Reporting from: Bangkok, Thailand
I’ve never much been a fan of literature. To me, if it didn’t actually happen, I don’t care much to read about it. It’s the same type-A mindset that led me start businesses at a very young age and pour myself into work.
But something about Franz Kafka’s stories always spoke to me in an odd way. In “Beyond the Law”, Kafka wrote about a story that I believe speaks to those who are waiting to expatriate, as if to seek permission.
You go to the city to see the law. Upon arrival outside the building, there is a guard who says “You may not pass without permission”, you notice that the door is open, but it closed enough for you to not see anything (the law).
You point out that you can easily go into the building, and the guard agrees. Rather than be disagreeable, however, you decide to wait until you have permission.
You wait for many years, and when you’re an old, shriveled wreck, you get yourself to ask:
“During all the years I’ve waited here, no-one else has tried to pass in to see the law, why is this?”,
and the guard answers:
“It is true that no-one else has passed here, that is because this door was always meant solely for you, but now, it is closed forever”.
He then procceeds to close the door and calmly walk away.
I just finished an interview with anarcho-capitalist writer and attorney Stephan Kinsella in which we discussed, among other topics, how Big Government uses your emotions to keep you tied to them – and away from expatriation.
Many people claim that they can’t become a nomad, a perpetual traveler, or even an expatriate because of family issues. They have kids in school, or a wife that doesn’t leave, or a grandfather in a nursing home, or whatever else.
If you’re looking for someone’s permission to escape a set of bad political circumstances, no one will give it to you. If you believe in the principles of freedom, you have to summon the courage to do it on your own, knowing your first obligation is to your own mental happiness and financial well-being.
Beyond that, however, are the ongoing stories presented by western media about expatriates basically apologizing for their behavior.
Just the other day, I saw iconic entrepreneur Richard Branson defending his move to his Necker Island in the Caribbean. Apparently, people in the United Kingdom – a soft totalitarian state with even higher taxes than the US – are accusing Sir Richard of dodging tax obligations by moving out of the UK and into a tax haven.
Unlike US citizens who must pay taxes no matter where they live, British citizens can stop paying taxes once they’ve moved out of the country. So that means Sir Richard can save millions of dollars that will likely be put to better use through his charities, investments into new projects, or his space flight business.
Rather than figuring how to dig themselves out of unemployment or fix their crumbling healthcare system, Brits are calling Richard Branson a tax dodger. And being the nice guy he is, he’s entertaining them, saying the move was for “lifestyle reasons”.
Who knows? That quite possibly could be true. After all, how many Londoners facing a cold winter right about now wouldn’t love to live on their own tropical paradise?
The idea, however, that people should have to defend themselves when becoming an expatriate is absolutely insulting. And defending yourself is merely caving in to pressure creating by some social contract you never signed.
I’ve personally been harassed by agents in the Land of the Free. I’ve been thrown in a holding cell with the kind of people the US government would call terrorists (read: guys wearing turbans) and made to sit and wait while they stripped me of all of my belongings and tore apart my bags. All because I spent two weeks in Italy by myself. “That’s not something average people do”, the customs agent told me.
To statists and jingoistic patriots, leaving your country for almost any reason is akin to spitting in their face. Perhaps in the same way whizzing by a violinist was considered rude aboard the Titanic.
If you see the warning signs and agree with people like me that action needs to be taken, you have to know that you may be going it alone. Not many people have parents like I did who encouraged them to think outside of their own borders.
And your government isn’t going to exactly cheer you on to move more of your freedoms and assets out of their grasp.
Moving to another country starts with protecting your assets and making legal use of the strategies we talk about here, like offshore bank accounts. From there, spend time investigating countries you feel would be valuable to you. Take a month off and travel to your top one or two candidates. Use the country guides we’re working on producing here to learn from other expats.
The funny thing is that once you get over the mindset that “your” country is the only one worth living in, things get easier. Sitting in an apartment in a decent part of town, I imagine I could be in any number of cities. The wi-fi is fast, the water is hot, and there’s a McDonald’s down the street. Imagine, they even have an English-speaking K-12 school about a mile away.
For me, living abroad isn’t about avoiding taxes, either. There are legal ways to reduce your taxes and stay in the magical land called “America”. However, living abroad offers so many other diversification options as well as the chance to escape the surveillance state, police state, and endless business regulations of the corrupt western world.
You may not be a billionaire like Richard Branson or Eduardo Saverin who has to take it on the chin personally when you pack your bags and leave. However, sentiment against expatriates in general will continue to foment as desperate politicians point the finger anywhere but in their own face.
If you’ve built something of value like a business, you’ve already seen what happens when greedy people find fault with you. The idea of moving to greener pastures is really no different.
You can find a million reasons to stay at home with your kids in the local school and your money in the local bank. History has shown this has not been a good option of untold millions of people. But it’s your right to do so.
There may come a day, however, when you realize that a door had been opened for you. While it may not have been a door that anyone encouraged you to walk through, it was still there. Waiting for you. Only you chose not to walk through it, only to realize later that it was too late.