Is a Great Grey Exodus from America Starting?

Although there is no shortage of victims of the financial crisis, one group that has generally been missed is the middle aged and elderly. Yes, there are reports of people in their 40s and 50s moving in with their children or other relatives, but for the most part, this cohort does not get much attention.

Yet it isn’t hard to see how grim their prospects are. Many thought they’d be employed at decent jobs through age 65 and are un or underemployed. And those still working full time are often victims of downward mobility, and have lost a well paying job and are now working at a lower pay level. If you don’t have a decent level of earnings, you can’t save much or at all. These pressures come against a backdrop of loss of wealth due to plunges in home prices and to a lesser degree, financial investments. And that’s before we get to pension fund whackage and plans to “reform” Social Security and Medicare.

Some mainstream media outlets took note of an AARP study that found that the group that had the highest rate of foreclosures was the 75 and older cohort. And remember, these are people who retired after a period when unemployment was relatively low and the stock market delivered attractive returns.

While people who are under financial stress don’t much in the way of options, I see more and more people of modest and better means planning on becoming expats to make their retirement incomes go further. San Miguel, Mexico, was long a destination for older Californians who wanted to stretch their retirement dollar. A once well off jewelry dealer (the “trade” has been in desperate shape for over a decade) planned to move to Buenos Aires, but his situation decayed too quickly for him to exit. Costa Rica is apparently popular with economic emigrants. And I’ve now heard two mentions of Thailand in the last three weeks. One came a reader who told me how his Abyssinian/Manx cat Precious had been trained to stay on a porch, except when he unwisely tried chasing roadrunners and foxes. His e-mail had this sad postscript:

Without going into a rant … we live in rural Clark County, NV outside Las Vegas, and are in that group of former middle class folks that have lost it all … having invested our life savings in this property (peak month Jul, 2006) we have not been able to sell. To view the place Precious and I were behind the fox, go to the home’s website and see the view from the “Perch” seating area. We gave up selling. We have it for rent with option to buy. We hang on but face BK or foreclosure like so many others. When we leave we are moving out of the country. At 65, unemployed since 2007 in a small town, and with a disabled wife, there is no starting over here. We will be able to save more than half my small government pension/her social security in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I am not bitter, but I no longer believe in capitalism or democracy as I once did; not the way they are being practiced now.

Those who are approaching retirement age and have the time, energy, and financial headroom would do much better to get out of Dodge. America ranks badly on pretty much every social indicator, which means that moving to what is nominally a third world county isn’t just a step up in terms of spending power but often in overall quality of life. Thus we are likely to see another sort of hollowing out take place: the lower income and wealthy elderly will remain here, while more in between who have the resources and energy will depart. We already have the economic-oriented literature depicting retirees as a burden. Imagine what a middle class exodus in this age group will do for the political and economic position of the aged.

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  1. getreal

    Silly to blame “capitalism”. It is our departure from capitalism and the embrace of Oligarchical Collectivism that has cause this mess. Return to capitalism and get the government out of business and our personal lives and all will be fine.

    (That and force the Demorcats’ Nonmenklatura to earn an honest and productive living.)

    Beyond that, one wonders what your point is. These “expats” are a tiny minority and reflect little how real people actually live their lives. Do you really think the aveage American over 65 will uprrot themselves and move to Thailand? Are we talking even 3% of “the elderly”? What nonsense.

    That you think such marginal behavior is real shows more how uprooted, disconnected and deracinated you yourself are.

    Las Vegas? Do you imagine that that town is some sort of micorcosm of America? You should go out to some real town in the real America. People over 65 have grandchildern–they have been going to the same church for over 30 years. The mojority of them would not move to Florida, let alone Mexico.

    (Oh, and most of them would not be caught dead in Las Vegas, either.)

    If you had a real life you would understand this.

      1. rotter

        Right. Its not capitalism thats failing totaly its “oligarchal collectivism”.”True capitalism” like true love, never fades.

        1. Nathanael

          The capitalism-worshippers don’t get it. Early stage capitalism seems like it works quite well… but it always metastatizes into late-stage capitalism, which is better known as kleptocracy.

          It’s an natural change which can only be stopped by implementing socialism. Socialism is the only way to keep capitalism working, as the Scandanavian countries figured out.

          1. DJ

            Rotter, your logic is internally inconsistent. We are now exactly where capitalism is destined to go without a social conscience. Nathanael is correct. We are now living in a kleptocracy. The rich are using their leverage, their access to and monopoloy of capital, and all the financial and political advantages it affords them in late stage capitalism to force an “end-game” on the poor and middle class (with the middle class moving inexorably toward poverty). Rotter, you are doing what all upper-class capitalists do once they have “won” the game. They are blaming the poor for being at the bottom. If you can’t see how politicians and businesses are using their capital-power to squash the underclass and squeeze more money for themselves (unlimited corporate donations to politicians? war for profit? massive bank and investment fraud, government bailouts, i.e., welfare, to losing businesses because they are too big?) you are clearly not possessing an understanding of economics (theory and reality) to engage intelligently in this debate. If American capitalism has any hope of emerging from this abyss rather than going down down down completely in flames, the rich, who own EVERYTHING need to start figuring out how to use their capital to create incentives and opportunities for the poor to work, contribute, and survive. Instead, all I hear is people with over $250K income — and EVERY SINGLE PERSON with that kind of income and leverage is making enough money to live like a KING or QUEEN in this world — complaining about the people who are working menial jobs, or no jobs at all, in the world the RICH now own and run. Theories of capital and scarcity are taking over, as inexorable as logic and math. This is what’s happening now. Do you realize how self-serving and ignorant it is to claim it’s all about how taxes and the “lazy” poor are the problem? Do you really believe that the poor caused the $10+ trillion Iraq War, the mortgage melt-down or the employment crash? So self-serving. So little empathy. But guess what — when your bad economics causes the whole thing to come crashing down, you will at least be able to say that you were in charge of your own fate. Unlike the underclass, which has been the world’s punching bag since the year 2000.

        2. Lexington

          Yup, just like when the USSR collapsed it wasn’t communism that had failed, because it turned out the Soviets weren’t “real” communists!

          1. We took over this company...

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    1. C

      Perhaps not Thailand but an increasing number of older individuals in border states already go to Mexico for medical care (cheaper and the doctors often trained in the U.S.) dentistry, shopping and other services. It is perhaps a small shift for some of them to start living in the safer parts.

      1. Kunst

        Ah, but how long do the “safer parts” stay safe? Mexico is in danger of descending into a de facto mafia-ruled failed state. How sure can you (expatriate American) be that the narco-trafficant violence and intimidation/extortion don’t come to your doorstep? Paradise has risks, it seems.

    2. YankeeFrank

      I shall now decode getreal’s deluded and hateful rant:

      Silly to blame “capitalism”. It is our departure from capitalism and the embrace of Oligarchical Collectivism that has cause this mess. Return to capitalism and get the government out of business and our personal lives and all will be fine.

      — Right, because “capitalism” means small businesses competing fairly with high tariffs and strong and enforceable rules of fair dealing. Actually, real capitalism has always inevitably meant monopoly control of markets, workers and small business chewed up and spit out. I have no idea what “oligarchical collectivism” is — I understand the oligarchical part, but what exactly is collectivist about the USA? Social security? Medicare? Ooh, I know — Obamacare! Yes, even though it hasn’t even come into effect yet, Obamacare has ruined America! Oh I know, its welfare — all those black people getting free food and stuff, and not working. Of course, “getting government out of our personal lives” means stopping government from limiting the rape of the people and the environment. Government SHOULD, however, make sure we don’t get abortions, ensure that minorities are kept in their place, and that real Americans are not threatened in their stupidity by furrin ideas, like universal healthcare and evolution. Marvy.

      (That and force the Demorcats’ Nonmenklatura to earn an honest and productive living.)

      –“Demorcats” [sic] bad, Reporklicans good!

      Beyond that, one wonders what your point is. These “expats” are a tiny minority and reflect little how real people actually live their lives. Do you really think the aveage American over 65 will uprrot themselves and move to Thailand? Are we talking even 3% of “the elderly”? What nonsense.

      –Everybody in America lives just like “getreal” does, and if they don’t, they just don’t matter.

      That you think such marginal behavior is real shows more how uprooted, disconnected and deracinated you yourself are.

      –Marginal behavior is behavior that is unlike behaviors exhibited by “getreal”.

      Las Vegas? Do you imagine that that town is some sort of micorcosm of America? You should go out to some real town in the real America. People over 65 have grandchildern–they have been going to the same church for over 30 years. The mojority of them would not move to Florida, let alone Mexico.

      –Once again, real America, where everyone has grandchildren and goes to the same church for 30 years, wouldn’t dream of moving to one of those godforsaken places like Florida or Las Vegas… or presumably New York, LA, San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Kansas City… you know, anywhere there are lots of Catholics, Blacks and Jews. Yuck!

      (Oh, and most of them would not be caught dead in Las Vegas, either.)


      If you had a real life you would understand this.

      — Yes. Because real life is defined by “getreal”, and consists of some hell-hole with lots of poverty, ignorance and gun violence, except for the part of town where getreal lives, which is just dandy, and the police do such a fine job at keeping the riff-raff away from our neighborhood.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Thanks for this. I wonder where these right wing enforcers come from. I saw this when I was writing about Wisconsin, the anti union troll would come and often make the first comment in an effort to poison the thread. How this particular post would even come up on someone’s Google search to go after it so quickly is beyond me.

        1. rafael bolero

          People are paid to do this. You certainly could have one monitoring your site, and others, as a job.

          1. SidFinster

            Please don’t flatter yourselves. This blog is fascinating at times, but nowhere near influential enough for right-wing puppetmasters to bother paying anyone to troll.

            ROI, people….

          1. No, but this does

            “(That and force the Demorcats’ Nonmenklatura to earn an honest and productive living.)”

          2. Rex

            Sure, Andrew, reduce it to the black or white, binary yes or no summary review. In that vein you are either an idiot or a genius.

          3. Yves Smith Post author

            No, someone who leaves a not very articulate comment full of personal attacks and right wing talking points is a troll.

          4. cwaltz

            It isn’t the disagreement that is a giveaway that this is a troll. It’s the one sided blame game and the lack of a real argument that gives things away.

            The idea that there has been too much “government” regulatory capture is absurd. Particularly when you have tons of proof that the problem is business has been tasked with creating their own rules and then policing themselves or colluding with each other( a la BP disaster, banking and financial disaster including MERS, etc, etc)

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            Yes, it’s an AARP study based on Corelogic data. Corelogic has a monster mortgage data base, as of 2007, they had something like 2/3 of all mortgages in it, and they’ve kept boarding more, so they are certain to be a much bigger % now. The New York Times also reported on this.

          2. leftover

            @Yves 11:58
            Something must be wrong with my browser. When I click it I get a Face the Nation story about how Obama and Romney are accountable for gun control.

        2. ebear

          >>How this particular post would even come up on someone’s Google search to go after it so quickly is beyond me.<<

          Why a google search? There are people who read writers they may disagree with, some on a daily basis even. To have a balanced view of life I'd say you have to examine positions that may run counter to your own, wouldn't you agree?

          I think you mischaracterize trolling, at least in the original (usenet) sense of the word. A troll is not someone who vehemently disagrees with your view. A troll is someone attempting (for whatever reason) to elicit an emotional response to a poorly constructed argument.

          What you have here at NC is a target rich environment. A couple of examples should suffice: one poster who thinks all the answers are in the bible, another who thinks boomers are to blame for all America's troubles.

          Apart from closing down comments, you have a few options. Ban the trolls (if you can identify them) ignore them and let other posters do the take-down, or like Denninger, only allow posters who agree with you.

