to a different kind of freedom in a foreign country, you could become a dual citizen of get a second passport.
Learning a new language and enjoying another culture is a fool-proof way to gain a wider perspective, increase your self-reliance, and meet interesting people.
Missing a U.S. election cycle or two could facilitate your independent, outsider perspective by sparing you exposure — especially in the heat of campaign seasons — to the shrill, divisive political conversation centered around the corrupt, two-party system.
Finally, pursuing your own happiness by living in another country entails something harsh but beneficial: Leaving a lot of familiar people behind. Unless you go with friends or have a partner, spouse and/or children, you will be on your own. Even as a team or family, expatriate life requires self-starting and perseverance because you no longer have the local community you always counted on at home.
If you go alone, you will be your own motivator, problem solver, and emotional stabilizer. You will have the chance to expand your people skills and build up your self-reliance.
Perhaps the biggest potential benefit would be getting away from the influence of people who don’t value freedom the way you do. Sometimes your peers can hold you back. Taking off to a new country for a while can give you some breathing room without permanently severing ties.
Are you tired of the financial, political and social obstacles in your life? Living abroad may be the answer. It doesn’t have to be a “forever” commitment, it only takes months to prepare for, and the social and material benefits can serve you for the rest of your life.
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