Friday, July 12, 2013

If You Are A Baby Boomer, You Will Go Bankrupt—If You Stay In America

Recently (drum roll, please) I had a tooth removed (cymbal crash!).

Unlike us, he’s got no worries—
he can afford a good gerontologist. 
But I live in Chile. So I wound up paying $62 for the extraction of a cracked rear molar, and an additional $450 for a state-of-the-art implant with a porcelain crown that ought to last me the rest of my life. This was done at a fancy-pants private dental clinic, with the latest equipment and some very hot nurses, lemme tell ya. I practically looked forward to going! (Don’t tell my wife. Please.)

Meanwhile, a friend in Texas, with nearly the identical problem, wound up paying $2,000 for the implant, and an additional $1,500 for the crown—almost 8 times what I paid. I told her it would have been cheaper—substantially cheaper—for her to fly down to Chile, stay at a nice hotel, and get the procedure done here. She thought I was kidding—until she compared the costs of the procedure, added the airfare and hotel costs, and then realized that I was right. (If you don’t believe me, check out the American Airlines website and the Holiday Inn website for yourself, then do the math.)

Another example: My 89 year-old grandmother has senile dementia, so she requires round-the-clock nursing care. Her cost? Here in Chile it’s about $1,500 per month—and this is private nursing care through a professional agency, with fully acredited RN’s taking care of her day and night in her own home. In the U.S.? The cost for the same quality of care would be between 5 and 10 times as expensive, if not more.

Now, I’m not bringing up these examples because I’m working for the Chilean ministry for tourism—I’m not. I’m giving these examples in order to highlight something crucial about globalization.

Globalization has meant that labor costs are much cheaper outside the developed world. A factory in China will produce a doodad at a small fraction of what it would cost to produce in America or Europe. Which is great, if you want to buy that doodad.

But globalization has also meant that the care and services required for older people are much cheaper outside the developed world—and prohibitively expensive in the U.S. and Europe.

Which is a disaster for retirees in America. Because if you are a retiree—or if you are a Baby Boomer who will soon be retiring—then you live on a fixed income: Be it a pension or Social Security checks or an annuity or some combination thereof. So if you live on a fixed income, and the price of health care (or health insurance) is continuously rising, then it is a certainty that you will go bankrupt before you die.

Pretty much sucks, yeah? Here’s why.

America is a demographic timebomb. According to the Population Reference Bureau, there are 72 million Baby Boomers alive in the United States today. That is, the 76 million that were born between 1946 and 1964, minus the approximately four million members of this generation who have so far died. As of this year, 2013, those 72 million people are aged between 67 and 49—and they represent almost a quarter of the total U.S. population.

Baby Boomers have begun to retire—and they are already having powerful effects on Social Security. As of 2011, the ratio of retirees to workers was 35 per 100. By 2030—when Baby Boomers will be between the ages of 84 and 66—the ratio will be 49 per 100. Social Security will be unsustainable—retirees will be receiving fewer benefits (i.e., less money) as more and more Boomers retire and demand their SS checks, while fewer and fewer workers contribute to Social Security.

(And by the by: The is no such thing as the “Social Security Trust Fund” or the “Social Security Lockbox” or any other such balderdash. Social Security is essentially a pyramid scheme, whereby new participants pay for the older participants. And as everyone knows, a pyramid scheme works great so long as there are ever more people joining the pyramid and contributing. But once the demographic base narrows—as it did following the Baby Boomers in 1964—there are fewer people left to pay the older players. Which is what’s happening to Social Security. Which is why Boomers will get far less than their elders, and far less than what they actually contributed over the years.)

On the other hand, the effects of aging and retiring Baby Boomers on health care costs are already catastrophic—and they will get much, much worse as the generation ages. An older population means more sick people. More sick people means more demand on health care resources, which of course drives up costs. And we are seeing this in the aggregate health care costs in the United States: Those costs rose “only” 4% in 2012 after adjustment for inflation. The year before, they rose 6.7%. Next year (2014), many experts predict costs will rise by nearly 7%. These numbers will only get worse as the 72 millions Boomers go through the aging process all at the same time.

So, rock? Meet hard place: Baby Boomers will receive less government retirement money, even as health care costs will rise, as ever-increasing numbers of Baby Boomers make more and more demands on the American health care system as they grow older and sicker.

This situation of less retirement money and higher health care costs is inevitable. It is a function of demographic reality: Too many Baby Boomers who will get sick, and not enough working, taxpaying Americans to pay for their care.

Which leads to the following, inevitable conclusion: Every Baby Boomer who gets seriously ill after retirement—but does not die—will likely go bankrupt. Every single one.

You know those horror stories about retirees who lost their businesses over a bout of appendecitis, or lost their homes because of a routine colonoscopy? A few years ago, those stories were reserved for an article in USA Today: A modern-day tragedy, my oh my. But now, these stories are happening to people we know. In some cases, they are happening to people we love. And in some cases—ever increasing number of cases—these stories are happening to us.

You have to be realistic about the situation. It doesn’t help to loudly claim that “American health care is the best in the world!”, and then stick your head in the sand until you’ve lost your home and all your money because of the spiraling costs of health care in America. And as to why this situation is as it is, the answer is academic. There is more than enough blame to go around, so assigning it is relatively pointless.

What matters is what to do about this situation. How to dodge the bullet, and get the health care you want without going bankrupt. You have to look at the situation, and figure out what’s right for you.

This is what I think:

If you are a retiree, or close to retirement, it is insane to continue living in the United States. You will go bankrupt if you do.

Therefore, take advantage of globalization: Leave the United States, and go to where medical care is cheaper.

Going back to the example of my friend in Texas: She paid over $3,500 for a tooth, while I paid less than 13% of that cost. In other words, I got an 87% discount—because I was not living in America, and so did not have to pay the outrageous prices of American health care.

