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What's your story? Discussions your reasons for going abroad.
2 posts • Page 1 of 1
Move to China for a job? Unemployed cope by leaving US
http://redtape.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011 ... leaving-us
For years, American jobs have been exported overseas, to places like China or India. Now we're exporting our people there, too.
"I just got tired of how the economy was going back home. I just figured things had to better somewhere else," said Francine, a former real estate agent in Las Vegas who recently moved to Xi'an, in central China, for work.
She has two jobs, but says her standard of living is a little bit better than when she left Nevada. "It's kind of ironic -- the middle class in China is growing while the middle class in America is shrinking."
Francine, who spoke with msnbc.com on condition of anonymity, had never been to China before making the decision to move there with her husband, and she doesnâ€™t speak Chinese. But she's found enough locals who speak her language, and "when I meet someone who doesn't speak English, I play charades with them." The couple moved into a small one-bedroom apartment where he works in the import/export business, and she works constantly as a freelance magazine writer and at a learning center. She said she was surprised by the difference she felt immediately in the way her new neighbors treated her.
"Being poor anywhere in the world is bad, (but) if you are broke in the U.S., people just do not treat you very well,â€ said Francine, who is 28 years old. â€œIn China, people are still very polite and respectful regardless of your financial status and I like that."
There's no hard data on private-sector Americans working overseas. In 2004, the U.S. Census Bureau tried and abandoned an official count of the then-estimated 4 million Americans working outside the country. In 2009, the U.S. State Department said it believed there were 5.3 million Americans living overseas, but cautioned that the number was an out-of-date guess. That means there's no way to know for sure how many Francines there are. But the response to our recent series on "Crazy things Americans are doing to cope with the recession," and a collection of anecdotes from around the world, hints that many U.S. workers are performing the same analysis that multinational corporations have made -- life overseas is cheaper, and in some ways easier, than in America. Reversing a trend thatâ€™s perhaps 400 years old, workers are leaving America to find opportunity elsewhere.
â€œAfter the market crashed, the only jobs that were available were temp jobs, or jobs with very high turnover. Either way, I knew that I could not get by like that or even dare to save money,â€ Francine said. â€œSo, after a grueling two month debate with myself, I finally decided to sell what little I had left of my belongings and put the rest in a small storage unitâ€¦and armed with $300, I flew to China.â€
To be sure, even people like Francine still believe success in America is sweeter than anywhere else on the planet -- and she hopes to return to the U.S. when the economy recovers. (Thatâ€™s why she requested anonymity; â€œI wouldnâ€™t want a future employer to think Iâ€™m unpatriotic,â€ she said.). But she believes her best chance of riding out the current economic storm is far from her home port. And while she misses her laundry dryer, her car and being able to flush toilet paper down the toilet, living in China does offer some advantages.
"The cost of living is really cheap," she said. "I can go and get massages and manicures every week and it only costs about $13 for both. You can't get those prices back home. In fact, those were luxuries I cut out in order to save money."
Americans are finding their way to employment all around the globe. In the immediate aftermath of the financial crisis, many finance majors and investment bankers fled Wall Street for Hong Kong or other Asian destinations, where the banking industry was still thriving. With Australia benefitting from Chinaâ€™s economic growth, Americans are flocking there, too. Americans now rank third among those applying for work visas in Australia, behind only the U.K. and India, according the Wall Street Journal, and their ranks have swelled 80 percent in the past five years. The story cited an unemployed California construction worker who now earns as much as $50 an hour laying flooring in Australia. Canada, with its proximity making it the easiest ex-patriot option, has seen temporary work visa applications from U.S. citizens double from 2008 to 2010, thanks in part to an unemployment rate that's nearly 2 percentage points lower than its neighbor to the south. The thriving oil-charged economy in Alberta deserves much of the credit for that. Meanwhile, in 2009, when IBM laid off thousands of workers, the global giant offered jobs to those willing to relocate to India and other nations as long as they accepted â€œlocal terms and conditions.â€
"I constantly receive emails from people saying something along the lines of, 'I canâ€™t find a job here in the States so I want to go overseas,' â€ said William Beaver, who runs a website for U.S. emigrants at OverSeasDigest.com. "At the very least, it seems that people may see it as a viable option."
Wally, who also requested anonymity, left the west coast of Florida to work in the United Arab Emirates about two years ago. One happy surprise that made his family's move more tolerable: a thriving ex-pat community.
"I have run into several fellow Americans who have chosen to move overseas and take advantage of the opportunities that utilize their skills, which in some cases have no or little demand back home ... due to the dreadful downsizing that U.S. companies have been doing in the past few years and moving jobs to the low-cost regions," said Wally, 41, who was an electrical engineer, but now is in industrial business development. "Those I run into saw it coming, so of speak, and decided to venture outside the U.S. while they could â€¦ afford a transition."
Wally had the foresight -- and the money -- to carefully plan his departure, which made things much easier.
"It is not easy to leave home," he said. "The biggest struggle I had was leaving my family back home -- a wife and two kids -- when I took the leap of moving here. My wife and I agreed that I move first and explore the situation before I commit them to moving. It is important that you have the family support before venturing into a move like this."
Francine, the former real estate agent, didn't have the chance to plan as much â€“ and hasnâ€™t enjoyed as much support.
"I looked online for jobs for expatriates and there were ads for Xiâ€™an and after I did some research about the city, I went there," she said. She said she put most of her personal belongings in storage and purchased the least expensive one-way ticket she could find.
"My family was shocked to say the least, and I would have to say that many of them were against my decision to move," she said. "It took some time for my grandmother to even understand why an American would leave America."
