“Ours is essentially a tragic age, so we refuse to take it tragically.”
So begins D.H. Lawrence’s masterpiece Lady Chatterley’s Lover, a story that offers that well-worn advice in the shadow of the First World War’s immeasurable tragedy. From terrorist attacks and killer hurricanes to an economy in crisis, racial strife, and more disillusionment this side of Watergate and a hundred bad 90s movies, there’s more impetus than in recent decades for Americans to pick up and move.
D.H. Lawrence responded to the crisis of his day, among other ways, by moving—the British-born author took dozens of trips all over the world to everywhere from Mexico and America to France, Italy, Germany, Australia, and many other exotic locales. Might this be the answer for you, too, if you’re a US citizen living in the Contiguous 48 States and are looking for a fresh start somewhere, just where are those new lands of opportunity? Here’s a quick rundown of just a few of your best choices if you’re a US citizen looking to leave the economic stagnation and tragedy of this American age behind.
Puerto Rico and other territories
This is an ideal option for those who want to leave the United States without completely leaving the United States. Puerto Rico and other territories are all locations which are, to varying degrees, incorporated territories insofar as the Constitution of the United States applies there while not actually being a state. Puerto Rico is, by far, the most populous and nearest to statehood of all these areas, and debate about its incorporation as the 51st state is likely to heat up in coming years and decades. For now, however, it makes for a lovely, warm getaway, and a perfect chance to enjoy all the comforts of American civilization without having to live in the States themselves. Puerto Ricans still have to serve in the military if drafted, and cannot vote for President (yet) but are still considered American citizens, meaning that this option is essentially one of limbo, if you want to escape at least some of the political burdens of the US—or at least escape hearing about them 24/7—and move somewhere that hovers between statehood, territoriality, and autonomy. What’s more, the economy there is better than in several areas of the US proper, particularly the Rust Belt and other hard-hit former manufacturing hubs. If you’re looking for an economic escape, there are better options on this list, but Puerto Rico certainly offers a “best of both worlds” sort of vibe.
The downsides of life in Puerto Rico?
“Always the hurricanes blowing?”
“Always the population growing?”
“And the money owing?”
If that sounds like America today—bingo.
So, if you’re of the opinion things aren’t going so well in America—and aren’t impressed with the arguments of Jets, Sharks, “a girl named Maria,” or anything to the contrary—off you go to Puerto Rico!
American Samoa or the American Virgin Islands
Beach [Public Domain]
The same goes for American Samoa and The American Virgin Islands—to an extent. Both of those are even further removed from the US mainland and US politics, but that also means that you’re even further removed from all the potential benefits of the US as well. What’s more, Puerto Rico has a buzzing city, San Juan, with an extremely active night life, whereas these two locations are more for pure beach and recreational pleasure, and feature less overall cityscape.
Lake Louise [Public Domain]
Oh, Canada…should it become your home and native land as well? Canada’s an obvious choice for those looking to leave the United States for, ahem, “greener pastures” (well, there is actually is a lot of summer green to go along with that winter white.) The Canadian economy has come back with a vengeance since those dire days in the 1990s when the looney stagnated and—even worse!—Canadian NHL teams were so badly hit that two, the Quebec Nordiques and original Winnipeg Jets, were forced to move south.
Clearly, the greatest threat to American-Canadian relations remain the Jets being stolen in 1996 and moved to Arizona to become Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes. Give the team back, Arizona. Americans and Canadians share so much culturally, including a love for hockey—represent, Anaheim Ducks fans!—but Ducks fans, LA Kings fans, American, Canadian, hockey and non-hockey people can all agree hockey in Quebec makes more sense than hockey in the Arizona Desert (and it’s an achievement to get Ducks and Kings fans to agree on anything!) All that aside, even something like a slight digression on the NHL should show just how close America and Canada are culturally, and yet how distinct Canada is culturally. There are similarities, sure, but Canada is by no means “America-lite” (or, for you Simpsons fans out there, “America Junior.”) If you’re looking for somewhere that’s not totally alien, and yet still distinct, Canada and Canadian culture may be where it’s at. What’s more, from the Underground Railroad to draft dodging the Vietnam War, there’s a long history of Americans emigrating to Canada.
So, where were we? Oh, right, Americans moving to Canada, rather than stealing their NHL franchises. Well, simply put, if you’re an American, there’s a lot to love about our neighbors to the North. Their healthcare system is better than ours. It has its flaws, to be sure, and there are some elements of the American system that are better if you belong to the upper classes of American society, but on the whole, the Canadian system is simply set up better, and therefore can continue to get better even as Congress continues to do what it’s best at—argue.
So, if you’re looking for a fresh start, why not give our Neighbor to the North a shot? (Just try to be polite about it.)
