The Land of the Free is Wherever You Want It to Be

I think the thing that doesn’t get talked about enough when it comes to moving abroad for retirement is the freedom of it all.

I’m not talking about the relative and particular freedoms of one country over another. There are places in the world where people can’t say what they want, can’t own what they want, can’t work or play the way they want, can’t express their dissatisfaction with things, can’t move freely from one place to another.

But the places my wife, Suzan, and I have lived and worked in abroad aren’t among those kinds of places.

Among the enlightened and civilized places in the world—the places I and most other expats choose to live—the basic freedoms of speech, action, and movement are pretty much the same, and for the most part guaranteed by the governments of those countries.

This past week, the United States celebrated its birthday and it got me thinking about freedom…especially the freedom to pick the place you want to live.

My own birthday is incidentally the same as the birthday of the United States. I spent the first decade of my life thinking all the fireworks and hotdogs and ice cream on the Fourth of July were just for me. I grew out of that, but I never grew out of the feeling of the day—a nation-wide celebration of independence. The independence of one country from another. The independence of an entire people. Independence as a way of life, as a cultural trait, as a defining national characteristic.

People tend to forget that everyone in the United States other than the indigenous peoples arrived from somewhere else. Part of what we’re celebrating when we celebrate the establishment of the United States is the freedom of people to go somewhere else and try something new.

As far as I’m concerned, every U.S. expat who has gone to some other country to try something new in their lives is a living testament to those values and a torch-bearer for the tradition of freedom and independence that started the United States in the first place.

Greener pastures. More opportunities. Fewer restrictions. Greater independence. More options.

These are the values embedded in the American dream and the values that Americans grew up with. And in today’s world, there are dozens of countries—countries that International Living specializes in covering and discovering for readers and subscribers—where Americans can explore more options, find greener pastures, uncover more opportunities, enjoy fewer financial restrictions, and enjoy greater independence.

These are places where, like in America, they can be free.

And that’s why I’ve been thinking about freedom this week. Because people—at least in the United States and those dozens of other civilized and enlightened countries—are free. Free to explore the world, to discover other countries and communities.

That’s pretty amazing to me. It’s almost as though not exploring those new locations, those greener pastures, those more independent and financially affordable options…well, it borders on the un-American. Because it is precisely that freedom to move and explore and experiment and change that made America great in the first place.

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