How to Be an Expatriate in 2020

from NYTs

Three years ago, Chuck Burgess and Kerstin Michaelsen were comfortably set up in New York City with good careers, a home in Manhattan and another in the Hamptons. But they yearned for something more. Not more in the sense of material things, but in the satisfaction derived from new adventures and new lands. They fantasized about moving abroad — an idea that seemed more attractive as the couple, both 50, settled into midlife.

Ultimately it was a “heightened sense of our mortality,” Mr. Burgess said, that gave them the prod they needed, after three of their parents died within three years. “We didn’t want to miss our chance to live life as fully as possible.”

After a year of planning and divesting themselves of properties, their car and all but the bare necessities, they boarded a plane in May 2018 for six months of travel. In December they landed in Barcelona, without speaking a word of Spanish.

More here.

Posted in Future Thinking, Ideas, International, Sustainability and tagged , , , .


  1. This article is of interest to me because eventually, I would like to spend a few years oversees in a foreign country. It’s inspiring because of the people who are able to do this —- it isn’t that they’re rich, or because they have to, but they’re ex-patriots because that’s their path to happiness. Withholding personal reasons, this article highlights the advancements in various technologies, and jobs themselves. One thing that was talked about how easy it was to migrate accounts / phone numbers / funds in the desired country. Today, we have many options when it comes to the services that we use and how they interact in a foreign environment. By using apps like Whatsapp and Google Voice, the transition in calling and messaging is made easy. Besides the technological advancements, this article displays a change in how many jobs function today. With more and more jobs being able to done completely out-of-office, many employees opt to work in remote locations.

    This reminds me of a somewhat rare practice in the current generation — digital nomad. Digital Nomads are people without a concrete home, and instead use their knowledge and online resources to find refuge in their current country. Some of the most popular occupations that these people work as are Programmer, Video Editors, and Graphic Designers. It can be a tough lifestyle, but many seem to love it.

    Becoming an expat isn’t without obstacles. Many people struggle with finding a way to permanently reside in their country of choice. For example, one somewhat popular country that people relocate to, Japan, is notoriously hard to acquire permanent and even temporary residency. Many people tend to marry people in their desired country, however even this can be tricky and is obviously a huge commitment.

  2. It started with globalization, an ideology in which businesses would decide to expand and interact on an international scale. This increased the economics of scale while also shrinking the world (figuratively speaking of course). This of course continued as the internet and other technologies came into play, making not only international business but also communication among friends and families easier. I love how the article touches upon how this as even become easier in the 21st century but offers an insight as to where specific age groups are traveling too and residing in.

    From an economic standpoint, it makes sense for individuals and families to become expats and move to foreign nations. The costs of living in America have increased astronomically in most cities and other places – are not considered ideal for them. Businesses continue to grow and seek opportunities in other countries around the world, and therefore have increased their employment in those countries – which make it easier for individuals to move to those countries to acquire a job. Germany, for example, remains one of the top 5 largest economies in the world. The article lists a top-10 for professionals, most of which reside in the Middle East and central Africa, all of which are economic and business hubs.

    From a cultural standpoint; it’s easier to travel and therefore, people (of all ages) wish to see the world. In my opinion, this is what stands out the most to me. Again, the list that the article states, it has millennial expats staying in Argentina the most. I would have guessed that a European nation would be #1. Nonetheless, travel is less expensive in Europe and South America than it is in the United States. Which is why I can see people deciding to stay in other nations other than the United States.

  3. In the article “How to Be an Expatriate in 2020” by Lana Bortolot, she expresses how much of an influence technology has had on expatriates. This is exciting news in my opinion. I love living in the United States, but I do not envision myself living in the states for my whole life. Ever since I was young my parents would take me to their native country Macedonia and we would spend two to three months of our summers there. It is crazy how drastically different the lifestyles of an American are compared to the people of Macedonia. Everyone is a lot more relaxed and seems happier. There are cafes everywhere, no fast food anywhere to be found, people visit bakeries to get fresh bread every day and, in the summer, the freshwater lake is amazing for swimming and going on paddle boats. Now of course I am very thankful for my experiences because I was able to visit and know the language of that foreign country because I have noticed that my friends who have never traveled outside of the United States cannot grasp how different people from other countries lifestyles are. Because the United States is so isolated, not everyone understands how different cultures work. The friends I have, who have immigrant parents all understand that their culture is not the only one in the world, my friends who can’t tell me where their ancestors are from have trouble with this concept. Since Americans have a bad reputation of living inside of their own bubble, technology improving the chances of more people in this country getting to experience outside cultures and become expats excites me. Culture shock is a very real experience for many, so having technological benefits to make the process easier is a plus. It is not easy at all to leave your life behind and move to a different country. There are so many things that could go wrong but if you are like the couple that Bortolot talks about in her article who moved to Spain, technology gives you the ability to ensure that you can conduct your international life comfortably, which is most likely the reason there was a 47% spike in U.S. citizens living overseas.