The United Kingdom
From Shakespeare Festivals and Renaissance Fairs to Beatlemania and Doctor Who, it’s safe to say that, July 4th celebrations aside, Americans indeed have a “Special Relationship” with the good old UK. The pound is stronger than the dollar currently, New York and London are separated by jus a 5-hour jetliner flight, and Britain just has an impeccable pull on Americans, especially Millennials.
Ben Nevis [Public Domain]
The Brits and Yanks enjoy a great shared history, language, and culture—care to add to it?
As immigration into the US from Latin America increases, Mexico continues to climb the list of the nations with the largest American populations.
If you’ve moved to the US from Mexico, we don’t need to tell you the pros and cons of living in Mexico, obviously.
If you’re an American who hasn’t lived in Mexico, but are considering it—first, here are a few tips.
- First, the language is Spanish, not Mexican. This should be obvious, but years of hearing Americans slipping up and saying “Speak English, not Mexican!” to new Latin American immigrants has taught me otherwise.
- Second, not all Latin American immigrants into the US are “Mexican,” folks—there’s a whole other continent down there, South America, with (would you believe it?) many different Spanish-speaking nations from which immigrants stream into the US every year. It annoys actual Mexican-Americans, it annoys non-Mexican Latin Americans, so don’t generalize, get it right, and be sure that you can speak Spanish fluently if you’re looking to move to any Central American nation, except Belize, which is the only nation in Latin America to have English as its primary language.
- Third, the Mexican economy, while improving in some ways in recent years, isn’t perfect. There’s a reason that Mexicans immigrate to the US—it isn’t just to make GOP lawmakers look bad when they propose something as preposterous as as a wall along the entire US-Mexico border.
Even so, the climate and culture are both alluring, so if you hail from the American Southwest, why not try your luck “South of the Border, Down Mexico Way?”
Fort [Public Domain]
Given the ongoing war there, this may not seem like an obvious choice. In addition to Hebrew, English is the other primary language there, so you shouldn’t run into too much of a language barrier. This can be an attractive option if you’re either of Jewish descent or involved in fields such as religious studies or anthropology. Israel has one of the best economies in the region, is a democratic nation, and while it does have some highly-pressing issues both within and outside of its borders, it still stands as an attractive location for those either looking to reconnect with the Jewish homeland and all it represents or else adventure to one of the most interesting and historic areas on Earth.
With strong cultural gravitas, Israel is an intriguing option for expatriates—and let’s all hope for a day when it can enjoy the peace it deserves and afford comfort to all, no matter their religious or racial background.
France or Germany
In one sense, these two—particularly France—represent the opposite of Israel in terms of ethno-religious travel concerns. Whereas Israel’s a haven for the Jews, France in particular has seen incredibly-nasty Anti-Semitic riots of late, and while Germany the strictest Anti-Nazism laws in the world now and France’s government has condemned those Paris riots, it’s still something to keep in mind.
That being said, if you’re a student of music, science, literature or engineering, Germany could be a great emigration destination for you, so long as you know some basic German. The economy is also booming there, which is an incredible plus. From historic cities such as Munich and Berlin to the beautiful countrysides, the nation of Beethoven and Goethe is a choice destination indeed.
France isn’t quite as strong as Germany on the economic front, and may seem the more passé option to some, given the fact that Americans abroad in France
- Seems like a cliché straight out of Midnight in Paris and
- There’s that fun stereotype about the French and Americans not exactly liking one another.
That being said, Midnight in Paris couldn’t have existed without a long and proud tradition of great American writers—including Hemingway, Stein, Eliot and Fitzgerald—all making the most of the fabled French countryside, art, music, wine, buzzing cities and of course, the City of Lights itself, Paris.
If you’re just interested in giving your French a whirl, you might want to try Quebec first, and see how you like it, but if you’re looking for the real “American in Europe/Munich/Paris” experience, France and especially Germany are top picks for sure.
Beach [Public Domain]
America used to own the Philippines, so once again, you won’t have to worry about learning an extra language and being criticized for your pronunciation (we’re looking at you, France…but we kid.) The most attractive element of a Philippine excursion by far is the incredible example of multiculturalism the nation represents. Controlled first by Spain, then America after the Spanish-American War, and gaining independence after WWII, the islands are a wonderful blend of all three cultures in everything from the cuisine and music to the daily lifestyle. Add to that the fact that both this and the previous generation of Americans have grown up surrounded by media and products from the Far East, including Japan, South Korea and, yes, the Philippines, and this nation definitely has expatriate possibilities.
So, whether you’re ready to bid Uncle Sam adieu or just want to take a bit of a breather and check out other areas of the world while America gets its house in order, these travel and emigration destinations can help you follow in D.H. Lawrence’s traveling footsteps and conquer our own “tragic age” in no time!