But thanks to technology, leaving America is quite different than it was a generation ago, or even a few years ago. During an interview via Skype, Francine said she's constantly in touch with friends and family at home.
And "home" has come to China, too. There's a Walmart in a mall that's a five-minute walk from her apartment. McDonald's, Kentucky Fried Chicken and other familiar restaurants are even closer.
"It's all here," she said. "Things are not as different here as you might think."
There are unexpected benefits, too. Both Wally and Francine said they feel much safer walking down the street in their new homes than they did in Nevada or Florida, as crime rates are considerably lower. Away from the intense time demands of U.S. business culture, Wally says he's been able to relax a bit more and even "develop some new hobbies." Of course, being away from American efficiencies has its downsides, too.
"The struggle was setting expectations," he said. "We are used to systematic things in the U.S., irrespective of the state you live in, and we should not expect that getting a driverâ€™s license, opening a bank account, hiring a Realtor, returning merchandize, or even connecting the utilities to your apartment is anything like back home. It sounds petty, but in the beginning it feels like you are on another planet."
That feeling can apply to getting the necessary paperwork for overseas work, too, said Beaver. Getting rich as an ex-pat is almost always a pipe dream; obtaining permission for full-time employment is getting harder, too. Canada recently announced it is tightening its standards for granting even temporary work visas.
"(People) don't know the facts," he said. "The job market in the industry (they) deal with can be even more competitive than in the States in certain fields because of security clearance requirements and other factors."
Wally and Francine shared one quality that made their overseas jump easier -- both had traveled extensively when they were young, preparing them for an adjustment to a radically new culture. Still, Wally urged down-on-their-luck Americans to at least consider an overseas move "if all roads at home hit a dead end."
And Francine said that ultimately, all that's required is an open mind.
"People are people everywhere. Ultimately, you'll find a way to survive," she said. "If you are brave ... just get a passport, and if you have enough money for a round trip ticket, get a storage unit and come to China."
Check out the comments from the article! Looks like most of the Americans commenting on the article agree with the premise of moving overseas for employment and realize the 'game is up' for the country. The Americans that have already moved overseas overwhelmingly state that their life is better overseas than what is was in the United States. Of course, you have your typical asshole, patriotic American types bashing those that have moved overseas and accusing everyone of being "traitors," but that sort of sentiment was in the minority, surprisingly!
Here are some of the comments that I found particularly intersting:
--Seriously he is "raping our nation of handouts" by leaving to another country to earn an honest living? That is the most idiotic and ridiculous thing I have heard. Tell me then how we are supposed to support a country that doesn't support us?
--Linda Brown Unlike our leaders he is doing what he has to do to survive. Some of the money he makes may make its way back to the states and he may deliver some positive diplomacy for Americans, God knows we need it.
--I left to work overseas in the recession of the mid 1980s and never went back. I've worked overseas for 25 years, 12 of them in China, and it's all been great. To anyone who is seeing their talent and education wasted because of lack of opportunities at home I say jump at the chance if you get it. It's not just about the money.
--THIS IS A BIG EARTH AND THE MYTH THAT AMERICA IS THE BEST PLACE ON THIS PLANET IS BASICALLY PUT OUT BY AMERICA. If you can find joy, love, peace and happiness and best of all a JOB..Go for it and get yourself a Rosetta Stone cd and live life to the fullest, before you die. Best wishes to all who can escape the present hell here in America..
--I moved to Japan to be a teacher. I make twice as much as I did in the states, I have a stable job, my students are respectful, and I get to enjoy the sights of Tokyo during the day. I'm also on the National Health Care plan... which is gravy.
--A Stanford economist that I sold a car to in 2004 warned me of the impending doom with the economy and told me to get outta the USA before 5 years and look elsewhere or stay and suffer the effects of what he said would be a complete economic disaster thereafter. I felt like a nut, but because of his warning and other personal reasons related to health and family mostly, I moved to the Philippines in 2008. And since, I'm so grateful that I have been fortunate to have made a career in management out here; where if I stayed in California, I would probably be out of a job with no luck finding one. I'm 30 years old now, having these experiences on my resume are invaluable. There are things I miss about home, but most are shallow (i.e. Jamba juice, Sporting events, nicely paved freeways). Even though the Philippines isn't for everyone, my pay is one tenth of that of what I used to make and there's a lot more social things I'm still learning; I've grown to love living here, its definitely changed my perspective in life entirely - for the better I would presume.
--I'm a highly skilled technician/fabricator that would jump at the chance to work overseas in a nation that's doing well. Its not the workers who destroyed the US, politicians did. Its the workers who suffer, politicians are doing very well.
Ron Paul 2012.
--Yes, how true. I am seeing an increasing number of American business leaders contacting me re opportunities in Canada. In fact, I know of several recent successful relocations across the border!
--It feels safer walking down the streets of most large foreign cities compared to the USA, whether it's Xian or Paris or Toronto (I've spent time in all of them).
--this whole story is proof that the american dream is dying...
--I know the feeling...I decided to leave the USA for overseas employment about 12 years ago...it was a great move and I'm glad I followed my intuition...it really paid off sociably, economically, spiritually and psychologically....as I look around now, I am beginning to see more and more foreigners uprooting and heading here to the Middle East where the economy is much beter than China and where one can leave a resourceful easy life!
--I got sent to India for a year by my company. Best thing that ever happened to me. Now I'm looking to move permanently to that side of the world.
--this is sad american people have had to come to this. our leaders have sold us out.