I just had a long conversation with my friend Doug Casey. We talked about stocks, bonds, commodities, real estate, and the fate of the world. It was a terrific conversation, I hope to transcribe and share with you soon. Meanwhile, his far-ranging comments reminded me that Doug is the original International Man.
That got me to thinking about how few people follow his example. An exotic vacation abroad is about as much adventure as most Americans will consider, even when there are clear and compelling tax and lifestyle benefits to expatriating. This is true of many people around the world, not just Americans.
Now, I get that “there’s no place like home.” And some people have great jobs that keep them where they are, while others have strong family obligations that rule out uprooting and braving new horizons. I myself chose to live in Puerto Rico as a compromise between legal tax minimization and a need to remain in the US.
So I’m not criticizing those who stay on the land that’s been in their family for hundreds of years, or stay put for any reason. I’m not here to judge.
That said, there are many compelling reasons why anyone who does not have to stay put should consider expatriating. And there are more compelling reasons why those who do stay put should internationalize their lives to the extent possible.
Let me give you my top five reasons for each case.
Top 5 Reasons for Stay-at-Home Internationalization
- Don’t put your eggs all in one basket. It’s shortsighted and dangerous to have everything in your life—from work, to banking, to investments, to real estate—exposed to whatever may happen in one country. It could be the safest place in the world and still be hit by a natural or manmade disaster. A vacation home in another country is a great way to mitigate this risk. On a smaller scale, so is a foreign bank account and/or safety deposit box. Precious metals stored in segregated vaults around the world is some of the best peace of mind you can get.
- Opportunity minds no flags. There are great business, medical, investment, lifestyle, and even friendship opportunities around the world. An oil deposit doesn’t care what flag flies over it. A business partner who needs exactly what you have to offer could exist anywhere in the world. So could a soulmate.
- The government is not your friend. When you’re a foreigner visiting or doing business in a country, you’re treated like an honored guest. At home, you’re a tax slave whose duty it is to work hard and support those in charge, or the motherland, or manifest destiny, or whatever the justification du jour If push comes to shove and the government turns truly despotic, it could be too late to run and impossible to hide. But if you at least have some assets outside of your homeland, you’ll have more choices and be better off than 90% of your fellow inmates.
- Make use of low-tax jurisdictions. Even if you stay at home, that doesn’t mean you can’t set up businesses, trusts, or simple investments in other countries. Some of these offer low taxes that enable growth to compound faster.
- It’s enjoyable. Keeping your life based in your homeland may be necessary, but having some property, other assets, and friends in other countries is fun. It gives one reason to travel and enjoy the infinitely diverse sights, customs, foods, drinks, and more that await us beyond our borders.
Top 5 Reasons for Becoming an International Woman or Man
You get all of the benefits above, plus:
- It’s easy for those just starting out. Young people often think they must start in some low-paying job and work their way up to wealth before they can travel. The opposite is true. Young people have fewer responsibilities holding them back and usually can live on much less. In Europe, young travelers are as common as grains of sand on a beach. Others would do well to embrace this attitude. I’ve heard of young people couch-surfing around the world for years. It’s a great way to accumulate knowledge and experience that sets you above many humdrum job applicants—or would-be startup entrepreneurs, for that matter.
- It can cut taxes for those who do not earn a lot. The US excludes the first $102,100 in income for American who live abroad. Most other countries do not levy any income tax at all on citizens who live abroad. It’s a mistake to think that expatriation only benefits the rich.
- It can cut taxes for those who do earn a lot. Of course, if you’re rich, a tax break on the first $102K isn’t that big a deal. But you can afford to shop for governments, giving your business to whichever one will charge you and your businesses the least.
- It can open doors. Wherever you travel, you are not from there. That can be rough for very shy people or those who need to feel accepted by others. Xenophobia is not exclusive to Americans. But at the same time, the very fact that you’re different makes you interesting. That can open the doors of opportunity for business and friendship alike.
- The sense of freedom is amazing. When your network of assets, friendships, and life itself is globalized, it breaks the shackles of convention, dogma, ethnocentrism, and the serf-like attitude so many people have toward the state. You can go and do largely as you please, whenever and wherever you like. The feeling is hard to describe to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. And you can’t get it from a holiday abroad. You can only get it when, in your mind, you no longer feel yourself to be the de facto property of any government or tribe.
All of these reasons and more are why I think everyone should give this matter serious thought. This is especially so for those who’ve decided against expatriation without really considering stay-at-home internationalization options.
There’s no better source of reliable information than Doug Casey’s newly revitalized InternationalMan.com.