Consider these 5 steps in creating your own ‘Plan B’

In May 1788, Thomas Jefferson wrote one of the most prescient statements of his career:

“The natural progress of things is for liberty to yield, and government to gain ground.”

Jefferson was living in Paris at the time serving as the Minister to France at a time when the United States was still in its infancy.

It was during this period that France descended into violent revolution. And Jefferson had a front[...] Click here to continue reading

This is the only -no risk- way I know about to guarantee a 20% return

October 24, 2014
Santiago, Chile

I'm going to make you a deal.

For the rest of your life, I'm going to be your silent partner. You're going to pay me 20% of everything you ever make. Forever.

In return, I'm not going to do anything. I won't add value to your life or your business. In fact, I'm actually going to be destructive.

For the rest of your life, I'm going[...] Click here to continue reading

The Worst Investors in the World

July 6, 2010
Berlin, Germany

Last Friday, I read about how the US workforce shrank by over 650,000 in June, one of the sharpest contractions ever. Private sector hiring was also less than expected, suggesting that joblessness in the US will remain sluggish.

Always ready to spin a bad story, US politicians immediately began heralding the jobs data as clear evidence that the tide was turning, that the US economy is headed in[...] Click here to continue reading

Finding a cancer vaccine in Barcelona

June 24, 2010
Barcelona, Spain

At the spur of the moment, I decided to fly to Barcelona yesterday to attend the 'Fiesta de San Juan'.  It's common in many parts of Europe and Latin America to celebrate the official, astrological first day of summer, which also happens to be the longest day (and shortest night) of the year.

In Barcelona, it's an all night party that includes beach bonfires and a hell of[...] Click here to continue reading

An easy way to bank in the Channel Islands

June 22, 2010
Oxford, England

In our daily conversations, we talk a lot about planting multiple flags-- this is the practice of diversifying sovereign risk in order to protect or asses and our assets.

After all, sovereign risk is the greatest risk we face today as investors, entrepreneurs, professionals, and free individuals. Governments have absolute authority to seize, commandeer, or otherwise control any asset of their choosing, including ourselves, and they can back[...] Click here to continue reading

What the World Cup tells us about multiple flags

June 21, 2010
London, UK

While I have been traveling around Latin America and Europe for the last few weeks, there has been one constant in my travels: World Cup football.

I'm not a huge fan of the sport, but as an amateur athlete I appreciate the excitement and spectacle of international competition, particularly one that draws billions of eyeballs. Watching Brazil's victory in Rio was definitely an amazing experience, as was watching[...] Click here to continue reading

The next richest man in the world is Brazilian

June 17, 2010
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

I'm dashing off to the airport this afternoon to catch my flight to Europe... but I wanted to leave you with a few final notes about Brazil.

First, to properly set your expectations, Brazil is not poor-- it's not some third world country where everyone is grateful that foreigners have arrived to sprinkle their pocket change. A typical university graduate in Brazil, for instance, can expect[...] Click here to continue reading

The biggest reason to consider Brazil

June 14, 2010
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

It's nice to be back in Brazil again... if you haven't been to this country, I highly recommend that you check it out.

Brazil is one of the largest countries on earth in terms of both land mass and population (over 200 million); consequently, there is tremendous diversity. The capital city of Brasilia is completely different than the tourism hub of Rio de Janeiro, which is[...] Click here to continue reading

The future is bright in this country

June 2, 2010
Washington, DC

A few days ago, Colombian voters went to the polls for the first round of their quadrennial presidential elections. For many, it will be the most important decision of the new century thus far.

The current President, Alvaro Uribe, leaves office later this summer after two consecutive terms in office. He is legally barred from serving a third term. Uribe is regarded as the nation's savior by many[...] Click here to continue reading

Crime and Safety around the world

June 1, 2010
Undisclosed Location

I had a really great long weekend in Chicago (hence the day off yesterday) and was fortunate enough to meet up with a couple of very interesting subscribers. President Obama was even in town, and the entire city was in a heightened state of security.

Regardless of the President's presence, though, there were 30 shootings in the city over the weekend... which is enough to make anyone scratch[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: Advice for a young man, and more

May 21, 2010
Quad Cities, IA, USA

It's been a lovely few days here in America's heartland... I've been able to catch up with some of my friends, but to be honest with you, I'm aching to get back on a plane and get out here.

