Why Are People Leaving The US, Part 3

Reason 3: Seeking Better Quality of Life

We already covered two reasons for leaving the USA already: Frustration and Seeking Adventure.  Now, we talk about those of us just wanting a better life.  And that about covers everyone.

Hey, Jeff, that’s vague, what exactly is “a better life’?”  How about a better standard of living.

Does that mean better healthcare?  More personal liberties?  Lower cost of living? YES, all the above.

So, I mean health, liberty and pursuit of happiness.

Problem to Fix: Healthcare

I’ll make this short.  Healthcare will not improve in the US for your or your kids’ lifetime.  Sorry it’s a short, sad conclusion.  If this is important to you, move.

Okay, I’ll give my disclaimer.  I don’t know the future, but I do know it would take a revolution to undo the death grip on the healthcare system by the private healthcare industry.  The affordable care act (ACA) is definitely a start, but it will take more than that. They won’t let go for as long as there’s money to be made (and shared with legislators and lobbyists).  Doctors understand this, but they have no say in how it’s run.  And as baby boomers come of old age, health care providers are providing less health and more bills.  Prepare to pay more, or move.

Need an example?  Look no further than the notorious Johnny B Truant.  Johnny’s a Type 1 diabetic and has blogged about it several times, how he overcomes it with great health (though it hindered his 30-day no-carb diet trial).  Healthy lifestyle or not, his insurance premium keeps skyrocketing.  Well, that changed – Johnny quit his health insurance! Johnny said, and I quote, “Fuck this. I’m jumping over the walls to get that carrot.” (you have to read his cute story to get the carrot bit)  I applaud the guy – he broke the rule of “Everyone NEEDS insurance.” and is now saving himself a grand a month.  Nice work JBT.

Problem to Fix: Personal Liberties

Are you a Ron Paul fan?  Keep up with the (ever fun but educational) blog of the Lugwig von Mises Institute?  If so, label yourself a Libertarian.  But you knew that already.

Why do I bring up Ron Paul?  I was at a meetup just last Wednesday.  The organizer casually gave his view on government: “I believe we need only two laws: Protect our own property and protect our liberties.”  I smiled and asked if he’s a Ron Paul fan.  He smiled back.  The organizer echoed the classic tenets that define libertarianism.

Are people leaving the US because of eroding personal liberties?  I doubt it’s the sole or even their main reason.  But I do agree that personal liberties as a whole are eroding away at a faster clip than ever before.  And that pushes more people to think about leaving.

[Here is where my wife steps in and says “Well, don’t just mope about it – do something!“]

If you’re pessimistic like me that things will change for the better, then it might be time for you to leave the US. Find a country that provides stronger liberties. Find a country that offers better income equality.  And find a country that offers free healthcare (because you’re just entitled to that as a tax-paying citizen). 

For all those, the top countries are:

  1. Sweden (why am I not surprised?)
  2. Finland
  3. Denmark
  4. New Zealand
  5. Norway
  6. Netherlands
  7. Switzerland
  8. Canada
  9. Ireland
  10. Australia

The US came in between the UK and Estonia.  (Yes, not even close to the top 10) Here is my source table.  For my list, I used their scoring, plus a bit of my own bias to reformat as a numbered list.

Some last words about personal or civil liberties.  Some liberties may be more important than others.  For you, it may your right to practice a religion, women’s rights, or racial equality.  For me, I focus more on personal privacy of information.  I don’t mind someone looking up my phone number, but I do mind when someone (without my consent) listens to a phone conversation or predetermines my chance for a disease. But that’s me… how do you feel about it?  Leave a comment.

Problem to Fix: Cost of Living

Relying on a pension isn’t what it used to be.  And today, does anyone stay with a company long enough to earn a pension?

Thankfully, a mediocre pension cheque in the United States isn’t so mediocre in many other countries.  Same goes for that meagre social security if you’re a senior, or the humble rent profit if you’re a landlord, or the dividends if you’re an investor, or even a passive income from some online business.  In all cases, the amount goes farther if you spend it in a country that costs less.  (The better case is if you’re earning in that country, rather than exchanging from the declining dollar, but that’s another story.)

Thinking of leaving the country because of your taxable portfolio?  Well, leave now while the going’s good, because there’s likely to be legislation that may follow you abroad.


Next Up: Patriotism

Stay tuned for the next (#4 – “Patriotism“) reason why people leave the United States.  There are over 5 million of us abroad – why not you?

Until then, I ask you just one favour.  If you like this post or the others, hit the Facebook Like button below and share it with your friends.


Final Word / Final Offer

Yes, this is where I write a plug for myself. If you are getting serious about leaving the US, I can help. Hire me as your expat consultant – the price is overly fair (for now).






