Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Fleeing the Country: From the Horse's Mouth

Lots of people have sent me emails and posted about fleeing the country.  One of the main issues on BIDER readers' minds is whether Fannie Mae knocks on your door when your home is on foreign soil.  Well, I finally heard from someone who did it.  He moved to Canada and he (or she) isn't coming back and is damn proud of his/her decision.   It's nice to hear about it from someone who did it, successfully.  Here goes:

Saw your blog post about bailing on America and thought I would give you my $0.02 worth.

From where I sit, the best thing for any smart-minded American to do is to leave the country.  Let's see here, $14T national debt with a $1T+ annual budget deficit that is being added to said debt. In the face of all this, Mr Hope and Change continues to fight the dual losing wars in Vietraq and Vietstan and punts on first down on reversing the asinine Bush tax cuts for the rich. And we haven't even started talking about $40T in unfunded Medicare/Medicaid liabilities.

As a more practical matter, the improbability of upward economic mobility in the Land of Opportunity is well documented on your blog and elsewhere. By all accounts, nine-plus percent official unemployment is going to become the new normal for the foreseeable future.  The real figure, which includes the long-term unemployed who have given up looking for work and the involuntarily underemployed, has been estimated to be as high as 25 percent.  And here again, Mr Hope and Change has nothing to offer except extensions of the failed Bush policies.  We haven't even started talking about so-called health care reform that is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the same rapacious insurance companies that caused the problem in the first place.

As you've probably guessed, I moved to Canada and am starting on my fourth year here. And I love it here. I frequently go back to the States to visit, but I breathe a sigh of relief when I cross that border back into the Civilised World. For starters, universal health care through the provincial Medical Services Plan means no worries about finding that elusive "job with benefits." Up here, benefits doesn't mean health insurance, eight paid holidays and 10 days of paid vacation a year. Since all of those are guaranteed by law, even a job at Tim Hortons (coffee chain (in)famous for "Always Fresh" reheated frozen doughnuts and tepid, truck stop-grade coffee) is a job with benefits. Here, benefits means employer-paid extended health insurance that covers dentists, head shrinkers (i.e., marriage and family therapists, psychologists and the like - MSP covers psychiatric care in full, infra, if you're really nuts), massage practitioners, quackopractors, nastyropaths, "doctors" of traditional Chinese medicine and the like. This is on top of MSP that covers all medically necessary services in full with no deductibles, co-payments or any other out-of-pocket expenditures of any kind. And everybody gets MSP - from the senior partner at one of the Seven Sisters right down to the lowest, most strung-out street derelict.

Of course, all of this has wrecked our economy, right? Wrong. Our unemployment rate is currently around 7.5%, a full two points lower than America's. Our resources sector is going great guns to produce enough fuel for the Hummers driven by American men with potency issues. Also, keep in mind that our rate is always 1.5% - 2% higher than America's because of how we calculate it.

There is also a lot of misinformation out there regarding the potential consequences of reneging on student loans and skipping the country. As student loan defaults are civil in nature, rather than criminal, it is absolutely not the case that a borrower will be arrested, imprisoned or extradited. Also, claims that "you'll never be able to return to America" are completely false. Any U.S. citizen has the absolute Constitutional right to freely enter and leave the country.  The U.S. Supreme Court has also ruled that the government has no power to involuntarily strip anyone's citizenship for any reason.  See Afroyim v. Rusk, 387 U.S. 253 (1967).

In fact, there is very little the government can do to collect defaulted student loans from a borrower who has left the country. Their usual tool - administrative wage garnishment, i.e., garnishment without due process of law - is not available.  Such an order would not be worth the paper it is printed on outside the U.S.  In order to collect, they would have to (1) sue in federal court, (2) take judgment against the borrower and (3) domesticate said judgment in the courts of whatever nation the borrower is living in.  The Department of Education's current policy is to not pursue litigation at all against borrowers living in foreign countries. I attach a copy of their litigation manual for your reference. Oh, and U.S. student loans are dischargeable in Canadian bankruptcy.

