General Question

wildpotato's avatar

Americans and expatriates: Do you (did you) want to leave the US?

Asked by wildpotato (12821 points ) July 18th, 2009

As long as I can remember, I have dreamed of moving out of this country. Many obvious reasons: education, health care, relative lack of extreme militant attitude, etc. With the recent change in our government’s leadership, I haven’t been thinking “Oh my God, I have to get out of this horrible place” quite as much – but then I felt that panicky feeling again when I heard that Goldman Sachs is giving each of their employees $700,000 bonuses (Why do these guys continue doing it?! It’s so audacious! Aargh!), and when I first read the report that Dick Cheney may have had a hand in Benazir Bhutto’s assassination (this has since been retracted) and found that I believed it immediately.

My college friends who have moved away love their new lives and say they are never coming back. But now that I have enough skills and money such to actually get out, I haven’t, and I’m not entirely sure why. Will you guys share your feelings and actions on staying and leaving?

And first-generation immigrants: Why did you come here?

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45 Answers

marinelife's avatar

I wanted to do it a lot more during the Bush years. I have thought about it and might well do it. If I did, I would probably not make it permanent.

kenmc's avatar

I would like to move to Sweden one day.

fireinthepriory's avatar

While I did occasionally feel like fleeing during the Bush years, I don’t think I’d leave now. I’d considering moving for a good job or to go to a school with a program that I really wanted to attend, but there are a lot of things I like about America. There are so many cultures present here, all living together in (relative) harmony… The whole melting pot thing makes for a varied and interesting environment to live in.

I also think that staying and trying to make the change that you want to see happen is better for the world than fleeing to greener pastures. I love emailing my senators and representatives and seeing laws or policies that I support go through. I cry (in a good way!) whenever another state makes same-sex marriage legal, and I don’t think I’d be so happy again it, so emotionally attached, if I wasn’t patriotic in a strange way. :)

Bri_L's avatar

The bonus thing, while it pisses me off, doesn’t bother me as much as it did. Most of what we are hearing about are part of legal contracts that were made and agreed upon before the shit hit the fan. They can and will be challenged in court after the fact, which is really where it should be done at this point to maintain the separate branches of gov.

wenn's avatar

I’ve wanted to move to London since i was 6 years old (now 22). i have been to a handfull of places around the world now and have a list of places i would like to live.

I will do so when i can afford it. I do not plan to live, work and raise a family in US.

Nially_Bob's avatar

Not being born within US territory nor an expatriate I have no experience of such feelings to share but was curious whether it is that those who wish to emigrate elsewhere assume that there is a lack of corruption or discrimination in other societies? Regardless of where a person lives there shall always be some societal contention even if it is not publicised as vigorously as that of the US.

tinyfaery's avatar

I think about moving to the U.K. or somewhere on the Mediterranean. But then I think that America is a beautiful place. We deserve to have a great society. I’m not sure why we can’t get it together.

rooeytoo's avatar

I really don’t think the USA is any different than any other country, simply larger. USA as with most countries, is made up of people who individually, would probably give you the shirt off their backs or share their last meal. And the USA does much good in the world, some not so good as well. I don’t know of a perfect country and if you think one is you should talk to the people who live there, you might hear a lot of conflicting stories.

I was born in the USA, live in Australia now and I love it here, but I see no difference, there are always good and bad people and governments come and go, some better than others. Americans are very complacent about voting, but enjoy their freedom to complain about politicians who gain office. Here voting is mandated and you are fined if you don’t vote so the numbers are a little higher, but humans are humans and there are plenty who don’t vote here as well.

Do you want to move because you think it is better somewhere else? Or because you want to move to a third world country and do your part to make it better? I would admire that choice but thinking there is a paradise country out there, to me is just folly.

laur's avatar

I have always wanted to move abroad to gain perspective. Every country, region, state, city, town and neighborhood has it’s own flavor and culture. Personally, I’d like to be the sort of person who can experience humanity with the broadest possible understanding. I’d like to feel like a citizen of the world.

cyn's avatar

I’ll go to the U.K. You’re just more independent over there.

