Riding out the US recession in a another nation

I realize economies all over the world are hurt. But has anyone (who worries about long term unemployment) seriously considered moving to a developing nation where cost of living is lower (Mexico, Thailand, India, etc) and just riding things out while living on savings? I read recently that some Jewish people in the US were taking advantage of a program in Israel that offered free room/board to Jews who emigrate there for short periods of time. Not being Jewish, this isn’t an option.

The unemployment rate is 10%, but the equivalent of about 3 million jobs were lost because hours were cut and people were forced into part time work. When job recovery starts it is speculated that most new job creation will just go to taking those people and converting them to full time work, so that is where the first “3 million” jobs will be created, by converting part timers into full timers. That is well and good for people working part time and in lowering the U6, but the U3 is still going to be 10% for a while in that scenario.

With the US dollar declining, which nations would be best for this kind of thing?

Then again, I don’t know if the savings are that great (I don’t know if that is good or bad). I can get by ok on $1100/month in the US. Getting by on slightly less in a foreign nation might not be worth the hassle.

Why a developing nation? Australia has done very well, and you could do well here.

I thought the point system to get into developing nations is pretty tough. Besides, cost of living in a wealthy nation is going to be higher than a developing nation.

There are plenty of places right here in the old USofA with a cheap std of living. Just move there.

I can’t think of any nation out there with a much lower cost where you are not giving up more than you gain. Perhaps some of the US “colonies” on the west coast of Mexico.

It’s pretty hard to get into Aussie unless you don’t need to, (in other words have $$$).

I have friends in NZ and still it’s really hard to get to those two countries. That’s one thing about Aussie and NZ, they don’t want you.


I just returned yesterday from a 6 month backpacking trip through South Asia.

I seriously considered living long-term in a few of the places I stayed for that exact reason. Thailand was ok, but the rampant tourism and aggressive sales techniques of the locals I found to be very annoying. India was incredible, though a bit too undeveloped and overpopluated to really be comfortable for a longer stay. Places like Malaysia and Vietnam provide a wonderful mix of a modern, developed nation and a down-to-earth rural paradise. For someone used to American living, this may provide the easiest transition. I also found the dollar to be the strongest in Vietnam, though it didn’t matter much as it was still was quite strong everywhere I went. I also fell in love with Sri Lanka. Since the cease-fire, it’s really become a magical place. A wonderful mix of tropical beach and mountainous nature.

In the course of my journey I met plenty of people who had abandoned the American lifestyle and settled down in a lesser-developed nation and every single one of them said it was the best decision they’ve ever made. From what I experienced, I’m inclined to agree. I was staying in a very nice bungalow right on the beach for like ten bucks a day, and it cost an additional five for food. For $600 a month, I was living very comfortably. For another $200, I could live like a king, travel included.

You can’t get permanent residency very easily, but it generally doesn’t matter. You can get tourist visas up to 6 months most places (much longer in some) and then take a bus or boat ride for a day to a neighboring country to renew it. If you run short on money at any point, you can make decent cash teaching English a few days a week.

I had to come home for Christmas or my family would disown me, but I’m putting some serious thought into going back to live a few years. Once you get used to the environment and make the necessary adjustments (the lack of potable water is a rough one) it’s really a paradise.

On the flipside, I did miss most of the NFL season. However, I am now nearly able to understand about 10% of Cricket.

Were you in Sri Lanka or another area when you were living in the bungalow?

Big fears I’d have are infectious disease and street crime (being a “wealthy” american tourist in a foreign nation with poverty). Other concerns include the human and civil rights restrictions found in some countries. Vietnam for example is pretty totalitarian and I wonder how the police or communications systems work. How do you deal with those things?

If it makes you feel better, I’ve seriously considered moving to Chicago. What a dump. :stuck_out_tongue:

The point system to get into OECD nations seems pretty harsh. As a healthy person in his 30s with a college degree in a STEM field, I still don’t qualify (almost do, but not really).

Well, yes, but, you wouldn’t meet dudes who hated it, they’d be back *here. *

True enough, but it was their enthusiasm and confidence that got my attention. I didn’t get any “well, yeah it’s cool but…” answers anywhere. Also, nobody had a set time they were planning to return, if ever. They were completely convinced this was the best way of life for them.

YMM most definitely V, but me, I’m sold.

lots of people go back to school to ride out a recession.

if I was single and looking to ride out a few years, I’d be in tibet tomorrow learning the language, backpacking, writing fiction, studying tantric meditation and trying to figure out how to make an economically viable project for the locals. where I want to do that could be done for just a couple of hundred bucks a month.

I stayed in Bungalows in nearly every country I visited, not once paying more than 15 USD. Some were nicer than others, but I was never uncomfortable. I stayed a month in Sri Lanka in a bungalow on the eastern coast (supposedly the most unsafe place, according to a NZ travel alert) and I never once felt in danger of any sort. Granted, there were military people wondering around with big, BIG guns but the western people I spoke with who stayed there long-term told me that was mostly for show. The real danger is supposedly long past.

