The ‘New American Dream’: Living Abroad with a US Income Stream 

The ‘New American Dream’: Living Abroad with a US Income Stream 
Updated on April 24, 2024

Embrace Global Living While Maintaining Economic Stability 

The “new American dream,” for many, signifies a transformative shift from traditional aspirations like homeownership and career success within the US to finding a more fulfilling and less stressful lifestyle abroad while still benefiting from a US income stream. This change reflects a broader reassessment of values, where quality of life and personal freedom take precedence over material wealth and conventional achievements. 

A growing disillusionment with the “old” American dream has been noted, as economic challenges, the cost of living, and societal pressures within the US make traditional goals seem out of reach or less desirable. According to a Wall Street Journal-NORC poll, a significant portion of Americans believe the traditional American dream is no longer attainable, with some even questioning if it ever was. The Association of American Residents Overseas estimates that over 5.4 million Americans have chosen to live abroad, searching for more affordable living conditions, better healthcare, and a slower pace of life that allows for an appreciation of simpler joys. 

The decision to move abroad is also influenced by the potential to maintain or increase one’s quality of life while possibly taking a reduction in income. A survey by Ford highlighted that a majority of Americans would be willing to accept a 20% pay cut for a lifestyle emphasizing quality of life over high income. This indicates a strong desire for balance and well-being that transcends financial considerations. 

Why Living Abroad Appeals to Many Americans 

Expanding Horizons Beyond Traditional Borders 

For many, living abroad is not just an escape from the familiar but a step towards personal growth and global citizenship. It offers the opportunity to immerse oneself in new cultures, learn languages, and experience different ways of life. Moreover, the cost of living in many countries is significantly lower than in the US, allowing individuals to enjoy a higher quality of life on the same income. 

The Digital Nomad Revolution 

The rise of remote work and digital nomadism has made this lifestyle more accessible. Technology has enabled professionals across various industries to perform their roles from anywhere in the world. This flexibility has opened doors to living abroad without sacrificing career progression or income stability. 

Strategies for Maintaining a US Income Stream While Living Abroad 

Remote Work: The Gateway to Flexibility 

Securing a remote position with a US-based employer is one of the most straightforward ways to live abroad while maintaining a stable income. It requires finding a role that not only allows remote work but also supports asynchronous communication and flexible hours to accommodate time zone differences. 

For instance, companies like Jackson Hewitt, Keller Williams Realty, and SAP offer diverse remote positions, from tax consultants and real estate agents to software engineers, all-embracing flexible work schedules and other benefits to support their remote staff. Websites like Zapier list numerous remote-friendly companies, such as Fleetio, Gametime, and Help Scout, highlighting the diverse industries that accommodate remote work. These range from fully remote companies to those that offer specific roles with geographic flexibility. 

Freelancing and Entrepreneurship 

For those who prefer a more independent career path, freelancing or starting an online business can provide the freedom to live anywhere. Platforms like Upwork, Freelancer, and Fiverr offer a gateway to a global marketplace where skills in writing, design, programming, and consulting are in high demand. 

Moreover, companies like Toptal and Shopify offer project-based and full-time roles that are amenable to remote work, reflecting a growing acceptance of freelance and entrepreneurial paths in the mainstream job market. 

Investment Income 

Generating passive income through investments in stocks, real estate, or other assets is a viable way to sustain a lifestyle abroad. Strategic investment can provide a reliable income stream, supporting an international lifestyle. Websites and online platforms offer resources and tools for individuals to make informed investment decisions, catering to a wide range of experience levels and financial goals. 

Challenges and Considerations 

Navigating Tax Implications 

Living abroad while earning a US income comes with complex tax obligations. It’s crucial to understand the tax treaties between the US and the host country, the Foreign Earned Income Exclusion (FEIE), and how to report foreign bank accounts

Healthcare and Insurance 

Accessing healthcare services and ensuring adequate insurance coverage are paramount. Expatriates must navigate the healthcare system of their host country or invest in international health insurance plans. 

Adjusting to a new culture and obtaining the legal right to live in a foreign country can pose significant challenges. It often involves a lengthy process of securing visas and residency permits and understanding local laws and regulations. 

Embracing a Global Perspective 

The new American Dream of living abroad while earning a US income embodies the spirit of adventure, flexibility, and global interconnectedness. It’s a testament to the evolving nature of work, lifestyle, and the pursuit of happiness in the 21st century. As more individuals explore this path, they not only enrich their own lives but also foster greater understanding and connections across cultures. 

At Greenback Expat Tax Services, we specialize in assisting expats with their US tax obligations. Contact us today, and one of our customer champions will be glad to provide personalized advice tailored to your specific tax situation.

Every expat should know these 25 things about US expat taxes. Find out for yourself.
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