          1. Yves Smith Post author


            You forget I have been blogging for over 6 years.

            Someone who cops a right wing enforcer ‘tude who has never commented here before and shows up as the first comment found this site via a Google alert. This guy is the sort that if he had come across this site some other way, he would have been triggered by other posts and have shown up in the middle of the comment threat. Total newbie, bumper sticker comments, high emotional content and first in the thread = Google alert. Especially early Sunday AM in the summer.

          2. ebear

            >>You forget I have been blogging for over 6 years.

            Someone who cops a right wing enforcer ‘tude who has never commented here before and shows up as the first comment found this site via a Google alert. This guy is the sort that if he had come across this site some other way, he would have been triggered by other posts and have shown up in the middle of the comment threat. Total newbie, bumper sticker comments, high emotional content and first in the thread = Google alert. Especially early Sunday AM in the summer.<<

            We used to call them agitators, but frankly, there's nothing in the substance of the post I find offensive – just the invective. Look at the title: Grey Exodus. The classic image is a multitude not a small minority, which even if it's growing certainly doesn't constitute an Exodus, at least not in the biblical sense.

            The part about small towns was a throwaway – there's as many counter examples as there are examples, so it's just another poorly formed opinion – enough of that here without invoking the troll meme. Personally, I'd have just told the guy to keep it civil or get lost.

            As a point of reference, I've been at this (NNTP groups mainly) since 1997. I lurked your blog for close to a year before posting, so even if appears to have come out of nowhere, that might not be the case. As for first comment, I’ve read many posts here where I myself could have been first in, if so inclined. Nothing to do with google – simply a function of my time zone and the hours I keep.

            To be perfectly frank, I’m not nearly as interested in the content of blogs, NG’s etc. as I am the phenomena itself, i.e. the social and psychological effects of (near) instantaneous mass communication via a still poorly understood medium – the “hidden ground” to use McLuhan’s term. It’s a rich field of study and the main reason I troll here (in the traditional sense). I certainly don’t have anything new to add, but then few do. It’s more of a social phenomena, I think. Kind of like gathering at the village well in days gone by.

            As for the word itself, I’ll still think of myself as that quiet guy dragging a line across a lake as opposed to a nasty creature under a bridge, but then language does evolve. Maybe it’s just me who hasn’t kept up?

      2. Sufferin' Succotash

        “I have no idea what “oligarchical collectivism” is”…

        Sounds like something lifted from Orwell”s “1984” by someone who didn’t get anything about the novel besides that sex scene with Winston and Julia.

        1. charles leseau

          Bingo. The term is straight from 1984, an essay by the character Emmanuel Goldstein titled ‘The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism’.

          Orwell’s novel though was primarily a grotesque characterization of aspects of the Soviet Union that he detested. I’m not quite so sure what this fellow above was on about with the term relating to the US, though authoritarian hammerstrokes on the citizenry can happen in any system where the few get too much power over the many.

          At any rate, I find it hard to believe that GetReal would get along with Orwell on much of anything, but it wouldn’t be the first time the Right has tried to call Orwell their own without knowing he was a democratic socialist himself.

      3. YesMaybe

        Hmmm… I kind of like the sound of ‘Demorcats.’ But maybe it still needs some work, that ‘r’ is a little out place. If it were the ‘Democats’ party, I’d consider supporting it.

    3. MRW


      “Return to capitalism and get the government out of business and our personal lives and all will be fine.”

      Hey Bobblehead, the government hasn’t been in our business, has refused to regulate banks and the financial services since 1999. Or didn’t you notice the consequences in 2008?

      Just as a point of history, if Ed Gray, chair of the Federal Home Loan Bank Board (FHLBB), hadn’t deregulated the S&L industry that Reagan deregulated, Ronald Reagan would have caused an economic disaster, instead of the $200 billion it did cost, and gone down in history as worse than Bush.

        1. LucyLulu

          The above article refers to off-shore drilling. Drilling practices in third world countries are even more inexcusable. After decades of spills and destruction of an entire region’s formerly sustainable, even prosperous, way of life (fishing community that provided seafood for the capital and rest of country), no significant clean-up or compensation has occurred in the Nigerian delta. With no means of income, youth have taken to pirating oil from pipelines, contributing to further spills.

          Shell spins the thefts as being the cause of the problems rather than the result, as well as exponentially downplaying the magnitude. One of many articles on subject:

          Corporations don’t care about people. They only care about their bottom line. Both must be preserved. Regulations protect the ex-corporate interests, e.g. populations, environments, competitors, etc. Like all else in life, its not an all-or-nothing proposition. It’s finding the balance. “Free markets” are a fantastical myth. The U.S. has never had one, we never will, nor would we want one. For those who desire a true free market, sans regulation, I suggest a country such as Somalia.

          1. Nathanael

            What’s interesting is that the terrible conditions in Nigeria have led to very poor profit margins for Shell in Nigeria.

            The corporate execs are not thinking about the corporate bottom line. They’re thinking about next quarter’s report — or perhaps next Friday’s press release. If they bankrupt the company a year later, that’s not even on their *radar*.

            This compulsive, debilitating short-termism is symptomatic of psychopathy.

          2. SqueakyRat

            Nathanael — the short-termism is also very typical of the behavior of drug addicts and alcoholics. Not surprising to see it in the behavior of those who care about nothing except enriching themselves as fast as possible.

          3. enouf

            SqueakyRat says:
            July 23, 2012 at 3:04 pm

            Nathanael — the short-termism is also very typical of the behavior of drugaddicts and alcoholics is just another drug, as is Sugar, Caffeine, Shopping, Gambling,…

            there; fixed it for ya


      1. redleg

        As I see things, the government is enthusiastically regulating actual people and not regulating corporate people. The “free market” cultists might as well just go for it and reintroduce slavery, as corporate rights trump people’s rights in any market free from pesky government interference.

    4. bulfinch

      Heh. Somebody had a lot of fancy words for root displacement just burning a hole in their thesaurus this morning.

    5. DanP66

      More like oligarchical capitalism.

      Capitalism may work when practiced properly.

      Democracy may work when practiced properly.

      What we have is crony capitalism and corrupt democracy locked in a self sustaining feedback loop.

      1. C

        The technical term for that is mercantilism. It was the method practiced by the British for many years and China now. So long as the elites all make good decisions and the poor don’t mind being screwed it works. If something goes wrong, and it always does, you end up with revolutions and bang you lose India.

        1. Nathanael

          In our case the fact that the elites are making really bad decisions is a consequence of their psychopathic group psychology, as described in _Theory of the Leisure Class_.

          China is doing better right now because their social pressures are not the same and do not induce the same dysfunctional behaviors in their elites.

          Mercantilist Britain also benefited from a period when the elites were genuinely indoctrinated with their “duty” to the “little people”, which again prevented the social decay and dysfunction among the elites for a while.

      1. redleg

        Negative feedback tends to fall back towards a midpoint, like carbonic acid as a pH buffer.
        Positive feedback is self reinforcing away from a neutral point. This is usually destructive if not buffered or arrested.

        Also, most guitar players would disagree with categorizing feedback as ugly.

    6. I

      The problem is that both capitalism and communism inevitably devolve to crony oligarchies. Money is power. No political system that allows individuals to concentrate great wealth-power will ever be stable or benefit its citizenry. Billionaires are as toxic as dictators.

      1. mafer

        The “inevitable authoritarianism of Communism” position has many flaws. The Soviet Union, at its inception, was a Democracy, but began to degerate in the 1920s.

        Stalin didn´t physically liquidate/exile all of the Old Bolsheviks because he was a paranoid bastard. He was quite methodical and rather cautious at the beginning, since he had not yet consolidated power. If it usurpation of power is inevitable, then why did Stalin have to resort to such measures?

    7. Austin F

      Yeah, what we need is more deregulation and more people dying on the streets. All in the interests JP Morgan and McDonalds. I can’t wait.

      “Oh say can you see,
      By the dawn’s early light
      The poor on the street,
      where they spend the whole night

      whose torn clothes and worn shoes,
      Through the perilous night
      Let them freeze while the rich
      Saw them gallantly dying”

    8. Kathi Berke

      RE: Get real: this is how the right wing narrative works. Get in there first, twist the post into (what?) some kind of argument that dealing with one’s rapidly dwindling prospects in a country where you are one medical emergency away from homelessness, shows you are part of the “other”, not the “Real” America.

      Don’t engage with right wing narrative. It’s devoid of facts. It only focuses on provocation and nasty accusation.

      Right wing narrative flourishes in anonymity.

      Yves is right-on in this post. I’d recite a litany of facts but that’s not Get Real’s purpose.

    9. Lambert Strether

      I assume “Nonmenklatura” is a typo and not ignorance? (Although I agree with you in large part, stipulating only that your ukase be applied to the Republican apparat as well, who differ from their Democratic counterparts in tribal garb only.)

    10. F. Beard

      It is our departure from capitalism and the embrace of Oligarchical Collectivism that has cause this mess. getreal

      You do mean the government backed/enforced usury for money lent into existence (“loans create deposits”) cartel, don’t you? Else it is you who needs to get real.

    11. nonclassical


      to be nice, ridiculous. The U.S. has been propagandized by neocons and DLC dems to “military corporatocracy”, whereby the private sector generates over half intel gathering-leading to profiteering through endless self-generated wars.

      The “financial sector”, accounting for 19% of U.S. economy, 2001, by 2007 accounts for 41% of U.S. economy. “Derivatives” valued under $2 trillion, 2001, but by 2007, $600 trillion. We have witnessed the financialization of U.S. economy, which Nixon republican economist Kevin Phillips notes in several books, amounts to ending of manufacturing, economy based upon paper debt.

      Some of us, by 2003, had figured out what was coming, and paid off everything we owed. By 2005 we KNEW millions of americans would go bankrupt, credit card lobbyists having written new bankruptcy law….this after having placed Americans in credit card debt for 10 years…don’t even try to tell us here this was not intentional…they wrote the legislation.

      Our family will be retiring overseas, where we can live in
      stoic apartment, have food and transportation, for less than cost of healthcare here, and NOT lose our home to healthcare bills…you can find Michael Hudson (“Debt Deflation in America”) discussion on all, here on this sight.