Nially_Bob's avatar

@rooeytoo
I concur entirely. No matter who you are or where you go in this world there will always be the occasional dick or five (please excuse my tactlessness) but for the most part the world is made up of good people.
@laur
I too wish to travel to gain perspective but also for the thrill of exploration and adventure.
@cyndihugs
You are? ‘looks around curiously’ I..I never knew :|
How are people more independant in the UK may I inquire Miss. Hugs?

wildpotato's avatar

I see a large difference between the US and Australia as far as foreign policy goes. It infuriates me that my taxes are used to murder Iraqis and intimidate Iranians, keep Palestinians down and plunder South America’s resources to the bone. Not to mention the World Bank and its exploitation of the people it purports to help. True, I don’t know as much about Australia’s policies, but I do think it would make me happier to pay for universal health care and for the 8th best education system in the world than to pay to save failed companies that are “too big to fail.”

As for changing the place for the better instead of fleeing – I admire fireinthepriory’s determination, but I have been disillusioned with politics almost as long as I have wanted to leave. Some might even say embittered. I don’t believe that an ordinary citizen can effect change on a national level without giving over her life to being a lobbyist. I might be interested in being a lobbyist if I didn’t think that the whole lobby system amounted to legal bribery.

jamielynn2328's avatar

I said that if Bush won a second term that I would be out so fast, no one would see me leave. But I stayed. Since Bush didn’t run me out of here, I’m pretty sure nothing ever will.

JLeslie's avatar

If you can afford it, or get a working visa for the country you are interested in, do it. Try it for 2 years, you can always come back.

Darwin's avatar

I am an American, born in the US, and I have lived in countries other than the US. I have enjoyed my time in each of them, but quite frankly, the US is still my home.

One thing to consider is this: if every American who dislikes what the American government does leaves the country, who will change the way things are done? The US is still a form of democracy and while it may feel as if one vote doesn’t count for much, there are many times one person has influenced others and thus engendered change.

“Change does not roll in on the wheels of inevitability, but comes through continuous struggle. And so we must straighten our backs and work for our freedom. A man can’t ride you unless your back is bent.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Bluefreedom's avatar

I readily admit that I was frustrated and embittered with the Bush administration (and angry that I had to tolerate Bush as my commander-in-chief for 8 years) but I’ve never entertained thoughts about leaving the United States. I lived in Asia for 18 months and the Middle East for 3 years and I’ve travelled throughout Europe and I’m still comfortable stating that I think America is the best or one of the best countries to live in on this entire planet. I’ll be the first to say that we have myriad problems throughout America but it is still much better than what can be found in many other countries.

Citizens are almost always going to be a predominate catalyst for change and having a voice in politics and government goes a long way in attempting to make changes. It doesn’t always work exactly the way you want it to and there are always going to be difficulties along the way (our dismal economy is a good example) but I can still rest easy at night knowing that I still have a large amount of rights and freedoms guaranteed me by the Constitution and that’s much more than many other countries have or offer to their citizens.

YARNLADY's avatar

No, but I have often wished I could be transported back the the alternate dimension I came from where there are more people like me.

evelyns_pet_zebra's avatar

I’ve thought about leaving the US once or twice. Not only because of Bush, but because of other reasons as well. There are plenty of things about America that piss me off. The far right and the far left of politics; the extremists not only of religious circles but also of the anti-meat crowd. The people that want the government to baby-sit them, and the unfair taxation, and the sordid health care system, the regulation of personal behavior, the unfair criminal justice system, the idiotic laws that do nothing to protect the people they are supposed to protect. There are a lot of things about this country that annoy the shit out of me. But like @Bluefreedom said, I still have a lot of rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution.