If you could get an 87% discount on your health care, would you take it? Or would you deliberately stand pat, pay 100%—and go broke?

The answer is obvious. So if you cannot afford health care in the United States—or realize that, in the not-too-distant future, you won’t be able to afford it—then the smart move if you are living on a fixed income (or will be soon) is to try to look for a place where health care costs are manageable. A place where you can receive your pension or Social Security check or annuity or whatever, and yet not be afraid that you are one medical emergency away from losing your house and all your money. A place where you can take advantage of globalization, and get the best medical care at the best price.

At my Strategic Planning Group, I have a Scenario called “Exit America”. In it, I discuss how to leave America (or Europe), and find a new place that’s right for you. I do not claim that there is some Eden out there where everyone can just go and be happy—there is no one-size-fits-all Shangri La. That’s because everyone is different, and so different people have different priorities—different things and situations and environments that make them happy. Which in turn means that “Eden” is different and unique for each one of us.

Therefore, in the Scenario, I outline a strategy to find a country that’s right for you. I explain how to figure out your priorities, then start looking for a place that satisfies those priorities, while at the same time giving you practical knowledge and insights into how to exit America.

When I started the Scenario, I had in mind people who wanted to leave America because of political or philosophical reasons, as I did. In my own case, I had become dismayed by the police-state mentality that has creapt into American life following 9/11, which finally made me want to leave.

But now, it’s becoming increasingly clear that one of the main reasons to leave the United States is because of the economics of retirement.

The flood of retirees that will hit America will make life unaffordable for people over 60 in the near-term future. Therefore, unless you are insanely rich, it is inevitable that you and the vast majority of your Baby Boomer peers will go broke because of health care costs, as I explained above.

So if you are a Baby Boomer, the smartest thing you could do is leave the United States now, while you’re still healthy enough to do so, and move to a country where quality health care is affordable. A country where your fixed retirement income will be enough to pay for good medical care without bankrupting you. In short, anyplace but America.

A final thought.

Have you ever seen a bankrupt elderly person? Have you ever met someone who is over 70, who cannot get any kind of a job, and who cannot start any kind of business? Have you ever met an older person who has no home, who has no assets, who has no income save for a small government check? They might get a few hundred dollars from the government every month—but will it cover their basic, necessary expenses? Will it be enough for shelter, for food, for medical care?

Probably not.

Now ask yourself: Do you want to be that person? Do you want to be making the choice between eating and taking your necessary medication? Do you want to be a person who scrambles to exist, but does not live? Because you will become that person, if you plan on retiring on a fixed income in America. One serious but non-fatal illness will break you, and leave you with nothing when you are at your weakest—guaranteed.

This is the inevitable outcome of the U.S. healthcare situation. Denying it is foolish, and trying to assign blame is a waste of time. The demographic reality cannot be denied. So if you are a Baby Boomer, and you do not want to be homeless and broke in your retirement years, your best shot is to exit America now—while you still can.

If you like what I’ve written, then please subscribe to my mailing list.

I’ll only contact you with things that are worth your while.

Thank you.


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  1. Gonzalo,

    I'm glad that your grandmother is receiving good care, but I wonder about the numbers. You wrote that it only costs $1,500/month to give her round-the-clock care at home. A 30-day month has 720 hours, so if there's only one nurse there, then the cost is only about $2 per nurse per hour. Do nurses earn that little in Chile, or is someone else covering the costs above $1,500/month?


    1. Rob, I live in Chile also, and the monthly min. wage here is about $400. So, yes, if you hired three workers to to cover the 24 hours per day in different shifts, the cost would indeed, come out to less than $1500. monthly. Now I'll admit that nurses probably earn a bit more, but still the $1500. isn't far out of the ballpark.

  2. Gonzalo,
    If someone leaves this country with a pension or Social Security being paid in US dollars, and the US dollar tanks, then what? With QE6 or 7 or whatever Helicopter Ben is doing now, it's inevitable that inflation will destroy the spending power of the money from this country. So, is dog food better in Chile, or in the USA?

    1. If the US dollar tanks (you mean when it tanks) how will you live in the USA?

    2. It's best to take time and plan your exit from the states, Don. Part of that process should include building up some assets in your new home country. I have at least a significant amount of money in the bank here in Thailand, on which I earn a fair amount of interest, along with two nice, not very old and completely paid for homes which are rented. We also have a small farm out in the country. It's my hope that the dollar will still be worth something in the future. But I'm ready should it not be.

  3. In India round the clock nursing comes for $300-1000 a month depending on the city.

  4. I'm 28 and left America about 6 years ago. After I left America, I left so free, like a massive burden had been removed. America is literally becoming a hell on earth.

    The government has billions of dollars to spend on war, but doesn't have any money to feed, house, or take care of it's own citizens?

    And Americans are so apathetic, they don't care. They'd rather just watch stupid TV shows rather than go out and DEMAND that their government starts taking care of them.

    1. Then you’d probably understand my post, “The Execution of Lady Jane Grey”


    2. I left in early 2004, after realizing the Reichstag Fire meant that the old America was finally over and done with, and a new Amerika would be there to stay. Though young, I wasn't idealistic or naive enough to fancy 'the people' would rise up and demand their rights restored or the constitution restored or whatnot. Discretion is the better part of valour, so I 'skedaddled', in the immortal words of Mark Twain.

      But yeah, economically as well, the place is just not worth it, the atmosphere of permanent paranoia and police state propaganda and praxis quite aside.

    3. If you don't mind me asking, to which country did you go and how do you make a living?

      America is what the bible calls "Babylon the Great" and is headed for destruction...and soon.

  5. All by design by psychopathic politicians whom care about nothing but their own welfare and POWER.

  6. Yeah , heaven on earth, right? Bet you guys got an immigration time bomb on your hands too, right? Millions of Americans and Europeans crashing the gates trying to get into Latin America, no doubt, eh?