      To see where your “free market” capitalistic nonsense is leading, peruse “Trans-Pacific Partnership”, several iterations from “NAFTA highway”…see what is happening-only 2 of 26 chapters of this corporate authoritarian nightmare deal with trade-the rest is auspices for “Investor State Dispute Resolution”= 3 person tribunals
      empowered to authorize corporations to sue governments outside domestic court systems, over any action corporations believe undermines their expected future profits or rights under the pact…

      you sit in the mess you’ve made…following corrupt, lying leadership…

    12. mikeb

      @ getreal

      I pledge to eliminate all government intervention in my life. I will abstain from the use of and participation in any socialist goods and services including but not limited to the following:
      ● Social Security
      ● Medicare/Medicaid
      ● State Children’s Health Insurance Programs (SCHIP)
      ● Police, Fire, and Emergency Services
      ● US Postal Service
      ● Roads and Highways
      ● Air Travel (regulated by the socialist FAA)
      ● The US Railway System
      ● Public Subways and Metro Systems
      ● Public Bus and Lightrail Systems
      ● Rest Areas on Highways
      ● Sidewalks
      ● All Government-Funded Local/State Projects (e.g., see Iowa 2009 federal senate
      ● Public Water and Sewer Services (goodbye socialist toilet, shower, dishwasher, kitchen sink, outdoor hose!)
      ● Public and State Universities and Colleges
      ● Public Primary and Secondary Schools
      ● Sesame Street
      ● Publicly Funded Anti-Drug Use Education for Children
      ● Public Museums
      ● Libraries
      ● Public Parks and Beaches
      ● State and National Parks
      ● Public Zoos
      ● Unemployment Insurance
      ● Municipal Garbage and Recycling Services
      ● Treatment at Any Hospital or Clinic That Ever Received Funding From Local, State or
      Federal Government (pretty much all of them)
      ● Medical Services and Medications That Were Created or Derived From Any Government Grant or Research Funding (again, pretty much all of them)
      ● Socialist Byproducts of Government Investment Such as Duct Tape and Velcro (Nazi-NASA Inventions)
      ● Use of the Internets, email, and networked computers, as the DoD’s ARPANET was the
      basis for subsequent computer networking
      ● Foodstuffs, Meats, Produce and Crops That Were Grown With, Fed With, Raised With or That Contain Inputs From Crops Grown With Government Subsidies
      ● Clothing Made from Crops (e.g. cotton) That Were Grown With or That Contain Inputs
      From Government Subsidies
      ● If a veteran of the government-run socialist US military, I will forego my VA benefits and insist on paying for my own medical care
      I will not tour socialist government buildings like the Capitol in Washington, D.C.
      I pledge to never take myself, my family, or my children on a tour of the following types of socialist locations, including but not limited to:
      ● Smithsonian Museums such as the Air and Space Museum or Museum of American History
      ● The socialist Washington, Lincoln, and Jefferson Monuments
      ● The government-operated Statue of Liberty
      ● The Grand Canyon
      ● The socialist World War II and Vietnam Veterans Memorials
      ● The government-run socialist-propaganda location known as Arlington National Cemetery
      ● All other public-funded socialist sites, whether it be in my state or in Washington, DC
      I will urge my Member of Congress and Senators to forego their government salary and
      government-provided healthcare.
      I will oppose and condemn the government-funded and therefore socialist military of the United States of America.
      I will boycott the products of socialist defense contractors such as GE, Lockheed-Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Humana, FedEx, General Motors, Honeywell, and hundreds of others that are paid by our socialist government to produce goods for our socialist army.
      I will protest socialist security departments such as the Pentagon, FBI, CIA, Department of Homeland Security, TSA, Department of Justice and their socialist employees.
      Upon reaching eligible retirement age, I will tear up my socialist Social Security checks.
      Upon reaching age 65, I will forego Medicare and pay for my own private health insurance until I die.

      1. Stratos

        Brilliant, mikeb! Many Americans are so heavily propagandized against “government involvement” in their lives that they are oblivious to the bounty that their tax dollars have (and continue) to pay for everyday of their lives. Thanks for the the list.

      2. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Maybe we could start with all Registered Republicans: removing all government largesse now encumbering their brains with the burden of cognitive dissonance, as they accept the largesse while voting to “disappear the government.”

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          e.g., shouldn’t “disaster relief” and “entitlement” checks from “the government” cease to be issued to Republicans immediately?

    13. napster

      GEtReal has noClue and is probably a military based troll. It proves its own malignant ignorance when it says this:
      “Return to capitalism and get the government out of business and our personal lives and all will be fine.”

      Fool. It wasn’t the government that invaded business that caused the last decade. It was wall street and corporate business that invaded government and created a huge media propaganda apparatus filled with idiots like yourself parroting the same moniker over and over and over while they steal your brain and pocketbooks blind.

      You are the problem.

    14. Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake

      Dear GetReal:

      Absolutely Grand to hear the usual idiomatic phrases of the super-stuffed right wing owl. “If you had a life…” “Democratic Nomenklatura…” “collectivized Oligarchs.” and even “get real.”

      My wife and I and our sons, too (both boys educated, smart, great citizens, the kind the founding fathers liked) see the light. The U.S. elite and government and its lobbyists are pretty much on the side of people like you.

      Ecuador is a nice place; Argentina? Maybe. We’ve lived 15 years abroad and can do it again, believe me, and we will do it again. The U.S. daily life sucks and has sucked for 50 years in comparison to many other countries. You can sit and howl against the left and its better and greater ideas on your own all by yourself with your stupids supporting you and your red-state idiots. I’ll be happy away from the likes of you. I only returned from Japan sentimentally thinking it would be nice for my boys to go to college here. What a mistake.

    15. Lord Koos

      I fit perfectly into this demographic. I’m 60 and my wife is 61, we sold our small house in March of this year, which I had bought 1995. I did OK, having been smart enough not to borrow heavily against it as many of my friends did. In nominal terms I doubled my money, and bought precious metals with a great deal of the proceeds. We are presently living in Chiang Mai Thailand to evaluate what it might be like to stay here permanently. Anecdotally, I can tell you that there are tons of geezer expats here, not just Americans but many Europeans and Aussies as well. Many aware westerners can see the writing on the wall and have moved here permanently – we met one Italian guy in his mid 60s who used to work for the central bank of Italy but is now running a resort with his Thai wife. The weather is good most of the time, food and rent are cheap. We’ve been here since April and it is a blessing to be away from the increasingly toxic culture of violence and dysfunctional, divisive politics. We are both artists and have no pensions, and will receive very little social security, so we are brainstorming how to engineer income while here. It is possible to live here for $10k a year without much hardship at all, we don’t even need a car.

  2. American Slave

    Lol. Is anybody really happy with capitalism right now since all I hear are angry business people and politicians every time I see the news and Mitt Romney is angry about everything all the time so maybe its time for a change, seems like we don’t have much left to lose.

    1. Art Eclectic

      There will be no changes until the electorate demands changes and puts their votes where their mouths are.

      If Romney wins in November he’s a 1-termer, too. When it becomes obvious to voters that they’ve just voted themselves another oligarch who is more interested in protecting wealth at the top end than creating a vibrant marketplace where the middle class will flourish, they will dump good old Romeny in 2016 when a real reformer steps up to the plate.

      Romney is well and truly f’ed. He’ll be under pressure to keep extending the Bush tax cuts and to cut taxes on business. He won’t be able to cut spending because the people who that spending impacts all vote (nobody is cutting SS or Medicare, that’s the reality.) He can’t cut defense becuase his own party will hang him out to dry. So, we just rack up another 4 years of deficits, corporate profits go through the roof with the lower taxes and corporations invest that money in things other than job creation (after the exec team gets their bonuses, natch.)

      By 2016, Romney has buried the country in an even deeper hole financially by maintaining and the voters toss him out like an old phone book.

      His sole accomplishment: defunding Planned Parenthood (which wealthy blue team donors will step up and save.)

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          n, the Trans-Pacific pact was initiated by Bush&Co, just as was his Security and Prosperity Partnership pact for the formation of the NAU–with its de facto Imperial Executive destruction of the U.S.A. as a sovereign nation-state and the subversion of our Constitution and our “one nation under law.” This was treason in both cases. George W. Bush is guilty of treason, as Agent of treason on behalf of George H.W. Bush, arch traitor to the United States of America, her People, and her Constitution.

  3. ozajh

    Two unspoken assumptions here.

    1. That he and his wife will continue to get “my small government pension/her social security” in Chiang Mai.
    2. That, if they do, economic and currency relativities will continue to give them a much higher standard of living in Thailand than in the US.

    Most people would consider both assumptions to be fairly safe, but I personally think he needs to consider whether they’re certain enough to move halfway across the world at age 65 with a disabled wife.

    1. Tiresias

      Private pensions are usually payable anywhere, and in $US which may be a good thing, but ‘social security’ is rarely payable to ex-patriates. And even if Thailand has a universal healthcare, ‘universal’ rarely extends to non-nationals and is as expensive privately as it is anywhere.

      1. Yves Smith Post author

        Your assumption about private healthcare abroad is dead wrong. Americans have no idea how overpriced our health care is.

        I’ve gotten private care in Sydney (a first world and not cheap city) and at a A$1 = $1, it was 1/4 to 1/3 the cost of US care. And the pharmaceuticals were even cheaper because their Therpeutpic Goods Administration does the research and buys based on efficacy (as opposed to the latest minor reformlation) and bargains like hell. Anyone who needs a lot of meds would do much better to go abroad. I still have one scrip filled in Oz. Even with paying the doctor $100 a year to write the scrip, my all in costs are 1/5 of getting it filled in the US.

        And that’s even more true in Thailand. I had a minor knee flare up, went to a local hosiptal (scheduled, not emergency room) and I was very impressed with the doctor and the price was very low (I don’t recall how much but I recall I thought it was a screaming bargain).

        And SS is paid to expats unless they move to countries designated as Bad Countries:

        1. Tiresias

          I suspect we have a “tomayto/tomarto” issue here. In the UK “Social Security” is generally taken to mean special benefits paid by the State to assist individuals in need of help – unemployment benefits, child benefits, special education needs. They are payable to residents rather than citizens but would very rarely be paid to nationals living abroad.

          And while private medical care might be as good but cheaper, for the age group under consideration you’re talking major long-term health problems – cancer, rhumatoid arthritis, blindness and deafness, alzheimers etc. – not a sore knee or Montezuma’s Revenge. Plus the very real possibility of a lengthy terminal illness in a foreign institution where few of the staff and fellow patients speak the same language.

          I know an English couple who retired to Spain – wonderful lifestyle in wonderful climate in a lovely coastal villa – who were eventually beaten by healthcare needs. Affordable and no fault with the Spanish Healthcare system or even the Spanish doctors and nurses, but the language problems on top of an already stressful – and frightening – situation for 70-year-olds was just too much.

          Perhaps you have to be in your sixties with the usually unsung bits of the body beginning to draw attention to themselves and time’s winged chariot starting to feel rather undersprung and fragile, to appreciate home.

          1. Yves Smith Post author

            This is from an American, and here “Social Security” means our retirement income program. That and Medicare are the only meaningful safety nets for the elderly.

          2. kemo sabe


            Methinks you need to educate yourself about social security and medical care in other countries, You’re spouting off your ignorance.

          3. dan h

            Im only 24, I train Brazilian Jiu Jitsu 6 days a week and do Bikram yoga 4/week as well as some strength training so I am obviously way outside the realm of average here, that said…

            your body should not fall apart at 60. the disgusting monotony and depravity of most modern western working paradigms coupled with the poisonous industrial food systems coming out of monoculture farming…(and Im in the US so I realize I probably see the worst of these systems) Its just too much. Its so absolutely overwhelmingly disgusting. And everyone around just marches on poising themselves gleefully. My parents are both over 50 now…Its terrifying seeing the wheels starting to fall off, and even more so because they know they’re poisoning themselves and are unwilling to change. Yeah the system is rotten, but thats been obvious for decades. You shouldnt have bought in the first place. My dad grew up on a farm in rural Ireland, has railed against the excesses of American culture throughout his 30 plus years here, and yet he participates…theres an awful lot of individual culpability getting glossed over with the recent obviousness of systemic corruption.

        2. timotheus

          I was mugged in Santiago, Chile, in 1994 and ended up with a broken nose. The first-class repair job in a public hospital cost me $10, with $5 for the follow-up visit. There had to have been six to eight medical staff hovering over me during the procedure. Even if I had gone to a private doctor (which I could not because it was February and they were all on vacation), it would have been 1/4 the cost here, maybe less.

        3. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Yves, when do you think that Social Security payments will be disallowed for ex-pats, and purchase of “health care/Rx” abroad expressly prohibited? If using “Occupy” tactics now is a felony, what’s coming next?

        4. jerry denim

          I crashed a scooter in Thailand two years ago. Three trips to doctor, seven stiches, lanocaine shots, antibiotics to prevent infection, PLUS the damages to the bike = $30 USD! No kidding. Americans have no idea just how overpriced our healthcare really is.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            jd, so then why aren’t the “retired” raising hell HERE, instead of copping out? After all, the Boomers made this system as co-conspirators in the money-inflation racket.

