“The loneliness of the expatriate is of an odd and complicated kind, for it is inseparable from the feeling of being free, of having escaped.”
Adam Gopnik (Paris to the Moon)
Tips on How to Be a Successful Expat Retiree
Interviews with Expat Retirees
Despite most Americans’ reluctance to be Fifty-Plus Nomads, most people who make the change are happy with the results. In over three hundred interviews conducted with expat retirees, only a small number of people regretted their decision. Even most who seemed unhappy, I suspect, were unhappy at home. Many expat retirees said that their only regret is that they did not move earlier.
The reasons expat retirees cite for their happiness abroad vary immensely. Yet, everyone agrees that many things they treasure most about living abroad are not the same as they expected when they left home.
The single most common benefit they cite is that they have learned to view the world and themselves differently. The interviewees also report that they have developed a variety of personality traits – especially flexibility and patience—that they did not have before. Many expat retirees, particularly women, even report that they feel that now that they have managed to adapt and enjoy life as expat retirees, they could accomplish anything in their life.
Most expat retirees have been surprised at the quality relationships that they have developed after leaving home. Every interviewee has created a sense of respect and sometimes genuine affection for their new culture. They have also found some of the closest relationships of their lives with other expat retirees.
Tip #1: Go Slow
Though there are many benefits to living abroad, it is not easy to decide to become an expat retiree. Most people consider the logistics (how will we move, where we will move, what will do once we arrive – I will talk about these issues later in this booklet) without considering any psychological motivations. However, most experts on living abroad agree that psychological readiness is the primary ingredient of success.
While there is no magic recipe for success living abroad, After interviewing 300 expat retirees s in various countries and reading dozens of books, certain psychological traits repeatedly appear among successful expat retirees. These are flexibility, openness, patience, a sense of humor, and an adventurous spirit. Without a good mixture of these traits, the daily trials and tribulations of life in another county may tire you out quickly.
In addition, I also found some common factors among the few people (less than 10% of all the people I have interviewed) I have met who have not succeeded in making their new lives abroad work out. These factors are:
- They tried to forge a life abroad that was completely different than that they enjoyed at home, without being prepared for the consequences. Many people who do not successfully transition abroad try to do things abroad that would have been challenging for them to do in the US. The three most common examples of this that I have seen are:
- Couples who retired to another country immediately after spending their lives working and raising children in the US. Many of these people have spent so much time in the US just getting through their daily routines; they had not gotten to know each other well before moving abroad. When these people move abroad, they must adjust to a new culture and learn how to live together all the time. The combination of these two adjustments together often causes so much friction that either the couple decides to move back home or to separate.
- Americans who try to build a house in a new corner of the world without ever doing so in the US. Unless you have worked in the construction trades in the US, the process of building a house in the US is emotionally draining. Add to this the cultural complexities of trying to build a home in another country, and you have a recipe for frustration. (That said, most people like the homes that eventually get built overseas).
- Expats who put together a business abroad in a field that they know nothing about. I have heard several stories of people investing their life’s savings in business that they knew nothing about, only to lose their shirts. (One particularly vivid tale is about a pair of sociologists from the US who went to Costa Rica to invest a half-million dollars in an organic pineapple farm, which failed. How they think they could have succeeded in a business as complicated as a farm with no previous experience or training is a mystery.)
- They acted too quickly. Stories of people who were so captivated by the dream of living abroad, that they did something extremely impetuous and stupid are legion throughout the expat world. It is almost impossible to share a drink with any expat and not hear about some hapless expat fraud victim story. One of my favorites involves the story of some American tourist to Costa Rica who paid his taxicab driver $10,000 for a plot of land based on a contract written on a paper napkin that did not even have the name or contact information of the seller. While most people are not as clueless as this man, hundreds of Americans have bought properties in beach communities throughout Latin America after attending one presentation or looking at a website. Most of these people are told that they could make a fortune by renting the property out and that they are getting in on the ground floor and that if they do not act right away, they will lose the opportunity of a lifetime. While sometimes these developments do turn out to be legitimate (and many people make money in these projects), buying a property sight unseen or after a tequila-filled sales dinner is a risky proposition. Even if the development turns out to be legitimate, how do you know that you would enjoy living there and that you are ready for the trials and joys of living in another country? You also have no recourse if it turns out that you are being sold a bill of goods.
