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Thread: Selling It All and Living Abroad, Could You Do It?

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Selling It All and Living Abroad, Could You Do It?

    As we become more of a global society and telecommuting is more available with the internet, I have heard more and more people choosing to live abroad for at least a little while. This is something that I have considered for some point later in life when the kids are a little older.

    However, there are people who seem to just liquidate almost all of the tangible possessions that they own, and move away. There are two people who I know from HS who have not lived in the US for at least 5 years now and when I ran into one of them this summer, she was very different than she was in HS. Another friend of mine just left for a year in China doing volunteer work as a teacher with a church mission. I think it will be a good experience for him and will teach him a lot about life.

    However, I think that we as a society become so attached to our tangible positions, that it is often difficult for us to fathom the idea of selling it all and starting fresh in another state, not to mention another country with a different culture and possibility another language. Then there is the idea and reality of obligations here in the states. You can sell a house or a car to get rid of the payments, but student loans and credit cards are not as easy to get rid of and need to be paid back.

    Could you do it? Could you sell off almost everything you own and you and your family only keep the stuff you can carry? Could just pick up and move to another country? If so where would you move and why? Would it be a forever type of thing or would it just be for a few months to a year?

    Personally, I could liquidate everything I own and move (once the student loans are paid off). If I did, I would want to end up in Northern Italy or somewhere in Central America like Costa Rica.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

  2. #2
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    I often think about this as my escapism when things at work or home get heavy. I could almost do it except my pets would have to be able to come with me and that could be a challenge. Also, it would be difficult to be away from my immediate family. I like the idea of doing it for a few years though. Some times I'm just sick of all the crud and clutter in my life and want to give it all away. Then I get the urge to make cupcakes for someone and am happy to have my mini-cupcake pan and 4 different types of cupcake liners and my set of frosting colors...

    It is fun to do in my head. Not sure I could do it in real time. Plus the fact that Hubby is now in the USNR makes it impossible at least for the next 6 years.


    Canada, Germany, Denmark, and Sweden are high on my list of escape routes.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Could I do it? Sure, I'm a fairly resourceful guy. To be honest, though, my main reason for not wanting to change geographic location would have more to do with cutting the social bonds (family and a lifetime worth of friends in the area) than the host of other difficulties associated with a move of this sort.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

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    OH....IO Hink's avatar
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    I wouldn't want to take my kids on such a trip and I wouldn't want to do the trip without my kids.

    So the answer (at least today) is nope. Maybe once I retire....
    A common mistake people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools. -Douglas Adams

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Sure, I could do it, but having spent time all around the world, I wouldn't really want to do it. A year in Japan, six months in Korea, a few months in Spain and Italy (not to mention shorter trips to every clime and place including the snows of far off northern lands and sunny tropic scenes)... each time I was itching to get back home. After a while, I just started to miss the familiarity of home too much.

    If I absolutely had to do it, I would probably choose somewhere in Southern Europe (Spain, Portugal, Italy, Croatia, Greece). You can live relatively inexpensively, the weather is pretty nice, and the culture isn't really all that different than what you experience here in the states.

    I've spent a bit of time on the beaches of Thailand and in South America and though there are some absolutely gorgeous and serene places there and you can live very cheaply, if something were to go wrong the red tape that you have to navigate in these types of places is just astounding. If I wanted somewhere tropic, Baja California always seems intriguing (even though I've never been there) and you are not a far drive from San Diego if you really need your fix of Americana.
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

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    Cyburbian michaelskis's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by dandy_warhol View post
    ....SNIP..... Then I get the urge to make cupcakes for someone and am happy to have my mini-cupcake pan and 4 different types of cupcake liners and my set of frosting colors... SNIP....
    If you ever have left over cupcakes... let me know. I will PM you my address. I think that Maister made an interesting point about friends and family. I guess in my mind, the only family that I am really close to live in my house and we know of family who wants our dog. Otherwise I only get to see my dad and sister a few times a year. OTOH, we see the mother-in-law more than I am comfortable with so some distance would be a blessing.