Bottom line - there are many, many people who, like me, feel they have done the right thing all of their lives.  We went to school, studied hard, started at the bottom and worked crap jobs for starvation wages.  We did this all in exchange for the promise of a better life down the road.  Those promises have turned out to be empty.  We now have nothing to show for it but massive amounts of debt with little to no hope of ever repaying.  We don't even have access to basic, affordable health care!  Since they haven't held up their end of the bargain, I don't see why I can't opt out of holding up mine.
Moving to Canada

He/she even included his/her email in case you have any questions.
Look... I know it's a hard choice.  You may feel conflicted about abandoning ship.  However, everyone in this country (except for Native Americans) have it in your DNA to immigrate to greener pastures.  You may think it's scary, but how did you great grandpa feel when he left Ireland during the Potato Famine?  Or your mom and dad when they fled Vietnam via boat?  What about your great great great, etc. Grandfather who fled England because of religious persecution?  They did it, why can't you?  There's nothing unpatriotic about making your situation better. You will always be an American.


  1. My great great great grandparents came here on the bottom of a boat against their will but I totally dig starting over. Unfortunately, my husband is a tad more *ahem* conservative than I am and won't seriously entertain us ditching to Canada.

    Tips on persuading him are most welcome. I didn't go to law school -grad school for counseling. Similarly useless but I'm trained to understand his point of view, not talk him out of it.

  2. I imagine the problem for many would-be expats is that a loved one cosigned their student loan agreements. In my case, I couldn't flee to Canada and have the government go after my mother for the payments!

  3. I am Native American. Where the hell do I go?

  4. PS: you can just call us "Indians". It is only the "Native Americans" looking to cash their Casino winnings who care about the distinction.

    1. I now that it is an old post. I'm a product of the melting pot and not purely indian. I have several southeastern tribes on both sides. However, I'm a little pissed that I can't afford to stay in the country I was born in and that I have ancestors that were born in these hollows and hills going back many centuries. Even many of my European ancestors family lines have been here since the 1600s. I would join the military, but they won't take me due to a health condition. I can't get insurance. There are a lot of interesting places where bad shepherds aren't calling the shots, unfortunately we've been lead by incompetent and greedy boobs for generations. So, go wherever you can get a work visa and learn the language.

  5. 10:36 a.m. It's my understanding your people immigrated here via Alaska from Asia. I say, go back home. Forget about the fact that the people no longer resemble you in looks and culture. They seem to have it going on. And as for the lovely African-American (that I so stupidly forgot as the forced immigrants), certain parts of Africa are booming. Tell your hubby (assuming he's black as well) that you were forced to come and you can leave of your own free will! Totally joking, but really not joking at all.

  6. This account is missing a few big essential parts:

    1. Did the author gain legal citizenship in Canada or a Visa (if they have that, don't know Canadian citizenship laws) or did he/she move there illegally?

    2. What type of job is he/she doing up there?

    3. Did he/she move there alone without knowing anyone or did he/she have family or friends up there?

    4. Does the author intend to live in Canada permanently for the rest of his/her life?
    All this would be most practical and useful to know.

  7. I think alot of Americans have this idea that life outside of America is a downgrade and are afraid to do it. Afterall this is the land of opporunity right?

    Guess what, living in any european country is pretty damn similar to living in America. Living in Canada is even more similar.

  8. Yeah. It's actually better.

  9. An old lawyer's 2 cents:

    Consider going abroad seriously. Canada is a good place if you desire a minimal culture shock; but, you should consider other places as well. You can always (and almost instantly) get a job, for example, teaching English in Asia; Korea is recruiting like hell - $3k working just a few hours a day plus room and board? (I know one doing it.) Once abroad, after settling down, you can start connecting with local law firms who can use American lawyers (from their perspective, any English-speaking J.D. qualifies); you can work your way back from there as an "international lawyer," that is, if you want to come back after all (many I know don't).