- They were not very functional people in the US before they left. Living in another country tests your psychological, financial, and physical mettle. It is not a good idea to live abroad if you are not able to function well at home. It simply takes too much out of you. On the other hand, many functional people report that one of the best benefits of living abroad is that by testing their mettle, living abroad has helped them grow as a person.
For these reasons, every book and expert about expat life recommends that people spend some serious time in the place they want to live abroad before investing in a property or pulling up their stakes in the US. The amount of time necessary varies from person to person and depends on where you decide to live.
After spending two weeks there, I have heard of people who successfully transitioned to a new life and bought a lovely home in Lake Chapala, Mexico. (Most of these people did a fair amount of research before they got there, however). I also met people who lived in Merida, Mexico, who spent a year exploring the area before committing to their new life there and felt that every day spent researching the place paid off in the long run.
While I do not think there is a magic rule of thumb, I believe that, at a minimum, you should live in a place with a significant expat community for at least a month before you commit to it psychologically or financially. And you should spend at least three months before committing to any place without a significant expat presence. These timeframes are a minimal suggestion; for most people, I would recommend spending three times this amount of time, especially if they have never lived abroad before.
It is impossible to get the necessary information to carve out a new life overseas from the US. You can only find the answers to your questions about buying or renting property; creating a happy, successful life in a new community; setting up a business by spending some time, and talking to many people about their experiences.
While doing this type of research, you will find that every expat has different opinions and experiences and that these experiences and views collectively seem contradictory. Some people find it hard to deal with various perspectives or the relative lack of clear answers to specific questions that this type of research entails. In my experience, if you cannot deal with this type of ambiguity, you should stay in the US anyway.
Tip #2: Appreciate The Daily Joys of Living Abroad
In every interview I have conducted with expats, the things they like best about living abroad are the small, daily rhythms of their new lives abroad. Most people do not wax poetic about the quality, pace, or cost of living abroad, and instead, they talk about the people and places that together weave their daily existence. Here are some of the many examples of the everyday experiences that some of the interviewee’s treasure most:
- One of the expat retirees I interviewed in Lake Chapala reported that his biggest joy was listening to the church bells calling people to prayer daily and watching uniformed kids and their parents happily going to and from school every day.
- One of the most commonly cited joys of expat retirees is the friendliness and helpfulness of locals they interact with daily. Most of these expats even returned time after time to the same banks, restaurants, and taxi drivers simply because these people become friends.
- Expat retirees report that one of the most common benefits of living abroad is the level of close friendships that they make with other expats in their community. Many people feel that the closest friendships that they have ever made are with other Americans in their newfound homes. Some people find these friendships through various social and charitable organizations. Others simply find friendships by hanging out in bars and restaurants frequented by expats.
- I have also met many expat retirees, mostly men, who love living in beach communities in Mexico and Costa Rica where they can engage in their favorite water sports during the day and drink the night away with fellow expats.
- My favorite parts of living abroad–particularly in Latin America – are a variety of trivial things including long friendly discussions with locals about their lives in Spanish; learning about and trying out herbs, medicines, and fruits; and exploring ancient ruins.
- It is much easier to deal with daily health care needs in many expat retiree centers than in the US. Most of my office visits lasted for 45 minutes and costs around $35-45. I can normally get an appointment within a week of my call. In addition, many doctors typically have appointments available at night. Most also spoke good English. (I have had some appointments in Spanish. I suspect these doctors know some English; however, it has not been an issue because I understand and speak Spanish). Thanks to these professionals, I fought off a bout of depression and dealt with sleeping apnea. While I paid for all these services out of pocket, all -except the sleep apnea machine, some tests, and a brain scan- cost considerably less than in the US, and everyone seemed entirely professional.
- The cost of expat retiree living in most ways is around half the cost in the US. Here are some of my costs in Merida: Taxi and Uber rides that in the US cost between $10-40 are $2 to $8 here. Food and restaurant costs average around 60% of the US. House cleaner service is $18 per visit versus $60 in the US. Fruits and vegetables are about half the price as in the US. I spend around $2500 a month and I have no mortgage or rent. (I bought my house with cash in November 2015). I also don`t have a car. With this amount I have a genuinely nice life in Merida. I can:
- Go on short vacations around the Yucatan.
- Eat out occasionally.
- Buy groceries (including some high cost imported luxuries like European cheese and alcoholic beverages).
- Have my own personal chef and assistant (Juan Carlos) and house cleaner (Chucho).
- Take Ubers and taxis anywhere around town and to Progreso (a nearby resort).
- See many medical specialists, pay for prescriptions, tests, etc.
