“If he wins, I’m moving to Canada,” your dramatic friends say every election cycle. But there’s never been a candidate like Donald J. Trump.
Maybe they aren’t being dramatic this time — maybe it really is time to get the hell out of Dodge. But if so, is Canada really your best bet?
Popular Canadian radio host Rob Calabrese thinks so. In February, he set up an entire website encouraging Americans to emigrate to Cape Breton Island, east of Maine. Its coastline photos and basic information on jobs, taxes, and housing were so convincing, people initially thought Canada’s tourism bureau was behind it.
Calabrese received more than 100,000 serious inquiries in two days, The Canadian Press reported. And if they all made it across the border, the area’s population would be up a whopping 66 percent. For sure, there are obvious advantages to the Canada option…
- You can drive there, and back if you change your mind
- They speak mostly English (some areas speak French) in an adorable accent
- The country isn’t rife with drug-lord warfare and corruption
And it’s not like Cape Breton Island is your only option. Move to Ontario (that’s the part on the other side of the Great Lakes) and you might even be eligible for some free money eventually — the province is thinking about providing a basic guaranteed income to its citizens.
But before you O for Canada, look at some other options and dive deep into the logistics. Beyond the daydream stage, you quickly learn immigration is rarely cheap and always complicated. And that’s when all the paperwork is in English.
How to broaden your horizon — and then narrow your options
One of the best places for potential emigrants to start is with the experience of American expatriates, who already moved abroad and know the lay of the land.
You might think to start with the countries with the most expats — they might be onto something, right? Unfortunately and somewhat surprisingly, the U.S. doesn’t keep tabs on the people who leave its borders. Experts are sure there are at least a couple million Americans living abroad, and maybe as many as 7 million. But not all of them keep ties with the United States.
That doesn’t leave us completely without statistics. International bank HSBC conducts an annual survey of expats, ranking the top destinations on subjective factors ranging from school quality to wage growth to how overwhelming it is to integrate. They lump these into broad categories, so we took the data from their “experience” and “economics” rankings and mapped out the top 39 countries for American expats…
By HSBC’s economic factors, your best bets are Switzerland, Singapore, Germany, the United Arab Emirates or Qatar. After that, language is a big factor for many people — will learning to talk all over again be part of the culture shock? Unfortunately, English won’t get you far in Switzerland, and except for Singapore it’s not the most common language in any of those countries.
But if you’re motivated by more than money, the transition gets a bit easier. Including HSBC’s “experience” factors with the financial ones, the top five look like this: Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Bahrain, and Australia. You’ll do fine with English in any of those except, again, the Swiss option. From here, you might want to delve into specific factors that are important to you, including some we didn’t like social life.
Finding work on the other side of the world
Immigration policy varies from country to country, but there are usually three general paths to getting in — through investment, family, or work. Most people don’t have the first two options. Although you do have some time to strike it rich or get into a serious long-distance relationship with a sugar daddy or mama, you probably need to get a job.
That’s hard enough to do at home. How do you pull it off in a foreign country that you’ve possibly never been to?
One way is to find a job here for a company that operates in your target country and let them know you’re interested in relocating. There are the big-name banks and law firms, but there are also nonprofits and humanitarian groups whose mission may require working abroad. They need people in accounting, communications, IT, and management, too. This is the best-case scenario, because the bureaucratic legwork is routine to them and they may pay all or part of the expenses involved.
If your field is more specialized and something not every company needs — say, chemical engineering — don’t write this idea off just yet. Having an unusual job title can be an asset. See if it’s on the list of jobs your target country needs and can’t seem to fill fast enough. This is sometimes called a skills shortage list (here is New Zealand’s), or shortage occupation list. If you’re on the list, the government itself may offer resources to help get you there.
The next option is to hit the job boards. The U.S. State Department keeps a collection of links to websites for international jobs and there are plenty of others ready to help you find work abroad. But without the connections you’d have in the previous options, you may need to visit the country on a tourist visa before moving there.
This is a good idea anyway — it can go a long way toward helping you find your bearings, figure out where you might live, and boost your confidence that you’ve made the right choice before you commit — but it is an extra expense. Young adults may be able to find temporary work abroad opportunities cheaply through foreign exchange programs like BUNAC and Interxchange, and parlay that trip into permanent employment.
Navigating to your new life
Moving abroad means starting over almost from scratch. The two things you’ll carry over from your old life are your experience and your money. Make the most of both.
There are a lot of expenses you can anticipate and save for — rent, food, utilities, health insurance, transportation. If you were good at budgeting in your old life, you have a leg up. If you weren’t, now is absolutely the time to learn. Your unexpected expenses will likely be higher abroad than they are here, at least until you adjust to your new way of life.
Companies like Crown Relocations help people and businesses — mainly businesses — get where they’re going and sort out all the details. Even if you don’t end up using their services, talking to them can help orient you toward things you might overlook, like taxes.
While you’re wrapping up loose ends here, make sure your passport is current — you might be back, at least to visit. Take advantage of anything you know is cheaper or better in the U.S., including routine medical care.
When you arrive, strive to fit in — learn the area and local customs. It’s easier to make friends when people see you aren’t a stereotypically entitled American. And you’ll need friends if you’re going to survive four years (or longer) away from Trump’s America.
Article last modified on January 24, 2017. Published by Debt.com, LLC .