    If you still love America too much to leave, just jump into solo (work from home - do not waste any money making even biz cards. Never pretend more than what you really are). Help people struggling with foreclosure/debt collection, etc., just for a small or success fee. You are not going to make tons of money doing these, but you will learn what practicing law is really like. Remember, nobody needs to know the law first to practice; you can always read about it, and lawyers always learn while doing it (one can actually learn the real law only by practicing it - also making tons of mistakes along the way). It is not really about the law; it is about representing (yes, helping) people. If law is not what you really want, drop it and never look back (trust me, your J.D. still won't be waste). Do what you're really passionate about - strangely, that will help you make a good living as well (not the other way around).

  10. If I could take my elderly parents, and the rest of the family that I Love, as well as some of my friends, I would go.

    But my parents need me, and this is,after all my home.

    I prefer to fight it out here. If I won the lottery I would buy my freedom from student loan debt.

    Besides, no one is being physically restrained and forced to work the debt off in a Debtors Prison--yet.

    And also, it would be, to me, running away, making my degradation even worse than it is now.And everyone I met in whatever new country it is would either be suspicious of why I left, or view me with contempt if they ever really did find out why.

    I'll stay here in the US and take my chances.

    What goes around comes around, and we may see a day of Justice for Student Loans. As long as that is possible, I won't leave.

    And I'll keep on playing the lottery, and blogging until they shut me down.

  11. 1012 makes a great point. this is not really an option for people whose parents cosigned on student loans. unless you hate your parents. or they're moving with you.

    that said, if the wealthy of this country want to continue abusing the system for their own gain, i have no qualms telling them to f*** off by leaving and not looking back.

  12. A helpful site:

  13. I'm going, I just need to raise the money to get there.

  14. Run, Forest, Run!! Seriously, People, better to live as a poor expat in Canada than as a "rich" indentured servant in America.

  15. Part I:

    I'm an American, sixth-generation on one side of my family and with one ancestor who was wounded at Gettysburg and another one slain at Petersburg. I'm probably around 10-20 years older than most of this blog's readers; I'm from the early years of Generation X. But I started college in the Reagan years when all of these problems began to metastasise, so I've experienced injustices and frustrations similar to many of yours.

    I mention my relatively old American ancestry because I take my American heritage seriously. Aside from two great-great-grandfathers in the American Civil War, my Father was in the US Army in WW II. When he ran for a state election in 1964, his pamphlet quoted him as saying "The American response to tyranny is written in the blood of its patriots from Bunker Hill to Ohama Beach". I was raised to emulate George Washington who reputedly "never told a lie", back when America used to celebrate Feb 22 as "Washington's Birthday" instead of "Presidents Day".

    (Gloss: WTF is the point of "PRESIDENTS DAY"? To honor ALL Presidents? Including Nixon?)

  16. Continuing my above comment, Part II:

    So those are my credentials as a native-born, sixth-generation American patriot.

    And now I live in Australia, am a Permanent Resident and will be eligible for Australian citizenship soon.

    So now Australia is my country. Because Australia today is similar to what America was around 160 years ago.

    And yes our Head of State is a "Monarch", Queen Elizabeth. GOOD! Because there's a lot to be said for having a head of state who has virtually no political power and lives on the other side of the world. ;-)

    And aside from our ongoing participation in the stupid war in Afghanistan - which we will probably withdraw from soon - we are inclined, due to our history, to be wary of getting involved in wars of Empire. Australia's main national holiday regarding the military is ANZAC Day, 25 April, remembering the Australian soldiers who were sacrificed as cannon-fodder for the bloody British Empire, the equivalent of today's American Empire. Cf, from the movie Gallipoli, THIS is the typical AUSTRALIAN attitude toward wars of empire (three minutes long):

    Very different from the ideology of Sarah Palin or, dare I say, Barack Obama. Because the main difference between Australia and America, is that Australians do NOT believe that our country is "chosen by God"! Quite the opposite, Australians - whose country was settled by convicted "criminals" - regard ourselves as natural sinners (like all the rest of Mankind) who somehow were lucky enough to arrive and settle in this "Lucky Country"...