  4. I believe that every individual should have the opportunity to travel abroad in their lifetime. Experiencing another country, it laws, language, customs, institutions, could potentially be an eye-opening experience. As they say, variety is the spice of life, and if investing oneself into the culture of another country does not satiate his or her thirst for adventure and aesthetic beauty (or whatever it is they desire), well, sometimes it is simply nice to change things up once in a while. However, as the article demonstrate, wanderlust is not the sole motivation for many people’s decision to travel abroad. Many nations need certain services and industries that can only be found in the western world. As the expatriate disposition chart in the article displayed, the majority of American professionals living abroad currently reside in the middle east. Not to sound disparaging, but many of these nations are behind the technological curve and are in need of say; medical equipment and skilled doctors (I personally know a number of surgeons who have relocated to the middle east). Evidently, the career opportunities abroad, especially for skilled and educated professionals, must be staggering. Furthermore, the onset of online banking has made the transition of finances and the exchange of currencies easier than ever before. Families also find the need to emigrate at times. In this very connected era, international relationships often occur, and sometimes betrotheds and even entire families become expatriates in this regard. So, if one is inclined to immigrate, it is not to be consider some fanciful pipe dream. I personally have the dream of purchasing land in the Italian countryside one day, and perhaps either growing wine or producing olive oil there. I am not sure how I am to acquire the means to execute such an enterprise, but this article has nonetheless encouraged me to carry on pursing my fantasy (if I should even call it that).

  5. In today’s day and age, it is becoming more and more common that people are earning income from their laptops while living abroad in Europe and pretty much anywhere with stable internet connection. Tim Ferris, the author of the self-help novel by the name of “The Four-Hour Work Week” is the one of the earliest advocates of this type of living. He referred to these types of people as the “New Rich”. He called them this because in the older generations, wealth was thought to have been accumulated at steady job at a reputable company win which you worked at until you were 55 and then retired. After retirement this allowed you to travel abroad and do all the activities you wished to do when you were younger. This is simply not the case when looking at the “New Rich”. The “New Rich” can start passive companies online where they can earn income without managing a staff or even having a brick and mortar store. This type of work allows people to travel and live in countries abroad in which the cost of living is less than the United States. Charles and Kerstin are examples of the “New Rich”, as they live in Barcelona, Spain where the cost of living is less than the United States. They use TransferWise and Xoom to transfer funds between Spain and the United States, respectively. It seems that people are flocking to this new way of living rather than staying the same job for most of their lives. Even though Kerstin and Charles are older than most, they are fifty years old but they just represent how widespread this “New Rich” culture is becoming. The effectiveness of the methods of the “New Rich” is evident in all the freelance, Amazon F.B.A. and Shopify platforms that are being managed by the younger population to make their total income remotely.

  6. The thought of uprooting your life and moving to a completely different country sounds both terrifying and exciting at the same time. What is even more exciting is that technology has made this much easier than it has been in the past. The transition for things like currency and phone numbers has been made seamless and prevents people from having to change their careers because they want to move to another country. This couple that moved to Spain was able to keep their same clients in the United States and get more clients that live in Spain with a relatively easy transition. My next question of concern about this was how, if this couple did not speak, were they going to form a community when they might not even be able to communicate with those around them. However, the rise of social media helps in this. Facebook groups have been made that are geared towards expats that live in other countries that unite people who all speak the same language. For example, this couple could use a Facebook group that is all about helping English-speakers in Barcelona find other English-speakers find each other, alleviating the anxiety of not being able to feel like you fit into the community of a foreign country. While the couple that this article focused on was over 50 years old, there is also an increase in the number of millennials who are moving abroad and traveling around in an effort to see more cultures. I found this interesting because I feel like with how much younger generations on social media are exposed to different cultures, making people want to see the things that we now are out there around the world, but in person.

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