    Uh, no. Ever wonder why?

    Case you didnt know, here in America we´ve got a saying: "You get what you pay for". Do you seriously feel comfortable living in a civilization where a caregiver (one of the most important jobs a person could ever do, BTW) gets a measly $2 a day? Doesn´t that tell you something the country itself? Its economy? The people? Apart from outrageous, its sounds downright disgraceful to me. People´s wages tell a lot about the country and the standard of living. Econ 101, bud.

    1. Dear Anonymous,

      It seems you don’t understand the exchange rate, or that incomes vary around the world. In one country it might cost 500 Baht for a nice shirt. Wow you say, 500 just for a shirt, - that’s way too high! It is too high, - if you are thinking that it is equivalent to dollars. It is not! In fact it equals about sixteen U.S. dollars. So it is not really so high.

      Likewise rates can sound too low. Too high or too low depends on what you can buy locally with the local currency. Not what the US dollar is worth inside the US. Two or three dollars can be worth much more in another economy. You missed that point, and that is the point that the article clearly conveys.

    2. How does $1500.00 per month equate to $2.00 per day?

    3. In America, we have another saying" "You are a dumbass."

      Go back to watching American Idol...

    4. A nurse in your South American country gets 50 bucks a day for round the clock care? That´s just shameful. People´s wages tell a lot about the country, its laws and standard of living. Econ 101, bud. Bet you guys dont even have a Constitution or Second Amendment down there, right? To me just sounds like your Latin American civilization is racing to the bottom.

    5. Dude the standard of living is much cheaper in Chile than America, because its not a socialist hellhole where every regulation adds a dollar or two to the cost of living. Latin America, in particular Chile is on the way up. Check out The Dollar Vigilante and hear what Jeff Berwick has to say about the country.

    6. Agreed on Chile. I am looking at the Berwick/TDV sponsored community in Chile for a "home minutes to the city and ocean" and a larger block of land farther south in the alpine-terrain regions. See galtsgulchchileDOTcom or their facebook page. Chile is my choice after several years of travel through EU and S.Asia.

    7. Oh yeah, South America is on the up and up... I bet it is, just look at the crack pots running the place. Last time I checked there were riots and lock downs round the clock down there. Dont blame them actually, poor old nurse gets 50 bucks a day? I´d be rioting too. Jeff Berwick? You gotta be kidding me, dudes been runnin some real estate scam in South America for years, of course hez gonna give the country a AAA. No thanks. Like my grandpa used to say about travelling overseas : If it aint got a 2A, stay the fu&% away.

    8. There is a reason NZ agribusiness and mining invests heavily in Chile, and it is not cultural compatability, but agricultural synergy and rule of law.

      And the lack of rule of law is why NZ businesses avoid the US and we are suspicious of entering a free trade agreement on American terms.

      The other option is to not retire, of course.

    9. @ Anonymous - "How does $1500.00 per month equate to $2.00 per day?"

      REPLY: Your question can’t be answered because it does not make sense. You are being deliberately obtuse or you simply don’t have the capacity to understand exchange rates. The first amount does not equate to the latter and no one said it did.

      Currency value changes even within a country. After WWII, in the late 1940’s and into the 1950’s, the USA minimum wage was about 30 cents an hour; bread was 10¢ a loaf; a gallon of milk was 84¢; a brand new car was about $1,500 and a gallon of gasoline was 15¢. New houses in Levittown sold for less than $10,000.

      So for a “measly $2 a day” as you say, you could do OK. But according to your words, “that sounds disgraceful” to you. You say, “Doesn’t that tell you something the country itself? Its economy? The people? People’s wages tell a lot about the country and the standard of living. Econ 101, bud.”

      Well “Bud”, people were happy and lived pretty well back then. Bud it seems you don’t understand inflation, exchange rates, value or currency dynamics. So Bud, does the bread taste better now that it costs $2.39 a loaf instead of a measly 10¢? Does a gallon of gas go further now that it costs $3.89 instead of a measly 15¢?

      Inflation will continue and the current prices will look like a real bargain in fifty years. Maybe then some dunce will look back and write, “That’s just a shameful standard of living. Econ 101, bud.”

      Bud it seems you won’t be happy until the minimum wage is a hundred an hour and bread costs $65.00 and a gallon of gasoline is $130.00. Somehow you think high figures are good. Yet you won't get any more value for your high wages because prices have gone up too!

      You totally ignore the real value of currency, and what the local currency can purchase. The standard of living is not reflected in how high (or low) the figures are, but rather what the currency can purchase.

    10. "Bud it seems you won’t be happy until the minimum wage is a hundred an hour and bread costs $65.00 and a gallon of gasoline is $130.00. Somehow you think high figures are good" - Henry V

      Yo buddy, wake up n flush out yer head gear, case ya didn´t know, oil n wheat are friggin commodities. Know what that means,right? Unless yer in Venzenuela where gas is 5 cents a gallon (and you aint got no Second Amendment Rights, BTW) poor old 50 dollar A DAY Latin American nurse gonna pay them same gas prices as our average 50 dollar AN HOUR ´Merican nurse. Guess who gets the better deal genius. Like I said : Econ 101, son. Now back to bed, adults chatting here, kay?

    11. Hey anonymous, - Several people sincerely tried to explain exchange rates to you, but clearly you have no appreciation. Now you toss in wheat and oil and 2nd amendment rights. You are really stuck on Latin American nurses and sounds like you need one! None of your bunk has anything to do with exchange rates. You obviously lack basic knowledge and have nothing of value to contribute. Your insults toward others show your juvenile nature, ego problem and lack of anything meaningful to say. Your arrogant, condescending attitude is not welcome here. Yes this is a forum for adults, so clearly you don’t belong here. Go troll elsewhere.

    12. "Your arrogant, condescending attitude is not welcome here." - Mike

      Uh, you just called my arguments "bunk" and that I "lack basic knowledge and have nothing to contribute" and that I am "not welcomed here" and you callin´ me arrogant and condescending?