          2. Nathanael

            Lenova: Ignorance. And the right-wing corporate-owned media do their best to KEEP people ignorant.

            Nothing more than ignorance.

        5. dearieme

          “the very real possibility of a lengthy terminal illness in a foreign institution where few of the staff and fellow patients speak the same language.”

          I’m not looking forward to a lengthy terminal illness in an NHS institution where few of the staff and fellow patients speak the same language.

        6. anthrosciguy

          In Thailand the medical care is both good and inexpensive, and you can also get medical insurance as an expat and that’s fairly cheap too, because the care is inexpensive.

          I had my hernia operation done in Chiang Mai a few years back even though I had insurance in the USA. The total price there was $1500, which was half of my deductible here. The care was great, and I waited a half hour for my initial appointment after a walk in with no call or anything beforehand. Had the operation done 4 days later (could’ve had it sooner but I had a couple things to do first).

          Of course you can get Social Security while living there. You don’t even need it sent there, of course; just use your bank at home if you want.

          Retirement visas are a bit of a hoop to jump through, but with a bit of money (around $30,000 in a bank acct or $2,000/mo. coming in, or a combo that adds up to that) it’s not hard.

          I’m always amazed at how little some Americans know (like the “you can’t get Social Security if you live overseas”) and saddened that people so ignorant seem to be among the first to offer their thoughts on a subject they obviously do not know.

      2. h00per

        I’ve been living in Chiang Rai, Thailand (180 km north of Chiang Mai) for 10 years now – and have been receiving Social Security for the last 6 years. Ex-pats do get SS – it isn’t a requirement to live in the US.

        1. h00per

          PS – Health care IS cheaper here, by a wide margin. I recently spent a couple of nights in a private hospital – in a private room. Total cost, hospital, doctor, meds, tests (EKG, X-ray, CBC, etc) was about $300.

          1. Miguelito

            My toddler spent 3 hours in an emergency room. The only thing the hospital did was look at him for a couple of minutes an administer some Amoxicillin. Total cost was $1400. $6 for the Amoxicillin.

            It’s ridiculous. Luckily our insurance only requires us to pay a certain fixed amount for ER visits.

          2. LeonovaBalletRusse

            h, the TELL of the U.S. “Health Care” scam for 1% insider profits is that U.S. citizens must PAY THE MIDDLEMEN: the Insureres and their Third Party Administrator Henchmen fronting for “Employer” provided “health benefits.”

          3. dan h

            “Luckily our insurance only requires us to pay a certain fixed amount for ER visits.”

            thats the key to why prices are so high. the rules like that started with government funded programs… doctors then jacked up prices to compensate… anyone trying to pay traditionally/out of pocket is now completely screwed

      3. Lidia

        Tiresias, you are telling outright lies. I’m a US expat in Italy, and while I’m not old enough to collect Soc.Sec., US expats who are of that age get their SS checks deposited right into their Italian bank accounts. How’s that for convenience?

        Whether there is universal health care or not, paying out-of-pocket in the third world is eminently do-able, at least for now.

        I’m sadly moving back to the US from Italy for family reasons, and you can bet that I am agonizing over the loss of universal health care and the prospect of paying a ridiculously over-priced $15-20k p.a. to ridiculous private insurance vultures. The USA is institutionalized grifter/looter central, and private insurers live better and certainly sleep better than the Mafia dons they pattern themselves on.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          Lidia, with this advertisement, how long will it be before an Executive Signing Statement makes it a felony to collect Social Security and Medicare payments while living abroad?

        2. Nathanael

          If you can get into a foreign country and get citizenship, it may be a better deal to get work there than to retire in the US!

          After all, you can always do English translations.

  4. C

    It is unfortunate but worth noting that the age group covered by the AARP study is the same one that has been the most entheuseastic supporters of the very “small government” and “free market” policies that enabled this swindle.

    1. C

      NOTE:: I am not attempting by my comments to cast blame on him or his wife for this nor am I being snarky.

      Rather I’m noting the fact that this runs counter to comments that have often been made in other media sources that the current crisis is one that benefits, or at least does not harm, the boomer generation at the expense of younger generations by passing on the cost of medicaire and other issues to them.

      Instead, as one would expect the story is more complex with boomers suffering as much or more than their children.

      1. CB

        No need to explain. The senior middle class are often enthusiastic supporters of smaller government and eliminating social welfare programs. For other people. Of course. Because they worked hard all their lives. And earned it. When Reagan whacked programs for the poor, a lot of the middle class were delighted to cut off the “freeloaders.”

        “The opposite of poverty is not wealth. … In too many places, the opposite of poverty is justice.” Bryan Stevenson

    2. Interguru

      There is a direct correlation on the state, county and individual level. The more aid received fom the Federal governmentm the more likely they are to vote Republican.

      Reminds me of a sign at a Tea Party rally, “Get government out of my Medivare”.

  5. A.S.

    (1) Forgive me for asking, but why is a 59 year old man, six years from retirement, investing his & his wife’s life savings in rural real estate? And perhaps also taking out a mortgage? (It’s not clear from the e-mail). Is that not an age at which one should be reducing investment risk instead of increasing it?

    (2) Regarding the elderly who leave the U.S., what will happen when they need medical treatment? Who will pay for it?

    1. Yves Smith Post author

      Reread his piece.

      He bought the house in 2006 and lost his job in 2007. He clearly planned to live in that house forever. On his old income, he presumably would have either been able to save enough additional and/or pay down his mortgage to be able to afford to live in the house after he was 65. And the house is one one level, energy efficient, probably designed in part to make life easier for his wife to get around.

      1. Mike M

        You presume a lot. I see nothing about his finances in that e-mail other than a very poor financial decision to buy a very overvalued home in a desert town in Nevada at a very late stage in his working life, a place with very few employment options, I would guess, if one lost his/her job. You can’t fix stupid, you know. Hell, he’s so dumb, he’s actually thinking of moving half way around the world to solve some of his problems, to a place, I’m guessing, he has never been. Something tells me that’s how he wound up in the Nevada desert in such a situation. Chasing dreams. Dumb.

        1. ambrit

          Dear Troll Mike;
          In the time frame this person made his decision, the desert Southwest was a premiere destination for soon to be retirees. Things were going just great for most middle class and older folks. A lot of us didn’t grasp the overwhelming evil of the class war being waged on us by the elites. What we have here is a belated realization by a lot of us that the social contract has been unilaterally abandoned by the elite class. Now we are in the situation of trying to enforce the contract, with the judges in the elites pockets.
          The ultimate test of the fitness of a culture is the manner in which it deals with the poor and powerless. Once the lowest in the social hierarchy begin to become scapegoats and victims, the game is up for almost all. The “Law of the Jungle” is exactly that, fit only for a jungle, not for any type of civilization worthy of the name. All else is savagery and barbarism.
          Thanks for letting me rant.

          1. Susan the other

            I just became aware of the 1980 Italian directed movie Cannibal Holocaust. Watching pieces of it on the net was a veritable purge.

          2. Mike M

            Dear unctuous and righteous ambrit:

            “Things were going just great for most middle class and older folks.”

            No, they weren’t. this whole shrinking of the middle class started a long time ago. I’d say the starting line were the oil shocks of the 70s. Back then, a working person could bring home one income to support a family in relative comfort, certainly as compared to the pre war depression years they grew up in. Ever since Reagan, our middle class has been whittled away, slowly and surely by a new world corporate order and finance industry that has created fictional booms and busts to line their own pockets and fool the foolish into thinking that debt is an asset.

            “A lot of us didn’t grasp the overwhelming evil of the class war being waged on us by the elites.”

            How old are you? Really? It took THAT to open your eyes? Have you read one history book in your life? This particular incident was thirty years in the making. Where were you? Watching the Brady Bunch? Get real.

            Listen, think about this. Imagine climbing into your time machine, setting it for, oh, 1900, somewhere in the midwest, and then sit down with a few people and describe today’s Las Vegas to them. You know, a large glittering city built in the absolute stinking desert in the middle of nowhere with no natural source of water to speak of, no chance at any kind of agriculture or any kind of connection to the natural world except for dealing with the ever present oppressive heat. Now, this city is almost totally dependent on one industry, the vice of gambling, with much money made off the vices of alcohol consumption and prostitution. Oh, and fill it with massive fountains spraying that valuable water into the atmosphere, and then build large gold courses that use even more water than those fountains. Crazy place, huh? They’d probably think you were an alien, or Satan, as you describe this very real place. Now, that is where this fellow wound up, along with thousands and thousands of others, going into spectacular debt for the privilege. The rest of us played it safe and smart, staying where the jobs are, and some of us saw the bubble in 1999. Like me. I have no sympathy for stupidity like that, sir. It’s amusing from a distance, but, now that the s**t has hit the fan, don’t come to me with the tears. and learn to have some respect for different views of the world, instead of calling people who don’t live in your bubble a troll.

          1. Guy Fawkes

            Thank you, Lambert.

            What I find increasingly happening is people continue to blame homeowners for not knowing what the banks knew.

            Seems to me that we have lost all compassion and empathy for our fellow man. Extremely sad.

          2. LeonovaBalletRusse

            F. Beard, either Proverbs, or the original form of Proverbs: The Egyptian Book of the Dead.

    2. cwaltz

      They’ll pay for their own.

      Considering that over half of bankruptcies in the US are medical related I’d figure that they probably have a better chance of staying solvent in an outside system then in the system we have here in the US.

  6. middle Seaman

    Way to go – we are angree with the people that lost most. Next we’ll shot the poor and take away SS from every we don’t like. America the beautiful.

  7. Alinda

    I’m one of those who’s gone. I’m in Europe. Live in a small beautiful town and life is very inexpensive. I’m 58 and the hubby is 64. Private insurance is cheaper than US coverage. America has lost its heart. We’re glad we’re gone…I’m sure all the republicans reading this will be glad too. ; )

    1. Me is worried too

      Poland is another country I’ve heard that has communities of American ex-pats springing up. When I lived in KY, I had a good friend from Poland who still flew home for most of her medical care. She said it was far superior there to what she had found in this country. Both she and hubby had PhD’s and were extremely smart. The Polish being considered the best mathematicians in the world and all that.

      1. LeonovaBalletRusse

        Me, I guess it’s especially fine if you are an anti-Jewish Roman Catholic purist.

        1. Yves Smith Post author

          I have a good friend, Polish, whose family harbored Jews in WWII. She gets upset at the way she is assumed to be anti-Semitic.

  8. Me is worried too

    I have more assets socked away than probably 95% of most who retire. All my friends and family live here in the US and the last thing I ever want to do is to leave everybody I know behind. But I’m worried enough that I’ve looked into and considered moving abroad. Ecuador is another popular country. For $1500/month, you can live quite well, $140,000 buys a very nicely appointed 2 BR home with a view of beautiful mountains enough land for a large garden and temperate climate (not hot). An annual fee, maybe $200, something quite reasonable, pays for medical insurance which is adequate for most everything you would need. Facilities are very clean, probably more so than ours. As it is, many of the rich go to S. America for their cosmetic procedures anyways to save money (I know, not Ecuador). Political risk is the largest of the risks.

    Given current interest rates, $1M put aside and invested conservatively can yield at most 3%, or $30,000, before taxes, without invading principle. I am only 54, was forced to retire early due to a catastrophic event, so invading principle isn’t quite an option for a while. Who knows what will happen to SS. Now they predict that because of ZIRP, the trust fund will run dry in 2023 (and I missed the 55 cutoff, not that I’m convinced they will be spared either).

