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An Expats Experience With Living In 6 Different Countries

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GoldStockMania.com reader who goes by “SW”, was kind enough to write-up the article below to discuss his experiences of living abroad as an expat. It is a nice follow-up to the recent article, “10 Benefits of (Exiting the US) Expatriation.” There are some good comments at the end of the article for anyone who is considering leaving the US before civil unrest breaks out here. SW has lived in six different countries, values his privacy and freedom (as do I). So please enjoy SW’s article below and feel free to leave a comment or question for him.Guest Article – by SW

It seems more and more Americans are waking up to the fact that the US is in pretty bad shape and are preparing to escape! Being born and raised in South Africa (SA) has given me a far different outlook on life to what most people have in the West. I am so used to the instability of living in Africa.

I have been quite lucky thus far to have lived in 6 countries. Obviously, I’ve spent much of my life in South Africa (SA), but later on decided that staying there was not for me due to the politics and the racist policies they have.

You [GoldStockMania] mentioned you are interested in SA. I would happily recommended SA as part of your expat strategy but unfortunately SA has some serious crime problems (I think we are number 2 in the world for murders). It’s a shame because ignoring that you would really like it. SA has great scenery and it’s a bit cheaper than most places in the west.

You have to remember though that its in Africa so anything could happen. Some people visit SA and fall in love with it but visiting there and living there are two different things. Also, getting a visa to live there is quite tough (SA has VERY high unemployment so they don’t give out visas easily).

Next, I spent 3 years in the US. This was where I started learning about the US dollar and precious metals. I had loads of spare time on my hands, so I read many books and web sites about the US economy, US dollar, etc. Every conclusion lead me to believe that the US was facing some SERIOUS problems in the future (this was still during the property boom when everything was still going up). Luckily I couldn’t renew my visa and left the US.

I then went to the UK for a year. Boy was this disappointing. It has to be the most miserable place I have ever lived. Furthermore, the UK seems to be in even bigger trouble than the US when you look at their economy. Everyone is on benefits and big brother is watching you everywhere. I’m glad I left.

I’m now living in the Channel Islands for the last 4 years. It’s really pleasant here but I see it as a temporary stepping block for me. Cost of living here is astronomical and as an outsider I’ll never be able to buy/own good property (they have really strange housing laws here to control the population). For me it’s too near to Europe and they have strong ties with the UK which isn’t good in my book.

I’ve also lived in Namibia for 4 years which was very peaceful. Great place to go to unwind and relax and get away from it all. Don’t know if I could live there again though. 4 years was enough ;-) . Good place to raise kids as there’s almost no crime or traffic. Spent some time in New Zealand too (only 4 months though). Nice place overall but had problems with the visa to stay (our fault in the end).

Basically I don’t regret any of my travels. Every place I have lived or experienced has taught me something. The bottom line is, there are pros and cons to every country. Like I thought the US was overrated which got me thinking. You need to visit a place yourself and make up your own mind rather than believing some marketing brochure.

Also, whatever you do, PLAN as much as you can before emigrating. If you fail to plan you WILL fail. Be sure to do everything legally. If you gonna stay in any country for longer than 3 or 6 months have the proper visa in place. You don’t want to be blacklisted anywhere. Or deported. And have plenty of cash on hand to pay for all the costs of relocation such as plane tickets, moving into a new place and furnishing it, getting a car (if applicable), visas, forex, etc.

So what does the future hold? Well I am gonna try to stay where I am for another 2 years. Next year I am hoping to look into a few countries such as Malaysia, Dominican Republic, Argentina, and Fiji. I think I am done with the West now and would like to move to a place where they don’t tax overseas income and the government isn’t intrusive in my life. I’m the sort of person that likes to be left alone to get on with things. I treasure privacy. I hate governments poking their noses into my life (or anyone for that matter).

I hope my article has been helpful. If you have specific questions, then leave a comment below and I will try my best to answer any questions you have. I am by no means an expert, but I will try my best to provide answers based on my own travels and experiences. Pretty much all my travels have been for my career and to leave SA. I travel VERY little for holiday/vacation purposes (but this may change as I check out some of the countries mentioned above).

Lemme know your thoughts!

-SW

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  1. goldstockmania
    June 23rd, 2010 at 06:42 | #1

    Nicely done SW!

    It sounds like you really enjoyed Namibia. I had never considered Namibia, but will look into that country after reading you article. Sounds like a place I might like.

    How was the cost of living there compared to some of the other places you have lived like the US?

  2. SW
    June 23rd, 2010 at 13:44 | #2

    To be honest its been years since I lived in Namibia so I cant really answer that I’m afraid. When we were there it was a “unique” kind of setup in that the diamond mine gave everyone a place to live in for free (ie: rent free). It was a closed town and people could only visit with permission. Electricity and water were free. Gas was free etc.

    Having said that Namibia has very few people in it (2 million in total I think) so if its solitude you want then it may interest you. Personally the dessert type scenery doesn’t do it for me. The weather was pretty good.

    Dont expect any luxuries or fancy broadband connections etc. If you gonna consider Namibia then go there to get away from it all and enjoy its basicness.

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