Yes, street crimes do happen and there are certainly areas that are worse than others, but a little research goes a long way in that department. We stayed in reasonably safe areas where (in most cases) the reported crime rates against tourists were actually less than where I live in the States. Big cities like Saigon are known for drive-by purse snatching, but as long as you know where to go and take precautionary measures against known crimes (hidden wallets and the like) you should be ok. The communication systems were fine, there was adequate cell phone coverage everywhere I went and even wireless internet. I didn’t get a chance to test the police systems (thankfully) but my girlfriend had a motorbike accident in Thailand and was well taken care of by the emergency staff. I wouldn’t recommend a major surgery though. I never worried much about diseases. Before I went on my 6 month South Asia tour, I lived/worked for two years in India. I found that as long as you don’t drink the water and are intelligent about your own personal hygiene (and carry plenty of hand sanitizer and mosquito spray) the likelihood of catching anything serious is much lower than most people think. I only got sick once (likely some version of the flu), and it only lasted a few days. Others reported similar findings.

The folks I met who lived there mostly said the same types of things. The government doesn’t really meddle much in your affairs, long as you follow the rules. Don’t overstay your visa (a day trip across the border every 6 months will usually suffice), don’t dabble in illegal drugs (ever see Return to Paradise? Yeah…) and generally try keep to more populated areas. Other common sense stuff like drink bottled water, wash your hands, and be mindful of what you eat will further protect you. Basically the same type of stuff you’d want to do anywhere. Of course there are going to be risks and sacrifices but to me the rewards and experience of such a radically different life far more than makes up for it.

Taiwan is probably closer to the developed end of the scale: cost of living (especially housing) is not low and immigration policy has been tightening up somewhat*. But as a native English speaker you’re almost certainly assured of at least having a job to support yourself here and probably something left over either to save up or to travel to a bunch of other countries close by in the region (including Thailand). Western culture doesn’t feel very far away and a lot of people speak at least some English, so it’s easy to adapt even if you don’t speak Chinese.

  • as opposed to the halycon days of the easy-to-get 60 day multiple-entry tourist visa, good for 5 years . . . I made about a dozen trips to Hong Kong back then, at steady two month intervals . . .

A Spoonful of Awesome Thanks for that info. Living overseas sounds interesting for the psychological and cultural impacts, but the actual money savings sound minor. A bungalow for $300/month and food for $150/month is pretty cheap, but in the US I can get food for $150/month and a bedroom in a 2 bedroom apartment for $300/month. So at the end of the day the cost for rent, utilities and food is probably about the same for the US vs. other nations. So if I did live overseas, the savings would be small, which is surprising. I don’t know if that means the US is being dragged down economically or the rest of the world is being lifted up. Probably both.

What do you mean by living like a king on $800/month? ie, what benefits and experiences do you get from that? I know that in the US I can get a private bedroom (in a shared apartment), utilities, public transit & food for about $600/month if I shop around. But its a pretty basic life.

Also, my question about communications was also about internet access and civil rights violations. I would assume in some of these countries the authorities monitor internet use and phone calls, and possibly follow up or visit you if you are talking about or looking up info the governments do not want you to. The daughter of our neighbor currently lives in a middle eastern nation and she said the authorities monitor all telephone calls.
Koxinga When you say a job in Taiwan, do you mean teaching english in primary or secondary school, or a different job? I have looked into english teaching overseas, but wonder if the recession is going to glut the market of expats from the US looking for those jobs. It is worth looking into though. I never really considered Taiwan (S. Korea is supposed to be the mecca of that), but it would give me more travel opportunities in SE Asia like Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia. If you are in Taiwan, can you get into China to visit?
China Guy I have thought of it but I think I’d rather do it later. I am not really committed enough for grad school right now.

Internet communication is reasonably reliable in most of the countries I’ve been (Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Vietnam) but it becomes a bit challenging to find in some of the more rural areas. To my knowledge, there hasn’t been any violation of my civil rights. I never paid it enough mind to thoroughly research, as I used the internet mostly for harmless ‘keeping in touch’ emails and such, but I honestly don’t believe I was ever monitored. I’m absolutely sure India is safe, and reasonably confident about the others, though I can’t say for sure without more research. To my knowledge, much of Asia is quite different from the Middle East in that respect, though I could be wrong.

Where do you live, if you don’t mind me asking? I live in Denver and a comfortable apartment in a safe area, plus food, utilities, internet, phone, transportation, and entertainment runs me well over $1200, twice what I was spending naturally in Asia. I could make a big effort and knock it down to about a grand, but then I suffer a bit. Out there, I don’t think I could spend $1200 a month if I tried (ok, I’m exaggerating a bit, but it wouldn’t happen naturally. I’d have to make an effort to be extravagant). Sure you can budget very carefully and stay within a set monthly limit, but what do you really get for your money? Personally, I prefer 80 degree days in a bungalow on the sand with a hammock so close to the ocean I can feel the spray on my face over sharing a freezing apartment with my (sometimes annoying) roommate. I’d rather eat the interesting and incredibly tasty Asian cuisine to the nearly anything I can get out here (with a few, albeit expensive, restaurant exceptions). I never had to pay much for entertainment, as it was all right in front of me and (largely) for free. And after the first month or so, I honestly didn’t miss very many of the creature comforts I left behind.