If I did move, it would be due north, to Canada. But I need to pack my long johns, and get used to shorter summers. =)

@YARNLADY give Evelyn a call, she might be able to arrange that. =)

tabbycat's avatar

I would love to live in another country for a while—probably the U.K., France, or Canada, where I’ve spent some time and have friends. But I will always consider myself an American.

DREW_R's avatar

I would never think of leaving my country, at least until it turns truely socialist, which it is doing at the moment under Obamas reign with the universal health care, government schooling and government taking over failing corporations…

Those that feel the gov should take care of them should think of leaving. Including the illegal aliens. Please try a socialist country and give up your freedoms but leave mine the hell alone. The USA can do very well without the socialist B.S. ;)

Judi's avatar

My daughter was born in 1980 and grew up hearing me complain about Regan and hearing my daily groaning at the news, and hearing me grip about our government way to much. I got a reality check when she was about 7 when she said, “I’m not proud to be an American.” I realized, that with all my grumbling, I had forgotten to emphasize that we live in a nation where we are ALLOWED to grumble about our leaders. Where the press is free, and where the grand experiment of diversity shines bright! I felt so guilty!
She has since licved in Spain and in Vietnam. Today, my daughter is once again proud to be an American. (Especially after this last election! Just wish we could recall our California Govenator!)
I decided that even though I didn’t like Regan or Bush, I would change the way I talked about them. I would respect them as the leaders of the greatest nation in the world, while respectfully addressing my concerns about the choices our leaders were making.

Edit: The entire last paragraph that I wrote disapeared!!, Darned CIA~)

She has since lived in Vietnam and Spain and seeing things from different perspectives, she is once again proud to be an American.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I’d love to live in another country, though only time spent living there can tell whether I’d like to stay permanently.

I’m really not that patriotic or proud of the U.S. at the moment, and I feel so much more European at heart than I do American.

Rsam's avatar

all of you seem to be making the egregious mistake of confusing a people with its government. despite what you’ve heard in grammar school (of the people by the people, blah blah blah) there is a difference. stop thinking there’s some democratic ideal in other countries. or any less corruption. All the other countries here seem wonderful, but its not because their governments make less mistakes (granted during the bush years….that wasnt hard) its because of the veneer of culture you’ve been exposed to.

MissAnthrope's avatar

I don’t know about “all of us”. I don’t, personally, I just know I’m much less American in sentiment and in the way I think than I am European. I’ve spent enough time in both places to know that.

CMaz's avatar

As funky as the USA can be. It is better then the rest of the world. Unless you just want to play it neutral and hide.

Though I do wish Denmark was closer. ;-)

JLeslie's avatar

@wildpotato have you travelled much outside of the US?

wildpotato's avatar

@JLeslie Nope – just Tijuana for an afternoon, Canada when I was too young to remember, and London for a few days. Spent a week in St. Croix, but I guess that doesn’t really count. You’re right, I ought to try living elsewhere for a few years on a work or student visa.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

i’ve got itchy feet in general. i always dream of getting out of here! even when things aren’t too bad (which, let’s face it, lately they’re pretty bad), i still muse over just ditching this place one day. but not now, and i don’t even foresee it happening in the near future. i am much too sentimental, and i would be terribly homesick for home and for my friends and family here. besides, i’ve only ever seen 3 states in the united states. just going to north florida (i’m in south florida) is like visiting a different continent.
perhaps after i’ve seen what i feel like i need to see, i’ll blow this popsicle stand. at least for a little while.
oh my god, did i really just say ‘blow this popsicle stand’?

JLeslie's avatar

@wildpotato My experience has been that most Americans who have lived outside of the country wind up wanting to return, but that is not always true of course. Some of it has to do with “the grass is greener” syndrome. You kind of idealize the thing you don’t have. This is why I asked if you have travelled, because you would have some idea of the places you think you want to live, although living somewhere is still different than just being a tourist. You might be right, there might be a country out there that is a much better fit for you.

