Lifestyle Design

Six speeding tickets for a second passport

I spent a couple of days this week in a fast BMW with Matt, my friend and business partner. We had a meeting in southern Spain yesterday with a key figure in the world of second passports, and we raced at speeds up to 250 km/h so that we could make the meeting and bring you some tremendously valuable information.

It came at a price-- six speeding tickets in total, mostly across the south[...] Click here to continue reading

The best places in the world to start a business

I hold it as a guiding principle that there is quite literally a world of opportunity out there... and this goes especially for business. Years ago, there were limited consumer markets available where entrepreneurs could sell their products and services. Today, the playing field has truly leveled.

Emerging Asian economies have a burgeoning middle class that numbers in excess of 1 billion people with discretionary spending power.  The Persian Gulf region is home to[...] Click here to continue reading

Why not Thailand and Uruguay?

Seriously... isn't it time the investment community stopped listening to the rating agencies?

Moody's, Fitch, and S&P-- these are the usual suspects who completely missed the boat on the US sub-prime debacle.  Back in 2005, they gave pristine credit ratings to risky mortgage portfolios stuffed full of borrowers who are notorious for not paying.

The recent debt crisis in Dubai underscores their irrelevance once again.

As I discussed earlier this week, Dubai's[...] Click here to continue reading

I finally need to say something about it

I tend to shy away from politics and policy.  Sure I've discussed taxes, privacy, and healthcare a few times, but I don't normally whine about government too much because (a) it's unproductive, and (b) living a 'multiple flag' lifestyle means that governments have little impact on me.

Last night, though, President Obama spoke to America's emerging military leaders at my alma mater about his 'new' Afghanistan policy, and I think it's worth having a[...] Click here to continue reading

My top picks for Asia and Latin America

 

I'm sitting in a comfortable, overstuffed leather chair this morning typing away at this letter while a team of local women give me a traditional Thai foot massage.  30 minutes in the chair will set me back about $4, and I can't think of a better way to part with my money.

It is with great hesitation that I'm even sitting in this chair-- not because I don't like massage, but because[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama, Inc.

If he keeps this up, they might start calling it Panama, Inc.

Panamanian President Ricardo Martinelli has been in office less than 6-months, yet to the extent that it is politically possible, he seems bent on running Panama with the same vision as when he ran the chain of supermarkets that made him one of the country's wealthiest men.

Step 1-- eliminate corruption in the government. All side deals and back room handshakes[...] Click here to continue reading

3 ways you can save 60% on luxury international flights



After a hard afternoon of jet skiing yesterday, my friends and I came off the water right as the sun was descending in the horizon over the ocean. The sun sets in Thailand in a more vibrant, distinctive way than most other places in the world that I have seen, and quite honestly it can be intoxicating.

As we collected our belongings and paid the 1,300 baht fee (roughly $40) for the[...] Click here to continue reading

It’s not your problem, it’s my problem

Tony looked the part-- measuring tape draped over his shoulder, wire frame spectacles, and ashy hands that had been sullied by the chalk marks he had been making on my garments. 

"SAHM SIP!" he said in Thai, announcing my 30-inch waist to an anxious-looking recorder.  The fitting was almost over, and Tony's crew was about to spend the rest of the evening cranking out an exquisite wardrobe of new clothes for me-- pants, shirts,[...] Click here to continue reading

Medical care in Thailand

I was reading a menu, but I wasn't in a restaurant.

Liposuction: $625
Tummy Tuck: $1,250
Breast Enlargement: $1,125
Sex change operation: $1,625

I did a double take. Yep, that wasn't a misprint.

Thailand is renowned for a lot of things-- beautiful beaches, crazy nightlife, political instability, etc. One of the things it should be better known for is medical tourism.

People often ask me because I travel so much, "Simon,[...] Click here to continue reading

Real Estate in Thailand

First of all, thanks to all the well-wishers (especially Dusty) after my accident... your concern is much appreciated, and I'm feeling a lot better.

Today I want to talk about real estate in Thailand, and particularly here in Pattaya.  I've spent the last few days scouting property, and talking to agents, developers, and buyers.  Overall, some aspects of the market are reasonably attractive in the long-term, but I need to give you a bit[...] Click here to continue reading

Answering your questions after the wreck…

I'm actually reporting tonight from bed-side in my hotel room; I managed to crash my $3/day motorcycle rental this afternoon, and between the cracked rib and other pleasantries, I've decided to call it an early evening.

Fortunately for me, Thailand has some of the best healthcare in the world, at least if you're an expat and go to the several renowned and accredited private hospitals... but more on that in future letters.  Tonight I[...] Click here to continue reading

Fight night in Pattaya

The air smelled of sweat and blood, and I could barely hear my friends talking to me over the screaming crowd.  With each blow, bookmakers were shifting odds and taking bets with such a frenzy that the arena may as well have been the New York Stock Exchange on Black Monday.