I've decided to wait it out for another 2-weeks; there is an Atlas 400 gathering in New York City on June 4th, and a lot of[...] Click here to continue reading

A good reason to head to New Zealand

May 20, 2010
Quad Cities, IA, USA

The New Zealand government just announced something that I find rather surprising... but a step in the right direction. Concerned about debt levels, both public and private, they've announced changes to the tax code which encourage savings and investment, and discourage consumption.

Specifically, the government is planning measures which cut and simplify income tax rates, ranging from 10.5% to 33% (down from as high as 38%).[...] Click here to continue reading

Tell me what’s holding you back

I generally don't spend very much time in the US.

I think there are more desirable places out there... and to me, the US is just like any other country in decline like Italy or Spain-- I really enjoy it as a tourist, I just don't care enough for the politics or media to stay for long periods of time.

That's one of the benefits of being a permanent traveler with no[...] Click here to continue reading

The real risk in Thailand

May 17, 2010
Undisclosed location

You've probably seen some clips on the news about the political current unrest in Thailand, and some headlines like "CHAOS IN THAILAND!"

These headlines are inaccurate. Thailand, the country, is not in chaos. The political unrest is taking place in a small section of Bangkok, and this is where the chaos is... actually, it's more like a war zone.

In the rest of the country, though, it's[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: A multiple flags overview, no more euro, a no brainer, Italians in Panama

May 14, 2010
Undisclosed location

I want to start off today by once again thanking you for all the well-wishing emails after my operation this week. I read through a large backlog of email last night, and I was truly humbled by all the positive energy and goodwill out there. Thank you.

With that, I'd like to jump in to this week's questions:

Phil says, "Simon, I sincerely appreciate the info contained[...] Click here to continue reading

Which countries are at risk, which countries are safe from a dollar crisis

May 6, 2010
Undisclosed Location

Most people don't realize how many countries out there are dollarized.

In some countries, like El Salvador, Panama, Palau, Ecuador, etc. the US dollar officially circulates in the economy. In others, like Cambodia and Zimbabwe, the US dollar is the de facto currency, which means that they officially have their own currency, but US dollars are commonly used and accepted for everyday purchases.

Moreover, in other[...] Click here to continue reading

Answering your questions about Ecuador

April 23, 2010
Quito, Ecuador

It has been a whirlwind week this time around in Ecuador; I've been to just about every corner of the country, inspecting property, making new legal, banking, and real estate contacts, and cementing old ones.

In short, it's been an incredibly productive trip. Most importantly, I picked up on some really valuable immigration leads that I plan on sharing with you soon once I test it out myself...[...] Click here to continue reading

Six reasons to consider Ecuador

April 20, 2010
Cuenca, Ecuador

Ecuador is not one of those places on everyone's radar. In fact, when I recently announced that I would be returning to Ecuador, I received a handful of subscriber emails like this one:

"Why are you wasting your time in that communist money pit? [SB: strange choice of words...]"

Clearly, Ecuador suffers from a similar reputational stigma as Colombia, and this keeps that majority of gringos away.[...] Click here to continue reading

Important information about capital controls

April 19, 2010
Quito, Ecuador

I don't have to tell you that world governments are collectively pushing hard against people who abusively hide money overseas.

Governments' primary motivation at the moment is to make sure that no one is evading their tax obligations; for now, they don't care much if you pay taxes on your income, and then transfer after-tax earnings overseas.

In a way, though, their offshore crackdowns have become a[...] Click here to continue reading

This place may be your Shangri-La

April 13, 2010
Medellin, Colombia

Just about anyone who has been to Medellin, Colombia in the past 5 years will tell you that the city is about as perfect as it gets. I'm one of them.

Travel there yourself and you'll find that it's no understatement.

Medellin is one of Colombia's largest cities, set in a picturesque Andean valley that could probably pass for Austria on a warm summer day. Because[...] Click here to continue reading

Questions: H.I.R.E. Hoopla, Panama without the Canal, cheap retirement, more

April 2, 2010
Panama City, Panama

It's been a great week so far in Panama. Each time I come back to this country I become even more sure in my conviction that Panama has a bright future.