    A while back I watched a movie "In Three Days" where the main character had to plan on how to break is wife out of prison, acquire fake passports and ID's, and along with their young son, flee the country. It was interesting to see the transition of accumulation to liquidation to desperation in an effort to have enough cash on hand to get everything done and to just be able to start over in a foreign land living as someone else. One of the things they had to leave behind was the wife’s parents. The FIL never thought much of the husband until he realized that he was going to break her out of prison, then was accepting and proud.
    Not my monkey, not my circus. - Old Polish Proverb

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    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by michaelskis View post
    I think that Maister made an interesting point about friends and family. I guess in my mind, the only family that I am really close to live in my house and we know of family who wants our dog. Otherwise I only get to see my dad and sister a few times a year. OTOH, we see the mother-in-law more than I am comfortable with so some distance would be a blessing.
    I was going to comment on Maister's point as well. My family would be the main reason I would want to move, not the reason I would want to stay!
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  8. #8
    When I was a kid, my dad took a job for a year with the Agency for International Development and we all went overseas. I had a great time, thoug my brother, who was just starting high school pouted and my mom was very unhappy because she coukdnt work and didn't speak the language.

    I'm very glad we did this. But I love living where I live so much and would terrible miss family and friends, and work colleagues, it I were to leave now. Besides, no country is better than the US (how's that for a very liberal guy?)

  9. #9
    Cyburbian jsk1983's avatar
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    How easy is it to just go and move to another country anyways, at least in terms of immigration laws? If I could move anywhere it would be England, but I don't see it as practical.

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    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Reminds me of the movie Heat "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner"

    Now I hope none of us are in that situation ever, but 7 or 8 years ago, before I had a fiance/wife and family, I believe I could have just left work one day without returning to my apt and gone somewhere. Now, I probably would have liked to get a few personal items first, some clothes. But I guarantee you I could have packed everything that mattered into a duffle bag in minutes and been gone.
    @GigCityPlanner

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    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    How easy is it to just go and move to another country anyways, at least in terms of immigration laws? If I could move anywhere it would be England, but I don't see it as practical.
    Depends on the destination and whether you plan to work or not. With many developing countries if you are engaged in some type of work to aid in the economic development of the country and keep $10K US in the bank they will give you residency. I was asked repeatedly to stay/return to Sri Lanka under this arrangement.

    I could live abroad in many places without any issues. I don't have a large family that keeps me rooted here, only the girls and my SO and he is not American. Travel is good, extended travel is better. I have zero regrets spending 5.5 months in South Asia with RT in 2008. It was an experience of a lifetime for her and one that has been paying dividends ever since. I've never been a conventional person and don't care about material possessions so it's easy for me. I plan to retire abroad.

    I have a number of American born and raised friends that live permanently abroad now in China, Japan, India, Singapore, Nepal, Costa Rica, and Colombia as well as others that spend a few years out and then return for various reasons only to leave again.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  12. #12
    Cyburbian WSU MUP Student's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by jsk1983 View post
    How easy is it to just go and move to another country anyways, at least in terms of immigration laws?
    A friend of mine from undergrad seriously pursued moving to Europe after college and working there and found that it was nearly impossible to get a long term visa to any of the Western European countries if you didn't already have a job lined up. He ended up staying here in Metro Detroit and got a job with Ford. After about 5 or 6 years, he was eventually able to move to England to work for Ford there. As far as I know, he is still there.

    The son of a former co-worker of mine finished chiropractic school last year and was unable to find a job in any of his preferred destinations here in the states but received an offer to go work at a clinic in Singapore and took the job. However, the visa only allows him to stay there for 4 months, after which time he has to leave the country and apply to return. Each time he reaches his 4 month limit he goes on a short vacation (Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam) and then returns. He's never been denied re-entry but it sounds like a pain to me (not the vacation part, the paperwork part).
    "Where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost." - 1980 Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan

  13. #13
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    My wife and I have contemplated this off and on for years. I lived in Uganda for a year and a half and I also spent 5 weeks in China (and some shorter trips to Europe) and was really turned on by the idea of living abroad. I even took the Foreign Service Exam as one avenue to working abroad. Passed the written and moved on to the second stage. Didn’t make it past there and haven’t reapplied again yet.