    Two more final remarks, for now:

    1. The quality of life, economically and otherwise, in Australia is vastly more comfortable and secure and peaceful than in most of the USA;

    2. The writer of the original post mentioned liability for student loans if one is overseas. In Australia the legal situation vis a vis American student loans is:

    a. Even if one is sued in America for defaulted student loans, no judgment is enforceable in Australia unless one has been personally served in the USA;

    b. Even if one has been personally served with a lawsuit for defaulted student loans in USA, it would still remain unenforceable in Australia because the fact that there is not statute of limitations for American student loans, is essentially repugnant to Australian law. And the same thing goes for New Zealand.

    To all of the above, I'll add that it's EASIER to immigrate to NEW ZEALAND (easier than Australia) as a "skilled migrant" if you're under age 50. Then if you get Permanent Residence in New Zealand you'll be eligible to work in Australia too. In SOME cases, American lawyers can fulfill Aus or New Zealand's criteria for "skilled migrant", but age is a factor and so NZ is easier.

    Furthermore, some of you with NON-LEGAL skills could be eligible for immigration to Australia or NZ. For example, qualifications in nursing, engineering, construction, HAIRSTYLING, ELECTRICIAN, things like that. On that note, IF you have any skills which Australia or NZ acknowledge as desired skills - many of which are hands-on, artisan skills - then you don't need to find a job or employer in Aus or NZ to emigrate as a "skilled migrant", all you need is to be able to certify your skill...

    ...and then of course prove that you have no criminal record, and no major health problems like HIV or Tuberculosis... problems there? Then they'll say, after a few months of paperwork, "WELCOME to Australia (or New Zealand)!"

    In sum I reiterate: Today, the Antipodean nations, Australia and New Zealand, are the equivalent of what America was around 1850.

    1. I think everyone will find their immigration experience different. I just got an Australian permanent visa and move in August 2012! For me, Australia was easier than NZ. My job was on the skilled migration list for Australia, but not NZ or Canada. So, Oz it is... Once you get Australian citizenship, you can live in NZ if you want with no visa or anything, so it's an option. Canada..., well it's cold, so I think Oz is the way to go.

      Thanks much for the information on student loans and Australian law. I have paid $350 per month for 7 years, and my loan balance literally goes down $17 per month! I owe 30,000! I've paid them back that amount over the 7 years and my balance has only moved a couple of thousand dollars? I understand interest, but that is ridiculous! I've paid them back! I'm just not going to pay them back three times over!

  17. Heritages change. I felt the way you felt for most of my life, but in the last few years, I've started to think, "Nothing lasts forever."

    Everything that Americans believe in has been monetized: Everyone deserves a home turned into the subprime crisis, everyone needs an education turned into tuition hikes of 400% since the Reagan years, everyone should better himself turned into the predatory non-dischargeable student loan bubble. And just LOOK at what we've done to those who choose to serve our country - we've asked way too much of our military with two endless wars, and teachers are now vilified.

    Is there really anything left of the country your dad believed in? The safety and quality of life was the whole point, and that is gone. What's the difference between living under a nation of plutocrats here, or somewhere like Argentina?

    I'm honestly asking, because the Kochs and the job situation paired with RECORD corporate profits really has me wondering.

  18. Liz,

    Not _everyone_ deserves a home or needs so-called education, and I am sure "bettering oneself" only means social climbing to you.

    Not all teachers are vilified - only the villains among them.

    The military is being used for the reasons we have one. I personally disagree with those reasons, but there is no mistreatment of troops as you claim.

    Now get back to not working well at whatever you do.