For the next few days, though, I am going to set aside market forecasts and expatriation strategies... you see, my friends from the Atlas 400 club are starting to arrive, and I'm looking forward to a[...] Click here to continue reading

7 hard truths about New Zealand

April 1, 2010
Panama City, Panama

No place is perfect. There's not a single country on the planet that is a total paradise, so prospective expats need to be willing to make compromises and trade-offs.

Naturally, it's much better to be well-informed in advance about the challenges and limitations about a particular country... it's easy to tout the positives, but finding objective information about a country's negative aspects can be difficult to find.
[...] Click here to continue reading

7 reasons why you should consider Malaysia

March 22, 2010
Hong Kong, SAR

If you have been considering planting a flag somewhere in Asia, I think you should really consider Malaysia. I briefly discussed the country in Friday's Q&A updates, but I wanted to dedicate a full letter on the subject because I really think the country is worthy of your attention.

1) Malaysia is cheap... it's one of the cheapest countries in the world, actually, on par with the[...] Click here to continue reading

The best places in the world to meet like-minded expats

March 3, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

One of reasons that a lot of people are hesitant about making a move overseas is because they're concerned about being isolated. The world can be a cruel place, especially to newbies.

Sure there are the nomads out there who want to be left alone with their little slice of paradise in the middle of nowhere... but most people crave some human interaction from time to time, especially[...] Click here to continue reading

Second passports and citizenship

February 23, 2010
Pattaya, Thailand

Throughout our conversations, we have routinely discussed the importance of planting multiple flags.

If you live, work, bank, invest, own a business, and hold your assets in the same country of your citizenship, you are putting all of your eggs in one basket, and once that basket heads in the wrong direction, you can kiss your assets goodbye.

There are nearly infinite possibilities that pose substantial risks[...] Click here to continue reading

Why you don’t want to go at it alone

Blair is in her early 40s from Southern California.  She's intelligent, fairly aggressive, and an experienced financial executive at a mid-sized manufacturing company. In total, she has about $250,000 in savings, some of which she used to buy property in Panama.

She is single with no children and has been traveling to Panama to plant flags since 2006. She plans on (semi) retiring there in another 5-years and has unfortunately learned a lot of[...] Click here to continue reading

Panama vs. Costa Rica

January 27, 2010
El Valle, Panama

For a future expat, there are three places worth seriously considering in Central America-- Panama, Nicaragua, and Costa Rica.  Much is written about Panama, and rightfully so; the country is the most stable, economically liberal, and business oriented.

Not to be completely ignored, though, Costa Rica has its own merits that are certainly worth an honorable mention.

First, to understand Costa Rica, you need to get[...] Click here to continue reading

Go to this city if you want to disappear

January 18, 2010

Tangier, Morocco

If you're on the run and looking for a place to lay low, one city you should consider is Tangier.

You have to start with a bit of history-- as far back as the days of the Phoenicians and Carthaginians, Tangier was an important commercial center due to its location at the entrance of the Mediterranean.

For the next 2,000 years, the city was conquered by[...] Click here to continue reading

How to avoid living in a police state

If I have been too subtle in the past, let me be absolutely clear this afternoon: the time to do something, the time to take action to safeguard your future and your families livelihood, is NOW.

I'm more impassioned than usual this morning... and with reason.  Reluctantly, I tuned in to Team Obama's press briefing last night about the ongoing saga of the Nigerian underwear bomber.  Obama's is clearly trying to cultivate a fear[...] Click here to continue reading

How to value foreign property

January 6, 2010

Reporting from: Estepona, Spain

I'm sitting now in lovely Estepona, Spain-- a coastal town on the Mediterranean that experienced a massive property boom over the last decade.

The community I'm in is anchored by a five-star Ritz Carlton golf resort, and surrounded on all sides by the mountains or the ocean.  Ancient military tacticians marveled at the defensibility of such a position and likely did not envision it being[...] Click here to continue reading

Multiple Flags Overview

Reporting from: Malaga, Spain

I do not have tremendous faith in world 'leaders' (as ridiculous a moniker as that is to use); last month's debacle in Copenhagen only further underscored how perverse and ineffective the existing political process is, and everyone is really starting to see it.

The Social Contract is deteriorating rapidly, and in the end, the one thing that you can count on is that people will ultimately do what they[...] 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

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

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

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