When I was a kid my parents bought a house in a brand new neighborhood in 1964. The nearby school was built for grades Kindergarten to sixth and my new friends and I were the first kids to attend the school. The most telling characteristic of that school is that it was built with no lunchroom or food preparation capability. That’s because every one of us walked home at lunchtime and our mothers fed us our meal and sent us back to school for the afternoon.
The fact is, personal and business taxes and the related burdens of regulation and compliance costs were small enough that a father could go off to work every day, whether in a blue collar or white collar occupation, and provide for his entire family, even to the point of buying a new home in a new neighborhood.
That was normal a few decades ago. Today, normal in America is Mom and Dad both working, perhaps at more than one job each, and often borrowing a lot of money just to keep afloat.
At the same time, there are other countries that are now in a similar condition to America in the 1960’s. Many of them are nice places to live, in part because they are full of happy people who are enjoying an increasing standard of living and eager and optimistic about their future. Check most lists of ‘fastest growing economies’ and you’ll see places like Malaysia, Philippines, Peru, Thailand, Mexico and others. Fortunes are going to be made in these places and expats are flooding there.
The opportunities in these places follow a predictable, almost mundane path that is logical and easy to predict. When the standard of living increases people want to eat better; more meat, more imported foods, and so on. They want better personal transportation. A guy who walks wants a bicycle, a guy with a bicycle wants a motor scooter, a guy with a scooter wants a car. They want more and better kitchen appliances. They want a better life for their children, which means more of everything that kids use, consume and learn. In short, they want all the stuff Americans did when things were booming.
Think of the advantage the rest of us have when we’ve already lived through prosperous years and know the path these folks will be treading for decades. This is a big reason why expats are moving to these places — they have the skills and direct experience to thrive there. These same places also need help catering to their influx of expats. That offers another field of opportunity for people who know what expats need and want.
And speaking of the 1960’s, the magnificent advantage that exists today is the ability to operate a business via the Internet. High taxation? Incorporate an online business in a low tax jurisdiction. Oppressive regulation? Nobody regulates the Internet. There are no licenses, legal and financial prerequisites or other blockades to an enterprise. An online business can be set up and operating, including accepting credit card payments, in a matter of hours. And it can be done for relative peanuts in terms of investment. Of course, you need a good idea for a business and you need to know how to execute and maintain a durable and flexible business plan. But that was also true a thousand years ago, and always will be true.
For the people willing to view the entire planet as their home, there are massive opportunities right now. There are places that need the knowledge and personal experience of people who have lived in a growing economy and know how to leverage technology. It’s not only like America in the 1960’s — it’s even better.