Taking The Leap Into Expat Life
Life in America used to be idyllic. Not too long ago, the American dream was alive and well and one that induced envy from people all over the world. Immigrants came in droves to achieve the “American Dream”.
Visions of great jobs, great money, a world-class lifestyle that culminated in the big house with white picket fences and mingling with your neighbors on weekends, bonding over the grill. Think of Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet. The glory days.
These days, those images only exist on celluloid. I think we can agree that for most people, the American dream is dead. The latest figures are dismal. The current unemployment rate from the Bureau of Labor as of October 2021 is 4.6%, down from 8.4% last year.
This means that approximately 7.5 million people are out of full-time jobs. These numbers will keep adjusting as covid continues to be an issue. The fact that the news keeps harping on how people are quitting their jobs in droves makes me wonder if this number is a true reflection of things
Why people are taking the leap into expat life:
Current life situation:
For those who have jobs, most are hanging by a thread, and it is not unusual to have people holding down two or more jobs just to survive. The minimum wage has stagnated and has definitely not kept up with inflation, not in the slightest. The end result is stress and health problems, which leads to a major reason why people want to make the leap and make a new life elsewhere.
Healthcare Costs: Medical Bankruptcy
Healthcare cost is perhaps the single most common reason why people leave America for other countries. It is obvious that the system is broken, and nobody seems to have a fix for it.
One reason why people can not afford to retire is that they have to fully pay for their health care costs. Even with a company supplemented plan, it is not unusual to have a deductible that can be as high as $10,000 before the insurance kicks in a penny.
That is so prohibitively expensive for most and is a major factor in people delaying or refusing to visit their doctors, either for preventive care or for emergency care. Quite a lot of people are forced into bankruptcy by medical bills. This is probably the second most popular reason why people are taking the leap into expat life.
Why take the leap into expat life?
Here are just four major reasons why most people consider leaving their homes :
Better quality of life
It is known widely that the American system is designed as a “work to live” model. You are expected to work insane hours in high-pressure jobs with minimal pay. You consider yourself lucky if you get two weeks of vacation per year (which most don’t take for fear of losing said jobs).
Most other countries work on a “live to work” model. Work is just one part of their lives. Family time and time spent with friends are musts. Work is not their whole lives. The desire to enjoy this sort of freedom is only natural, and most ex-pats welcome the chance to experience that.
Cheaper cost of living
Right alongside quality time is the lust to live life much cheaper than in the states. America as a whole is so expensive that most can not afford to retire. The disparity between the rich and the poor is so glaringly obvious. Moving to a country with a lower cost of living instantly elevates your lifestyle and well-being.
You will find ex-pats all over the world who are making do with just their pensions and living great lives to boot. In the U.S., that same pension might mean they would have roommates for instance, and live ultra frugally. In their new lives, they are able to partake in life, eating out, etc.
Another major factor in the ex-pat exodus from America. It is nothing new, and people have been doing it for years. As previously stated, most people can not afford healthcare in the states, even with their employers picking up part of the tab. The copays are astronomical for most people.
Speaking from personal experience as someone who had a great job, and “good” health insurance, I still had to pay a 100 dollar deductible for an ER visit, which is not so bad, but everything else is covered only 80% after my $3,000 deductible.
Anyone who’s ever had to go to the hospital knows you’re talking thousands of dollars that you have to pay. Hence the medical bankruptcies, considering the fact that 41% of Americans are unable to cover a $1,000 emergency.
Moving to a country with a universal and affordable healthcare system means being able to take care of problems without fear before they become worse. Spain is one of those countries, and it’s surprisingly cheap to have private health insurance with minimal copays, or even zero. This video explains how much we pay for our healthcare and the level of care that we’ve had during doctor visits.
Getting away from consumerism
The ads are everywhere! You are constantly bombarded with the latest must-have gadgets, the latest must-have clothing, shoes, cars, houses, and everything else in between. You are made to feel terrible and inferior because you don’t have them.
This in turn feeds into the “keeping up with the joneses” phenomenon where you feel the need to outdo and go into more debt since the credit cards are given out like candy. A whole system designed to keep you in debt forever. Getting away from all that is a breath of fresh air. You learn to appreciate the good things in life.
Are you ready for your expat life?
It takes a strong person to be able to assess his/her situation and make moves to implement their plans. Most people dream of better lives, but few are actually brave enough to do it. If you have come this far, you should indeed be proud of yourself.
It is scary to leave all that you know, and the people that you love behind, but the fact remains that you have to live for yourself. There is nothing wrong with becoming an ex-pat to find happiness. You can not live the life that others design for you, and must forge your own path.
The world is truly your oyster, no matter where you head to. Valencia is a perfect fit for us, but there are plenty of other just as wonderful places. Once you make your calculation and decide where will work best for you, you should make plans to make it happen. Life is not guaranteed to anyone, so make the best of the time you have.
A wrapup of taking the leap into expat life
Preparing to change your life is a huge deal by all accounts and one that should not be taken lightly as it can be a very expensive mistake. A lot of people will root for you, and a lot more people will hope that you fail. You need to be strong enough to press ahead and live with no regrets.
Are you ready to take the bold leap into the ex-pat way of living? Where are you thinking of moving to? Are you excited or fearful at this stage of planning?