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Online searches on moving abroad are up 300-500% amid current political cycle: InternationalLiving.com

InternationalLiving.com Senior Editor Dan Prescher joins Yahoo Finance’s Zack Guzman to discuss the best places to live outside the U.S., as searches for moving abroad skyrocket amid the current political cycle.

Video Transcript

ZACK GUZMAN: We've been dealing with a lot here in 2020, not sure if you noticed, but particularly in the US, it's a stressful year. We got an election coming up. Obviously, health concerns shared with much of the world. But more and more Americans are seemingly looking into potential options out there in living abroad. It's, of course, the specialty of our next guest in terms of where might be the best spots to look. That would be InternationalLiving.com Senior Editor Dan Prescher joins us now.

And Dan, appreciate you taking the time to chat here. I mean, we've seen these trends, these search trends before in terms of Americans looking at where it's good to go. But you've looked into that. I mean, that's what you guys do over there. So talk to me about what you've seen in terms of trends and where are the best spots to consider.

DAN PRESCHER: Well, it kind of happens every year as you might expect every time there's a political Sturm und Drang, people start thinking about where else in the world they might move. This political cycle has been especially active though. There's been a general uptick of about 300 to 500% in people just doing searches about moving abroad in general. 1600% uptick in people looking about moving to New Zealand or Canada, because Canada's close, and New Zealand has a wonderful story all its own during COVID, but these places aren't particularly easy or cheap to move to. There are easier and cheaper places to move, and International Living's been looking at those for about 43 years now.

ZACK GUZMAN: I mean, obviously, it comes to mind that you'd be able to speak English in those countries, though Canada, I guess, you know, has a bit of a thing going on with French. But beyond that, I mean, where else are you seeing people look, or what have you seen in terms of outside of maybe these English speaking countries, others that have popped up on your guys' list?

DAN PRESCHER: One of the perennial favors is Panama, because the canal is there. It's economically stable. They've been dealing with North Americans for a century now, so it's an easy move, and it's easy to settle into. English is widely spoken. Mexico is just across the border, probably more US expats live full or part time in Mexico than any other country on the planet. And they too have been dealing with North Americans for a long, long time, so there are places that are easy to go, easy to settle into, and almost all of the places in the Western hemisphere besides Canada are much, much cheaper than the United States to live in. Lower cost of living, lower overhead, more available and cheaper health care, so it's a compelling combination for a lot of people.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, there's a lot of ironies there when we think about the push here to tell everyone to speak English in this country that more might be speaking English in Mexico. But beyond all of that, I mean, I guess a lot of Americans might be new to thinking about living abroad. I mean, when you talk to people and have them chat that through, what do you think are some of the maybe preconceived notions or mistakes people make in thinking about planning the big move outside of the US or maybe some of those expats that eventually move back to America as well?

DAN PRESCHER: Well, for a lot of North Americans, the rest of the world is imagined like US light. It's just like the United States only at half the cost, and that's not the case. These are distinct cultures. They have their own economies. They have their own senses of humor. So if you're not engaged with the culture that you're moving to, you're going to get bumped out if you expect it to be just like home. And some people find that when they move, they're not prepared for it. And moving back is not-- this isn't like jumping off a cliff. It's not a one way move.

If you try to move to Belize or you try to move to Penang or Puerto Vallarta, it's not like jumping off a cliff. You can always come back if you find that that's not your cup of tea. My wife and I have lived in seven different communities in four different countries throughout Latin America over the last 20 years. Loved all of them. And the more you do it, the easier it gets, frankly. We're kind of serial relocators.

ZACK GUZMAN: I think that's a very fair point to point out here, because you know, I studied abroad. I went to Argentina, got homesick, had to come back. My three months was good enough for me, but I guess that's one of the things too that people might fear. A, there's maybe that aspect. But also B, you really, it's tough to plan I guess costs of these things if you don't really know what cost of living is like in a lot of these countries or planning around that becomes very difficult when you think about how hard Americans have plenty for retirement even knowing what life is like here in the US, so maybe talk to me about that cost aspect and what people should know particularly about maybe some of these regions you pointed out.

DAN PRESCHER: It depends completely on where you move and what your personal needs are. You could, of course, spend as much as you want on your lifestyle anywhere in the planet that you move. But if you move to a place with good nationalized health care, where the weather is such that you don't need to run heating or air conditioning, where there's public transportation so you don't need a car you don't need all the associated expenses of all that stuff, take that off the top of your monthly budget, you'll get some kind of idea how much cheaper you can live in another country.

But that doesn't happen the minute you walk off the plain. If you get off the plane in Keto, Ecuador, your cost of living suddenly isn't going to plummet 50%. You'll need a cushion. You'll need to be able to rent your place. You'll need a deposit for rent. You'll need all the legal expenses for getting your visa. All of those costs still exist, so planning for those things and doing your research is a crucial first step.

ZACK GUZMAN: Yeah, it's important to consider all those things, and crazy to think that health care might actually have people moving out of the US. But again, I guess that's kind of where we are here in 2020. But appreciate the conversation so much there, Dan, InternationalLiving.com Senior Editor, appreciate it again.

DAN PRESCHER: Thanks, Zack.