      Listen Mikey, all I´m saying is that its a race to the bottom. I´d rather hit rock bottom in my country where at least we´ve got the Second Amendment that´ll protect us from tyranny, than move to a continent with a history rife in dictatorships and mass killings. Yeah, no matter how cheap you can get a nurse.

    13. My wife and I just got back from a visit to Thailand where we had dental work done. Two cleanings and five fillings cost $193 and the care was quite good.

      My wife's grandmother in the Philippines was recently bitten by a possibly rabid dog. Her shot were $175. Seven years ago in the US when I thought I might need the same shots my Dr. told me the shot was $1,500.

      Then there's this one about scorpion anti-venom:

      What good is the best health care in the wold when you can't afford it?

  7. There is a way out, growth. But for some reason regressives like BO don't understand that. Stimulus is not making disability easier for my able bodied relatives or using the EPA to kill cheap power.

    1. Growth. Seriously, that's your best answer?

    2. Growing the workforce will grow tax receipts which could avert the coming SS disaster. Growth is the best answer.

    3. and inflation too !

  8. my ma had dementia and stayed at a group home in Ca. for $1600 per month--it was run by the church

  9. I'm a retired boomer, and yes, my illnesses did nearly take me to bankruptcy and the economy nearly took my house. What you have said is absolutely correct. However, as a true blood American, I "survived" by standing firm and NOT running for the exit. Think carefully about the ramifications of your actions when you are against the ropes, because when you run, you have already given up.

    1. I don’t understand this mentality at all.

      “I survived by standing firm”? Standing firm against whom?

      See, Fate is not a person—it is a set of circumstances. If I have a bad set of circumstances that in all likelihood will get worse, I don’t “fight against” my circumstances. Rather, I try to improve my circumstances. If that means moving, so be it.

      Moving is not synonymous with “giving up”. Rather, staying put and allowing circumstances to destroy you—THAT is “giving up”.


    2. Thank you GL for this comment.
      I left California because I could see I was working for the state and I had ceased to enjoy myself due to the over regulation of the state. I LEFT!!! As soon as I left things immediately got better and I was able to prosper in a cheaper state. I hate to leave the U.S. but like California I dont like what I see and I no longer have faith that the people will see what is happening here and fight back. The DHS is preparing to kill us with the purchase of 1.5 billion bullets ( not an exaggeration) and the so called media claims that the people who think the government orchestrated 9/11 are conspiracy theorists. When there is absolutely too much evidence to prove they did it. I know were screwed and soon everyone else will know it too.

    3. "I don’t understand this mentality at all. “I survived by standing firm”? Standing firm against whom?" - GL

      You dont get it cuz you´re proly not American. What Anonymous is getting at is that there aint nuthing we hate more here in America than a Benedict Arnold. People who are here for the ride, suck this country dry and as soon as sh%$ gets ugly, they head for the nearest exit (kinda like you). You proly went to public school here in the US right? Learned English well enough to go to college, no doubt. Proly used our hospitals and called police when there was trouble. Enjoyed the benefits of living in a free country under a Constitution and Bill of Rights, correct? So, after all that hand over fist taking, what do you decide to do? You start a blog dissing the US of A. Class act bud, real class act. Yeah, I understand anonymous, I understand him perfectly.

    4. Hilarious! Your impersonation of a gap-toothed, Appalachian-American is excellent. Do you perform at the local or national level?

      "Lemme" try...
      Ya'll come back, heah!


    5. "Your impersonation of a gap-toothed, Appalachian-American is excellent." - Invic

      Gap toothed or not, I callz em as I seez ´em Vic, and 50 dollar a day nursing smells awfully fishy to me...awfully fishy I reckon.

  10. I have tried real hard to get a job outside the US- including Chile- but it's not that easy.

    1. Work on your grammar (should be "really hard"), it will increase your job prospects.

  11. I admit , I am not american myself but I do know lots of americans and when I deal with them I have a very strong impression that these people are incapable of immigrating to another country (Canada does not count).I mean , their whole mentality is built up in such a way that the US seems to be the center of the world and the rest is province.They neither want to learn foreign languages nor do they want to adapt to other cultures and mentalities.Of course the article is about elderly people but they have been like this all their life.I don't want to offend anybody but I think it will take many many years until the mentality in the US changes so deeply that the people would consider immigration a normal thing to do like it is the case with people from Latin America or from various Asian countries.

    1. "Well I speak American and I can go anywhere in the world that I want!" - Major Frank Burns 4077 M*A*S*H

  12. So glad I left the USA over 40 years ago (and renounced my American citizenship) for a wonderful life elsewhere; so now I can just sit back and watch them unwind. Too bad the results will be so disastrous that they will take the rest of us down with them. I recall the brainwashing I got in school ("clean propaganda" I guess you could call it) that the USA is the greatest; and this is what most Americans still believe, to their everlasting danger and regret. Thank you for this article.

    1. No America is no longer special. We are going right down the toilet with BO and his henchmen in charge.

    2. You were quite ahead of the curve 40 years ago Annemarie! America was still quit tolerable a country to live back then. I wonder what you seen back then to make you move that others didn't? Vietnam? Disco ( just kidding )?

      Also, how did you make a living in another country which I see is a big obstacle for others trying to make this permanent move?

    3. Can't blame it on just BO. He is a puppet. Here is wisdom: when you understand that BO and GW Bush play on the same team.

      While we play "liberal vs. conservative" and "democrat vs. republican" they create their 4th Reich in the background (google hegelian dialectic).

      Nothing changes no matter the party. The trend is always toward a totalitarian government (case in point: GW Bush comes out in favor of immigration "reform").

  13. Other Anonymous person, you are right. Although some Americans are willing to immigrate, the vast majority are not. Most Americans have never even traveled outside of the country and would never be able to figure out how to deal with another culture.