  19. Angel,

    Thanks for posting this great news, from one of your readers. Sure, some will call this person a scoundrel and a deadbeat. How many of these same people condemn corporate cockroaches who steal billions and then declare bankruptcy? Or beg for $787 billion in bailout money - and receive it?!?!

    If you can pull this off - without screwing over your co-signers, then I say "Go for it." Desperate times call for desperate measures.

  20. I'll likely be leaving in a matter of weeks. Nothing is forever. Living here wasn't forever, and, you know, living in my next destination will likely not be forever as well. What has come out of this is this truism: No one cares. No employer you get hired by will have any loyalty to you. And so, you're on a perpetual job search. I can say for an absolute fact that since the day I was offered my current job, I've continued to look at job advertisements, and I wouldn't hesitate for a second to reverse my course again 180 degrees if an offer came along. No one cares if I live or die, so why should I care what people like that think about accepting a job and then leaving it before it starts, or after a week, or 6 months in?

    When I left here to go look for a job, I had no idea what to expect. What I found when I finally got on the ground, though, is that in other parts of the world, it is just not really that hard to get an offer. You can do it. I won't say that it wasn't agonizing to leave here, take all the money I had (which was, let's say, about $2500), impose on people for support which I did and still do feel really terrible to have to have done, and take my shots in a new place. But, as soon as I got there, people were saying to me, "You'll definitely find something." Within 24 hours someone actually said to me, "We're booming." It's much, much easier said than done, but though I pursued a different avenue to get out of the country, I'm convinced now that one of my best ideas was to get out by teaching English overseas somewhere. I'm still in contact with a few of the people I met through that application process, and I would definitely encourage you all to make the best lemonade you can out of the lemon-shaped shit balls that this country has given you. I am willing to bet that most of you are fairly young, as I am. Why not have a bit of an adventure. If you have any way of running away to take your shot at it, especially if you can do it without getting sued on your loans or if causing your loved-ones who co-signed for you to be sued, I would encourage you to do it. And, let's look at it this way: If, ultimately, you and your co-signors are in this together, and if they trust you, you better not ask them to make a payment on your loans when you could just as easily - for the same amount of money - ask them to help you out to get out of here and to thereby put you on a path to success and self-sufficiency. I am well aware that "the grass is always greener." I've moved around enough in my life to have experienced that time and time again. But in this case, the grass really is greener on the other side. To a degree, desperation gives you a license to write your pages with more freedom than you might otherwise have. You might not enjoy being the holder of that license, but if your choices are between facing down certain failure and not using it, and taking a huge risk which you're probably going to survive financially (if that's true in your particular case), taking a shot at an adventure while you have the freedom to do so, and even perhaps giving yourself a shot at finding success, then, just go.

  21. Question: I wonder if getting one's U.S. student loans discharged in bankruptcy in a foreign court is a backdoor way to get one's U.S. student loans discharged in the U.S.?


  22. Can you please post the litigation manual in scribd?

  23. just have to say that while I advocate nothing short of over throwing the entire existing order of things this constant bitching about the health care bill is just nuts. I wanted single payer, but no one can ever explain where those 60 votes in the senate were ever going to come from. Hell, FDR and LBJ controlling something like two thirds of congress couldn't get single payer.

    Yet, as I type this I have three family members who currently have health coverage thanks to the ACA (all 3 have pre- existing conditions.) Don't tell them that health Reform meant nothing, since it enables them to, ya know live.

    Moreover I have a gay cousin who had been kicked out of the military. With the repeal of don't ask don't tell hopefully he can get his old gig back.

    If the Bush tax cuts had not been extended, millions would currently have no unemploment benefits, Don't Ask Don't Tell wasn't going to be repealed, the 9/11 health car bill would have died, and the complete overhaul of our food safety laws was going to fail. It sucks, but this was the price to get the above done. If you ask me should I repeal don't ask don't tell or fight to raise the top marginal income tax rate from 32 to 35 percent iI'll take the former every time.