This was the scene tonight at a local Muay Thai match here in Pattaya... and aside from being a much needed break for[...] Click here to continue reading

Why the only direction for Thailand is up

November 4, 2009
Thailand

I arrived into Thailand at 3am this morning from Shenzhen, and instantly I felt a bit happier. China is undoubtedly a booming colossus full of opportunity, but culturally it can be a bit grating after a while.  After a month on the mainland,  I needed a break, and Thailand was the perfect choice.

Aside from being one of my favorite countries in the world, I wanted to spend some[...] Click here to continue reading

Five reasons you should consider China as a place to live and do business

I spend a great deal of my time on the road, traveling around the world in search of opportunity. I put boots on the ground while I'm on the hunt and end up screening a tremendous amount of both business and investment ideas.

Some of these ideas make the cut, and we take the concept further. Others don't.

Regardless, the time that I spend on the ground getting to know the cityscape and[...] Click here to continue reading

What China’s wealthy want…

 

I spent the better part of my day today at a small conference attended by many of Shanghai's wealthy, plus their lawyers and accountants.  Considering the subject material is highly frowned upon by the government, I was surprised that so many were in attendance.

So what was the topic of discussion at today's event? Second citizenship.  Specifically, the St. Kitts second citizenship program.

Throughout the afternoon, local Chinese listened intently as[...] Click here to continue reading

Dubai is struggling, but rising (a bit)

Dubai is looking something like Rocky Balboa late in his first fight with Apollo...bruised, battered, struggling to his feet-- but still fighting. Of course, if you remember the movie, Rocky didn't win that fight. He was all heart, no belt. I think the analogy fits.

To be clear, I think Dubai is great... I have done a lot of business there and I enjoy it; it's fun, safe, diverse, historic, and cosmopolitan. For the[...] Click here to continue reading

Network Infiltration

As promised, I published my "Network Infiltration Black Paper" late Friday afternoon; I had spent all week working on this free report designed to teach anyone how to build contacts, gain influence, and infiltrate any exclusive network.

Unfortunately, I found out on Monday that, after I released the paper, the volume of people simultaneously trying to download it temporarily crashed my Ireland-based web server over the weekend.

Problem solved. If you didn't get[...] Click here to continue reading

Five things you need to know about Uruguay

I love Uruguay... it is, without a doubt, one of my top five choices in Latin America-- the country is clean, beautiful, and cheap, full of great wine and friendly people. But if you're considering the country as a place to live, work, or do business, there are definitely a few things you need to know:

First, Uruguay is NOT a financial center. It achieved a reputation over the years as a tax haven[...] Click here to continue reading

Set up your kids for life

If you're presently expecting a child or are planning on having one soon, you should really consider having your baby overseas.

There are many countries, particularly in the western hemisphere, which grant citizenship to all children born within its borders, regardless of the nationality or immigration status of the parents. The legal term is called jus soli, which differs from jus sanguinis, or citizenship by blood/ancestry.

The United States and Canada are two[...] Click here to continue reading

A day at the knock-off market

Thanks to an unexpected computer crash, I've spent the majority of my day trolling around one of Shanghai's infamous technology marketplaces, where just about everything you see is a knock-off.From my condo in Shanghai's Pudong district, it's about a 15 minute metro ride to "Pacific Digital Plaza," which ironically is just a stone's throw from Best Buy.  The building is five floors of wall-to-wall electronics-- if it has an on/off switch, you can buy it[...] Click here to continue reading

Shape our free report

Last week during a short visit to the United States, I wrote a letter with some important updates that had been provided to me by my Panamanian lawyer.

In the letter, I discussed briefly how great connections and a solid network can make all the difference in the world, and I mentioned that I was thinking about writing a free e-book on the subject.

To put it mildly, the response was strong. The[...] Click here to continue reading

Guns and Fortune Cookies

The sight of nuclear missiles being paraded down the street in a perfectly crisp formation is simultaneously revolting and awe-inspiring.  Yet the Chinese government knew exactly what it was doing when it orchestrated its most prominent display of military hardware in the middle kingdom's history.

This week is China's biggest holiday week of the year, celebrating 'National-day,' when Mao's communist revolutionaries took control of the country.  The government  kicked off festivities earlier this week[...] Click here to continue reading

Could it BE any more obvious?

Stunned.

That was the word used to describe the aghast crowds gathered in Chicago this past Friday upon hearing the news that their beloved city had been passed over for the 2016 games by the International Olympic Committee.

Based on the poll numbers, most Chicagoans (and Americans for that matter) were confident that they would be selected over the other finalist candidate cities-- Rio, Tokyo, and Madrid.