    We also think about moving somewhere more remote and less urban than our current setting. But the kids and their education as well as employment base are the main things that have stymied that idea. It’s the top retirement plan at this point. But this move as well as the international idea both emphasize purging ourselves of most worldly possessions. Internationally, it’s the idea of a streamlined and mobile existence (the FS moves you to a new post every 2-3 years for example). The rural move is more about simpler living that is rooted with the land. We even dream of living in a Tiny House or similar (again, those pesky kids get in the way of this idea for now). But both have to do with stripping down our stuff and living with very few material possessions.

    For the time being, I have been fueling my desire for basic living and liquidating my stuff by clearing out the house of extraneous items and also doing some bikepacking. No, that’s not a typo. Its like backpacking, but using a mountain bike. Its ultralight, as you can imagine it needs to be, so you spend a lot of time whittling down what you really need to survive before heading out. I love the feeling of being out there with nothing but those basic provisions, a tarp to sleep under, and my bike. Its not a sustainable way to live long term, but its fun while I am doing it and until we figure out another way to satisfy that itch.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

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    Cyburbian
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    I have moved cross country twice just trying to stay gainfully employed during this recession. It might not compare to backpacking or living abroad on my means. I am moving next month to be closer to work, and it will be the tenth move in 6 years. As boring as it sounds, I would like to just live in one place for at least 2 years. The closest has been short of 18 months.
    "This is great, honey. What's the crunchy stuff?"
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    Cyburbian Planit's avatar
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    Have thought about it on occasions, but as Maister pointed out, its the friends and family piece that keeps me rooted. Family makes it more difficult although not impossible. I would have to have a job lined up before I left now. I have wanderlust and would do this if I was on my own. There's a George Bailey in all of us.
    "Whatever beer I'm drinking, is better than the one I'm not." DMLW
    "Budweiser sells a product they reflectively insist on calling beer." John Oliver

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    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    I think I could do it and even take my wife and kids too (esp. once the boys are all over 5).

    Although, I've never been there, I would probably look into India. Much of the population (espesically urban) speak English. it's a modern society, but has cultural history back 2-3 thousand years and, provided I got a decent job, we could live very well on the proceeds from selling our stuff in the US. If we went there with $100K (US), we could live quite well.

    But this is just conjecture on my part, since I've never been there.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    Let's not be didactic in this profession, because that is a path to disillusion and irrelevancy.

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    Cyburbian Rygor's avatar
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    I've often thought about this, actually. In fact, I was watching the movie "Into the Wild" (great film, by the way), and thought about what I might do if I decided one day to live off the grid. Would I get bored? Could I handle living like a homeless person sometimes, not knowing where my next hot meal might come from? I'm not sure I could handle going to that extreme, but liquidating all my possessions and moving away somewhere foreign I could definitely see myself doing. I did something similar when I got divorced a little over a year ago and moved 2,000 miles away bringing only what I could fit into my far, and it was a freeing experience. I learned a lot about myself in ashort period of time, and had some amazing experiences that profoundly changed my way of thinking about things. Take a risk and free yourself and good things generally happen.

    Living in another country is a bit more of a challenge, though. New cultures, being that much farther from old friends and family, etc. Do you need to find your own work or can you still do what did before but from afar? At the same time, you are forced to learn a new culture, maybe a new language, make new friends, learn new places. It's stimulating for the mind and the soul. You can always tell people who are well traveled because they have a different air about them. They understand different perspectives and are more open and tolerant of different people and ways of doing things. Like "the most interesting man in the world", they exude a certain gravitas (and in his case, it makes up 1/3 of his body weight).

