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November 26, 2007

Millions of Americans Thinking Of Leaving U.S.

From Agora Financial:

Here’s an interesting trend: 1.5 million U.S. households are preparing to move out of the U.S. A poll by Zogby Intl. of 115,000 Americans estimated that:

  • 1.6 million U.S. households have already made the decision to leave;
    1.8 million are seriously considering and likely to leave;
    7.7 million are somewhat serious about leaving and may do so;
    3.0 million are seriously considering purchase of non-U.S. property;
    10.0 million are somewhat serious about purchase of non-U.S. property.

“We are not talking about the next major deployment of National Guard units to the Middle East,” comments Mike Muehleck in Strategic Investment. “In fact, none of the emigrants are government workers or corporate employees leaving for temporary overseas assignments. This is a group of malcontents and adventurers. They consist entirely of private citizens and their families packing up and leaving the USA at their own initiative.

“Why do people leave home for strange foreign lands? While a handful might claim to leave for political or religious reasons, most seek greater economic opportunity. All of my grandparents emigrated from Germany.... None came because of a burning desire to be ‘free.’ They all came because they wanted to make more money and thus enjoy a better life.”

With the exporting of jobs, major corporations taking advantage of growth opportunities overseas, the incredible fragility of our economy which many (including myself) believe to be the beginning of the next Great Depression, does it really come as a surprise that a significant percentage of American households are looking for greener pastures?  I'll admit I've seriously considered purchasing land outside the U.S., not because I'm unpatriotic, but because I realize the times they are a changin'.


And unlike the last Great Depression, corporations have many other places in the world to reinvest today.  They don't have any obligation to reinvest in our economy.  In order to satisfy shareholders they need to go where the growth and the profits are. So, this country's economy and its citizens are heading into unchartered waters...many of us without a life jacket.

However, this presents interesting opportunities for the solo.  Some very enterprising solos are creating alliances with solos and small firms overseas who are interested in doing business with U.S. citizens who want to purchase real estate overseas outside the U.S., expand their businesses and more.  They need attorneys who understand local customs, culture and laws. The U.S. based solo and small firm is attractive because they present a local connection to the client non-U.S. firms are trying to cultivate.  One such enterprising solo is Lynn Ostfeld in Chicago who has created a French connection and has become well known for her ability to handle all matter of legal work relating to transactions in France.

I have also been contacted by solos overseas asking me to put them in touch with others who may have an interest in an alliance. Understand, there is a tremendous movement of people from country to country both flowing in and flowing out of the United States. These people (potential clients) need the same services as those who are rooted your neighborhood.

Opportunities exist.  Can you and will you take advantage of them?


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The next Great Depression? Are you kidding me? How unbelievably extreme and wrong!

Chuck Newton

I have had two friends and lawyers move to Mexico in the last year. I thought it a little strange, because of all of the anger at Mexican aliens in our country and we are now fleeing to Mexico. I am not sure we have to worry about Mexicans, for example, coming across our border and stealing our wealth. I think we need to worry about our wealth leaving the Country. Both of the lawyers I mentioned wanted to semi-retire close to the ocean. They simply could not afford (1) the real estate (read real estate bubble), (2) cost of living (read high oil prices), and the cheaper cost of living (read that anyway you want) in Mexico. It is not alright for Mexican's to migrate here, but it okay for American's to take advantage of their way of life and buy land there. And, I have got to admit that I have thought about buying a place in Mexico or central America.

Susan Cartier Liebel

Sean, I would love to be very wrong on the real state of our economy and the impact it will have on us for the next 15-20 years (think Japan 1987). I'll keep hoping you are right.

Chuck, you are going to see and hear more of this as you keep looking for it. The key is paying attention. Even our illustrious leader purchased a sizeable compound outside our borders. Makes you go Hmmmmmm.

Jay S. Fleischman

Whether or not we are entering the next Great Depression aside, it's undeniable that the cost of living in the United States has made it untenable for many to live out their golden years within our borders. There are even some US lawyers and business people who continue to conduct their affairs in the US yet reside elsewhere, relying upon technology to remain "local". The concept of a world without borders has finally become a reality.

Susan Cartier Liebel


You are right on point regarding lawyers living elsewhere and conducting there business here. And as both you and Chuck point out, the greatest wealth (which is concentrated in the baby boomer generation) is looking to preserve it by going outside these borders. The question remains, how do solos capitalize on this demographic and economic shift by providing legal services to those who leave, those who come in and those who remain? How do we reconfigure our business model? Target Client? How do we reduce our overhead and increase our efficiency and adaptability? All events create opportunity.

Ronald Burdge

You obviously hit a raw nerve. For decades Americans have been moving abroad in their retirement years, particularly Mexico, mostly because of the equally obvious lower cost of living. I'll certainly admit that I've checked out both Mexico and other Central American locales for my own near-retirement years. In 1996 my wife and I sat on a beach at Palmilla and idly talked about how wonderful it'd be to handle everything via phone. The only difference between 1996 and 2007 is that now it can rather easily be the reality, if only I could find an attorney who would handle the on-site needs in my office while I'm on a beach. Until then, a solo can and should take advantage of the situation and set up overseas relationships that also provide the opportunity for later transitioning your own locally based practice to an overseas locale. Many law practices could be operated virtually from an overseas location, particularly if there is a local presence maintained. It's all a great idea, but I suspect many attorneys have no intention of practicing law after their country of residence changes that dramatically.