    Setting aside nearly 300 billion in subsidies each year to provide health care to regular people, integrating the entire military for gay people, creating a Consumer Financial Protection Bureau headed be Elizabet Warren, pasiing the Lilly Ledbetter fair Pay Act For Women, The Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes Bill, bringing all combat troops home from Iraq, saving millions of blue collar jobs by bringing the entite auto industry back from the dead, as well as historic, tobacco and credit card regulations, well if this really is a continuation of Bush in your eyes then this speaks to a level of willful ignorance that is stunning.

  24. Anonymous, go to hell. You wouldn't be here without the teachers you scorn and the military you accept sacrifices from without respecting them enough to not ask for their lives for trivial reasons. And three years of law school is really, really, REALLY not "social climbing" in any sense of the word.

  25. To clarify, that was for Anonymous 4:55, who has apparently never heard of the concept of a social contract.

  26. LOL AT LIZ! hahahah we wouldn't be here if it weren't for the military!

    Yeah because we were ripe for conquest. I heard Al Qaida's Navy was poised just off shore to offload an occupying force of millions of ground troops against an armed populace.

    Good thing those 'morican heroes in the Army are fighting them there so we don't have to fight them here!

    Military = welfare for white people.


  27. Anonymous @March 24, 2011 8:28 PM asked:

    Can you please post the litigation manual in scribd?


    And here is the procedures manual that ED's contracted collection agencies are supposed to follow when harassing you for your student loans.

    You're welcome.

  28. Anonymous @March 23, 2011 11:43 PM said...

    This account is missing a few big essential parts:

    I am the author of the original account. I also posted the litigation and PCA procedures manuals above. This is my sixth try at posting this (damn Blogger suddenly won't take my OpenID) but here goes:

    1. Did the author gain legal citizenship in Canada or a Visa (if they have that, don't know Canadian citizenship laws) or did he/she move there illegally?

    I have legal, albeit temporary, status in Canada. I would not be able to cross the border regularly if I were living here illegally.

    2. What type of job is he/she doing up there?

    I was very fortunate to have a long-term contract-based gig before I left that I was able to take with me. Now that the economy is improving (we are not entirely immune to the asinine decisions of the American government, unfortunately), I'm going to start looking for a full-time job which will hopefully lead to permanent residency.

    3. Did he/she move there alone without knowing anyone or did he/she have family or friends up there?

    I knew a few people, but for all practical intents and purposes I moved up here alone.

    4. Does the author intend to live in Canada permanently for the rest of his/her life?

    One never knows what the future holds, but my current plan is to pursue permanent residency and citizenship, yes.

    All this would be most practical and useful to know.

    Hope this helps.

  29. Yeah, this decision shouldn't be taken lightly. Once you leave the country and say "fuck my loans" (and therefore not paying them and allowing them to fall into default) you are essentially saying goodbye to living any normal productive life in America. That could be a problem if you want to move back somewhere down the road.

    I know everyone on these blogs thinks America is a sinking ship, but I think it would be hard to totally cut all ties.

    1. Not for me. I a renouncing US cit once I get citizenship in this country.

  30. Anonymous @March 25, 2011 2:56 PM said:

    Once you leave the country and say "fuck my loans" (and therefore not paying them and allowing them to fall into default) you are essentially saying goodbye to living any normal productive life in America.

    Not true. You can always rehabilitate or consolidate.

    I know everyone on these blogs thinks America is a sinking ship, but I think it would be hard to totally cut all ties.

    Moving to another country does not, in any rational sense, mean "cut[ting] all ties." Read my piece again - as long as you remain a citizen, you can always come back, and your citizenship cannot be taken from you without your consent.

  31. Anonymous @March 24, 2011 8:28 PM said:

    Can you please post the litigation manual in scribd?


    And while we're at it, why not post the Department of Education Private Collection Agency Procedures Manual? This has lots and lots of good info in it.

