Lifestyle Design

Saving your savings overseas

I can barely type today... I'm actually one-handing it this morning. Why? Because my other hand is thrust victoriously in the air celebrating the renomination of Comrade Bernanke to his post at the Federal Reserve.

Yes, the man who has overseen the most unprecedented expansion of the central bank's balance sheet in history is going to get a few more years in the saddle.

As you know, I normally don't comment too much[...] Click here to continue reading

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[...] Click here to continue reading

Black Paper Launch— Plus, Answering your Questions..

I received quite a few interesting comments this week (many of which I kept private at the request of the sender).  Remember, posting a comment to the site is the best way to reach me: I read all of them personally. Email goes to support staff.

- SOLDIERS IN THE STREETS-

Kelly asked a great question on Tuesday-- is there any country in the world that has the total package?

Naturally, this[...] Click here to continue reading

To Bail, or Bail out… that is the question.

I'm really disturbed by what's happening in Alabama.

You've probably heard-- Jefferson County/Birmingham's board of knucklehead politicians has managed to drive local finances into the ground over the last few years. Faced with unserviceable debt and a string of large losses from complex derivative instruments, the county is effectively bankrupt.

The good news is that the government is being forced to make deep, deep budget cuts, including 'essential services.'  Personally, I have no[...] Click here to continue reading

You are safe in Colombia

I know what you're thinking.

"Why the hell would he be in Colombia?"

I get that a lot.  The vast majority of the world only knows two things about Colombia-- drugs and terrorism (though in all fairness, 'one man's freedom fighter...')

People recall hearing about kidnappings, lawlessness, and of course that scene from Clear and Present Danger... that must be the reality in Colombia, right?

Wrong. To think that cartels and[...] Click here to continue reading

Cost of Living in Bogota, Colombia

A sample of basic household items in case you are wondering what is the cost of living in Bogota, Colombia--

All prices have been converted to US Dollars at 2,000 Colombian Pesos (COP) per dollar.

Cost of living in Bogota, Colombia as of August 2009 @ 2,000 Colombian Pesos (COP) / Dollar

Apples, 6-pack: COP 5,210 = $2.60
Bananas: COP 700/500g = $0.31 / lb
Beef, flatiron: COP 13,800/kg = $3.13/lb
Beef,[...] Click here to continue reading

Weekly updates

Greetings! I'm going to dive right into the questions from this week:

== TRANSPORTING GOLD OUT OF THE COUNTRY ==

I appreciate all the comments and anecdotes in response to Tuesday's letter about my run-in with TSA. . Based on the questions I received, there are a couple of things that should be clarified:

1) In most cases (see below), you don't have to tell the US government that you're leaving the[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama’s real estate market

It was a nice enough place... about 1500 square feet, 3 bedrooms, nicely furnished, and even had a sliver of an ocean view. Best of all, it wasn't in gringo-ville.

"How much rent are they asking?" I posed to the real estate agent who was fawning closely on my heels. He reeked of tobacco and his alligator skin shoes still seemed to breathing.

Pausing for a moment to review his mental inventory, he[...] Click here to continue reading

The Capital of Latin America

For Latin Americans, Miami has been a lot of things-- the major financial center, the cultural Mecca, prime tourist destination, the business capital, and a symbol of international success.

The city made its riches and opportunities available to all nationalities, reaching the point during the most recent real estate boom where one could become financially successful and never speak a word of English.

Truly, Miami was a frontier island between North and South,[...] Click here to continue reading

Weekly update

I'm taking a quick break in Miami to see friends and family before heading down south again to dive head first into a large, complicated, and very exciting business dealing... so next week I will be writing to you from Panama once again.

While I am in Panama I plan on putting the finishing touches on the Black Paper that I have mentioned before-- this will be a "who's who" list of banks, brokers,[...] Click here to continue reading

“Theirs”

Did you ever notice that when you put the words "The" and "IRS" together it spells "Theirs" ? How appropriate.

One of "Theirs" initiatives that I pay attention to is its voluntary disclosure program. This program provides steps for people who have not reported overseas income (and bank accounts) to come clean without criminal penalty.

Recently I found out that more people have come forward to confess their sins under the program guidelines[...] Click here to continue reading

My China insider

It's no secret that China is already starting to dominate the world economy.

