Every morning Barbara Wastart rises to another glorious tranquil day, surrounded by fruit trees, coconut palms, and exotic tropical birds. As she looks out from her hilltop home, she takes in the spectacular view of the turquoise Caribbean bay below. A fleet of kayaks, and a pontoon boat, are tied to her private dock. A quick paddle through the mangrove forest and she can tie up to a private buoy near the barrier reef, and snorkel in the crystal clear waters abundant with fish, rays, and coral.
On our recent trip to France, my family and I rented a charming house in the countryside near St. Rémy. When we moved on to Paris, we settled into an apartment owned by an American expat currently working on a project in Seattle.
When a prospective expat is looking seriously at moving to a foreign country, a lot of research is done from home. But then comes the scouting trip to see the places they’ve read about. And many choose to hire professionals to guide them. And if you’re living in an up-and-coming area for expats—that doesn’t have such a service—you could be the one to provide the tour.
These days, Shawn McCool and his wife Danielle couldn’t be happier. They live with their two children on a quiet street next to a park, in the exquisite university city of Utrecht in Holland. It’s a far cry from the life they left behind in Nashville, Tennessee. As a professional software engineer, Shawn can develop web applications from anywhere in the world.
When my husband David and I decided to move to Ecuador, we had a very long list of reasons why we felt the move would be the right choice for our family. Moderate weather, low living expenses, and exposure to a different culture were right up at the top. But one of the things we most looked forward to was the chance to run our own business. The economic conditions and miles of red tape back home convinced us that being self-employed in the U.S. was not the wisest choice.
Arlene Gibbs was on-set in Toronto, working on a movie in production, when she realized she needed a life change. The two months she spent on location was the longest period she had been away from Los Angeles since she began working there 10 years previously. “Everything in L.A. was about ‘The Business’,” she says. “Everyone I interacted with at work…at the cafes…even at the gym was involved in the movie industry.”
I ’m putting my three-day weekends in Europe to good use. I’ve visited Germany, Britain, Belgium, Ireland, Sweden, Portugal, and the Netherlands…all from my Spanish base in the beautiful city of Salamanca in the region of Castile and Leon. Everywhere I go, I seek out cheap places to stay, eat, and play. I love traveling and my job gives me the opportunity to do so while still making some money.
Like many expat business people, Eric and Stephanie Slater spotted an opening in the market and came up with a business idea to fill it. In their case, it was a need for good bread. It’s an issue across Central America but particularly in San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua where the couple decided they wanted to settle down. San Juan is a beach town with a ready market of hungry surfers, backpackers, and other travelers.
Belize is a small country, with only 330,000+ residents. Ninety percent of businesses here are small or microbusinesses, making it a good place for an overseas venture. I’ve lived here full-time for six years now, and I know expats running all types of businesses. It’s surprisingly easy. For example, Frik De Meyere, owner of Belize Wind Energy and a real estate agent with Mannsfeld and Associates, says he spent 80% of his time on paperwork back in Europe. But in Belize, paperwork only takes 10% of his time.
While other countries in Europe require millions of dollars for the privilege of allowing you to move there (Switzerland and Austria come to mind)…ask for proof of ancestors that you might not have (Italy, Ireland)…demand that you endure painful bureaucracy (France)… or ask that you exhibit special technical talents that no one else in the world possesses (everywhere)…one mighty little European country is actually making it relatively painless for Americans to move there: Holland.