    But a few will be able to move, in order to benefit from lower costs of living and other features of other countries.

  14. Interesting comments, I do think we are headed down wrong path in Usa we are losing freedoms and lifestyle.however life is still nicer in usa as far as cleanliness infrastructure amenities etc we are still rich compared to many. that may not last as we are spending above our means. but exp[lains why no one is stampeding out. I have traveled extensively last 5 years. America still has many advantages. however NOT the only nice place to live.What I do not get is young man who says USA should demand our government GIVE us things .That may be why you didn't like it here. In America we make our OWN way. that is why we are having trouble now government growing instead of can do independent Americans and businesses. However you have a pt about war .those monies could be spent better if not for necessary defense. Still people handouts not good idea unless unable to fend for selves,promotes poor business and personal growth .Almost every problem in America now stems to entitlement thinking. Bad idea to start social security medicare Medicaid etc food stamps a disaster. I don't think America is the only good place,chile is s good place because they are copying the American dream ,the original one,work hard make money keep most of what you earn, everyone make there own way and reap only what they themselves sow and earn.until we get back to nthat trouble ahead!

  15. Regardless of the forecasts and so on, it would be a really difficult decision! And the older you become the more difficult to relocate. We've been toying with the idea for decades but will we ever do it? Who knows.

  16. The U.S. is turning into a 3rd world, bankrupt police state. If you pig ignorant sods are too thick to realize that, then you deserve to eat dog food out of a can when the reality check hits.

  17. Dear Gonzalo,
    What is up with the homosexual banner. I don't know about Chile, but in the states that is the flag the butt bandits and lesbians use to broadcast their homosexuality to the world. I know you are married,so I found it rather perplexing. Maybe its a cultural thing. Cheers.

    1. You mean the new background? I thought it was very ’70’s retro, which is why I put it up. In a few weeks, I’ll be changing it again.


    2. "Butt bandits"? I know bigotry is a hillbilly cultural thing.

  18. I'd like to hear where you folks who have left, live now, and why you chose that country.

  19. I wrote the previous question, and as an after thought, would like an opinion from Gonzalo.I am a single woman, 66 yrs old and I do think about leaving but in reality,I just don't know how to go to a totally strange place ,where I know no one,and try to make my way.The other thing is that I use alternative health care a lot, use supplements to stay healthy, and I wonder about the availability, of these things, in other countries.I have recently been in communication, with a young man, living and working to in Sweden.He is French and has a similar health problem as I have.He is not able to get the alternative care in either of those two countries even though France has some of the best healthcare in the world.At least in the US we have a lot of alternative available, which is much preferred, in terms of getting well, instead of being medicated to erase symptoms.

  20. I am an American, but have lived overseas. It is way better economically. In the US my pension check would allow me to eat nice dog food and to buy my medicines..nothing more. Where I have lived, the same amount of money would allow me to eat well, have money to play, travel and have fun and still pay for my medicines. As for languages, English is widely understood globally, and if you make the effort to try to learn and speak another language, even if you speak it no better than a 5 year old, people there will warmly accept you. As for starting over again in a new country, its steps just like when you moved to your first apartment..find the post office, find the grocery, find a phone book..its really 99% the same no matter where you live. Now, my last thought...for Americans who are controlled by fear..fear of Obama, fear of badguys, fear of not being patriotic, fear of change, fear of new things..fear of being called chicken..or whatever other paranoid dreams control you...your minds are all very very clean...they have been washed vigorously since you were children and it causes you physical pain to just relax and think for yourselves....brainwashing does that..
    You would consider it crazy to think that you had done something bad or wrong, simply by moving to a nicer neighborhood...You know there is nothing wrong with shopping at a lower cost store for the same stuff you why is it "wrong" to choose another country to live in which offers you more safety or cheaper prices or that is simply more fun?

  21. I considered moving to South America, but there are too many South Anericans there. Me no habla.

  22. I like the idea of leaving just have to wonder when the US goes belly up it will have a huge affect on many if not all countries and might the ugly American be a hated target.

  23. I notice no mentions that everyone - no matter what age - will end up bankrupt - if IOUSA continues to gift each and every retiree - regardless of wealth or means - with the wages of the working SLAVES.

    That in itself says the most.

    Just as the last 2 generations cannibalized boomers and younger - the boomers will continue the ponzi theft scheme by picking what little flesh remains on Americans who are middle aged and younger today.

    Who would have thought - 60 years of FREE MONEY - NOT MEANS TESTED TRANSFER OF WEALTH PAYMENTS and SOCIALIZED MEDICINE FOR THE AGED 65 AND OVER would destroy America and rename it IOUSA.

    Can you feel the freedom - you slaves who are "on the hook" - will be forced to live like an animal - so your recent ancestors get "theirs" ?

    Nation of LIARS and HYPOCRITES.



  24. Yes pros and cons to leaving the US and going to South America...certainly costs are lesser, but also is earning capabilities. Is America perfect? Far from it, however it can be what you wish it to be. Opportunities abound. The great nation of The United States of America is and always will be a great nation. With so many issues including globalization, the US will succeed and continue to prosper.

    1. The great nation of The United States of America is and always will be a great nation. With so many issues including globalization, the US will succeed and continue to prosper.

      That is not self-evident. In fact, it can be shown to be untrue. Rome was a great empire—until it wasn’t. Same with the Byzantine Empire, the Spanish empire, the French empire, the Austro-Hungarian empire, and the British empire.

      All these empires rose, prospered, decayed, and were finally overrun. What is so special about America that it will manage to avoid this inevitable cycle, and continue to be the dominant empire until the ends of time?