    It will only be 3%? I wouldn’t be so sure of that. I know a fair number of folks worth under $2M who are worried, or seeing/saw their assets plummeting due to a job loss, dive in home values, etc. 58 year old execs aren’t getting rehired, except apparently the crooks within the top rungs of the banking industry. Without structural reform, we won’t be able to afford health care much more than another decade or so. It already eats up 17% GDP (2nd ranked country – Switzerland at 13%, whose plan looks remarkably like Obamacare — universal, mandated purchase among several private insurers, low income groups subsidized, preventive care covered). The big three — SS, Medicare/Medicaid, and Defense eat up all current revenues in roughly equal amounts.

    Like Yves said, those rich enough will be able to stay (but they don’t pay taxes, ha ha!). The poor won’t be able to leave. Maybe the two groups will have to make amends.

    P.S. Medical care is cheaper abroad than the required Medicare co-pays. I am prescribed one medicine that costs $3900 for a 90 day supply in the US. No, that is not a typo. There are no other drugs in the same class, it’s unique. And the company paid the generic companies several hundred million not to distribute several years beyond the patent expiration. The anti-Sherman Act lawsuits brought by FTC and pharmacy retailers have been in the courts for 5 years but don’t look promising. A prior case with similar facts was since struck down, though the EU is also suing after the company forced Canada, Mexico, and Europe to take their generics off the shelf. The pharm co is making over $1B in profit every year on the one drug (which they had no R&D costs invested in, already released in Europe when they bought rights in 1997, released in US in 1998). The same $3900 supply can be purchased abroad for a little over $200, if illegally imported. Previously a law-abiding citizen, I illegally import.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Me, you can really stretch that “retirement income.” Congratulations. But you may be out of touch with the “seniors” who hocked their homes for steady food (for humans) and medicine at the same time, after being pressure-duped by the burgerflippers working the Liar’s Loans racket.

      1. Nathanael

        I’d bet on TIAA-CREF which offers a guaranteed 3% through long-term (40-year) investments in downtown commercial real estate.

  9. Joe

    A story from Australia: For my retired father it’s cheaper to fly to Taiwan for major dental work, (such as root canal therapy, caps, etc.) For less than the cost of the same treatment in Australia he gets his teeth fixed and takes a holiday– and the dental surgeons are trained in Australia or the US. How does that make sense?

    Regarding having to buy drugs overseas because they are “unaffordable” locally– the great tragedy of this, is that these drugs are not locally regulated. Hopefully, they are regulated in the countries where they are produced, but buying things internationally via the internet is fraught with danger.

    Don’t blame government alone for this situation, the pharmaceutical companies are to be blamed for their one-eyed view on profits. The government can be blamed for not having the moral fiber to stand up to them.

    1. Rex

      “Don’t blame government alone for this situation, the pharmaceutical companies are to be blamed for their one-eyed view on profits. The government can be blamed for not having the moral fiber to stand up to them.”

      On the government side, I think it’s more like not having the moral fiber to do the right thing for the greater good, and instead taking the Pharma money to keep in power and licking their boots in return.

    2. Yves Smith Post author

      Dental work in Oz is expensive. That’s the one area where prices are not that much cheaper than NYC levels, maybe 2/3 of prices here.

      1. David


        That is true, but in Australia one can or at least could, purchase private insurance that covers all dental procedures at a very reasonable rate. Back in 2008, I had the top plan from Medibank Private that for roughly the equivalent of
        $US2500, covered everything medical, dental and optical so that I never paid anything out of pocket or at least got completely reimbursed. I wonder how much it is now.

        1. Campbeln

          I’m a Gringo that’s now an Aussie and have been with Medibank Private since moving here in 2003. I believe we pay just under $160 AUD per month and get our family of 4 covered for medical, dental and optical.

          Part of that cost is subsidized (~40%?) BEFORE we pay it, so the real cost is about $260/month. But as I’d be excised an extra 1% on earning without the private cover, we are under the gold plan (which is cheaper then the extra tax, and we get optical and dental).

          Oz seems to suffer from the UK’s lack of dental, but I’ve never found the pricing to be unreasonable, and we’re in the ACT where EVERYTHING is unreasonable (I was in Sydney on the weekend, where gas was 20% cheaper than in the ACT, bastards).

  10. Extinct Species

    I’m mid 50s, moved to the Philippines. Live comfortably with some discretionary extras on less than $18,000/year. Includes a yearly trip to the States. Without the trip and the extras $12-13,000/year, still in comfort, doable. A more provincial location, even less.

    My million dollar medical insurance policy, good anywhere but North America, Japan and Hong Kong, runs me $1100 a year.

    Currency risk is an issue.

  11. patricia

    Yes. My father wants to move to Thailand; Mother wants to stay near her sisters. Ongoing argument.

  12. c'est la vie

    how long before the “immigrant American” political problem springs up in popular destinations? We should also anticipate a move by the wingers to legislate against our precious SS dollars being sent to anyone living outside our borders.

    1. Warren Celli

      Good comment!

      Xtrevilism is a global disease… it won’t be eradicated by running… they will be fracking, and drilling, surveilling and killing, in Thailand, Mexico, Ecuador, etc., if they are not already doing so… it will take all of us working together to eliminate the disease… consider staying home and engaging these sick bastards who have gang raped us all with election boycotts… a gangster government with no voters has no mandate to rape pillage and steal…

      In this world you need money
      Takes money to survive
      If you ain’t got no money
      You can run but you can’t hide
      You can run but you can’t hide

      In this world you need lovin’
      You need lovin’ to survive
      You ain’t got no love
      Run, but you can’t hide
      You can run but you can’t hide

      You need courage to survive
      You ain’t got no courage
      Then we’ll all lay down and die
      Lay down and die

      In this world you need friendship
      You need a friend to survive
      If you don’t have a friend
      You can run but you can’t hide
      You can run but you can’t hide

      In this world you need soul
      Takes soul to survive
      You ain’t got no soul
      Run but you can’t hide
      You can run but you can’t hide

      No balls! No brains! No freedom!

      Deception is the strongest political force on the planet.

      1. alan

        ummm, your advocating for them to stay here in America, so that they can boycott elections?
        ” no, no, you can’t move away, you have to stay here and Not Vote?
        (self)deception really is a powerful political force.. ;)

      2. Sharon

        Well said. It does seem hopeless at times but even if I leave the country I will still fight the good fight.

        1. LeonovaBalletRusse

          And who doesn’t see that the emigration of Americans to the “Asian bloc” is an integral part of Friedman’s and UChi’s Plan under the global Shock Doctrine?

          Maybe Rockefeller’s UChi will prevail after all, as British Imperial subject in charge of systematic plunder and looting of America, soil and slaves. Just see what The Standard Oil of New Jersey has done to its colony of Louisiana, and see the future of our nation “from sea to shining sea” as Vassal NAU to the Throne and “Crown” of the Anglo-German DNA of the so-called “British Empire.”

      3. Least Weasel

        song by Paul Butterfield and Henry Glover. (Sorry, but I’m a songwriter and ex-librarian). Money, Love, Courage, Friendship, Soul–one of them seems like an outlier to me.

  13. Jose Guilherme

    Seems as if everybody is forgetting a not so minor detail: Americans living abroad on US dollars are subject to exchange rate risk.

    A “cheap” country may suddenly become expensive because of currency appreciation – a situation that would impose on them an unpleasant need to move again to some other place.

    One example: Brazil went from very cheap to one of the more expensive countries in the world in less than half a decade.

    Maybe Americans who plan to relocate abroad should start investing their savings in foreign currencies in order to manage this risk.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Someone “clever” is trying to sell the expat Costa Rican paradise he bought to live high on the cheap, ever since he recognized the activity of “restive natives” not profiting from the Global Economy.

  14. Mike M

    “I am not bitter, but I no longer believe in capitalism or democracy as I once did; not the way they are being practiced now.”

    Isn’t this a bit…..much? I mean, really, someone does something incredibly dumb by spending one’s “life savings” to buy a bubble priced home in the stinking desert next to Vegas, and, and, blames the very basis of capitalism and democracy for the sad results of this action? Really? I would love to be a fly on the wall at that closing in ’06, and catch some of the happy talk among participants, including the person who actually said that.

    “America ranks badly on pretty much every social indicator, which means that moving to what is nominally a third world county isn’t just a step up in terms of spending power but often in overall quality of life.”

    Really? Isn’t that a little over the top? “badly on pretty much every social indicator”? What “social indicators” are we talking about here? Are you implying that a move to a country that has much cheaper medical care (of which there are many, of course) is worth the sacrifice of leaving an open democracy with, at the moment, little risk of a major political upheaval, a very well developed infrastructure of electricity, transportation, open and somewhat free media, and very well developed cultural institutions? Have you ever been to some of these paradises mentioned, like Ecuador or the Philippines? Nice beaches, but, blackouts a plenty, potholed filled roads, and questionable fresh water supplies, among other problems with basic qualities of life.
    Me, personally, I’d move to Florida right now if they were so desperate. Incredibly cheap real estate (a one bedroom condo in an OK complex away from the hipper and higher placed towns, like Miami and Naples, can be had for a song, at least as cheap as a third world gringo marketed residence). No state income tax, no heating bills (hey, you’re old, so, just buy a fan for the summer), minimal clothing costs, and no need for a large vehicle designed to deal with winter. A very well developed electric grid and fresh water supply, and little fear of a sudden coup changing the government infrastructure overnight. Pretty good geriatric care, too, developed over the years. Funny how that isn’t happening, though. Maybe the first poster above is right. We’re talking about a tiny minority of Boomers here, who would even think of leaving the country. They aren’t even moving to Florida or Vegas or other warm escapes these days, because they’re stuck in their own self made trap of debt and other dumb moves, you know, like buying a bubble house in the stinking desert.

    1. LeeAnne

      You should be ashamed of yourself.

      A senior who thinks about leaving my heartless country, even if it means dying in poverty elsewhere.

    2. Bill Clay

      Mike, maybe you just haven’t lived abroad in the last 3-4 decades.

      When my IT job was outsourced at age 62 in 2010 to HP by my last employer, a TBTF bank, I looked at my options, managed to sell my house (thanks in no small part to one of Obama’s stimulus programs), took early retirement (Social Security and personal savings only; no defined benefit plan), and moved (for the 3rd time in 35 years) to Italy, my wife’s country of origin.

      Despite the Euro crisis, living here in a well-administered medium-sized city in one of the best-run regions in Italy, there is not a single criterion you mention that doesn’t meet or beat the equivalent characteristic of my much larger, “world-class” sunbelt former home city. You named ’em: electricity, transportation, water, open and free (???) media, cultural institutions. Check, check, check, check, and check: none inferior; most superior.

      As soon as I was a legally-registered resident (a week or two after arrival), I had the same comprehensive health care as every other legal resident — at the cost of copayments that are more than reasonable by US standards, instead of a monthly health insurance premium that eats up my whole Social Security check. The hospitals aren’t always quite as sleek as their US counterparts, but on the other hand, their first question when you show up is “What’s the problem?” rather than “How will you pay?”. And my friendly, caring, and evidently competent primary care physician never seems to be harried by a ticking 15-minute timer despite being a working mother with small children.

      As for the less tangible criteria you mention — open democracy, little risk of upheaval, and (implicitly) exchange-rate risk — doesn’t look to me like the US is in better shape than any other western so-called democracy on these scores. In the long run, I’m putting my chips on Europe eventually coming up with more humane solutions to economic crisis than the US — after trying all the worse alternatives, of course.

      I can respect any number of personal and emotional reasons not to emigrate. However, I doubt that many who have practical first-hand knowledge of the differences between life in the US and most any developed country would consider emigration a step down by just about any criterion you might list.