I have several friends who live outside of the US, several of them feel more like they are citizens of the world, rather than of the US. My husband came to the US from Mexico, and has lived as an expat in Colombia. The US feels like the best fit for him, but he is always open to living as an expat for the experience.

I too was very dissapointed during the Bush years. Hell, there are parts of the US that do not even seem like they are America to me—hate, prejudice, narrow minded people still surprise me. But, I feel very proud to be an American. In my mind our constitution provides for the America I think we should be. I grew up wih a father who sees America as a paradise, he mostly was referring to religious freedom in his statement. I saw Clinton a few years after his presidency commenting on the Bush/Gore election and how the supreme court handled things. He said something along the lines of…America has gone off course before, but with time we find our way to the proper path. I hold onto that.

With that I am not trying to convince you of anything, I still think if you want to live in another country for a while, go for it. I just wanted to share my perspective on our country right now.

donrob's avatar

There are many things I do not like about the US. I have no faith in our Goverment regardless of who is running it, that is not to say I would have faith in any Goverment elsewhere. It is ludicrous the taxes I pay which when all is tallied up (Fed income tax, state income tax, property tax, school tax, sales tax, gas tax..the list goes on infintely) I pay about 50% a year in taxes and get less and less every year for that. I do plan to buy some land outside the country…I have a childhood friend that has lived outside the US for many years and loves it, he of course loves to come visit the US but he cannot imagine living here. I would at the very least, like a 2nd home or live part-time in another country….in order to get to that point I will start with some land and go from there.

If you had to ask me the main reason? Taxes and how they are completely wasted….my belief is my tax bill will only increase and considering what I already pay while a large portion of this country hides from paying taxes is reason enough.

carolannaugustus's avatar

I would definately want to leave the U.S. I was born here in 1961. The quality of life here has gone extremely downhill. I went to tahiti a few years ago and there’s no such thing as food stamps, housing assistance etc. They have no use for any of that. Everyone has a good job and if you need to go to the doctor, you just go.

rooeytoo's avatar

Wikipedia says unemployment 13% in Tahiti. All times I have visited any of the south Pacific islands, I see the same problems that exist virtually everywhere inhabited by human beings. The climate is like paradise but everything else is very earth like. And the climate has its moments when the cyclones and tsunamis come!

Judi's avatar

InTahiti you saw rhe fresh face for the tourists. You didn’t see rhe REAL Tahiti.

woodcutter's avatar

the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence. But that doesn’t mean its better. To the whiners who would uproot their lives because of politics they don’t agree with and really move away – go you won’t be missed at all. And the country will be better for it. You’ll be back.

MissAnthrope's avatar

It’‘s one thing to be proud of your country and another to begrudge people their happiness simply because it might be found elsewhere.

Darbio16's avatar

We should just kill totalitarianism, like fascism here in America and communism over in China, instead of running like a bunch of pussies. So just fucking fight , unless you think you can rough it in the deepest of woods, this shit is world wide .

master_mind413's avatar

I have seriously thought about it a few times, but I cant afford it with all my taxes

Coloma's avatar

I just met an ex-pat at a sidewalk pub in Hualien Taiwan last month. ‘Larry.’

What a character…spotted us walking by and called us over, next thing you know the beer is flowing, and Larry is sharing his interesting life. Ex-pat from Ohio, working on contract for Lockheed in Hualien, loving the lifestyle and his Taiwanese girlfriend who showed up with her mother a bit later.

Then..a couple of Brits showed up, a welshman and englishman…what a fun night in the middle of a strange country!

Coloma's avatar

Oh…the original question? lolol

I get sidetracked easily! haha

Yes..seriously considered moving to Costa Rica a few years ago.

I was a hairs breadth away from purchasing a cool little house in the jungle!.