- Attend cultural events and give parties.
- Give 5% of my income to charities in Mexico and the US
- Maintain my 100-year-old home (which requires a lot more work than in the US).
- Pay for:
- Utilities including electricity- I use my air conditioner most of the time from April to November- water, trash, cell phone, internet, Netflix, and landline phone.
- Property taxes.
- Health and home insurance.
- Taxes and social security contributions on my US income.
Even though living abroad can be frustrating, these benefits—when accompanied by a flexible and patient nature– far outweigh the inconveniences for most expat retirees, including myself.
Tip #3: Keep These Caveats in Mind
Once expat retirees settle down, they need to become comfortable and well adjusted.
Apart from dealing with culture shock, many aspects of living in another country are different from moving within the United States. There are, however, some crucial differences between the US and abroad to keep in mind, including:
- Expat retirees will be moving to a small town even if you live in a big city abroad. Even though you may try hard to avoid it, you will become part of whatever expatriate community (note: this may not be limited just to Americans) that exists in your new town. Even in a city as large as Tokyo or Mexico City, you will find yourself becoming part of this expat community. Connecting to these expats is usually beneficial; particularly through activities like volunteering, it can be a wonderful way to adjust to your new life abroad.
- It is not unusual for this small community of expat retirees to quickly resemble a small town in the United States. They get into each other’s business and can be very political in the affairs of their expatriate community. (Usually, they cannot get involved in the politics of the town because they are not citizens, are not part of the communities’ political elite, and do not speak the language fluently.)
- Many expat retirees who choose smaller communities overseas (particularly ones where only a few foreigners live), also find themselves embroiled in the local affairs as well. On the positive side, they get to know their local neighbors and find themselves invited into the locals’ lives for graduations, etc. On the negative side, they not only find themselves under the microscope for violations of American morals but also under the scrutiny of locals for not conforming to their behavioral norms. This can become particularly complicated when American and foreign standards conflict.
- Expat retirees will have more opportunities for growth (and problems) by living abroad than you would get if you moved within the US. Many expat retirees (if they are functional in the US) find that living abroad brings them closer together. Successfully adjusting to another country can be a powerful force for family unity. Living abroad also separates you from familiar routine and the powerful distraction of our consumer driven society (like TV). This separation often helps you to find more time to spend with your loved ones. Expat retirees find little traditions in their host countries that they treasure. (My favorite holiday is now the Day of the Dead; it has been years since I cared much about Halloween). In addition, people find that their stint abroad gives them a wonderful opportunity to reexamine their priorities, a boost to their self-esteem, and even serves as an excellent career move. You meet more people when you live abroad and sometimes you find an excellent business partner or boss that you would never have found at Home.
- If expat retirees have marital or family strife, however, living abroad often has the opposite effect. Since you are free of the distraction of living in the United States (which unhappy people often use to help escape from a troubled relationship), you are forced to deal with your issues in some way. Unfortunately, the result is often divorce, separation, alcoholism, and other destructive behaviors. Be incredibly careful about making life-changing decisions especially during the first year of your stay abroad when everyone suffers some form of culture shock. Make sure that your partner (or kids or job) is the problem, not your unfamiliar environment.
All these comments aside, it is essential to realize that some Americans even experience culture shock just moving between regions of the United States. I have even heard of people who adjusted quickly to life abroad who found that moving from the Northeast to the Southeast was hard!
Tip #4: Expect These Complications
Even as the world gets smaller, living in the US is more convenient than in most other countries. Here are some of the conveniences you may miss abroad:
- Businesses keep more irregular hours than in the States. Many stores close in the afternoon for a two to a three-hour break. Often stores do not keep the hours posted on their entrance very religiously. Many places in the world close on weekends or holidays. I once arrived in Jerusalem at 5 on a Friday at the beginning of Sabbath. Everything in the Jewish section of town was closed. I felt as if I could hear a pin drop. I even had to walk three miles to the Arab section of town to find a place to stay, since no buses or trains were running in the Jewish section.
- Expat retirees will need to spend more time dealing with bureaucracies and paperwork abroad. As a citizen in the US, you do not have to think about complying with visas and residency requirements. Many countries, particularly in Europe, will require you to get licenses and pay taxes (most of these are the same for locals as well) for a myriad of services, like trash service and televisions. Even setting up a bank account, particularly for foreigners, can be a challenge.
