Fear of Going Abroad, Part 2—Personal Ties

(See here for Part 1)

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.

The most significant fear tends to be a perceived lack of funds. However, a very common second concern is friends and family. Obligations to and attachment for these folks keep many people from expanding their horizons, even if they believe that a move will better their lives.

Here is a comment we received from one reader who perceives his personal ties to be too overwhelming to allow for his internationalisation:

"There is the additional concern that leaving would mean saying goodbye to family members who would refuse to come along—adult children getting started on careers and aging parents in a retirement community. Some will not be persuaded that there is any danger; others insist they can help improve things here. An aging mother relies on me for help, and I would miss her if I could not see her regularly, and I would not want to be away, unable to get back, when she takes ill and then dies."

This is an especially appropriate quote, as this writer has covered all the bases. He has adult children who do not wish to relocate. He also has an aging mother who would like to stay put and have things remain unchanged.

As a further wet blanket, he has friends and family who tell him he would be mad to consider exiting his current situation.

All Expatriates Have Connections

First off, everyone who expatriates has a host of people (often the majority) who decry the move.

Second, all who expatriate do so with trepidation. Someone who is twenty may find it easy to strike out on his own, but, as people get older, their attachments and responsibilities to others grow. The more responsible the individual, the greater the trepidation. However, this does not invalidate the move.

One individual sought my advice years ago, as he decided that his home country—the US—was in the early days of a major downward spiral. He was eager to internationalise himself—to establish overseas bank accounts, to acquire a second residence overseas, etc., but his wife had never left her home state and feared any sort of change. In addition, his children, who were nearly grown, were understandably somewhat short-sighted, and as one said, "As long as the malls stay open, this is where I want to be."

My advice at the time was, "You are the one person in this picture that has the vision to understand what's ahead. That means that you are the one who must decide whether to take action for your family's ultimate benefit, even if they don't have your vision. Establish your overseas accounts and begin transferring funds. Invest in overseas real estate, preferably a house or apartment where you could live if you had to make a move quickly. In the meantime, it can either be rented out, or it can be a family holiday home."

I additionally advised him to make contacts with others in his industry in the new country and visit them on each holiday trip. Have them over for drinks or dinner. Review the job market with them on each visit, and chances are, an opportunity would pop up at some point, possibly triggering a switch to an overseas job.

Taking it in Steps

If the reader believes his future could be made better through internationalisation but lacks the support (and possibly the compliance) of his family, he may consider internationalisation to be out of the question for him. However, internationalisation is a series of "flag-planting"—one country for banking, another for citizenship, another for residence, etc. All the flags can be planted without affecting the family, except for the most obvious one: residence.

As stated above, this can be helped along by picking a country and using it for a family holiday destination. By doing so, the family can become more familiar with the new country, and hopefully, a reluctant spouse may warm to the idea of a permanent move.

As to adult children, frequently, young adults lack foresight and may feel that "everything will be fine." However, if the patriarch does nothing, his children may one day become his harshest critics, saying, "You knew what was going to happen. Why didn't you set something up in another country when it was still possible? Now it's too late for us." If the parents had already made a successful move, adult children, as conditions worsen, may abruptly have a change of heart and also move, knowing that the way has already been paved by their parents and they have a destination to easily go to.

Others worry that they will fail to look after aging parents if they leave. Over the years, I've seen this situation play out in a number of ways. At first, nearly all older people say that they're too old to move. Some never do, but many others, when they realise that their children have moved away, agree to the move themselves, usually coming later.

There is no guarantee that aging parents or grown children will follow, but should the move be made and other family members see that it has been an improvement, they are more likely to follow at a later date.

Still, there can be no denying that there is uncertainty and that we must all make our choices. But possibly the most tragic choice, if one believes his country to be in decline, would be for no family member to take a positive step and create a foreign alternative.

Internationalisation is a choice. My own family left England and headed for the colonies. They were seeking increased opportunity and a freer life. I'm very grateful that they made the choice they did and set an example for me. (Although my own country is a very desirable destination, I've still internationalised and have planted flags in other locations, assuring that, come what may, I have options.)

There will always be reasons to put off any decision, especially the big ones. However, if the reader has considered the future carefully and believes that he and his family would be better-served through internationalisation, the optimum time to begin would be now.

Editor's Note: Finding the best countries to obtain a second passport, official residency, open offshore bank accounts, invest in, and more is what International Man and our Going Global publication specializes in.

(See here for Part III)

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