Note: This contains excerpts from an article by Liam Higgins in a Cuenca, Ecuador (where I live) online magazine entitled “Cuenca High Life”. Although it was originally directed at expats living outside their home countries, much of it addresses “drivers” that apply to anyone who wants to work remotely or start their own online business, whether in their home country or a foreign country.
[Start of article excerpts.]
As the world slowly reopens from the Covid-19 pandemic, expats are asking, “What does this mean for us? Will life become more difficult for us? Will health and immigration policies become more complicated?”
And just as important: “Will a lot of expats go back to their home countries?”
Faron Masters, international insurance consultant, says the impact will depend on what type of expat you are. “The number of expats who live overseas for business or in government service will drop, maybe dramatically,” he says. “On the other hand, there probably won’t be much change for voluntary expats, including retirees, in places like Mexico, Spain and Ecuador. In fact, I think the number for this group could actually go up as the virus subsides.”
Masters says he expects many working expats to return to their home countries for a number of reasons. “For one thing, the coronavirus has taught us that we can work and communicate effectively online. Now that people have become accustomed to it, there will be more work conducted over Zoom and other digital platforms and I see this as the wave of the future. From a bottom line standpoint this represents big savings for corporations and governments.”
There’s also the “800-pound gorilla” issue, Masters says.
So, what is the future for retiree expats and younger people moving overseas looking for new opportunities?
“According to Masters and John Holtz, a half-time Cuenca expat, there is more than one answer to the question. “Within a year or two, I expect the number of older, voluntary expats to actually increase,” says Masters. “One reason is economic conditions in North America and Europe. In the coming recession, many people will take a financial hit and some of them will be looking to relocate to places with lower costs of living.”
Holtz, a former sociology professor who studied international migration, agrees but says there could be a minor outflow of foreigners before the next wave of newcomers arrive. “Retirees living overseas, like everyone else, are rattled by the pandemic and some of them are unsure of their futures. I think some will go home to be closer to family and familiar health care options but I don’t see a mass exodus.
Two recent polls of expats, one in Mexico and a second in Spain, suggest that few intend to go home. “In Mexico, five percent said they planned to leave while four percent in Spain said they would,” says Holtz. “About the same number said they intended to spend more time in their home country but did not plan to give up their foreign addresses.”
So what about expats in Cuenca and Ecuador?
“I think we’ll follow the international trends and it’s possible Ecuador will attract more new expats that other countries because of its low cost of living and the use of the U.S. dollar,” Holtz says. “Life here is comfortable for most expats and the travel distance and expense back to North America is manageable.”
–End of article excerpts.–
So, although the pandemic will change the dynamics of peoples’ international comings and goings, it is already driving much greater interest in remote working as an employee for one or more employers, or in starting your own online business.
If you are contemplating either direction, the sooner you start preparing yourself the better. Here are three valuable resources to help you, depending on what state in the process you might be in:
-If you need help weighing the pros and cons of remote working, or want to clarify your passions that point to your idealic type of work, you would do well to get a little help from a life coach. One of the best places to link up with coach that’s right for you is the free life coach matching service provided by Wainwright Global.
-If you’re drawn to remote working but don’t know how to get started, the Laptop Lifestyle Academy is perfect program for learning the ropes.
If your preference is starting an online business of your own, there’s no better place to start than the free course at My Online Startup.