Dateline: Edinburgh, Scotland
About 10 years ago I got serious about becoming an expat.
My first move was to Belize because, among other things, it’s the only officially English-speaking country in Central America. I was more intimidated by language than anything else, and a place where every school kid grew up learning English seemed like it would be a lot less foreign to me.
One evening, sitting around a terrific expat bar chatting with total strangers, who have since become good friends, I started asking about traveling to other places.
Specifically, I wanted to know how much of a liability it was to only speak English.
Every seasoned traveler confirmed the same thing, English is spoken to some degree almost everywhere.
And if you have the courtesy to learn a few words of the local language – like please and thank you – you’ll be received very well all over the world.
I soon learned my newfound advisors were right. Now, having lived in Germany, Greece, Spain, Thailand, Malaysia, China, Mexico, and a few other places briefly, I never think too much about where the next place will be.
But I do remember how exotic it all sounded only a few years ago. Wow. Travel all over the world and jump into new surroundings, cultures, and customs from month to month – how “out there” that all seemed. So I understand why people think being an expat or a permanent traveler is far beyond normal or average.
But here’s what I think now: being an expat soon will be common. You’ll know dozens of people living that way. Your friends will too.
In fact, if you’re reading this you might be there already. The next phase, of course, is to become an expat yourself. If you want to.
There are massive economic and technological forces that are moving ordinary people, by the millions, in the direction of being expats.
People are making their own jobs
The national economies in the West are in serious trouble for a variety of reasons related to fiscal mismanagement (to be polite) by politicians and the demographics of an aging population. The percentage of people working is at a 30-year low.
For these reasons and others, more people are becoming entrepreneurial and creating their own jobs.
Technologies that began decades ago by simply allowing people to telecommute to their regular jobs and work from home have matured into ubiquitous connectivity that allows a person to market his or her skills and to service multiple clients or customers simultaneously.
Many of these people are realizing how portable their newly made jobs really are.
What difference does it make to a client who never sees you whether you are across town or on another continent?
Good talent is hard to find and a savvy business owner will contract with gifted people irrespective of where they are located.
So people on both sides of these relationships – workers and business owners – are becoming much more flexible in their working arrangements.
States are going broke
The aforementioned national economies all are facing a similar challenge. They aren’t collecting nearly enough in taxation to cover their expenditures. One of the ways a forward-looking bureaucrat can keep the ship afloat is to attract new people to participate in their local economy.
Estonia is in this category. Estonia is taking steps to make it easy to become what they call an ‘e-resident.’
Once a person has status as an e-resident of Estonia it is easy to open a bank account or register a company there. This, combined with lower tax rates, brings outside money into the country.
Georgia issues most visitors from Western countries a visa on arrival that is good for 365 days.
That’s a welcome mat to digital nomads and expats looking for a place to set up shop. Every one of those visitors spends money on rent, food, haircuts, entertainment and everything else fundamental to a thriving economy.
As more governments become more desperate to bring outside money into their countries, these initiatives will multiply globally.
Gradually, being an expat will be a widely recognized principle of how to improve one’s standard of living by simply moving to a place with a better deal for the little guy.
People see the man behind the curtain
On an even larger scale, participation in global social media is allowing people to communicate in unfiltered ways.
Millions are learning that other people see what they see. Politicians worldwide are widely viewed as dishonest people who make empty promises and protect their allies at the expense of the little guy.
People are seeing there is very little legitimacy in politicians’ claims of moral dominion over all of us.
The old ‘divine right of kings’ nonsense has been replaced by the ‘social contract’ nonsense that says you agreed to be enslaved to a particular State on the day you were born.
This so-called social contract is subject to unilateral change by the State, is binding on you for life and obliges you to pay for trillions in debt you neither created nor agreed to.
People who discuss these things among themselves often agree it’s all a sham put in place for the benefit of the ruling class and their friends at the top of the food chain.
For that reason, they feel no loyalty to the ruling class in the country where their mother happened to go into labor, thereby making them indentured slaves to that country.
Again, this is an irresistible force in the direction of being a person who lives and works from somewhere in the world that is objectively more advantageous to an individual.
Living the expat or permanent traveler lifestyle may seem exotic and cutting-edge to the casual observer.
But the global trend of people owning their own jobs, using technology to diversify their sources of income, and the ease of seeking the most beneficial countries from which to operate are massive forces moving millions to become expats.
If you don’t already know someone who lives and works as an expat, you likely will soon.
There’s even a good chance you’ll eventually be one of us.