    2. Well, the Spanish Empire went bankrupt in the 17th century, but it stayed in business for centuries longer. I expect a painful financial crisis in the near future here in the USA. Still, the USA has great natural resources and plenty of smart, capable people. If I could retire today, I would move to SA or CA. I've vacationed in Costa Rica and Panama. There are already many US and Canadian expats there - mostly retirees. These countries are very appealing- Chile or Uruguay might be even better, but they are also further away.

      From what I can tell, health care in these places is very good and not wildly over-priced as it is here in the USA. I hope to move to Panama or somewhere after I retire. Maybe I can take some steps to preserve my modest savings - maybe my promised pension will have some value in a few years or maybe not. I'll do what I can to prepare.

      The USA is certainly not a hellhole as some over-excited commenters have said. I just cut some roses from my yard and put them in my vase. The sun is shining and my air conditioner is purring away. My kitchen is stocked with good, cheap food. I may visit the neighborhood taco truck for a good burrito later. That said, the trends here are very disturbing. We should all heed Mr. Lira's warnings and make some prudent preparations for trouble. Also consider that if the $15 trillion US economy takes a plunge, you'll feel it in SA, too. Maybe it's not fair, but it;s that kind of world.

      hasta la vista,

      Matt in Ohio, USA


    There was a history textbook used in US High Schools-"American Pageant"
    It went thru 13 editions becoming more and more politically correct in the process.

    I would recommend all of you to dig up the pre-50's edition from the Good Old Times (all Times when Old are Good) .Then you realize that basic structure of US Society remained the same throughout the ages.With the same amount of economic injustice and so-called freedom (much talked about but rarely seen).

    Using the politically incorrect terms from this venerable textbook (back then they called a Spade a Spade):

    My Ancestors were "Bipeds from the Forest" who came to the "Land of Second Chance". That nails it-at least in my case!

    I firmly believe that for me there is no "Land of Third Chance". I do not want to expatriate-mainly because I do not like Foreigners and do not trust them.I saw enough of them while serving in the military.

    If things take a sudden turn to the worse-I'll manage to fire a few well-placed shots.If I die-what is the big fucking deal? Who the fuck cares?

    I do not want to live 120 years .I saw enough of those living corpses in Florida.DWD-Drivig While already Dead.At 20 miles below the speed limit.

    Bottom line:

    If I'll die in a Combat Zone
    You don't have to box me up & ship me Home.

    Just bury me (preferably upside down-so the whole world can kiss my ass) where I was born.


  26. Dear Gonzalo,

    I couldn't agree with this article more. If I was a Boomer with a small pension, social security, a modest savings and have a paid or partially off house I would have left to a Latin American country long ago. I personally welcome the challenge living in another culture and learning a foreign language.

    My question to you is for the people - like me - who were born after the Boomers and have no such assets and no hopes of collecting social security. For example, if someone is between the ages of 35-45 and will live another forty or fifty plus years I calculate one would need at the minimum $500k-$750k to make that move and that's not counting if you have a spendthrift spouse and children. I don't see how the the average American would even get work in Chile or if they did it wouldn't pay much. So, not having a job prospect in your new country, nor substantial savings and income do you cover how the average American could survive this move in your strategic planning group?


    1. I'm a late boomer. This is what I have done.

      a. Left the big city in NZ with million dollar homes and moved to a small academic town.
      b. Paid off the mortgage.
      c. Joined the state pension scheme (there is a tax cut) at minimum but maxed out the academic scheme.

      I have helped daughter out of the hole and I have two boys to get through degrees. At that point, somewhere rural and warm, and part time work until I drop dead or dementia takes me. Northern Queensland or Samoa look good right now.

    2. great idea Chris for those of us down under. I am a early boomer so here's what my plan is..1.leave paid employment in big city with million dollar homes 2.collect pension funds 3. pay off mortgage out home in big city to replace income 5.relocate to small town in deep south where rents are cheap,water is free,seasonal employment is in abundance,and higher education is offered for zero fees.All I have to do once I get there is decide how to spend all my free time.

  27. Good post Mr. Gonzalo. A few observations: Successful expatriation is a difficult process. As I see it, three of the key barriers are 1) language 2) the possession of only one passport, and 3) the cost of relocation (financial and emotional). Mr. Gonzalo, per your Wikipedia link, you had the good fortune to grow up in the US and in Ecuador, possibly Chile too. This presumably provided you at least dual citizenship and certainly multi-language skills. You also appear to have a successful career and are, I'm guessing, in good shape financially.

    Notwithstanding the excellent points made in your post, it is very difficult for most Americans, or any others, who would wish to expatriate to actually be able to do so. My head is well above the sand, believe me. However, nothing is free and expatriation is a very expensive undertaking.


    1. It’s not as expensive or difficult as you might think.

      First off, you’d be surprised how much of the things you own are just not really necessary.

      Second, learning a new language as an adult is not as difficult as you would think. At 45, I started picking up French and German (as I was living there last year), and it was a lot easier than I thought.

      Third, getting a second passport is doable.

      Fourth, the cost of relocation—once you’ve ditched those possessions which you really do not need—is much less than you might think.

      At the end of the day, moving to another country so as to start fresh is what Americans’ ancestors did. Relocating and starting fresh is part and parcel of America’s collective heritage. So it should be no trouble at all for a “real American”, to pull up stakes and move on.



  28. Gonzalo, you forgot one important think: DEMOCRACY.

    Elderly won't bankrupt. They'll VOTE!

    They'll vote for anybody who will promise them higher pensions, cheap or free healthcare, etc...

    Trust me, I live in the EU so I know.
    And trust me, there still exists a gap between taxes in USA and the EU. So the taxation, expropriation, redistribution, regulation (and other forms of socialism/facism) will increase to european levels (and beyond).

    So finally no elderly will escape. Only productive minority will have the reason to escape. But the state won't let them (trust me, I've lived behind the iron curtain and I know what the state is able to do if considers something as "needed").

  29. I love it,..The entire "Ego and Narcissism" of the American doctrine of..."We are #1" is going down the toilet.

    Isn't "Capitalism Great??"