In any case, the real value to me, even if you eliminate the monetary savings, is in the experience. In Sri Lanka I could go for a morning jog every day on a 30k stretch of beautiful, nearly empty beach as I watched the sun rise. If I was lucky, I’d see wild elephants bathing in the lagoons nearby. Some days I would just meditate all day up on a cliff overlooking the ocean and just soak it all in. It really all depends on you as a person and what your priorities are. If you are only doing it to save money and nothing more, then it might not be the best option. Personally, I still saved a bunch when compared to living in the States, but again, YMMV. But that wasn’t the intent of my traveling. I wanted to see the world, experience new cultures, meet different and interesting people, and learn how they live their daily lives. Some of the best experiences I had were nothing more than simple (if a bit linguistically-challenged) conversations with local fishermen or farmers. On the whole, I feel massively enriched and I’m tremendously grateful for the experience. And yeah, saving money in a tumultuous economic climate doesn’t hurt either.

And I realize that after a year or two it loses that new, exciting “wow” appeal, but IMO what you are left with still beats anything you can get out here for a similar price tag. Plus, as the cost of travel is so cheap, you always have the option and freedom to simply pack your stuff and relocate to somewhere new. The more places I went and the more people I met, the more I realized how little I’ve actually seen. I already have my next Asia trip planned out, not to mention places like South America, Africa and even parts of Europe (though I imagine the savings out there will be minimal, if at all). So yeah, even in a recession, there is still opportunity for a (relatively) comfortable life.

Ok, I know I’m rambling now and I apologize for the long posts but I literally just returned yesterday from my travels and I’m still a bit giddy from the experience. Also, I think the Lunesta I took to combat a nasty case of jet lag kicked in somewhere around the second paragraph. I do hope at least part of this was of some value to you :slight_smile:

Probably a private “cram school”, or buxiban as they’re known hereabouts, as well as private classes if you’re up to marketing yourself. Getting a job in the actual school system would require another level of commitment and (AFAIK) more formal teaching credentials.


Trust me, young man (I assume you’re a young man), Taiwan is the way to go :wink:

Sure, I was there last week.

I live in Indiana and rent came to $250-300/month when I was in college for my half of a 2 bedroom apartment. Public transit varies by city but is usually $50-80/month depending on where you live. It was $30 in my college town. I was recently in San Diego and my half of the rent and utilities combined with a monthly bus pass came to about $600/month. I guess I am just surprised that cost of living (for rent, utilities and food) seems to be equalizing across geographies.

You are right, the personal benefits of living overseas sound really appealing, and that is a big appeal for me to consider it. I’m just saying that the financial savings vs. staying in the US are not that great. However the psychological benefits sound immense.

Do you have ways to earn money overseas or do you live off of savings? If I could live overseas for the next 3-4 years and find a way to support myself while doing it, that sounds really appealing.

You’re not rambling, I’m really enjoying your input.

Maybe because for people like my brother it is not an option?

Many of our underemployed are 45 or older, and of nonskilled professions. My brother is a warehouseman, he drives a forklift and loads trucks. Austrailia really does not want him. They do not want older assemblyline workers, or pretty much any unskilled person like waiters, telephone customer service, shop workers [you know, walmart drones, gap dwellers … ] I know they really don’t want me, old, handicapped, health issues and unemployable because of handicapped access issues [and dont give me accessability garbage, ever tried getting in a non button door in a wheelchair? It aint happening and almost every company will not go to the expense of changing all access doors to handicapped access automatic doors for one person unless you take them to court, and they they find a reason to fire you.]

I’ve lived off of $150.00 a month in small-town China and Cameroon (though I don’t pay for my rent in China.) It’s not enough to live extravagantly, but I get by. If you are willing to adapt to local living standards, you can live quite cheaply.

Teaching jobs in Asia are a dime a dozen. Different places and programs have their own benefits and drawbacks, and it’d be smart to do your research- there are plenty of people out there to take advantage of foreigners. In Korea, you can make a ton of money but they work you hard. In remote China, you can get by with less qualifications and work less, but the pay sucks. If you do things right you can make a lot of money.

It’s a HUGE commitment, and it’s in no way a vacation, but Peace Corps service can be extremely rewarding. One big benefit is that they provide great all-inclusive health care and work pretty hard to make sure you are secure. And you get a fair amount of support in actually integrating into a community and working to improve it- many volunteers become a valued member of their community. But you are more likely to end up in a gray industrial city or a dusty village than a picturesque beach, and you are subject to a lot of rules that may be frustrating to an adult. It’s not something I’d recommend to someone just looking for an easy way to wait things out. But if you really want to learn another language, live as a part of another culture, and make the world (and your country) a better place…well there is nothing else quite like it.

A lot of the “colonies” (the one I visited was on the East Coast) are more expensive than parts of the U.S. Granted, they are darn cheap compared to the East or West Coasts - which is why Californians flock there for retirement.