      Granted, you focused on less-developed countries, but for those less fortunate, I wouldn’t be so quick to assume that day-to-day life will be worse even there than the prospects facing many aging working- and middle-class US residents for the next 20-30 years.

      1. David

        How did you set up legal residency in Italy?

        I don’t think most U.S. citizens can do that or am I wrong?

        1. Bill Clay

          Spouses of EU citizens have an automatic right of residence, provided the marriage is registered locally, which is a non-trivial bureaucratic exercise. Otherwise, I imagine it would be difficult to impossible these days for those who must still work for a living; for pensioners, I simply don’t know. Once in, VAT, income, and wealth (new for 2011!) taxes are higher than US Federal taxes, though if you add typical state and local taxes PLUS the cost of individual commercial health insurance (if < Medicare age), it's probably about a wash.

          1. LeonovaBalletRusse

            BC, sounds like the 1% Equivalence to the Green Card Marriage racket. Don’t you wonder how many italian gigolos are working this racket, going well beyond the fleecing of Ugly Americans in “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone?”

            Marriage to an EU citizen, what with dual passports and all, must be the highest paying racket in the world, after MERS that is.

          2. Mike M

            Yeah, nice. I should have married that French girl I knew in my twenties. God, she was pretty. Forks in the road, forks in the road……..

          3. JTFaraday

            “Forks in the road, forks in the road…….. Mike M

            Lucky you weren’t run over!…….. Beard”

            LOL, too funny.

          4. Nathanael

            EU citizenship is insanely valuable, though arranging to marry an EU citizen is not so easy.

      2. Bobito

        I am you in the parallel version in Spain. Everything was like you say until about a couple of years ago, when the bottom fell out.

        Now my pay goes down annually, my taxes go up annually, my friends are unemployed, there is a copay for pharmaceuticals, they are talking about charging fees for public schooling, etc…

        1. Nathanael

          But you have freedom of movement in the EU.

          So move to Germany and start looking for jobs there….

          I suspect if half the population of Spain did that, the policies might change rather quickly….

    3. LeonovaBalletRusse

      Well, the Organized Crime of Vegas has blossomed globally from Macau to Mormon Heavan, hasn’t it? Maybe Vegas is the correct model to go from.

    4. Capo Regime

      anybody who likes florida and likes to beat up on people cuaght up in a bad situation has some serious issues. Florida? Yeesh. Lots of moralism here. When people carry on like you Mike attacking the less fortunate it is a psychological tell of self loathing and a bit of psychopathy. Dreaming of moving to florida in 2012 also means you are probably short of imagination and brains…

      1. Mike M

        Did I say I like Florida, genius? No f***ing way I’d live there. I’m just presenting a much better alternative to dropping everything and moving to a third world country half way around the world at around age 60, when we all just want to do the nap and lazy boy thing a whole lot more, because we’re all so damn tired of this S**T.
        Jezuz, the commenters in this blog live in a world I am far than familiar with. I suspect tenured academics, who never really worked for a living. Warped people, and, unfortunately, educating younger people.

        1. Capo Regime

          Your post tells us all what we suspected. a.) Get help. b.) read a book or two c.) get out more.

        2. Capo Regime

          What world is it your are familiar with Mike M? What is the weather like in your world? What color is the sky?

          1. Mike M

            Ok, fine. You are a classic troll, as defined above in a post. Spend your miserable night finding it, a**hole.

        3. Mark P.

          ‘I’m just presenting a much better alternative to dropping everything and moving to a third world country’

          I travel and wh, U.S. airports

          1. Mark P.

            I travel and when I come back to the U.S. I am increasingly struck by how third-world the infrastructure and airports here often look as compared to places in Europe and now even — for heaven’s sake — China.

          2. Mike M

            These old people aren’t going to be flying anywhere. They’ll be lucky to afford an old Corolla to get groceries.

    5. Yves Smith Post author

      Wow, nothing like American exceptionalism on view.

      First, I provided a link substantiating that point but you are too bloody lazy to open it.

      Second, Richard Wilkinson’s and Kate Pickett’s book The Spirit Level documents in pretty gory detail how countries with more income inequality rank worse on social indicators (murder, suicide, teen births, infant mortality, etc). Numerous charts show the US is worse or close to the worst of all economies surveyed.

  15. damian

    San Miguel is beautiful! – housing close to the Plaza is expensive these days although has come down some – high altitude allows great weather in summer and mild in winter – people are great – huge international community not just americans – art /music / great architecture- people who can think and cary on a conversation about a variety of topics other than guns and ammo – very few religious nut jobs – more like being in NYC than California

    the doctors are fine and Doc Severinsen plays with local jazz group

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      damian, try living in Colonial Mexico without American largesse. See what fun you’ll have “when Daddy takes the T-Bird away.”

      1. Capo Regime

        What american largesse? DRug money will come in greater numbers as americans get crazier. Mex never gets any foreign aid. Nafta–well thats been going down stream steadly. Colonial mexico is quite nice and a hell of lot more pleasant than anywhere in say Florida or any sunbelt town exurb in the U.S.

  16. fuzed

    wonder how this person quoted in main article voted? They are in a special hell, the Las Vegas land bubble, that was predicated partly(mostly) on the nuclear storage facility that was building nearby and survived nearly 5 years until Senor Reed killed it. And the climate change will hit these people hard also.

    But generally why don’t these people stay and fight politically? Are they completely broken because they voted for the Oligarchs and can’t resolve the dissonance to now fight them?

    1. LeeAnne

      Fight politically? How many $Billions do you have?

      At what point would you suggest fighting? At the point where US criminal leaders justify torture and rendition? Did you fight then? Did you fight when those same criminal leaders ginned up false photos and propaganda to occupy Iraq, loot the country, kill hundreds of thousands? Are you fighting now at the airports where a newly created militarized organization has the right to put their hands on your body and belongings any time and any where they wish where you have no recourse or protection from abuse?

      If you did fight, how did that work out for you?

      Maybe you fought the Supreme Court at the point where they decided winners and losers for the likes of Bush, Sr. cohorts Jim Baker and Cheney to assist the election of a drug addict and loser like his son Bush, Jr. Maybe you’re fighting against electronic voting machines where votes can’t be counted in public by the public? eh? -while we lecture other countries on democracy all day long.

      As the noose tightens on American citizens, notice how some of those other countries are beginning to talk back. They’re our only hope.

      1. Susan the other

        i agree we have no recourse to bring change. I just listened to Roseanne’s rousing speech at some Green event (?) and wondered where her very explicit language went. She could tell it in detail if her audience was willing to listen. I hope she returns to a factual base. It is frightening that we are all so untethered right now. Thailand is no escape. Chickens coming home to roost.

    2. LeonovaBalletRusse

      f, “can’t resolve the dissonance.” Just so. They are cowards. They helped to make this mess, but won’t lie in it or try to get rid of it.

  17. Keenan

    As our nation continues its 21st century journey Through the Looking Glass, further into Wonderland one can imagine elderly singer Neil Diamond belting out: “We’re Coming From Amerika”

  18. Paul Tioxon

    There is nothing more depressing than watching cornball Americans with landlocked brains who have no idea that there is a world beyond the military bases we have around the globe. And, there is nothing more cosmopolitan than the well traveled government and military service. You meet more broad minded ex sailors and GIs than all of the college educated career oriented upright pillars of the community you see regularly denouncing European style socialism! The people who have real lives can live anywhere because of their humanity, not their shrewd investing skills.

    Bi-lingual Hispanic citizens have a variety of nations to opt out to. The same for Asians, especially the Chinese who can land in any nation in the world and find a Chinese community, fully functioning in the new country, and well connected. In Philadelphia, there is a 100 year old Chinatown. But that is not the beginning and end of Chinese presence just its focal center. The Koreans as well. But these are the newer stories. The Irish and Italians, the Russian, the Poles and Germans, Hungarians, all have continued to maintain much ethnic filial piety while fully integrating into American society. What we are seeing are Americans, the USA variety from the 3rd most populous nation, establishing AmericaTown in cities around the world. As much as the FireDopeLeft arch radicals, who await their own brand of 7 days that will shake Amerika, hate Kapitalist Amerika, much of the people of the world love Americans and America. The US Government, not so much, but a guy in a baseball cap wearing a Yankees t-shirt, opening a burger joint in an AmericaTown will probably not be told to go home. How do I know this? Well, the internet, duh.

    Of course, personal experience from the multi ethnic diversity of Philadelphia and the contrasting landlocked ethnic centrism of the further reaches of ex-urban white bread America. Just as all of the colonials of France and England migrate to the metropole and have stayed on in those countries for generations now, so have many Euro and East Asian ally nationalities migrated here. And, we too learn from what others do. If you have relatives who were Nam Vets, and you see them going back to Viet Nam, using their knowledge to set up business linkages, you know that many Americans can make the transition to another country in the most welcoming, comfortable areas that can be found. I don’t see retiring or escaping ex-pats looking for opportunity in the favellas of Brazil, but in the quarters that are more welcoming. If you watch even one episode of Anthony Bourdain’s cable show, you can see, even in a place like Laos, which suffered indescribable wounds from our war, the attitude towards individual Americans. Here, I already see an exodus being planned for. Most Americans do not live the lives of portrayed on TV where the kitchen’s are marble and granite and the garage has 2 new cars. The expectations for comfort are simply food on the table and roof over your head and occasion trips to the doctor until you’re buried. Good food and good company round out the trip. And I am afraid from the trolls on this site and daily news of right wing republican hatred and political assaults on their fellow un-American Americans, that many will find a warmer welcome and more hospitality in Mexico or the Philippines, than in ugly American America. The Beautiful Ones Are Not Born Yet, but the Ugly Americans are in charge.

    1. Lidia

      Paul, you are right. The tone of these patriots seems to be that of a psycho BF: “You’ll be sorry you left me!” Not content with the slogan “America: Love It or Leave It”, they offer “America: Love It Or Else…!”

      I think their small minds are broken by the fact that America, which for so long was a prime destination for those seeking economic betterment, is no longer that place. They’re angry that Americans seeking a better life overseas are forcing them to confront the country’s failings.

      Don’ wanna!

    2. Susan the other

      Your comment takes me back to LBJ’s Fortress America and how to “save” it. There was no way. Only a scheme for buying time. And time has run out. The entire world is looking at us and thinking how to both protect themselves and force us back to cannibalize ourselves. Who can blame them?

      1. Paul Tioxon

        naturally, I have no idea what you’re talking about. Cannibalization has begun. Quite some time ago. One of the abandoned factories, one of hundreds of such structures, burned down killing two Philadelphia Fire department vets and hospitalized another. There my little Ninotchka, is that enough of a start for your apocalypse? I have more stories of the young being killed, the young being raped. At what level of misery are we to be forced back to? We all live in the USA under the aegis of the drones and the eyes in the sky. Our supermarkets are full, in some places. Maybe a graphic novel will open your eyes to some the national sites of sacrificial offering so you can eat so well. The cannibalization has begun my sweet little radical woman. Are you proud of the global resistance that makes daily life a living hell, or hasn’t the news reached you yet? You know, just asking.

