Go South Old Man

August 22, 2005

Why have I moved from checking the pulse of Asia to revisiting South America? And why Brazil?

Brazil is categorized in investing circles as a developing country. Which means it’s a poor country with lousy infrastructure and unfathomable corruption OR it is a country overflowing with natural resources and on its way to becoming a first world country.

Brazil is both, the former being a legacy of its past, and the latter its growing reality. From developing country to an emerging one. While America has focused post 9-11 on security and imperializing Iraq, Brazil has been busy setting up a partnership with China – one based on supplying the world’s growing super power with raw materials.

Why should Americans consider moving to Brazil?

Europeans rediscovered Brazil and have been moving and investing there in droves, most noticeably over the past five years. In fact, so many Portuguese have bought up Northeast Brazilian land lately, that lawmakers in Brasilia are trying to pass laws limiting the amount of Brazilian land that can be purchased by the former colonizers.

In Brazil I repeatedly met with surprise when people learned that I was American. So few Americans visit Brazil, much less live there. Yet, certain regions are filled with French, others with Portuguese., and although I didn’t make it there, Southern Brazil is full up with Germans.

Sixty-nine percent of North America’s population is between the ages of 40 and 59. That’s a lot of aging baby boomers who are or will soon be concluding that their dream of owning a home is a pipedream. And that they’re going to have to continue working like indentured servants just to stay even.

There is hope though, that by moving across the U.S. border, an American’s financial picture can brighten considerably. Not only can one buy a house, but they’ll have access to quality health care, delicious fresh food, clothing, a warm, laid-back environment – and still have money left over to squirrel away in savings! The cost of living in America has soared, while the benefits of being an American dwindled.

I’m betting that American zenophobia will have dissipated within the next five years – after most of America’s corporations have taken many of their (American) employees with them. As anyone who reads or watches the news knows, this process is well underway.

While immigrants chasing the American dream will continue to stream across North America’s borders, I believe that aging Americans who have tired of the game, not to mention gone broke, will head South. Younger ones will follow as business opportunities and a better life beckon them.

Case in point: Huge numbers of retirees travel regularly over our northern and southern borders to buy medications, to have dental work done, to have surgery, to buy second homes. How long will it be until they decide it’s cheaper and easier just to move acrossthe border? And how about the number of major corporations moving to foreign countries, and the jobs opening in those countries. How long will it take young Americans to realize that an American salary goes 10 times further in a foreign country?

Planned foreign communities are popping up in exotic locations. Foreign banks are beginning to offer mortgage financing abroad. And hey, consider the sheer numbers of expatriates who have already retired to Mexico and Costa Rica.

The mass migration has not only begun, it is in full swing. “Go west young man!” has become “Go South Old Man.”

I am back in Brazil to meet the expatriates who have already arrived. To get a feel for the land, the community, the culture, the politics, the economy, and ultimately to find out if Brazil is a place where I’d be willing to tie up my horse.

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