    That said, I'd love to do it. If I do it will probably be somewhere where I could fit in and make a decent living, somewhere warm, and somewhere cheap to live. Perhaps somewhere like Panama or one of the less touristy Carribean islands where I could sell vacation homes to rich Americans or Europeans.
    "When life gives you lemons, just say 'No thanks'." - Henry Rollins

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    Cyburbian Plus
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    I wouldn't want to, but I'd have an easy start.

    Dual Citizenship (US and Spain, so unrestricted travel and residence in the EU)
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    A place to stay in Spain

    But America is the place for me.

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    Cyburbian ofos's avatar
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    I was 39 when I packed up the family and moved from Michigan to Texas. That's pretty much the same as moving to a foreign country.
    “Death comes when memories of the past exceed the vision for the future.”

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    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    I don't think I would want to do it because Detroit is the center of my social network. Thhis is where most of my family and friends reside.

    Besides, we (USA) still attract more people wanting to live here than want to leave. This is an indicator that life here is pretty good compared to other parts of the world. I am not saying that things here are perfect by any means or that our standard is not acieved or exceeded elsewhere, I am just thinking of that old proverb "Grass is always greener on the other side of the fence" might hold some truth.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

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    Cyburbian Plus Whose Yur Planner's avatar
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    Interesting question. I had a Dutch girlfriend for awhile and when she moved back to the Netherlands, I considered joining her. I also considered joining the Peace Corp, but they had a provision about being debt free. By the time I got my student loans and car paid for, my now ex came onto to the scene. Now I've got no debt, but have aging parents.
    When did I go from Luke Skywalker to Obi-Wan Kenobi?

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    Cyburbian Bubba's avatar
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    I'd love to do it (and would have a difficult time narrowing it down to just one place)...getting Mrs. Bubba on board with the idea would probably be impossible (it's difficult to have a serious discussion with her about moving somewhere else in the metro area).
    I found you a new motto from a sign hanging on their wall…"Drink coffee: do stupid things faster and with more energy"

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    I'm looking at probably doing the Peace Corps in the spring. I hate giving up a secure job in this economy to do it but I think I'd regret it if I passed up this opportunity. I'm young and have nothing really keeping me here so I figure why not give it a shot.

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    Chairman of the bored Maister's avatar
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    Folks move overseas for a host of legitimate reasons, but my impression is that many of those who do so based on the ‘starting over in a new land with a completely clean slate’ philosophy ultimately end up disappointed. There is a lot of truth to the old saying ‘wherever you go, there you are’ and no matter to which far flung corner of the world you run off to, you end up bringing yourself (and all the faults, foibles, opinions, and personal history) along with you. There may be an enjoyable period where the novelty of the new environment/culture brings a certain joy, but over time the same sorts of problems that plagued these folks the last place they lived eventually end up confronting them in the ‘new’ place as well. So much for starting over.
    People will miss that it once meant something to be Southern or Midwestern. It doesn't mean much now, except for the climate. The question, “Where are you from?” doesn't lead to anything odd or interesting. They live somewhere near a Gap store, and what else do you need to know? - Garrison Keillor

  25. #25
    Cyburbian Plus
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    Quote Originally posted by Maister View post
    Folks move overseas for a host of legitimate reasons, but my impression is that many of those who do so based on the ‘starting over in a new land with a completely clean slate’ philosophy ultimately end up disappointed. There is a lot of truth to the old saying ‘wherever you go, there you are’ and no matter to which far flung corner of the world you run off to, you end up bringing yourself (and all the faults, foibles, opinions, and personal history) along with you. There may be an enjoyable period where the novelty of the new environment/culture brings a certain joy, but over time the same sorts of problems that plagued these folks the last place they lived eventually end up confronting them in the ‘new’ place as well. So much for starting over.
    I agree 10000%.

    Last year my fiance was hell bent on traveling everywhere because it would be amazing and the best thing ever.

    Well she went abroad and although she liked it, it was incredibly underwhelming because of her expectations.

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