Expatriation is a journey packed with excitement and fraught with uncertainty.
People who throw themselves into a long-term journey abroad often do so for any number of reasons: career opportunities, relationships, study abroad, or simply to travel and find themselves.
Despite the commonly held notion among Americans that the U.S. is the best country in the world, a minority of citizens have voted with their feet: the Association of American Residents Overseas estimates that there are currently 8 million U.S. nationals living abroad in 160+ countries. It appears that, on occasion, the grass really is greener on the other side.
However, if you’re contemplating starting your own international life, where do you start? What’s the roadmap for identifying the right destination? How do you know you’ll reach the specific goal you set out to accomplish by going abroad? What principle or philosophy should guide the questions you ask and the decisions you make?
For Nomad Capitalist founder Andrew Henderson, the philosophy is simple: go where you’re treated best.
Go where you’re treated best
I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Andrew. As always, he was on the road — wrapping up some affairs in Eastern Europe en route to South East Asia. Such is the life of a perpetual traveler and international entrepreneur.
Andrew has spent the last decade traveling the world. In doing so, he’s been able to glean the best legal strategies and on-the-ground knowledge to help people lead a financially rewarding and personally enriching international life. In this piece, Andrew shares in great detail his personal experience and advice on how to launch your own journey abroad.
An inside look at Nomad Capitalist
Please briefly tell us about Nomad Capitalist. What was the initial inspiration behind this venture and what problem did you want to solve in the world?
My inspiration for founding Nomad Capitalist was actually my own, personal need. To be completely honest, it was never about performing any kind of business service per se. It simply evolved out of my own needs and experiences.
Before seriously traveling, I had started and sold a number of businesses in the United States. These businesses ranged from a broadcasting company to a car retail business, a swimming pool service to investing into other companies and helping a friend start a financial services and insurance business.
Eventually, I had built myself up to where my various U.S. businesses were very location independent. I was able to start traveling more than I was staying in the United States and began working with my clients long distance from European cafés and Southeast Asian beaches.
But I wanted more freedom.
And that’s when I decided to cut all my business ties in the U.S. and fully live the nomad lifestyle. Once I sold all of my businesses I not only had the financial means to take an early semi-retirement, but I was free as a bird to go explore the world.
Amidst my travels, I took advantage of all the tax benefits that come with the expat lifestyle. I knew I could make the various tax, investment and business laws and opportunities around the world work in my favor, so I went out to take advantage of it and stop paying tax.
That is when I had the thought “Go where you are treated best.” And that’s exactly what I did. I began to search for and go to all the places that would treat my money, businesses, lifestyle and investments the best.
As I did so, I began a blog to write about my findings: where I was looking at property, in which countries I was considering a second residency or passport, how I found out something was a scam, when I discovered a little known investment opportunity… I wrote about it all. I was telling my experiences mainly for my personal benefit, but before I knew it I had three million people coming to my website per year and another million between the Podcast and Youtube. It just blossomed into something I would never have imagined.
How to go where you’re treated best — a deeper look
You frequently suggest that people should “go where they are treated best.” Please elaborate on this point. Do you have any specific examples of how your average American can be treated better abroad than they are at home?
I often refer to the the phrase “Go where you’re treated best” as my five magic words. If you really let their meaning sink in, you begin to realize how liberating those words can be as a mindset.