For many years, I’ve provided consultation for those who have come to the conclusion that they are living in a country that is removing both their freedom and their wealth. In many cases, they have already reached the conclusion that they need to internationalise and only need guidance as to how they can effectively internationalise themselves.
Today, the number of people who see the writing on the wall is growing exponentially, but the great majority of the new crowd are coming to the realisation rather late in the game and haven’t done the requisite planning. In fact, many of them so greatly fear change that they cannot bring themselves to take the necessary steps.
Time and time again, I’m hearing the same sticking points for failing to prepare; for failing to assure a more promising future for themselves and their families. With many of these sticking points, the replies reveal the sticking points to be merely excuses for failing to act. Here’s a selection of the most common:
I can’t open a foreign bank account. I need my money here, where I can get to it.
The EU, the U.S., Canada, and some other countries have legalised bank confiscation of depositors’ funds (often referred to as “bail-ins.”). In addition, these jurisdictions may be initiating capital controls in the near future (as Greece has already done). By keeping your wealth at home, in a bank, you may accomplish the reverse of what you’re seeking - you may lose your wealth.
But I can’t operate without cash. I need a chequing account to pay monthly bills.
That tells you to maintain the minimum amount in a chequing account; say, three months’ worth of expense money. And be sure to regard even that amount as sacrificial. The balance of your wealth can be moved to a jurisdiction that has no confiscation law.
But what if I suddenly need more cash, if I need to buy a big item, say, a car?
All you need do is have your foreign bank wire-transfer the funds to your home bank. All you’ll pay is a small transfer fee and the remainder of your money will be safe. And, remember, those countries that are presently facing an economic crisis may try to keep you from taking your money out, but they’re only too happy to have it come back in.
The market for houses here is not all that good. If I sell out now, I don’t think I’d get another house as nice as this one when I moved to another country.
This is very possible. However, the housing market promises to sink further. It’s already too late to get top dollar, but not too late to make a move. Remember, it’s always better to escape a downwardly-directed economy in favour of an upwardly-directed economy. Yes, you may well take an initial hit, but your future will be more promising, and it’s your family’s future that’s of the greatest importance.
I might not get as good a job overseas as I presently have.
The same reasoning applies. Choose a destination where opportunity exists and treat the present as being less important than the future.
I have no idea where to go. I’ve only been abroad on holiday.
Then, you’re like most people. So, it’s time to begin the process. Make a list of all the things that are truly important to you (be it freedom from taxation, good schooling, a non-invasive legal system, etc.), and overlook the items that are convenient, but unnecessary (a handy local Starbucks, a gym that you like, etc.) Choose the country (or countries) that seem to be the best fit for you, then get to work finding out what you have to do make a move.
What guarantee do I have that internationalising will work out?
None! But then, you have no guarantee now. In fact, the opposite is true. If economic decline in your home country is virtually certain, your move will be the same as for those who left the Roman Empire in its final days. Decline was a virtual certainty at home, but opportunity was likely in the lands to the north. Those who had the courage made the move and many prospered. There’s no promise of success, just a greater likelihood.
My family feel that I’m being too alarmist. They want things to stay as they are.
Of course they want things to stay as they are. We all would like to retain all the niceties of life that we presently have, friends, familiar places, etc., but the coming economic changes stand to erode the freedoms and overall quality of life dramatically. Rather than focus on the fact that you’re the bearer of bad tidings to your family, you might wish to focus on the thought that, if you don’t prepare for the future now, you may one day have to answer the question, “Daddy, if you knew that things were going to get so bad, why didn’t you do something to save us? Now, it’s too late.”
As stated in the introduction of this article, these and other similar sticking points are actually common as reasons for doing nothing to counter economic threat. (Finding reasons not to take the more difficult path is easy, but there is a price to be paid.)
Throughout history, there have been many empires. Each has its day and eventually declines. In the final stages, it’s those who are resident in a given empire that have the most difficult time grasping that the end is nigh. In every case, the majority fail to act and end up riding the roller coaster to the bottom. Historically, at the bottom are economic decline, loss of freedoms, confiscation of property, tyrannical government and, most importantly, restrictions on escape.
It’s not all doom and gloom, not the end of the world, just the periodic decline of empire. As one country declines, others rise. Each individual is faced with the choice whether to go down with the ship, or board another that’s headed for a better world.
Editor’s note: A big part of any strategy to reduce your political risk is to place some of your savings outside the immediate reach of the thieving bureaucrats in your home country. Obtaining a foreign bank account is a convenient way to do just that.
That way, your savings cannot be easily confiscated, frozen, or devalued at the drop of a hat or with a couple of taps on the keyboard. In the event that capital controls are imposed, a foreign bank account will ensure that you have access to your money when you need it the most.
In short, your savings in a foreign bank will largely be safe from any madness in your home country.
Despite what you may hear, obtaining a foreign bank account is completely legal and is not about tax evasion or other illegal activities. It’s simply about legally diversifying your political risk by putting your liquid savings in sound, well-capitalized institutions where they’re treated the best.
You may want to check out Going Global, our comprehensive publication where we discuss our favorite banks and jurisdictions for offshore banking including, crucially, those that still accept Americans as clients and allow them to open accounts remotely for small minimums.
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