Why? Because they were convinced[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama: Don’t let this law affect your decision

I've received a few questions recently about a piece of legislation recently passed in Panama known as Resolution 52.

A bit of background-- the construction boom and ensuing real estate bubble for Panama City condominiums lasted from 2003 until approximately 2007.  Tens of thousands of units were designed and sold off-plan to speculators, usually months before the developers broke ground.

Speculators were buying up pre-construction units so quickly that developers were encouraged to[...] Click here to continue reading

“X”

First of all I really appreciate all of your thoughts and comments this week; I would definitely encourage you to spend a few minutes reading the comments on 'Give me Liberty or Give me Boarding Pass' posted on Tuesday.

One question in particular that I would like to address came from Amanda:

"Simon aren’t foreign governments even more likely to seize foreigner’s assets since they have no votes to lose?"



[...] Click here to continue reading

Give me liberty or give me boarding pass

I'm in the United States through the end of next week out of necessity... I need to tie up some loose ends (read: taxes!).  Once I get my confession mailed out to Uncle Sam, I'll be out the door once again.

Whenever I am in the United States, I always think deep thoughts about liberty. This place has changed so much since I was a child that it is hardly recognizable.

When people[...] Click here to continue reading

Where to make a fortune in China

If you're an entrepreneur and want to make an absolute fortune, you need to head to Asia.

The last several weeks on the ground here have only reinforced my long-held premise that Asia's economies represent vast, wide open potential.  These economies are growing, and shall continue to grow thanks to solid macroeconomic fundamentals like a large pool of savings, lack of reliance on credit, and dual trade/budget surpluses.

Nowhere is this more clear[...] Click here to continue reading

China’s growth is real

There are a lot of people in the financial community, including a few notable figures, that are highly bearish if not outright suspect of China's growth.

I'm always puzzled by this opinion. I've been to the country several times before and keep regular tabs with influential players and insiders, and my own assessment has always been quite positive on the country.

This trip, though, was specifically designed to check my premise and make[...] Click here to continue reading

Hong Kong Gold

In full disclosure, I am heavily biased.  Hong Kong is one of my favorite cities in the world.

Remember those '7 expat categories?' well, I am definitely a mix of several... maybe all. But Hong Kong ticks all the boxes for me, and always has-- I've been coming here for years and love it more every time.

To give you an example, I like having access to modern conveniences and the availability of[...] Click here to continue reading

Singapore financial overview

I've explored Singapore in the past, but on this particular trip I really wanted to broaden my understanding of the country's legal framework and financial infrastructure. With only 72-hours on the ground, I would have to work fast... so the trip was a whirlwind tour of bankers, lawyers, gold dealers, corporate secretaries, and international tax planners.

Here's the good news: Mission Accomplished. I learned far more than I expected, caught up with old connections,[...] Click here to continue reading

Why Jim Rogers is right about Singapore

Two years ago, Jim Rogers sold his New York home, packed his bags, and left for Singapore.  If you spend no more than three minutes on the ground here, you will see why.

For the internationalist, Singapore is as close to 'perfect' as could possibly be imagined:



1) It's clean. And I mean eat-off-the-streets clean.  Most big cities (Buenos Aires, New York, even Paris) feel like they need a good pressure[...] Click here to continue reading

Gold report: A free gift

I'm writing today from an extraordinarily beautiful place...

The infinity pool where I sit is perched atop an emerald-azul lagoon encased by rocky cliffs and pristine wildlife. It's dusk. and it's quiet.

The word "paradise" would come to mind if I could stop absorbing the beauty long enough to form a complete thought.



I'll give you a few hints... my undisclosed location is in the south Pacific. It's a small island[...] Click here to continue reading

Manila may be for you

Remember the 7 expat categories from last week?

Well I have to say that Manila is paradise for a few of them...

I come through here from time to time on business and it definitely ranks as one of my favorite places in Asia-- cheap, modern, relatively clean, but still with a hint of seedy underbelly to it.

I discussed the financial infrastructure yesterday; until recently, the Philippines had one of the[...] Click here to continue reading

A Chinese Mega-trend

It normally takes me less than five minutes to pack, even for a three week trip.  In this case, though, I'm having a tough time-- too many climate zones in Asia, too many events. I need to cram SCUBA gear, beach clothes, professional attire, and formal wear all into one little suitcase...

... plus leave plenty of room for all the custom suits I'm going to have tailored.

I haven't been watching the[...] Click here to continue reading

Help me prepare for Asia

Sometimes I wake up and don't know what continent I'm on.

I'm serious.  It last happened a week ago when I woke up in the very elegant Cosmo 100 hotel in downtown Bogota... I had to look around the room for clues and within 60 seconds finally realized that I was in Colombia.

Most of the time this happens because of my travel frequency... it can be hectic sometimes-- 2 days here, 3[...] Click here to continue reading