Carolyn Elefant

I posted recently about one American lawyer who set up an immigration law firm in Turkey as noted here - http://www.myshingle.com/my_shingle/2007/11/an-immigration-.html. She's the only licensed US attorney in the region and has found a great niche for herself. So you are right, there are opportunities here.

Rudy Mallonee

Hi, It's interesting to see that there is more concern about the deteriorating life in the U.S.,(in all aspects) particularly for retirees and those about to become retirees. I moved out of the U.S. 20 years ago to Central America when I was in my 40s'. Have never had a doubt or any regrets. I've made as good a living as I could have in the states and have been stress free.
The increasingly high cost of living is a real problem for many on a fixed income.-- But,if you look at this article and others that are similar


( a caveat -- the information for residency is correct,but otherwise, take prices of property with your grain of salt-- they sell real estate)

Another site that has pretty good information is

You can see that it is fairly simple to obtain residency in a foriegn country. These requirements are similar to requirements in Nicaragua and a few other countries. It does take some work to get it done, but it is straightforward and can be accomplished. What do you get for this? -- I know as I have enough years in Central America. -- For a similar standard of living that you have in the U.S., your cost will, at minimum, be cut in half. In Costa Rica, health care is very good, with a new, large hospital (Baylor Hospital of Texas)that has as comparable care there as in the U.S. For those wanting WalMart, COSTCO, Home Depot, etc., those are there too, although priced about the same as in the U.S.. It's much cheaper to go to the weekly Saturday farmers markets and purchase what you need.
In some countries property and homes can still be bought fairly reasonable in a safe and pleasant area. The highland of Panama around the town of Volcan, where there is a constant year around springtime climate, and a fair number of expats, land is still fairly inexpensive. I am currently a resident of Nicaragua and land here in the north, also in a year around springtime climate, 1-2 hours out of the capital of Managua, can still be purchased for $100-$500 per acre.-- most everything else is comparably cheap. There isn't anywhere that I've found that is perfect in Central or South America where I've lived, but the advantages vastly overwhelm the disadvantages.
Anywhere you happen to think you want to go to, take the time to investigate the area, live there for at least 6 months to get to know it, then make your decision.
I've nothing against laying on the beach, but if you are not the type, and want to open a small business, it's easy enough to do as well as you can do in the states, if not better. America is no longer the best place in the world to live.

Susan Cartier Liebel

Rudy, I'm curious. You've been out of this country for 20 years. What made you leave in your 40's? Please share.

Mitch Bowler

I've been living abroad for the past 6 years in China and will agree with the comments above about cost of living.

One thing to strongly consider before moving or retiring abroad is the culture that you are planning to join and how well you will be able to integrate there. I've met a lot of people who do not enjoy their time here while I've personally had an amazing experience opening my own office and living here.

I'm now at the point where I am considering semi-retirement, and though I do like it here in China, the weather in Shanghai does not agree with me and after last winter which was especially cold, I've started to look at other options. With the internet, there really is few things that you can't do online.

If you're interested I've posted up my research into other countries at http://www.retiring-overseas.com

I've talked to a lot of people and it seems like Central America is the number one destination, though interestingly I have talked to very few expats here that would recommend Mexico. Costa Rica, Panama and Argentina are the 3 countries that keep coming up time and time again.


My family is moving in 18 months to another country. We are in the finance sector and Management sectors, we still have our jobs, for now.. We are leaving due to the crumbling and decay of our constitution. We are leaving due to our elected officials not listening to the people they represent, we are leaving due to over worked, over taxed, charges forced on us like paying an extra 4.00 per month on our electric bill for "incoome challenged" individuals. Income challenged? in our state they get free energy assistance which we pay for. One president makes a law, the next one erases "executive orders" we take 4 steps forward and go 8 back. We the people are "allowing" at least 2 tax cheats to run our government. Enough is enough. that's what my grandparents said when they immigrated from Germany, and that's what I'm saying now. I found a place to move to that is "ruled" by a queen, but what's the difference, a queen or King Obama? I've had it and can't wait to move out of our laughable country. our parent's are mad at our decision. But, there is no accountability. this is a major decision to make, we are going to sell everything we own to get out and start new somewhere else. It matters that much to me. We don't live in a "free" country. it's cost us a bundle to live here, socially, economically and spiritually. (the church lost funding and priests are being sued for molesting kids so they are always asking us for more money) I was raised to fend for myself, and that's what I will do when I become a citizen of the new country. And at least there, i won't be forced to pay for people who chose to live the way they do.

Earl Munroe

I have an office and a home in Panama. A lot of people from the USA are moving to Panama to retire. I don't think this is a new trend. Anyone who has lived in the USA and has also lives elsewhere knows that life in the USA can be very difficult by comparison.


Wow, interesting to read this article now! Is this guy Nostramdamus?

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