- It is hard to get things done for expat retirees abroad than it would be in the US. However, often things are done as well or better than expected. Workers often do not show up when they tell you. Sometimes they do not show up at all. Many times they show up at the last moment. Often several people show up at once. Yet, when people show up, they concentrate much more on enjoying the moment. In the US, people often seem to be more interested in their phones than their visitors.
- Expect to pay more for many services than locals, particularly in developing (third world) countries. Over time, I have developed a strategy for dealing with this issue that works for me, however.
Tip #5 : The Double-Edged Sword of Globalization
Over the past twenty years, the world has become increasingly like the United States. Every day we read articles about the newest Wal-Mart in China or the opening of a new McDonald’s in some far-flung corner of the world like Georgia (the Caucasian Republic). Hollywood movies (and Bollywood movies, made in Mumbai) appear in the smallest towns in Afghanistan.
Globalization is both a blessing and a curse for expat retirees. In many of my Big Blue Marble seminars in the 2000s, when I pointed out that there are now over 700 Wal-Marts in Mexico (it is, by far, the largest retail chain in the country), the universal response was exasperation. All the students seemed sad to hear that they could not escape from the highly commercial American spirit anywhere, and they yearned for a corner of the world that seemed exotic and fresh.
While this exasperation is understandable, I have come to see globalization as more of a blessing than a curse for expats. Here is why:
- American stores provide a good place to find familiar goods at competitive prices (the Wal-Marts in Mexico offer as much variety as they do in the States), and you feel like you have returned to the US when the trials of living in another culture strike. In addition, they make it easy to find products from the US and Asia, particularly electronic goods, in places (like Mexico) where previously these goods were expensive if they could be found at all.
- Globalization has created a strong demand overseas for high quality goods and services. As increased people visit and live in the US or Europe (or, as in the case of Mexico and Central America, have lived in the US), they will demand local services and products that are competitive with what that they find abroad. Global companies will continue to expand their markets to serve this need. (Note: The percentage of people who can afford a Western lifestyle range from 20-25% of the population in a poor country to 80-90% of the populace in Western Europe. This is a huge market even in a poor country. Consider, for example, 20-25% of Mexico’s population (the total population is around 125 million people) is 25-30 million people (about the population of Texas), a market equivalent to the state of Texas.)
- The general level of knowledge and skills overseas is expanding rapidly, particularly in the developing world (third world) and former communist nations. The quality of complex goods and services, such as medical care and high-tech industries will be increasingly competitive overseas. More professionals are educated in places like the US and Western Europe, and they often elect to return to their native countries. In addition, there will be a day when some of the finest schools will be in developing countries. I expect that someday Americans may go to schools like the Indian Institute of Technology in New Delhi as much as Indians elect to go to schools here. In the near future Americans will be taking advantage of this increased level of skill in new, and previously unimaginable ways. I predict, for example, that insurance companies will request that many surgeries and other medical procedures be done overseas both as a cost saving measure and because the quality of these services will be comparable to (if not better than) what Americans will be able to find at their local medical facilities.
- It is easy to find in other countries many of the goods and services that make our life convenient in the US, including: high speed internet access; professionally qualified doctors (many of whom are educated in the US or Europe); decent quality, inexpensive phone services (I pay $45 a month in Mexico for my cell phone, land phone, high-speed internet, and Netflix) ; and restaurants serving ethnic foods from the far corners of the planet. (in fact, one of the biggest changes for expat retirees in my new home in Merida has been the large variety of new Japanese, Korean, Italian. Middle Eastern, Indian restaurants and delicatessans).
As globalization takes hold, I think Americans will discover that living overseas is more accessible than living in the US in the next couple of decades. Expats will be able to enjoy many of the advantages of life overseas: the lack of “customer service hell,” convenient public transportation systems (it is straightforward to find a taxi, for example, even in small towns in much of the world), easy access to the internet through ubiquitous internet cafes, and shopping at local stores (many people worldwide do not have to get in their car to buy a loaf of bread). They will concurrently be able to find familiar US-style goods and services at competitive prices.
A Look at the Shopping Opportunities Available in Larger Cities Worldwide
I am always amazed at the worldwide reach of many multinational firms. You can find familiar companies and services scattered throughout the large cities of every country on Earth. Some places have so many internationally recognized firms that it is almost difficult to distinguish specific suburban communities overseas from those in the US.