It’s still a possibility,

Nially_Bob's avatar

@woodcutter
I respectfully disagree. Not everyone “shall be back” as is evident from the fact that some US expatriates remain happy in their lifestyle among another society. Also, if an individual leaves the US in hopes of gaining citizenship elsewhere they will likely be missed by friends and family. If a substantial group leaves they should be missed, because without a significant group who have unconventional perspectives on matters a society will fail to adapt and grow weak. Atleast, this is my understanding.

russianspy's avatar

I was born in America (thus American), but I’ve lived abroad most of my life. I’ve lived in America for less than a combined total of 2 years (in Uni), but decided to finish my degree in England.

I’ve resided in the following countries thus far: United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, and Malta.

I’ve had this discussion with a few of my American friends who live overseas, and after living abroad for a few years, tend to like living outside of the USA.

America is a robust country, with good entrepreneurial opportunities, but this doesn’t mean that America is the best in every single aspect.

For example:
– If you like money, work in Japan, where salaries are usually double or triple what you’d get in America (no, not teaching English, but a real job that requires Business Level Japanese).

- If you like long holidays, move to France, where everybody is entitled to 5 weeks of paid leave per year. In America, there’s no obligatory statutory leave; rather, you have to negotiate it as part of your work contract.

- If you’re like me and you love Thai food, move to Thailand and live there for a year. You can do so on a budget of $25/day, or even less.

- If you love the idea of free healthcare, move to Europe.

There are a lot of Americans out there who believe that moving to another country for even a short time is tantamount to treason. ‘If you’re American, and you love America, you should live in America, work in America, and pay taxes in America’ However, this is all bullshit. Think about how much you can contribute when you come back to America from your experience living/working overseas. Perhaps you’ll even pick up a language!

Summum's avatar

I do not want to leave America but I want a NEW government, one for the people. Considering what this government has its hands in and what they have done over the years it needs to be swept clean and started over with honest men that have integrity. The BIG business that has been raping the people of our resources needs also to collapse and a new business environment started.

sarahjane90's avatar

I agree with @JLeslie.I left America, to study in the UK. At first, I was really happy to leave the States, and didn’t miss it at all. However, after being gone for over five years – I now really appreciate being American, and I actually miss my country. I never thought that I would. I believe you need to leave the US to truly appreciate what a great place it is. Sure, it has got downsides, but doesn’t everywhere? The convenience, vastness, choice, and variation in climate and landscape cannot be beaten.

This is coming from someone who was really glad to leave. In fact I couldn’t stand where I was from, although I wouldn’t choose to live where I am from again; going away has really made me realize how many beautiful places are in America‚Ķ the West has to be one of the most spectacular places in the world, in my opinion.

Anyway, I am even planning my qualifications and career around a route back to the States, although I’m making sure I have enough qualifications if I ever want to work internationally too ;)

Smashley's avatar

I came to America about six years ago, and absolutely love my new life, even when compared to the relatively similar country of Canada that I grew up in. Sure Canada is great, but I do find it self-important and all too cozy. I thirst for adventure and a devil-may-care feeling that I only really experience in the US. People look after themselves to a greater extent than the other places I’ve been, and they pay almost nothing in taxes, thumping their chests with an attitude that almost says “I’d rather fail epically on my own than be safe and comfortable with the help of others.” This appeals to some part of me. I like the wanderer and wage laborer that I never would have become in within Canada’s safety net. Like my brother, a personality like mine would tend to wind up living off government checks for life. Frankly I like it better this way.

That said, the majority of United States is no place to raise a family if you aren’t particularly well off. There are pockets of great communities with low costs of living and decent schools, where there are jobs that provide reasonable health insurance, but these areas seem to be in the minority, and there’s always a reason that everyone doesn’t live there already. When my wandering comes to and end and I settle down for a peaceful life of family and tilled earth, as much as I don’t want to, I think I owe it to my children to raise them in a country where they aren’t screwed right off the bat because their parents don’t make much money.

JLeslie's avatar

@Smashley Where in the US do you live?

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