A quiet exodus has begun away from First World countries. Many people are planting flags in other countries around the world, but even more people who wish to pull up stakes, do not do so—almost always, out of fear.
I believe that the decision to internationalise is most difficult for those who have the least in liquid assets. Not only do they lack the funds they feel are necessary, they tend to lack the confidence that typically comes with money. For these folks, the fear of taking the Big Step is the most pronounced, even if they believe that a move will better their lives.
Here is a comment we received from one reader who perceives his wealth to be too minimal to allow for his internationalisation:
"With no income (being unemployed except for occasional part time jobs since the recession of 2008), in need of food stamps to get by, unable to afford health care and not wanting to sign over retirement savings and a house for Medicaid, not quite at retirement age but also fairly sure there will not be enough at retirement age due to extended unemployment—it seems as if the options in these wonderful newsletters are out of reach.
What does one do when cash is low?… it really seems as if your advice is for the wealthy of any age, or the young and unattached who feel comfortable backpacking around. Those in the middle—without wealth, but with health issues and family obligations—cannot seem to see how to do this. If you could possibly show how to make it work, when under these pressures, that would help."
This respondent speaks for countless individuals hoping to internationalise, but doubting that they can afford to do so. Over the decades, I've met countless people in very similar circumstances. Yet, almost always…they were incorrect. Their situation was far from hopeless.
In internationalisation, we speak often of the preservation of wealth. However, wealth may be in the millions for one individual, but in the thousands for others. For some, it is even less. So, for the sake of offering an example, let's focus on the latter group and examine an actual case—someone who believed he was on his last legs.
A forty-five year old American from a depressed town in East Texas, he had owned his own small metalworking company, which had failed after fourteen years of business. He was living in a trailer in a river bottom with his wife and two children. His wife had a factory job, but he was unable to find work of any kind.
He borrowed enough to buy an air ticket to the Cayman Islands, having heard that there was opportunity there. He couldn't afford a rental car, so he walked from door to door, looking for work. He was hired on the spot by the second company where he applied.
As he was broke, his potential hourly pay was reduced to allow for his employer to provide him with a small house and a company truck, 24/7. After a month of working, he sent for his family, and he remained with his employer until his retirement, fifteen years later.
The above description has the appearance of a fairy tale. Yet on closer examination, it is entirely business-like and rational.
He went to a country where skilled, experienced people were needed. He had proven hand skills, displayed a clear willingness to work, and best of all, he had kept a small business going in the worst of times. His new employer was thrilled to get him, as he possessed desired qualifications that were missing in most applicants in the new country.
In my own businesses, I have often employed people from other countries who were seemingly on their last legs. Often, after having been offered a position, they confessed that they did not even have enough cash to pay their first month's rent and that they could not buy a vehicle to get to work. (For decades, this has been common for blue collar workers, but is becoming increasingly common for white-collar workers as well.)
What applicants tend to overlook is that, while people in their situation may be a dime a dozen in their home countries, they may well be very desirable in another country. If so, employers in the target country are already in the habit of being creative with employment packages, in order to create a workable transition. They know that, once the transition period has been overcome, they will have an employee who not only has the skills, but will be determined to do all he can to keep his new position and better his life. He will, in fact, be a choice employee.
It is not uncommon in some target countries for employers to provide housing allowances and transportation.
However, many go further, introducing new people to local watering holes, opportunities for recreation, social groupings, etc. They may help them create bank accounts and even find mates. (My business partner used to jokingly refer to the practice as "Whole Life Management.")
Admittedly, this is not how business is generally conducted in London, New York, or Hong Kong. But in countries where the applicant's skills and experience have significant value that is not commonly available, businesses do what is necessary to attract the people they need.
At this point in the narrative, the reader, if interested, is likely to say to himself, "But I wouldn't know where to begin." Yet, in today's world, this is simpler than it has ever been. Turn off the TV and go to the computer.
Pick Some Countries
First, do some homework on countries that are doing well in spite of the current economic situation, or even are doing better because of it. Yes, they are different from your present country, but that may be a good thing. Make a list of those that, for whatever reason, seem like possibilities to you.
(Editor's Note: this article has been a particularly helpful guide for people in choosing the right country for them.)
Find a Job
Are you used to working for yourself and would rather not be an employee? Now may not be the time for that, if you have no money. Get a job in a new country, get your life stabilised, and maybe later it will be time to start up a business. Not now.
Peruse the Help Wanted ads in the publications of the target countries. Get the contact info on HR firms there. See what's available. Do you see yourself in one of those jobs, even if it's only a job in which to get started? If so, apply.
Many people who previously had good jobs, but are now just scraping by, are held back by their feelings of failure and the sense that they have passed their sell-by date. They often imagine that people in other countries, where prosperity continues, will look down up them. Not so. Overseas employers are accustomed to pulling employees from other countries, and whenever a major country is having economic trouble, they look upon it as a staffing opportunity. They know that they will now be more attractive to those wishing to leave their home country, and are eagerly awaiting the opportunity to hire applicants with skills and experience.
In my own country, a full half of the residents came from other countries, and 139 nationalities are represented here. We know that without them, our prosperity could not continue. We are a small country of 55,000, yet we are expanding on several fronts, including one entire new industry. There are many other countries like us. Each one is a possible target country for you.
In my lifetime, I've gotten to know countless "new people." Some came highly qualified and well-heeled. Others came with little more than their skills and experience. Those from the latter group often required a stabilisation period of several months to a year. Some left after a few years, others remained permanently. Many did very, very well.
Virtually all of them changed their lives as a result of their decision. All of them began by taking the first Big Step—pursuing a job.
Editor's Note: It is true that having money helps to internationalize, but as Jeff Thomas points out, you certainly don't have to be a millionaire to capture opportunities outside of your home country. This is the kind of stuff we specialize in in our Going Global publication, which has information on low-cost ways to obtain a second passport, open an offshore bank account, and more.