Take, for example, the North Side of Mérida. In just the six years I have lived here, six major shopping malls opened out catering to wealthy Mexicans escaping crime in Central Mexico and expats. When I first visited thirty-five years ago, Mérida effectively ended where northern Merida begins today. Today, Northern Mérida is a sprawling suburban-like community with an astonishing range of multinational recognized businesses. I have noted all the following firms:
- PF Changs, Boston Pizza, TGIF, Texas Roadhouse, Carl’s Jr., Krispy Kreme, Little Caesars, and other similar US restaurant and fast-food chains.
- Office Depot.
- Star Medico and El Farol Mayab, high-rise private hospitals
- Four Walmarts, two Costcos, and one Sam’s Club
- A couple PetMarts
- Home Depot
- A wide range of international banks including HSBC and Scotia bank. (In addition, many banks with local names are owned by big international banks. For example, Banamex is owned by Citibank(and gas low ATM fees for Citbank card holders).
- A couple of multiplexes, Cineplaza (showing several American movies with English subtitles).
- Ethnic restaurants representing Italian, Peruvian, Japanese, Chinese, Mexican, Vietnamese, French, Argentinean, and Thai cuisines.
- German and Italian delicatessans.
- Several large chain hotels including Hyatt and Best Western
- A wide range of imported furniture and gardening stores; spa and beauty shops; and upper end auto dealers (in fact, I saw many high-end, restored classic in the window of one dealership).
Merida is typical of similar communities clustered in large metro areas throughout Mexico and Central America. (Many Mexican cities have even more international firms because Merida is relatively small (12th largest city in Mexico)- 1.1 million people (about the population of Rhode Island) compared to places like Mexico City with 18 million people (about the population of New York)).
If you cannot find something you want in a place like Mérida, wait a while. It will come soon. Asia and Latin America have witnessed a significant proliferation of global firms. Almost every good-sized city worldwide will have every chain you will find in the US in the future. (Many locals in Mérida have lived or traveled in the US and, thus, are familiar with our chain stores).
Tip #6: Meet Other Expat and Locals
One of the most common expat retirees’ blessings is the ease that people form lasting friendships.
Most expat retirees find it hard to feel lonely in their new community. In fact, rather than complaining about the lack of opportunities to meet people, I have heard more expat retirees say they had to learn to say ‘no’ to invitations.
However, sometimes it takes time to find expat retirees in a community. Here are some ways to find and develop friendships in expat retiree communities:
- Every place I have ever been with more than 100 expat retirees has a couple of circuits of restaurants and bars that people frequent daily. Usually there are two basic circuits: one is for men who seek out drinking partners (and sometimes local female companionship) and another is for couples and single women who congregate in places where the food is good and ambience comfortable. Hanging out in these circuits can be a clever way to get useful information about living in a community. Like many other expat community, the first stop on this expat circuit is an Irish bar- Hennessey’s- on Paseo Montejo. I have found such bars in some of the most unexpected corners of the world including Tallinn, Estonia).
- Most communities with expat retirees have a local community center. In Mérida, it is the English Language Library and in Lake Chapala, Mexico it is the Lake Chapala Society. In Merida, the English Langage Library sponsors weekly English-Spanish coversation club, and winter season wine tastings, house tours, concerts, and lectures; whereas the Lake Chapala Society sponsors about one hundred such clubs.
- In my experience, the single best way to connect to other expats is through volunteering with a charitable organization. These organizations provide great social opportunities, along with an opportunity to interact with the local people. Every expat community I have seen – even small ones like Granada, Nicaragua– have great charitable organizations. In Merida, the most impressive such organization is Yucátan Outreach Services.
- Read guidebooks and newspaper: Almost any good tourist guidebook (i.e., Lonely Planet, Moon Handbook, and Let us Go) will mention expat-friendly restaurants and nightlife options. In addition, if there is a local English language paper, they will list social clubs and activities throughout the community. Once you go to a couple of these social clubs and expat hangouts, you will quickly find people there will refer you to the other expat organizations and will be more likely to invite you to their homes than they would be in the States.
Tip #7: Understand How the Rest of the World Sees the USA
It is important to remember that the US is the most powerful empire that the world has ever known. We are very reluctant to be an empire, and thus we send a mixed message both to ourselves and the rest of the world.
On the one hand, we are generous and democratic; on the other, we meddle in the affairs of other countries and support cruel dictatorships. We profess our allegiance to individual economic freedom, yet our economic policies can make it hard for foreign companies to sell goods on our soil.
Stereotypes of America (and Americans) reflect these mixed messages. Some are kind; some are negative. Yet, like many stereotypes, they contain a grain of truth.
