Chapter 1


Welcome!  So, you’re thinking of moving and living somewhere outside the U.S.? 

Life can be a challenge when there is ever-increasing rent, out-of-pocket health care costs that your health insurance won’t pay, student loan debt, car repairs, family emergencies, job layoffs, or maybe some bad choices that you made along the way.

Maybe you’ve had enough of the corporate rat race: the endless overtime, the ever-increasing workload without any increase in pay or title, the office politics, the lengthy round trip commute every day.  You’ve gained 40 pounds in the last year but don’t have time to exercise, and your health is going downhill.

Maybe you’re considering becoming a digital nomad, doing the same work that you’re now doing but from outside the U.S. with a far lower cost of living, with the additional attraction of getting to know different cultures and people.

Are you already a remote worker but ready to live somewhere more permanently outside the U.S.?

Has the coronavirus pandemic completely wrecked your finances and turned your life upside down?

Are you sick of paying $2,000 per month (or more) for health insurance that has a $7,000 annual deductible?

Are you ready for a different adventure, living outside of the U.S.? 

Married or single, there’s no reason why you can’t prepare yourself to take the plunge.

Are you just plain tired of living in the U.S.?

This book is for you.

I went through all the steps that you are probably now asking about when I left the U.S. in mid-2017.  I did a lot of research about how to move abroad.  I found plenty of books about ‘Retire to Costa Rica’ or ‘Move to Thailand’ or ‘Run Away from the U.S.’ but none of them seemed to address the nuts-and-bolts details of how do you actually accomplish this from a practical standpoint.  So, I’m going to share with you what I have learned about how to do it.

Deciding to move out of the U.S. is a big decision.  You should not make it lightly or quickly. 

I have noticed that when one is mulling over a big decision – job or career change, divorce, a move across the country – it usually takes some time to “ripen.”  You first start thinking about the idea for some months (or years), then maybe you do some research to look into the details, then you start planning, and eventually you’re ready to take the leap. 

What at first seems like a terrifying idea then becomes “maybe,” and you say to yourself, “hmmm,” and after more time it starts to seem like a real possibility.  You then start reading more about it, like this book, and then maybe you’re ready to use some of your vacation time (assuming you still have a job) to go visit various places and do some research on the ground. 

Don’t rush the process.  You may ultimately decide that you’re not ready for such a dramatic change, or that it’s not right for you.

My goal is to make this the best value for the dollar that you’ve ever spent on a book.  I wish I had had this information before I moved abroad.  Learn from the experiences of others who have gone before you.

This book will show you how, step by step, to move out of the U.S. and become an expat, and what issues you will face in doing so.  It deals generally with issues faced by all U.S. expats, and is not specific to any particular country or continent.

I’m going to assume that you:

·         Have enough funds stashed away to live on,

·         Have some sort of steady income stream from investments, a pension or annuity, disability payments, Social Security or the like, or

·         Have some plan to generate income to live on while living outside of the U.S. such as a business or working remotely via the internet.

If you will need to generate income to live on, part of your homework in researching your move abroad will be to investigate ways to do that, which will vary depending upon your individual situation, skill set/work history, where you choose to live, and what kind of work that country allows you to do with the type of visa you have. 

Chapter 3, “How to Decide Where to Go,” discusses factors to consider in deciding on a location.  Cost of living is only one factor and while it’s important, it should not be the only deciding factor.  You should not rush the location decision or get locked into only one choice.

This book is written for U.S. readers, whether still working, thinking of becoming digital nomads, or hoping to retire abroad, and focuses on issues common to all U.S. citizens or residents such as worldwide income taxation, banking, receiving Social Security benefits abroad, etc.

Because many people from the U.S. will be interested in Latin America, and that is where I have been living thus far, most of the anecdotes and stories about being an expat will be from Latin America.  However, my goal is to make this book relevant to anyone thinking of moving abroad, anywhere in the world; it is not location-specific in any way.

I lived in Germany for over a year in the 1980s while attending the University of Heidelberg and became a fluent German speaker.  More recently I have lived in Mexico (a year and a half) and Ecuador (over three years) and have also spent time in Colombia, Guatemala, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.

This book will, in detail, help you how to:

·         Decide whether you’re a good candidate for living abroad

·         Research and make the decision where to go

·         Decide what to keep and what to ship to your new home overseas

·         Keep U.S. bank and brokerage accounts while living abroad

·         Receive Social Security benefits while living abroad

·         Stream your favorite U.S. TV shows, movies and live sports events

·         Decide whether to keep Medicare or not

·         Get your mail and packages

·         Decide where to have a U.S. driver’s license and register to vote

·         Safeguard your computer and stay safe on the internet

·         Reduce the chances of identity theft and financial fraud

·         Plan for and deal with U.S. and state income tax issues

·         Have a U.S. phone number while living abroad & why you should have one

·         Select a smart phone for use abroad

·         Adjust to your new home abroad

In other words, ‘How do I do this?’ in granular detail.

Note: things change rapidly in our modern world, so the information contained in this book can become out-of-date.  It was current when written as of June 2022.

 Let’s get started!

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