Understanding the country, its culture, and its economic infrastructure, however, is a daunting task, particularly for outsiders.  Official reports and media accounts are hardly worth basing an investment opinion on-- it's critical to have boots on the ground.

I have spent a fair amount of time in the country and built up a list of valuable contacts who live and[...] Click here to continue reading

Cost effective first class travel

I'm going to let you in on a few secrets.

I've learned through a great deal of experience over the last several years about travel.  People often ask me about my travel habits because I do so much of it... and one of the common questions I get is "How much do you spend each year on travel???"

Honestly... quite a bit. But I recognize that my travel breadth and frequency is abnormal. [...] Click here to continue reading

Dispatch notes from Poland

Travel mishaps occur from time to time... though the airline completely losing my reservation is a new one for me.

I was all set to leave Europe a few days ago when a rather unfortunate 'booking oversight' derailed my plans for spending the weekend in New York City.  In this case, I was 'stuck' in Poland.

Not to worry-- I realized at the airport that, despite having spent over a week here in[...] Click here to continue reading

Storing gold in Austria

As much as I love the city, I'm here in Vienna today on a mission-- gold storage.  After yesterday's missive about Panamanian safety deposit boxes, I thought it appropriate to follow-up with a couple of strong solutions for offshore gold storage, and Austria certainly fits the bill.

First of all, if you love mountains, you definitely need to check out Austria. The Austrian Alps command some of the most breathtaking views in the world,[...] Click here to continue reading

Important Panama banking update

Something is afoot in Panama that I want to tell you about.

Several banks, including Banvivienda and HSBC, have recently announced that they will discontinue renting safety deposit boxes.  Customers who currently rent boxes will have until the end of the year to vacate their belongings.

Furthermore, some banks that formerly used to work with US customers, including Banco General, Credicorp, and Global Bank, will no longer open accounts for Americans unless they[...] Click here to continue reading

About that Croatian commando…

Remember that Croatian commando-turned-entrepreneur from dinner last night?

Well it turns out he's an aerobatic stunt pilot too... he's got an old Soviet-made aircraft that is only designed to do one thing-- be as unstable as possible. It does the trick.

This morning around 11am Central European Time, we met at a private airfield outside of Zagreb. He strapped me in to the cockpit, took me up to about 2,500 feet, and proceeded[...] Click here to continue reading

A late dinner in Zagreb

Croatia, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful countries in the world, and the drive down here has been spectacular.  From Budapest, the drive to Croatia took me south along highway M7, which arcs gently across Hungary's rolling hills and hot springs.

But what brings me here is not the beauty of the drive, nor the sun-seeking Europeans on vacation... I came to town to visit a friend of mine who has[...] Click here to continue reading

The Truth About Nationalized Healthcare

Nationalized healthcare doesn't work, and I'll tell you why:

I hold as my personal mantra in life that governments screw up everything they touch... and this goes for all governments, not just the United States Congress.

As I travel the world looking for great opportunities, I always try to understand the quality and efficiency of the local healthcare system. Sometimes I even go through it myself.  My conclusion? Most, if not all public[...] Click here to continue reading

What I am doing in Poland

Poland-- it's a beautiful, inexpensive country with a stable economy, gorgeous women, and fantastic food... so what am I doing here exactly?

Looking for citizenship.

The country has been dominated, broken apart, and put back together so many times, Poland actually has multiple nationality laws on the books for former migrants, refugees, and their descendants to reclaim citizenship.  The government recognizes that many Poles were coerced to give up their citizenship, or they[...] Click here to continue reading

What’s your breaking point?

You probably know the story of the boiling frog.

The premise is simple.  If a frog is placed in a pot of water that is already boiling, it will immediately sense danger and jump out, relatively unscathed. If it is placed in a pot of cool water, the frog will happily stay in the pot while it is slowly heated to a boil.  By the time the frog realizes the danger, it is too[...] Click here to continue reading

Profit From Panama Canal Expansion

Earlier today, amid much pomp and fanfare, the Panama Canal Authority (ACP) opened the sealed bids for the canal expansion project. Audience members looked on eagerly like it was the Academy Award for best picture...  The lowest bidder? A consortium led by Italy's Impregilo, ringing in for a cool $3.12 billion.

