Move over Generation X…there’s a new generation on the rise. But don’t worry. They’re not invading coffee shops, smoking cigarettes or hanging out at the mall. In fact, they’re not even here.
Introducing Generation X-Pat
Unlike previous generations, Generation X-Pat is not defined by birth years. They aren’t the same age, race, or creed. Gen X-Pat are those who have fled America and have no plans of coming back.
And they are increasing at a rapid rate. In 1999, there were only 4.1 million U.S. citizens living overseas. Today, there are 6.32 million. Plus, the number of Americans planning to move overseas has increased by 1.7 percent since 2009.
They’re entrepreneurial, too. Spend time in Central America and you’ll notice nearly every expat owns their own business. Whether it’s a bakery, non-governmental organization, property management firm, or Internet person (how ever they make money), American’s entrepreneurial spirit is still going strong… even if it’s going somewhere else.
Below are five reasons why many entreprenuers flee America for elsewhere:
1. High Taxes
The United States has the second highest corporate tax rate in the world (behind Japan). At the high end of 35% that’s almost triple Ireland’s tax rate.
Thanks to a few legal loopholes, however, U.S. companies pay the same or only slightly more than other countries. This means U.S. companies are shifting their profits – and the jobs that come with them – to low tax countries like Ireland, Denmark and Austria.
If companies are leaving… why shouldn’t entrepreneurs?
2. A Faltering Economy
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the unemployment rate has more than doubled from 4% in 2000 to 8.3% in 2012. With less opportunity domestically, many entrepreneurs are heading abroad to find their fortunes.
Developing nations – especially those in Central America – are a haven for entrepreneurs. They offer a lower barrier of entry and therefore less risk is things don’t turn out.
Plus, as many X-Pats reveal in this interview, there is little to no competition for opening a small business in developing nations.
3. Internet = Freedom
The Internet is everywhere… and entrepreneurs are happy to get paid in dollars while living on quetzales, cordobas or baht. When you compare the cost of living between the U.S. and Guatemala, it’s easy to see how far your money goes.
Working outside a traditional office is also a great way to prevent burnout.
4. Escape from Suburbia
Many X-Pats grew tired of suburban sprawl. Combine that with the rising costs of U.S. cities and moving abroad seems like an obvious choice.
My husband and I grew up in Silicon Valley. There used to be orchards and small, individual towns. Now, each city spills over into a seemingly endless procession of planned neighborhoods, Starbucks and strip malls. Wouldn’t you want to see something different?
Which leads us to our final reason…
5. A Desire To Go
Some reasons listed here are decidedly negative. But one positive is that travel is good for you. Traveling takes you out of your comfort zone, challenges you in ways you never imagined and ultimately reveals who you are.
Will these Generation X-Pats return? Or will they – and others like them – continue to flee America in search of opportunity and adventure? And if they do leave, what effect will this have on the U.S. economy?
How do you feel about Generation X-Pat? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
(Photo credit: Airline Passengers via Shutterstock)