  30. Lets say fro argument purposes, that we all want to leave the US for the reasons you stated. what Countries would be best for an American to go to. Canada, Mexico or farther away?

  31. AmeriKKKA is filled with racist Nazi right wing thug murdering psychopaths - white people are fearing their selves - you reap what you sow - white devils!!

  32. Sooo, can you provide the name of the Dental Clinic please. I've been researching Bali & Thai clinics where they are $2000-$2500 per implant plus resort costs. About $8000 here in Oz. I've met a few Chileans in the resource construction industry & they are good tradesmen & a good laugh. But $450 per implant is mouth watering even with the travel involved.

    1. Clínica Dental Cumbres, if you’re interested. Here’s the website:


  33. Thank you, Gonzalo for all your articles.
    I am a retired woman, on Social Security. I have a science education, but was never able to attain high wages. However, because I like to learn and am open minded to what works, I am self trained in nutrition, homeopathy and herbal medicine. I garden. I exercise. I live simply, but well. I do procure the services of holistic medical professionals if needed.
    I am a Christian and I practice Buddhist principles.
    I did travel to South America to look to live, but realized
    even there, relocation was out of the question financially.
    For those who take responsibility for their lives/health, and get educated, I think it may be possible to survive in the US. For those who can relocate, I wish you the best, I loved Uruguay and Southern Brazil.

  34. Just came into this and interested in what you all have to say.Have traveled extensively throughout the world and there are pro and cons on both sides. For those of us who served in the military, it is disheartening to say the least to see what we went overseas to fight against now within our very borders. However, those that sought asylum in other countries when their homeland was taken over, can testify that good intentions are not enough to keep evil from taking over.

    That being said, if relocating to another country is in your agenda it does not mean you have to give up your citizenship. Many Americans have dual citizenship and have not given up on the motherland. But are being cautious if things get too bad.

    International helps those looking to relocate elsewhere and also is promoting the a course on how to English overseas and support yourself. Might be worthwhile checking it out.

  35. Mr. Lira is correct about "stuff". We don't need things hanging on our walls or all the gadgets and extra stuff in all our drawers or an oversupply of clothes. Clean out your living quarters. Donate or sell - see if your newly simple life isn't instantly better and you feel freer. Then start buying food and water, and dig in for the catastrophe that’s coming.

    1. Now, that AnneMarie really has the right idea!...It isn't so much where you are in the WORLD that matters, as where you are in YOUR OWN MIND. But having said that, it's important to live in a place in the world that is supportive of your state of mind and your own personal principles, assuming of course you have any after a lifetime of living in a brainwashed, conformist, mass media-saturated society.

      It's also preferable to live in a vibrant community of like-minded people, rather than in a solitary hole in the ground, caressing your rifle, your gold, and your freeze-dried MREs, which seems to be far too many Americans' idea of the ideal way to confront imminent social breakdown.

      Some will find the resources and support they need in the USA, but others will find it too much of a losing battle there, and decide it's easier to swim liesurely somewhere else rather than fight the current on the Homeland shores. (Not to mention the ubiquitous sharks.)

      Personally, I left the USA not long after 9/11 - which put the handwriting on the wall for anyone with eyes to see - and haven't looked back. It wasn't so much what I saw the US obviously heading for, as it was seeing my fellow Americans increasingly in total DENIAL about it, unwilling to unite together to resist or to adapt to change, instead clinging to hope and religion, bigotry and scapegoating, politicians and patriotism, drugs and distractions, junk food, the lottery, basically, virtually ANYTHING to forestall having to face reality.

      The fact is, leaving the USA isn't all that difficult once you set your mind to it, provided you haven't entirely swallowed the American Dream and taken on massive unsustainable debt and wage slavery in an attempt to actually LIVE it. Most Americans haven't even bothered to get a passport, and disparaging the rest of the world without ever going to actually SEE it is rather like complaining about the outcome of an election without actually VOTING in it. (Something, BTW, Americans are also very good at.)

      The truth is that Americans have fewer VALID excuses than practically any other people in the world to emigrate, if they decide it desirable to do so. The "language excuse" in particular is ludicrous: Most of the world speaks English well enough for an American to get by without even being bothered to learn the native language, as most foreigners outside their home country are forced to do, especially in the US. Furthermore, unlike the American government, many countries accept dual citizenship with Americans, don't double-tax them to death, and allow them to keep their foreign earnings and retirement benefits. And almost all certainly welcome those American dollars! (But better act fast on that last one.)

      But enough ranting. (You can take the American out of America, but you can't take America out of the American.) Anyone who wants to share some ideas about how to leave the good old USA - or even better yet, STAY in the USA and retain your freedom and sanity - feel free to email me at

      That's not my everyday address because I don't want any death threats with my morning coffee, so forgive me if I don't reply immediately.

      Cheers from beautiful New Zealand,
      Martin Z

  36. Does not the simple "Leave the USA" solution fall apart when it meets the reality of the FATCA legislation that imposes tax and financial penalties on American expats, and would the (partial?) Medicare assistance (absent to foreign providers?)loss narrow the comparison gap ( Of course equal if Medicare goes bankrupt!)? I wonder.

  37. Gonzalo,

    Your case of "Leave the United States, and go to where medical care is cheaper" is convincing if one looks at present exchange rates and prices. However, will they always remain similar?

    It's quite true that demographic prospects and escalating health costs will create problems in the USA, and in other developed countries like European ones as well. Something that cannot continue forever usually doesn't. In that case, that would lead to more and more bankruptcies among old Americans and Europeans, or other umpleasantness like care restrictions.

    But the same principle also applies to the situation where good doctors and nurses are paid so little for the good services they provide. Market forces can be hindered for a time, they cannot be kept at bay indefinitely. These services cannot continue to be so cheap... therefore, they won't.