Wait, wait, not so fast.  The contract has yet to be awarded and the ACP has a point system that factors both price[...] Click here to continue reading

Six “Must Do’s” to Maximize Your Freedom

I'll tell you why Honduras is really starting to trouble me... I have a few friends left at Joint Task Force- Bravo stationed at Soto Cano Air Base about 50 miles from the capital city of Tegucigalpa, and the situation appears quite tense.

Officially the 500+ US military forces on the ground have been ordered back onto the base and to stay out of sight for the time being... SOUTHCOM, the military command that[...] Click here to continue reading

Lithuania: There will be blood

Yesterday I wrote to you about Lithuania and all the great things it has to offer-- it's inexpensive, has second citizenship, a low flat tax, and beautiful women.  These are all great reasons to visit from time to time (and obtain a passport if you are so fortunate), but today I want to tell you why you should not invest any money here, at least not for now.

I don't trust Russia.

Last[...] Click here to continue reading

Lithuania: the good

About a month ago I was attending a private, invitation-only meeting with some of the finest unconventional minds in finance. We gathered for three days at a luxurious oceanside resort on the Maryland coast to have an open exchange of ideas, debate our philosophies, and play poker 'til dawn.  Lobo Tigre, editor of the International Speculator and my former colleague at Casey Research, approached me with an interesting proposition on the last day.

For[...] Click here to continue reading

Argentina is still doomed

Argentina is still doomed.

If you don't know Argentine politics well, I'll give you a quick history: the country has vast natural resource wealth and was once one of the richest in the world. It has been serially run by a group of incompetents ever since the Perons first came to power after World War II.  After years of military dictatorship, several revolutions,  and a crippling financial crisis, Argentina has never regained its status[...] Click here to continue reading

Anarchists in Helsinki

This always happens to me.

Whether in Buenos Aires, Beirut, Rome, Bangkok, Zurich, or now Helsinki, I always seem to get caught up in some sort of protest.  To be honest, I love protests... I think it's great when people finally have enough of the system and demonstrate their unwillingness to continue going along with government policies. This happens frequently in other parts of the world, and the less developed the country, the more[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama’s Achilles Heel

We have a really intelligent group here.

All the comments from yesterday, plus the dozens of private emails I received, underscore one of the big reasons why I do this in the first place-- to build a community for like-minded, sharp, successful people who are lions instead of sheep... bold winners who think outside the box and take action instead of find excuses.

The comments were spot-on, even the one about the massage[...] Click here to continue reading

More from Panama

I've always loved the women here.

There I said it. I'm only human.

To be honest, this is one of the great things about living free overseas, and I don't just mean romance; when I'm outside of the United States, I have access to a completely different caliber of people-- both expats and locals.

The expats that I come across on my travels have all been exceptional individuals who share a common[...] Click here to continue reading

Cuba Part 1

"NO Viet Cong ever called me nigger."

Mohammed Ali's controversial words succinctly expressed his conscientious objection to the Vietnam War. More importantly, though, his words underscored a critical point-- the free-thinking individual does not necessarily share the same enemies as his government.

To this day, I cannot recall a single Cuban who has volleyed harsh word or deed against me… so despite the US government’s nonsensical, ongoing diplomatic war against its island neighbor,[...] Click here to continue reading

Lifestyle Design

Yes, you've been lied to.



No matter who you are or where you were born, many "rules" and expectations are fully ingrained into your life experience.   These "rules" and expectations dictate everything in your life.  For example,

How to become successful and what success looks like
How to behave in social environments
How to raise your children
Who your God is
Who your authority figures are
What's valuable and what isn't
much, much[...] Click here to continue reading

This Trillionaire is FLAT Broke…

William “Bud” Post is flat broke.

He has dealt with lawsuits, jail time, bankruptcy, and now lives on food stamps. It seems strange to think that he used to be a multi-millionaire… but it’s true. In 1988 he won $16.2 million from the Pennsylvania lottery (valued at $30 million in today’s increasingly worthless money), and Bud became drunk on his own wealth.

You’ve probably heard similar stories—the struggling, working class lottery hopeful hits[...] Click here to continue reading