  19. Jessica

    1) The time and expense of travel between the US and parts of Mexico and Central America is probably not so different from what it was between the Northeast and Midwest when Florida first became a mass retirement destination. This will work for some and less for others. Communication between anywhere in the world with an Internet connection good enough to Skype over and the US is far cheaper and better than it was between Florida and the Northeast/Midwest.
    2) Especially if one is going to go farther afield and especially if it would be difficult to come back, then ideally one would start visiting the target retirement location, learning the language, etc.
    3) As one of those folks who is bright enough to envision all sorts of potential problems and maybe not emotionally strong enough to be more trusting, it is being older old somewhere that worries me. The US included. There are lots of places that will work great as long as one is young enough and comparatively healthy enough to be able to fend for oneself much of the time.
    The part I worry about is being older old. Past a certain age, course corrections could be nearly impossible. For me, the nightmare scenario would be to be in my 80s in say Thailand and the place finally has the social upheaval that is brewing right now. Or the folks there who are not benefiting from the current form of global integration of Thailand decide to throw out the foreigners.
    4) Yes, there would be benefit if all the seniors stayed and fought against what is happening in the US now. Some could. For some, that it simply not realistic. But the day may also come when having a base of US ex-pats a bit outside the reach of the US government may be more useful.
    5) The more we are able to do all of this together, rather than in isolation, the better off we will all be.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      J, re “not realistic.” it’s far more realistic to anticipate the Occupation of the Homeland by the UberRich of China, joining with the UberRich of the New Globe Theatre of War? Is it not reasonable to surmise that this was the deal cut by the UberTreacherous Henry Kissinger, Rockefeller’s Poodle?

      1. Capo Regime

        Jessica, you can’t hang around forever. If you made it till your 80′ and you die in social upheavel in Thailand–hey you are one lucky human. Seen infant mortality data in the U.S. or seen the life of most seniors in the U.S, lately–making it to 80 and dying in Marcaibo or Thailand would work just fine for me…Hell making it to 80 with some semblance of health would be a major blessing.

        1. Jessica

          Sorry, I am greedy.
          Regardless of how old I am if and when I become decrepit (the other option so far being to go from healthy to dead quickly), I would rather be some place safe and supportive at that point.
          At my current phase of my life, it would be easy for me to agree with you that once I become old-old, then I would rather leave the world. But I am not nearly so sure that I will actually feel that way when the time comes.
          And thank you for another good comment.

  20. Ep3

    Here here Yves, another great observation post.
    First, I would like to expand on your ‘retiree as a burden’ comment. I don’t think they are a burden; what the deal is they are a voting burden. Retirees vote and are more politically active. And they are actually a little more optimistic about the fake “American dream”. So if they are driven to foreclosure and poverty, and the general populace finds out about it, two things can result. Either ppl get mad that old ppl are being thrown in the street or shacking up with their kids, or ppl get mad that all these pension freeloaders weren’t smart investors.

  21. briansays

    one factor to becoming an expat is the quality of medical care offered by another country

    as one who surfs a bit i notice medical tourism being developed in thailand/bangkok

    the patients are mostly australians however the quality of care appears to be first world from the feedback

    it heard other countries are looking at developing a first world medical care system as a way of luring americans to retire there

    panama has been mentioned and even spain

    clearly not for everybody but an option??

    i heard from se

  22. ambrit

    This is all part and parcel of the Globalization movement. If the corps can, and did, outsource our good jobs, why not outsource our retirements too? Remember what the original meaning of the word ‘Colonia” was. Read about the IWWs’ role in the Mexican Civil War in 1910. The Retiree Cohort can be our new Wobbly Shock Troops to the former Third World. Then, when the dust settles a bit, we can consider reoccupying our original homeland, with a lot of help from those “huddled masses yearning to be free.” Every Empire falls sooner or later. Let’s be ready to pick up the pieces and reform what was once a “shining beacon on a hill.”
    Aren’t Sunday mornings grand? Bully!

    1. Susan the other

      I think we should outsource our “senators” and “representatives” as well.

      1. ambrit

        Dear Sto;
        I read somewhere that lawyers would make a great export commodity since we have such a big oversupply of them. Naturally, the two sets, lawyers and politicians have a significant overlap.

  23. Lambert Strether

    It’s also a question of where they carry you out feet first from. In this country, it’s likely to be in a shit-filled hellhole where you gradually lose your mind wired up to tubes in front of a howling TV that you can’t turn off. But churning out billing for the health case industry!

    Almost anything seems preferable to that, including a tropical alley, which heaven forfend.

  24. craazyman


    My buddy who works the Korean deli counter where I get morning coffee is from Ecuador, some little village I guess. He’s not primarily of Spanish descent.

    He’s probably 30 or so. Moved to New York as a kid and now has a wife and kid himself. Lives out in Queens in some neighborhood where he doesn’t go out at night cuz of the drugs and hookers and gang bangers. He doesn’t smoke or drink, even coffee. He works the night shift, 12 hours, 8 pm to 8 am, works 6 days a week, works when he’s well and when he’s sick. It doesn’t matter.

    Sometimes I’m up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. and he’s in there asleep, standing up. I feel guilty almost, to buy my coffee from him. His face looks like he’s in pain, even asleep.

    We talk about Ecuador and how retirees are moving there. How it’s so cheap to live well. He says it’s beautiful, the mountains and the cool clean air. He hates the New York heat.

    “Would you ever go back?” I ask him.
    “No.” he said.
    “Why not?” I already know why, but he’s a good dude and he trusts me, and I wanted to let him say it, just to say it.

    “If you don’t have money,” he said, “you’re worse than an animal. Everything, the police, the doctors, everything is just money. There’s no jobs. Nothing.”

    I guess he’d rather take his chances here, behind the deli counter, 72 hours a week. Maybe, eventually, all the guys like him will be here, and we’ll all be down there. Animals in two places instead of one.

    1. Mike M

      Exactly. And here we have the ugly Americans thinking they can just show up, flash the cash, and get their good life with cheap help, like that retired criminal and his friends in Sexy Beast. Don’t even have to learn the language. Damn, the power’s out again? Why can’t I get some fucking ice in my Drink?!

      1. rotter

        Not all Americans were Ugly, Mike M. Or at least, the generations currently retired and approaching retirement arent as butt ugly insane-o repulsive as the generatinos grwoing up ignorant in the post democracy , forever war police state banker kingdom.

    2. Nathanael

      His description of Ecuador sounds exactly like the US.

      Though to be fair NYC is better than the average US.

  25. Eleanor

    This thread went all over the place. The part I’m interested in is the topic of Yves’ essay: older Americans are looking at moving out of the country. There was an article years ago in the AARP magazine on retired Americans living in Mexico. They lived close to good-sized cities with good medical care, in American enclaves. The enclaves sound dreary to me, but no worse than retirement communities in the American south and southwest. Their money went a lot farther in Mexico.

    A friend of mine retired to a small city in Nicaragua, because she could not afford to retire in the US. I keep in contact via facebook. She seems fine and happy, living on something like $1,500 a month. Medical care is affordable and apparently good. I’ve been looking at places in Europe and Latin America. Yes, these countries might be unstable in the future. But the US looks unstable now.

    Something that has not been discussed is the economic drain on the US, if older Americans begin spending their retirement money outside the country. I imagine most people will stay here, due to family ties and lack of information about other countries. Still…

    1. AussieSandino

      I also think its a pity that the discussion has meandered off from the original topic. Mexico is a country I know well and study in detail and I have a particular interest in expatriate norteamericanos who live there. Exact figures are not available as the Mexican Ministry of the Interior acknowledges that a substantial proportion of Americans who live in Mexico (estimated now at 2 million) are technically undocumented; they enter with tourist cards which they renew frequently or leave the country to return the next day with a new card.

      US citizens DO receive their Social Security payments overseas. What they don’t yet get is Medicare coverage that can pay for medical care provided in Mexico. However, this may be something that will change soon- unless the medical mafia in the US get their way. Language problems are not a barrier if you live in communities where are lots of gringos. San Miguel de Allende is now an old, mature and rather expensive town, but there are many younger centres that attract Americans: in the villages around Lake Ajijic (not far from Guadalajara); Puerto Vallarta and Nuevo Vallarta, Merida and Progreso (in Yucatan); Oaxaca. The list is endless. Sure, Mexican politics is corrupt but US politics is even more so. Violence is a problem in a small number of areas but not in places where foreigners settle. Medical care is superb as well as quite cheap.

      What seems to be emerging in the last two decades is a dual phenomenon: the biological reconquest of large parts of the US by Latinos and a growing exodus of gringos to Spanish speaking countries. Dramatic changes with enormous cultural, social, linguistic and political implications. Its good that this has surfaced as a topic. Globalization does have some unexpected consequences!

    2. Bobito

      For all those who love anecdotes – I am a middle-aged American thinking about moving BACK to the USA. Why? I live in Spain.

  26. Eleanor

    Thanks to the people who do live — or have lived — outside the country and have posted about their experiences. This is useful.

  27. Terry Mock

    “Is a Great Grey Exodus from America Starting?”

    Yes it is, for all the diverse reasons mentioned in the article and comments. However, as also mentioned by others, there are good reasons to stay within the U.S. to re-invent ourselves and our country by developing sustainable urban and rural communities to address the multitude of financial, social and environmental challenges we all face going forward.

    One such community is located on the southern Oregon coast, a rare place on earth, where beautiful wild & scenic rivers tumble down through steep canyons and the tallest and largest carbon-sequestering forests in the world on their way to a rocky coastline with wide stretches of sandy beach, before pouring out into the mighty Pacific ocean. Along the rugged coast are picturesque working ports, made of hillside homes, small waterfront cafe’s, vibrant art communities, and more parks per mile than anywhere in the USA. Port Orford, with a current population of just over 1,000 residents, was established in 1851, the first on the Oregon Coast. After years of failed short term environmental and economic policies, in 2008 community stakeholders began to develop and implement a strategic plan to ensure the long-term sustainability of the surrounding ecosystem and the local social system dependent on it. Community leaders recommended a 1,320-square-mile Port Orford Community Stewardship Area and this community initiative is now a model for the rest of the country and the world.

    It is time for a new American revolution for sustainability.

    Southern Oregon Coast Mixing Nature, Tradition and Economics for a Sustainable Future

    Sustainable Land Development Initiative

    1. Lou

      I agree with your comment somewhat. Picturesque views but depressing town. Does this area initiate any employment opportunities for people willing to relocate?

      1. Terry Mock

        Good points Lou. But if you agree with the concept of “sacred demise”, you will understand that this area has some unique advantages because it went into economic recession long ago and has much more experience in dealing with the consequences, and is therefore closer to figuring a way out of the box that the rest of the world is just beginning to find itself in. The “picturesque views” you mention are just the tip of the colossal natural resource-based “iceburg” that surrounds this area. Utilizing these abundant resources in a sustainable way is the key to the future. There are now many dedicated, talented, and friendly residents here committed to building a sustainable future. Many more are beginning to relocate from other areas that will likely be hammered by climate change – a serious problem not addressed by the above article. People here are taking control of their destiny by conducting their own brand of conservation. They are using local science to inform their fishing quotas, and saving upstream forests to save their salmon — a farsighted perspective that considers both their links to the land, and the future of their children:

        1. Lou

          Good points too Terry. But besides the picturesque views and you don’t fish how else does a person make a living? You quoted “People here are taking control of their destiny by conducting their own brand of conservation” Fine and dandy but that does not put a roof over your head or pay any bills. It costs a lot more money to live now a days and one can’t do it in an economic depressed town. Sure if I had nothing else to do but watch the world go by maybe I would consider moving to such a town. But if I cannot find employment what is the point. Besides after more research isn’t Curry County going bankrupt?

          1. Terry Mock

            Good points too Terry. But besides the picturesque views and you don’t fish how else does a person make a living? You quoted “People here are taking control of their destiny by conducting their own brand of conservation” Fine and dandy but that does not put a roof over your head or pay any bills. It costs a lot more money to live now a days and one can’t do it in an economic depressed town. Sure if I had nothing else to do but watch the world go by maybe I would consider moving to such a town. But if I cannot find employment what is the point. Besides after more research isn’t Curry County going bankrupt?