Here are some of the stereotypes about Americans that I have encountered while traveling overseas. It would help if you understood that these stereotypes exist and figured out how to deal with these images. (Note: I believe that the best way to address these generalizations is to avoid criticizing other countries while you are on foreign soil)
- Loud: We dress (with large, almost phallic, cameras, Hawaiian shirts, and ill-fitting Bermuda shorts) and talk loudly. If we do not think we are being understood rather than acknowledging that we are talking to someone who is learning English (in other words, slowing down, enunciating clearly, and using more simple terminology, free from idioms) we simply talk louder as if the locals are deaf.
- Generous: We leave generous tips. We care about the poor. We are willing to put ourselves into wars (admittedly often misguidedly) to, as Woodrow Wilson so well expressed it, “save the world for democracy.” We give to other countries in the event of a serious disaster. (Note: on a per capita basis, the US government is one of the LEAST generous countries in the Western world. As the 2004 tsunami disaster showed, the Europeans and Japanese are always more generous than we are, particularly if you consider that we are the third most populated country on Earth.)
- Free: Our economic and political systems allow us to make our own decisions. We care about preserving the rights of individuals in our own country. This freedom enables people from around the world to prosper if they immigrate or study between our shores. (Note: Most Americans assume that it is easy to immigrate to the US The truth is that it is almost impossible for someone to immigrate here from Eastern Europe or the developing world unless they have family ties, including a marriage to a US citizen, or a very highly sought-after skill.)
- Overly friendly at first but cold and impersonal once you get to know us: Much of the planet is surprised how willing we are to talk to strangers and to even offer to put people up in our homes. They are surprised that we often do not act on our promises. They also find that we are hard to get to know because we have short attention spans.
- Imperialistic and arrogant: Our companies and government are often believed to use the local people to their benefit without adding anything of value to the country. Most of the world does not understand how we can say that we are involved in Iraq for humanitarian reasons and yet we virtually ignore crises in Sudan, Liberia, and Ethiopia. They suspect that our main reason for involvement is economic (oil) and political (domination of the Middle East).
- Unsophisticated: Many people are astonished by how little the average American seems to know about the world. I have even heard foreigners complain that they “know more about American history and culture than the average American.” Much of the world’s elite are shocked by our poor manners and sloppy dress. They do not understand how rich people can look and act like paupers.
- Naïve. Much of the planet faults us for believing that most people are innately good. They believe that this is a naïve perception.
- Some foreigners maintain, Americans hold the rest of the planet in contempt. We are famous for reminding locals continuously that we are richer and smarter than they are. We also are known for proselytizing the benefits of our way of life before we take any time to learn about foreign cultures.
- Over the past 30 years, the US has been accused overseas of using the World Bank and other international lending institutions to force countries to move from a neo-socialist to a neo-liberal economic policy (meaning without governmental restrictions and with open free trade with other countries). While these economic changes may help people overall, the demise of the state has caused economic heartache for much of the world leading to the rise of many right-wing nationalist-populist and neo-socialist governments worldwide.
- Many foreigners maintain the US has used these instruments to force people to adopt democracies. Though democracy allows many of the vital ingredients for a dynamic economy to develop—such as creativity and the free interchange of ideas—it is not always seen as a force for good to many people. Many countries have experienced a marked increase in crime since democracy came into being. (Mexico, for example, has gone from being a country with an exceptionally low kidnapping rate 30 years ago into the country with the second-largest number of kidnappings in the world.) In addition, just because someone is democratically elected does not mean that they will support institutions that allow a dynamic economy or society to develop.
All these stereotypes have some truth. I have seen many Americans who conform to these stereotypes, particularly overseas. However, I have mostly seen intelligent, sophisticated, worldly, and sensitive Americans on the road.
Want a Distinct Perspective on American Culture Other than the Standard Media Images?
The Culture Shock Guide to the USA is one of the most thorough and thought-provoking editions of that series. Buy it to discover a well-balanced view of our quirks and strengths.
One of the most enjoyable looks at American culture I have read in a long time is Funny in Farsi by Firoozeh Dumas. Firoozeh, an Iranian American (Note: I knew the author vaguely in high school. We attended the same school in Newport Beach, California), captures a lot of funny stories about her family’s integration into American society that present a kind yet revealing, portrait of both life in the United States and the beauty of the Iranian culture.
You have found a place you love and know you are ready to determine if you can live there. Here are several things you can do to ensure that your new home will be the place of your dreams rather than a nightmare.
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