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Time for Expatriation?

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I keep asking myself this question: Is it time to become an expat? I personally favor becoming a snowbird or more where Spanish is spoken and the weather by the sea is warm. In this guest post by John Gower, some other areas are considered that may be more appealing to you.

The U.S. economy is in shambles and with no clear exist strategy to help bolster the country’s once booming economic environment, is there a better time than now to consider expatriation?

The corporate tax rate is the one of the highest in the United States among industrialized countries, so it is no surprise that more businesses are looking to foreign markets to set up shop and prosper in a new land of opportunity. As increased taxes are an inevitable necessity to help back a bloated government pay back deficits from its out-of-control spending, more Americans are looking to move abroad for better economic prospects.

In 2008, Forbes reported, “The global expat population has continued to boom–according to the World Bank’s Global Links Report 2007, the number of people living outside their home country has more than doubled since 1980 to 190 million–despite the weakening global economic climate, with companies continuing to bear the higher costs of foreign postings.” The numbers continue to rise for those looking to escape what is largely perceived as escaping a U.S. economy in perilous condition. Those Americans looking to expatriate should do so quickly as it is becoming increasingly difficult to obtain the documentation and other logistics in which to leave. The cost for passports has more than tripled in recent years, while increased travel security and other governmental measures to tax foreign income are becoming more extreme.

Unfortunately, thanks in part to these measures, Americans with fewer financial means will find it difficult to become an expatriate. It often takes time to find a job, residence, and obtain the permission for both, so those with a substantial balance in the bank will inevitably experience an easier transition.

The options are plentiful

Polled Americans looking to leave have ranked Hong Kong, the United Arab Emirates, and Belgium as some of the best locations to become an expat. Southeast Asia is also a popular destination since most major cities are incredibly affordable for Westerners, especially compared to the exorbitant cost of living in many American cities. With booming markets and a large, secured expat population already based in places like Singapore, Thailand, and India, Southeast Asia provides an exotic, affordable, tax-friendly region that Americans and Europeans alike might enjoy.

Places like the United Arab Emirates often allure potential expats with the promise of luxurious lifestyles in a rapidly growing country. Those in global trade, finance, and transportation and a variety of other industries have made their way to such destinations. As China opens up, more expats are venturing to this massive nation, which offers incredibly cheap food, drink, and rental spaces. International corporations operate here under the close watch of the government, but in many ways expats are relatively immune to the oversight of China’s ruling party. As a result, Hong Kong has made its own enclave within the country, housing billions of dollars in GDP for China from a busy and productive expatriate community.

While there are pros and cons to any of the places you may be interested in, many countries will offer a unique experience without the burden of big government and high taxation. Growing countries often welcome the skills and business of American expats and offer a safe haven from burdensome taxation and a decrepit economic outlook here in the U.S.

John Gower is a writer for NerdWallet, a website dedicated to helping consumers make the most of their savings with the best bank cd rates, low-fee checking accounts, and more.


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