    How will it happen: increases in salaries, or exchange rate upheaval? I would tend to imagine the second, and it may not be very far in the future. Currency crises are a quick & not-so-nice way to correct such imbalances, and currency crises are a threat both for the dollar (hyperinflation) and the euro (dissociation)

    Whether there remains a window of opportunity for a very senior person to go live in some foreign country to get better care for his money, I can't tell. The currency crisis may be months into the future, they also may be years, and then a very aged person could calculate that he/she won't see it anyway.

    But it seems to me that for anybody up to his 70s, the best guess is that when he really needs extensive medical care, his pension in flagging dollar or euro will have such a reduced value that it won't buy more in Costa Rica or Uruguay than it does in the USA or France. And then one has to take into consideration the costs and drawbacks of expatriation (financial, loss of relations and acquaintances, lesser understanding of what really is going on...), puting the bottom line firmly in negative territory.

    I've never lived through a currency crisis and financial collapse -I'm afraid that will change- but from what I can understand the best safety net in such situation is family links. Children, in the case of old people. And/Or extended family. A good move could be to make sure one is living close to at least one child, possibly providing services such as regular care of his/her little children.

  38. The Bible say it all: Come follow Me. God will provide.

  39. Mr. Lira:
    Thank You So much for this article you have written. It's time for people to wake up and start realizing that the USA is not the best place in the planet to be.
    I have the following questions: I'm a Photographer, and I speak 4 languages fluenty, Persian, Spanish, English, and Portuguese. Here are my questions:
    (1) What is you assessment of Venezuela? Do you think it's a good country to go for living or just for visit? I think it's great to visit but for living I'm a little shy about it but I wanted to know what you think?
    (2) Do you think Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Chile are the better places to live in South America?
    (3) I also wanted to get you opinion of Malaysia, Thailand & Singapore!
    Thanks in Advance


  40. Mr. Lira,
    EXCELLENT article. As a US-based independent physician and founder of International Health Strategies, help my patients and others have first rate individualized medical care at lower cost and with greater privacy, I have been researching free-market medical care in a variety of countries (boots on the ground type research, visiting facilities, getting to know doctors, etc) and CHILE is at the top of my list! In fact, we will be basing our new company in Santiago, and will be residents there ourselves shortly. You are correct - costs are lower than US, care is kinder and more compassionate as well as competent, world class level of treatment options. I have written more on what is coming to the USA under Obamacare, and our conference will be addressing these issues in depth. Elizabeth Lee Vliet, MD
    Read more at:

  41. Although I'm late to the article here I agree with most of it and many of the comments. I think the biggest issue for most people on the edge of retirement is not "the getting there" but rather how to make a living once there. I've traveled quite a bit throughout S.A. and I've noticed that it's almost impossible to get a legitimate job in any of the countries I've visited, so I could no more afford to retire in Chile or Argentina than I can afford to retire in the U.S.A.

    In other words, from my view it would appear that I'm screwed either way.

  42. It´s not about the "demographic timebomb".
    The so called "demographic timebomb" doesn´t exist, it´s mainstream media bullshit and you obviously don´t get it.
    The US government as well as the European governments talk about the so called "demographic timebomb" all the time - it is a rip off strategy and enables government to scare people and tell them that they won´t receive their pensions or just a tiny sum because there are too many old people and not enough money to distribute.
    The reason why government does that is simply because they want to keep all the tax money to themselves and - even more important - they want to continue importing cheap labour from outside the US blaming it again on the non-existing "demographical timebomb".
    This way labour costs will get more and more "competitive" - and one day all people will be slaves and work for food and shelter. Just look at China. Most US jobs have been exported to Asia/China but once the US workers agree to work under the same conditions as the Asian work slaves - and who wouldn´t before one dies on the streets starving - all will be fine for the government tyrants, That´s their goal.
    That´s the only reason for "Globalization" and the "demographic timebomb" LIE is used as a weapon against the American people.

    The real reason why there are poor people, young and old, is that people just earn third world incomes in the US and have to compete with even cheaper imported labour slaves who´ll work for nearly nothing.
    At the same time prices for everything are ridiculously high. Its a BIG RIP OFF.

    And the caring US government does that on purpose since they care - only about themselves.

    Would the US borders be closed and all legal and illegal immigrants sent off back home and would the US workers get decent pay for their labour
    then there would be nearly
    NO unemployment
    NO homeless people
    and LESS crime.
    And on top of that would the oh so great US government use two thirds of it´s annual military spending (was $664.84 billion for FY 2011) to support its own people then there would be no suffering for anyone.
    Instead of forcing unnecessary aggression and wars onto other innocent countries the US could focus on real defense only and use the rest of all the tax money for the welfare of its own people. Life could be heaven. But it won´t happen.

    I am puzzeld that some people like you still believe in the "demographic timebomb" LIE. This is simply a propaganda tool like all the rest of the US media propaganda tools. They push the right buttons and loads of people don´t get it.
    But I also know for a fact that loads of Americans know what is going on - they´ve woken up.

    1. At first sight, it sounds so easy: yeah. life is seemingly cheaper outside the US...until it isn't because in the US you also pay for quality, class, safety and security, which are not guaranteed in Latin America or Asia, hence the much lower price.

    2. Just to explain what I mean: yeah, you'll pay much more in the US, but you're guaranteed a timely appointment, good infrastructure and right to due care if anything goes wrong.

      In Latin America or Asia, the service may be cheaper but you need to PERSONALLY know the doctor and many other people involved in your trip to get everything done right. Otherwise, your journey may end up in tears: stolen luggage or laptop or cellphone, begging kids at the hospital entrance, fake bills given as change (yeah, it's still very muchan under-the-table cash economy), getting robbed at gunpoint in a secuestro express because you look so "gringo", etc. Just what the Scam City series on Buenos Aires (not the worst city in Latin America) or Delhi and your desire to save some bucks will be greatly reduced.


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