            Lou, I understand your point but living on the southern Oregon coast really isn’t all about money. Quality of life is good here for those who like incredible natural amenities and can find a productive way to contribute to a sustainable community. The county is going bankrupt due to past mismanagement of all our natural resources but this gives us a real opportunity to re-invent the system:

            Good luck with you search.

          2. hb

            There are a lot of rich to upper middle folks moving into those picturesque villages, pricing out the locals. They have money made or inherited elsewhere often. I’m one of the increasingly priced-out locals.

  28. rps

    There’s always been a grey exodus ‘within’ the USA from high tax blue cities. In the late 1970’s My parents at the age of 60, had moved away to Brownville, Tx for lower taxes so they could live on a small pension. My in-laws also moved away to Florida for the same reasons. Both sets had raised large families. All we ever heard from them was why don’t you visit, why don’t you care about us? They spent their lives raising us to adulthood and missed out on the best part of enjoying the results of their hard work and grandchildren. Both my mom and mom-in-law had the hardest time since they that had spent the long hours and sleepless nights bonding with their children.

    So what happened? my Dad died in the hospital with his wife alone watching. Mom immediately moved back to be near us and is living on a miserly half pension but healthy due to her family relationsips. Unfortunately, my in-laws had it the worse. Sure a couple good years of living in Florida until they needed good healthcare. She died painfully of late diagnosed cancer, and he died alone due to an undetected bleedout after just visiting the hospital. Both buried far away from family. Florida is the retiree graveyard of the nation.

    So now I’m in that “grey discrimination” area, told that being in your early 50’s is unemployable, and forced on an early small pension. This is a cyclical “feature and not a bug” enforced by a government protected pro-business profit model.

    I worked damn hard to raise my kids and want to enjoy the rewards. WE are social creatures who thrive on personal relationships. Picking up and moving away has proven within my family to be a poor choice with a lonely ending.

    There’s a very large baby boomer population that needs to get our act together and put the breaks on the enforced impoverishment and deliberate stress to make us capitulate to a meager existence for the good of business profits.

    1. LeonovaBalletRusse

      rps, thanks for sense. Definitely “a feature, not a bug.” It is clear that politically active Seniors as Surplus Population are being “externalized” abroad.

      And what will happen when their children in the States decides it’s time to pull the plug on their parents’ Social Security abroad? You ain’t seen nuthin yet.

    2. Jessica

      You make an excellent point.
      There won’t be any one size fits all solution. For some, family and community ties are stronger and are a source of joy and support.
      For some, that is not so much the case, and a different country (or different part of the US) can make sense.

  29. F. Beard

    Yea, the US sucks but for worse and better it IS idealistic which means we either get it very wrong or very right. And hey, unless a cure for neo-liberalism is found, won’t it infect the entire globe?

    1. cwaltz

      Correction- we WERE an idealistic country.

      Now ideals are just commodities that can be bought and sold.

      Justice? Meh if you have enough you can rob people and collect a paycheck for it.

      Equality? Some are more equal then others and the GOP is going out of their way to try and make sure that the poorest of the poor lose the only voice they can’t purchase via voting is more and more difficult. Youn can look at stats like education to see there are huge disparities between the haves and have nots, see also justice(since we have thousands sitting in prison for smoking pot but banking execs who manipulate for their own ends are still walking around free).

      Freedom from tyranny?- they wirelessly wiretap phonecalls with impugnity, they punish whistleblowers, they can shoot expatriats without trial, waterboarding isn’t “really” torture.

      The list goes on and on.

      The idea of a government of the people, for the people, by the people was a great social experiment. Too bad it’s practice is alot more difficult than the actual theoritical idea.

      1. Bobito

        “Correction- we WERE an idealistic country.”

        Jim Crow gave us a moral clarity we lack now.

      1. F. Beard

        Yes, common decency would be an improvement over adherence to the wrong ideals but a just society would be even better.

  30. LifeIsLikeABeanstalk

    This trend makes the Ryan Plan start to make sense. Not ‘make sense’ as in it is a good a idea. Rather – it suggests the underlying motive: Clear out the poor, or at least abandon them morally and socially and, most importanly, economically and clear out that other great drain on public dollars – the ageing and the elderly. Just make it so unaffordable to live that they they pack up and leave. And the impetus is such that they need to get out while they can – otherwise they risk some misfortune such as job loss or an expensive illness that traps them here – unable to afford housing, proper nutrition or medical care.

    Now that is something to look forward to, isn’t it!

  31. ginnie nyc

    Yves, thanks for raising this topic, as I’ve been turning it over in my mind for about 4 years now. I’m only 55, but ‘permanently’ disabled – I’ve been unable to stabilize my health under my present living conditions (near-official FPL in NYC). I’ve tried for 2 years to relocate in the city through subsidized housing lotteries; it’s just not happening (I have fab credit, in case anyone goes there.)

    I am eligible for Italian citizenship through a great-grandparent, but the process takes about 3 years and $3,000. I don’t know that I would move to Italy, as my spoken Italian is non-existant, but maybe Scotland is a possibility. (I’ve lived in the UK before.) I would qualify for NHS as an EU national (permanent residency has been attacked with a crowbar by the Tories; it now costs over $3000/year to maintain).

    It might be cheaper to move to New Jersey, in the short run, but I’m too sick to do the reconnaisance necessary right now.

    I’m concerned that, when the S* hits the fan in the next 14 months, New York would be a bad place to be for someone who can no longer run or drive. And Our Oligarch has destroyed my food stamps and is working on our public libraries, my lifeline.

    1. Nathanael

      A very large percentage of Italians speak English, so I wouldn’t worry about that.

      It’s always good to have multiple citizenships when the world is this unstable.

  32. rotter

    “sad postscript”

    Theres nothing “sad” about “not believing in capitalism anymore”. I find that hopeful, and im glad they got out.

  33. rotter

    Im planning and desparately hoping ill be able to make it to the Czech Repblic. I couldnt live in the tropics, or anywhere theres no Spring, or Fall.

  34. Noni Mausa

    Also planning on leaving are the still-solvent, VERY well educated young people. A friend of mine is a skilled IT and web design professional and teacher, reduced to teaching college classes on a term-to-term basis, can’t even get hired full time. He is actively planning to move to Germany or Japan (fluent in both languages as well as English.)

    Meanwhile, what countries’ citizens are moving to the US? Mostly countries so poor that the lowest rung in the US is still higher than their homeland, and US legal and civil rights protections, as shabby as they are becoming, still overtop the corruption and dangers of staying home.

    The neo-nomads of great wealth are also living in the US, but not to attain a new homeland but rather to have a legal standing and maintain a pied-a-terre in America.

    Enough anecdotes do constitute data. A hollowed out America is, of course, not what the founders had in mind, but setting that aside, any sufficiently hollowed out society is a danger to whatever other nations it can effect. As a Canadian, I am increasingly wondering where I would move to, to put at least an ocean between me and the USA. Canada doesn’t seem to be far enough, anymore.


    1. Roland

      Canada is going exactly the same way as the USA in any case. We’re just a few years behind them. You’ll see it quite plainly, once our real estate bubble collapses.

      1. Nathanael

        Eh… I don’t think so. You have Canadian Medicare and you have the Liberal Democratic Party. You have a chance of taking a different path from us if you just get. rid. of. Harper.

        1. Nathanael

          Excuse me for the brain fade. You have the New Democratic Party, not the Liberal Democratic Party.

        2. jog, jogging, jogger,

          Hey There. I found your weblog the usage of msn. This is a very smartly written article. I will make sure to bookmark it and come back to learn more of your helpful information. Thanks for the post. I will definitely return.

  35. cwaltz

    Came to the same conclusion, unless we make reforms in this country and require more from the richest of the rich hubby and I will look at a nicer climate and lower cost of living for our retirement preferably somewhere where you aren’t playing the lottery on health care.

  36. VietnamVet

    Interesting post since I recently retired.

    Home ownership was how the lenders maximized rents; take as much as income as you can get away with. The previous generation at 65 could sell their homes to new suckers and retire to wherever. This system collapsed with job globalization; not to mention, the Title issues for secularized mortgages. No one is moving anywhere except back together with their families or under bridges. Even, the Washington Post admits that neither presidential candidate has a program to fix the housing crisis. Their First Priority is keeping the Banks going and the Elites happy.

    The one and only thing we have left is our vote. If you move overseas, that is gone except for the Presidential election which may or may not be counted. Also, neoliberal Corporatism has run amok across the world since 1980. I would never count on the kindness of strangers or on entitlements if you cannot vote for the Congressional supporters.

    I am stuck where I am here in Maryland.

  37. emptyfull

    This is the beggining of the great sinking of the american middle and professional classes. But once the doctors and professors start feeling it
    I think you’ll see a revitalised political left. The movement to reform the system will grow more mainstream. I don’t think they’ll take it lying down.

  38. craazyman

    This post is way too depressing. How about some posts about how hot women in their 40s and 50s and 60s can still make it happen like a 25 year old. And how 60 is the new 40 and 80 is only when you start thinking about slowing down from 10 miles to 5 miles on yer daily hike up yer local mountain? I mean WTF with all this doom and gloom? Don’t we get enough of it about the banksters? :)

  39. felix

    To the unlucky guy who says he was mugged in Santiago, Chile:
    I lived for most of my life there and never ever had such bad experience even when venturing in the most risky places in the capital. Neither any of the friends or relatives I left there have ever had any such misfortune, even if I won’t go as far as denying such things happen. In any case Chile must not be the worst destination in the world as there are sites likes Chile Forum in Internet where young professional US. citizens exchange information and try to give recomendations and helpful advice to those of their countrymen who have considered to emigrate there. And according to some, Chile is one of the four or five best destinations for emigrants in the world, along with its neihgborgs Argentina and Uruguay.

  40. Susan the other

    In the beginning capital and labor were the same thing. Only politics enslaves and impoverishes us. What we need in this country and every country is a lot of low productivity jobs of high social value. Jobs in health care, food production, modern housing, modern energy and education. With full employment, social security will just help to make money go where it is needed.

    1. F. Beard

      In the beginning capital and labor were the same thing. Sto

      And then a long came banking!

      We don’t need low productivity jobs; we need compensation for stolen purchasing power and monetary reform to keep it from happening again.

  41. LeonovaBalletRusse

    Re Paul Craig Roberts on LIBOR scandal.

    After reading this, only one answer is obvious, and the Red Queen provides it.

  42. Capo Regime

    Most “third world” places on a modest pension or savings beat the hell out of rotting in an assisted living “facility”. Hope Mike M ends up in an assisted living facility in downtown baltimore.

    Check out the wapo story on assisted living facilities–a.k.a hell managed by corporate types.

  43. Bobito

    A lot of ordinary people in a lot of countries bought into the idea that buying property is a great investment, even for an ordinary guy, and even if it requires assuming a lot of debt. While there may be some truth to this, most people seem to have a hard time imagining that in the future they might need their assets in a highly liquid form, or that real property can depreciate as fast as it sometimes appreciates. A lot of people got stuck with debts they can’t afford and property they can’t sell. The fault is partly theirs, but it is also the fault of the banks and lenders for behaving in a morally reprehensible way (lending and selling to those who do not properly understand the implications), and governments, for permitting such behavior to go on, unregulated.

  44. Rick Levy

    At my wie’s behest, she and and I expatriated to the Philippines, her home country, 7 years ago. This was just a few years ahead of the Bush Depression and, it was one of the smartest moves that we’ve made in our 41 year marriage. We get by modestly but comfortably mainly on social security. We’d be in a real fix if we’d stayed in the U.S.

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