So You Are Leaving The States:

What You Need To Know About Moving Abroad That The Guide Books Won't Tell You

An essay of personal advice from one who has already gone through the process, by Scott Bidstrup

" was children being encouraged to yell at me and call me a traitor for having a Kerry bumpersticker on my car... Well, I encourage people to leave, even if it's only for a few years. Or even if it's just to get away from... you know... him. But you need to be aware that simply by crossing the border you will not be immune to the antics of the administration. On the contrary, you will be held personally responsible for them. But being "outside" provides a perspective that simply can't be gained on the inside. After you spend a while away, you will never see the US - and especially the sniveling US "news" media -- in the same way again."
        --from a forum at

This section of my web site was written in desperation.

So loaded has my email been with requests for information on expatriation since the 2004 presidential election in the States that I have been forced to create this section of my web site to offer a brief "how to" and a bit of advice for those seeking to get out. This is about the results you can expect as well as the mechanics of the process of expatriation for those who are seriously considering exile or who have already decided to go through with it. It is intended to offer needed information and important advice you really need that you won't find in all those "retire abroad" guide books - security issues and the negatives as well as the positives of the popular expatriation venues.

Should I go through with this? You alone will have to decide, but this section will provide you with some questions you need to ask yourself, and offer some considerations you may not have thought about.

How difficult is it to get a residence permit? The difficulties vary widely of course, but there are a surprising number of options open to you, and this will give you a rundown on most of the widely available options.

How can I earn a living abroad? This section addresses that all-important question about how to survive economically. It offers some options for employment or starting a small business that you may not have thought about.

Culture Shock! This is a section on how to minimize its effects and make your adjustment to life abroad as painless as possible. If you are still considering expatriation, read this section to get a better idea of what you are going to have to adjust to, and see if you think you can.

Special considerations for activists and dissidents If you are a political activist or dissident, and have been engaging in protests or demonstrations, or have been writing on the web, you are probably being watched. This section is written just for you, based on what I have learned, often through hard experience, about the considerations and consequences of being watched while living as a political exile abroad.

Which country is best for me? Here you will find a country-by-country list to help you decide. You can learn about the relative merits of various popular expatriation venues, and get advice on researching your short-list to help you determine which is best for you.

What you need to know about tropical climates If you are considering heading for a tropical country, here is important information you should know if you have never actually lived in a tropical climate before. This will help ensure that you pick a tropical paradise that really is a paradise and not a hot-house hell.

What are the things I need to do to prepare for this? This is a checklist - not a complete checklist for sure, but it will cover the basics. Your exact needs will vary according to your circumstances and your destination, but this will at least get you started with the important stuff.

Getting your financial assets out of the U.S. will require some planning. Here is some information on how to do that, and information you need to know about moving money internationally.

If you know of other advice that should be in this document, or have country-specific information that you think should appear here, please feel free to email me at the link at the bottom of this page and offer what information you may have. The goal is to make this page as useful as possible to those seeking to leave the United States for permanent residence abroad, and your help is needed if you have information that would be useful to others.

Recommended Books

The Ugly American by William Lederer is a classic American novel, published in 1958, and warning Americans about the consequences of their behavior abroad. It is a serious warning about what ignorance of foreign cultural values can lead to. Set at the height of the cold war, the premise is dated, but the theme is as fresh as ever - and that is why it is still very deservedly used as a text in university classes on American foreign policy.

Beautifying the Ugly American: How to Understand the Culturally Different -- Arabs to Zulus by Don E. Post, is as good a general antidote to the "Ugly American" syndrome as you can find in one single book - it is enormously helpful in decoding the mysteries of any foreign culture, particularly for those trying live or do business abroad.

To get the "Culture Shock" guide for the country you need, type the phrase, "Culture Shock +CountryX" in the search window above, without the quotes, and the name of the country you want to search for replacing CountryX, of course.

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Copyright © 2004 by Scott Bidstrup. All rights reserved.