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An American who likes to move around. I now live on the eastern Canadian seaboard. My job? A stay-at-home dad for two cute but demanding bosses. My wife? Also cute; not so demanding. My wife and I both love travel. We met in South Korea, travelled across Australia, India, Europe and beyond. We lived in Czech Republic for four years. Many stories to tell and experience to share. If you let me, I will help you travel as we do. Enjoy.

14 thoughts on “Why Are People Leaving The US, Part 3”

  1. I’ve never been to Sweden but would love to go. One of the chapters in my book discusses the reason I left the US the first time. Although it was definitely because I was looking for a better life, I think it was because I needed an actual physical separation between me and all the other problems in my life at the time. What I learned is that you can’t escape your problems, but you can change who you are. And THAT is what an expat life does- it changes you for the better.

  2. What country would even want an influx of Americans. Liberia? I don’t think any of the countries in the west want people? There can’t possibly be a labor shortage in Europe. And how old is too old….I will be 50 fairly soon. And how much would it take to last for 40 years?

    1. True enough “Pigbitin Mad.”

      As for “how much would it take…?”, that varies hugely on where you land (cost of living) and regular expenditures or budget. Europe would fall near US costs, while SE Asia or central America can be far cheaper.

      And, no, near 50 is hardly too old. I’m ‘tween 40 & 50 myself (but much closer to 40).

    2. Hey Pigbitin Mad –

      My husband and I are 51 and 46 respectively, and are Costa Rica bound. Excellent healthcare – Baylor College of Medicine just built a state-of-the-art hospital and looking to build a second. Medical tourism, not suprisingly, is a growth industry for CR. You can own a business without being a citizen. You can buy property easily. (We bought one year ago.) And the people are friendly, the food is outstanding and its an easy flight back to the U.S.

      We’re in the mindset that Jeff mentions in another post – stop sleepwalking through life and take a leap of faith! We can hardly wait!


      1. Jennifer – you and your husband are another example of woken individuals. Congratulations. And thank you.

        Best of life to you,

  3. Yeah – about not wanting your phone conversations to be listened to: You are aware that the NSA actually has a clear mandate to intercept foreign communications, don’t you? By moving abroad, I believe that you only open yourself up to MORE of that. I’m just sayin’ – that reason doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny.

    1. Sorry, but that’s got as much logic as saying a victim of domestic abuse is better off staying with the perp doing the abuse.

      Thanks for playing.

      1. Great reply to the post. I have always called it the “abused wife syndrome”
        I have been enjoying your site so far. I am currently an American and for some time (10 years) have been thinking of moving to another country just not sure witch one yet. I have been to Australia and I absolutely loved that place. Was in Brisbane but spent a lot of time in a town called Rockhampton. I would like to go to Ireland, Netherlands, Germany, and maybe the UK to see which place is going to be the best place to live. and by best I mean, somewhere where I can start a family and not have to feel like its on the verge of collapsing.
        I just wonder how long its going to be before the US starts eating it’s self alive. another 20/30 years?

        1. Thanks Ryan.

          You give a healthy list of possible destinations there. But since they’re all in Europe, I have to throw out some timely words of warning…

          I might joke that Europe is on the very same “verge of collapsing” you joke about avoiding.

          Okay, that’s dramatic, because I believe the euro will survive. (read: I f’ing hope to God the euro survives)
          But it’s not dramatic to expect Europe to suffer a (second) major recession by year-end (2012/2013).

          All told, a recession sure beats the euro collapsing, but in any case, Europe is not the prosperous beacon of hope for the short-term.

          Ryan, with such fond memories of Australia, you might re-consider it again, or other countries in Oceania or SE Asia. Like Thai food? 🙂


          Quick disclaimer: I’m not a fortune teller, nor a financial analyst. I’m a news reader, thinker, and interpreter.

  4. How to decide to which country to relocate? That’s my dilemma. As a female, I worry that Mexico & So. America might not be safe. As an American, I might have trouble getting a Visa to live & work in Europe (where I’d prefer to go.) As an artist, I’m not sure I’d enjoy the conservative/conformist cultures of Asia…

    Okay, perfectionist here… Yes, I realize there’s no “perfect” country.

    But seriously, how would you recommend we decide on the right country to relocate to? Personally, I’d like to live in a country where there are lots of artist-musician-bohemian types, very progressive, “liberal” environment. A place like San Fran or Portland, OR, but outside of the US, as I believe this free-spirited culture is currently being destroyed in the US but might perhaps thrive elsewhere.

    That would suggest Amsterdam or Berlin perhaps (though the weather is a bit cold)? Barcelona? But I’ve heard it’s nearly impossible for Americans to live and work in Europe… W0uld you or any world travelers on your site have any recommendations to those of us who can’t afford to physically travel around the world to investigate?

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