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The 7 expat categories

People ask me this question all the time:

“Simon, I really want to leave the country, but where should I go?”

Quite literally, there is a world of possibilities out there, each full of richness and opportunity. But as you could imagine, it depends on what kind of person you are. What would be a great expat haven for some seems like a hellish nightmare to others.

Over the years I have seen thousands of expats roaming in and out of different countries around the world. In my opinion, most expats fall into seven categories… and chances are you probably fit one of the molds as well:


: You are an opportunity-focused expatriate, and you are willing to relocate solely for the prospect of making a great deal of money and doing something interesting. You think nothing of charging in to an almost native, potentially dangerous environment and care nothing of dilapidated infrastructure, squalor.

You are willing to learn the local language and don’t care if anyone else speaks English there… you love the almost lawless, wild west persona and can literally smell the money everywhere.


: You are a classical traveler in the mold of British merchants and explorers– you want to make the journey overseas, but you want your amenities too, complete with a triple mocha latte.

You want to storm the plains of the Serengeti… with an armed guide. You want to see India up close and personal… then go back to your five star hotel.

In short, you want the richness of the expat experience, but you want it to be easy and painless.


: You have had a full career and are looking for a switch… it’s not about playing golf every day (though there will be plenty of that), it’s about finding a new direction in life, taking new steps, and getting energized again.

You are looking for something worthwhile to throw your time and effort into, and you want to be surrounded by like minded people who are in a similar position in life.  In a way, you want to turn back the clock and find a place that reminds you of home years ago– 1950s America, for example.


: You are a permanent traveler. You roam the globe because there are simply too many amazing places to see, and abundant opportunities in each.  You perhaps have a ‘home base’ somewhere, but you don’t see it for months at a time.  You know people all over the world and enjoy making new connections and trying new things.

You count air miles as an asset and talk about ‘running down to Panama for a few days’ as if you were going down the street to pick up a quart of milk at the grocery store.


: You shun contact with most of the world because they just don’t get it.  You are passionate about your beliefs and are looking for a place where you can execute an agenda– growing organic food, preparing for social chaos, etc.

You are possibly interested in setting up a small community with like-minded souls, preferably away from major civilization where you can live your life without bother or interference from governments or corrupt social institutions.


: You are a smart, educated, opportunistic professional that is a cross between the pioneer and expeditioner– you thrive on opportunity but need some basic structure to feel comfortable… probably because you have a family or some other obligations beyond yourself.

As long as basic needs are met– safety, schools, healthcare, etc., you are happy and can focus on building a life and a new business.


: You have been successful in life and simply want to enjoy the fruits of your efforts over the years– wine, women, whatever else seems interesting. You almost feel like a kid again, free to jump on a plane to follow your favorite team, see an old friend, or make new ones.

You pick a country because of its opportunities for pleasure, and are always willing to explore new ones.

… so there you have it. In all honesty, most people can find elements of several categories but are generally dominant in one.

The places that you will probably find appealing depend on which kind of expat you are.  We will explore these together in future letters, and I will use these categories as a reference point from now on when I write about cities and countries.

Think about which one you are and let me know what you think. Did I miss any?

About the author: Simon Black is an international investor, entrepreneur, permanent traveler, free man, and founder of Sovereign Man. His free daily e-letter and crash course is about using the experiences from his life and travels to help you achieve more freedom.

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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Great-grandma B.

    Great-grandma B.

    At 88+ I am a Preper.  I am self-sufficient, always have been and luckily, my boys and their families are too.  We are all “weird” in that, even all the in-laws like each other and we enjoy each others company.  In today’s dysfunctional world that is “weird.”

    Simon, please take care.  I enjoy your letters; vicarious trips for me.

    Love to you and all your readers,

    Great-grandma B. 

  • Raymond F Dillon

    Uh… where’s “my category? (i.e. “Prepper”)… that is definitely what describes me!

    “You’re staying put with your loved ones. You love yourhome country, or what it once stood for, and have noplans of leaving for “greener pastures.”  You see what’s coming and are taking steps to make sure you and your family have your preparations in order.”

    Yep, that’s me… to a “T.”   lol…       ;o)

  • Thomas2282

    I’d have to say Internationalist. I’ve travelled and done business in multiple countries and jurisdictions. I thrive on finding new opportunities and see borders as merely man-made lines on a map.

    Creature comforts are important, but so are finding those rare opportunities that require one to step off the beaten track.

  • andy

    I am a Hermit.  I have been saying this to my mum and my wife but they all think I am crazy…I have residency in HK, Japan and NZ.  Non of these country is better then Chile.

  • Budjflux

    definitely a hermit!

  • Bdschneider

    Sounds crazy, but I’ll go with Prepper

  • farmercdn

    I think I fit into “prepper” the best.
    I would love to move to Chile or Brazil but I am a canuck dirt farmer  and feel a sense of comittment to staying put and try my best to feed the world.

  • NewEnglander

    I am a Hermit making preparations to stay in my home no matter how rough it gets.

  • Darren Tan

    Hi Simon… I’m totally a Pioneer… old ways of doing things just bores me… continuous testing and improving life is the way of living…

  • Rcrosby1961

    The one you missed I think is the
    dutiful spouse who faithfully follows their husband around trying to make a go of it until they end up living on xanax from the panic attacks caused by a multitude of third world (oh, excuse me, “developing”) nightmares.

    • Keep Calm and Duck for Drones

      ..and the crushing stress of competing with smoking hot, almost too thin local chix. Ouch.

  • Marie

    I am the retiree, but don’t ask me to go back to 1950 because I don’t want to be where there are no up to date appliances. Not into being Suzy homemaker and growing food, although I know that will become both a necessity and a luxury probably forbidden

  • 1voluntaryist

    We are a middle class retiree/hermit couple who want to stay in the U.S. but not if the economy/dollar crashes. Our wealth is safe (for now) but if we need to escape we have no plan or place. We value organic foods, movies, poker, and our sovereignty. FreedomFest and Libertopia are two conventions we attend. We visited Costa Rica 7 years ago but found it boring culturally and socialistic. We would consider Singapore if we could afford it and they would allow poker. Do they have poker in Chile? 

  • Blunt

    pioneer/hedonist hybrid

  • Mike on Fire

    How about the “Missionary” Someone who has a burning principle (liberty in my case) that must be propagated and isn’t necessarily interested in money or their own welfare… as long as the message gets to people who want to hear it.

  • savagecolombia


  • Shawn Wood

    not too long ago, I’d classify myself as a pioneer all the way, but now that I’ve made a fair bit of money, I’m leaning more towards the Internationalist category.

  • Wendi

    Yes – you missed one.


  • LifeCoach67

    Suggestion – when writing your pending articles, come back here and link the title of the person forward to your new writings.

  • Amesmartin

    I’m a nomad/hedonist at heart, but I also have a beautiful wife and two wonderful, young children.  So I guess I’ve grown up and become an internationlist.  The four of us now live in a small Malaysian tax haven off the coast of Borneo.

  • Crafty Black Guy

    I seem to be a combination of these traits, Simon.

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