  32. Incidentally, I'm the author of the original account. I posted anonymously earlier because I kept getting the "sorry, we can't process your request" when I tried to post under this OpenID. I gave up after it did the same thing six times in a row.

    Stupid Blogger. Note to self: Copy the text you're going to post before you hit the Preview button.

  33. I think a debtor would be better off in a country where English is not the local language. Try Costa Rica. Weather is great, locals are friendly, there is large enough community of expats. Asia has a lot of advantages, they are always on the look out for native English speakers.

    The French Foreign Legion is still in business and still taking recruits under nommes de guerre.

  34. I hadn't looked into the French Foreign Legion for some time.

    I suppose that *is* an idea for law debtors.

    And you get a nice French citizenship when you are finished!

    Although I think you get to serve in places like Africa, so....

    ...but then isn't that *better* than Afghanistan?


  35. Costa Rica sounds good, what is there for ex-pats from America to do (i.e. jobs)?

  36. I pray to be able to leave soon. After spending fourteen years paying off my student loans, I am now pregnant and uninsured and looking at either a medical bankruptcy or losing my house to pay for the birth. Not exactly what I had in mind while earning that shiny J.D.

  37. @Curry . . . if that is your real name.

    Thanks. I was going to flee the country, but I think I will wash my face. I was just inherited lots of munny. Send me your barking information.


  38. i hear that the streets are paved with gold.

  39. On the topic of fleeing the country, I am someone else who has made the move to Canada, albeit under different circumstances, and here are my two cents.

    Health care: Yes, the "free" health care is nice, and certainly beats the shit out of no health insurance, but it's important not to overly romanticize the Canadian system. The laws of supply and demand say that if you make health care free, then demand will outstrip supply, and that is exactly what has happened (not even the Canadian government can overrule the laws of economics). Depending on your geographical region, it can be a LONG wait for even basic services. The waiting list for primary care physicians in my city is literally three years long. My pregnant wife inquired about OBGYNs and found out she would not able to see one until seven and a half months in. It was so bad that we ended up saying "fuck it" and delivered the baby outside of Canada. (Baby is healthy and happy, in case you're wondering.)

    No sane doctor would choose to work in Canada's single payer system (where the government controls all the purse strings) when they can make much more money in the US. This of course exacerbates the supply shortage.

    Besides which, the health care is not free. I had to pay a $750 tax called "Ontario Health Premium" as part of my income taxes, and if this seems cheap (I admit, it is), the fact is that the rest of the system is subsidized by taxes too. My marginal income tax bracket is 46.41% and the sales tax here is 13%. Note that the sales tax here applies to far more items than in the US. Buying a *house* is taxed 13%!

    Legal residence/citizenship: I applied for permanent residency three years ago, and unfortunately it was much easier back then than it is now. There are many categories of applications; the one I used was the "Skilled Workers Program." For this program you need 67 out of 100 points to qualify. The criteria are: education (advanced degrees etc.), English/French fluency, number of years of work experience, age, and a few other factors. The reason why it's so much harder now is because (with anti-immigrant sentiment taking over) they changed the rules last year so that only 29 specific occupations qualify. If you already have a job in Canada (under temporary resident status), then the list of 29 occupations does not apply to you.

    The other common category of permanent residence applications is "Canada Experience Class" which, as the name implies, only applies to you if you have previously worked in Canada under some sort of temporary status.

    Once you get permanent residency, it's another three years minimum to get citizenship. I haven't started that process yet.

    It is not my intention to post only negative comments about Canada. For the most part, I am glad that I moved to Canada, and certainly my general sense is that I jumped ship "just in time." Canada, for all its faults, is a big improvement compared to the rapidly declining US. I just wanted to give a more realistic perspective for my fellow Americans who may be considering a similar move. You *will* experience some culture shock. Kilometres (not meters) and Celsius take some getting used to. The taxes really are quite high -- if you think your current taxes are too high, you might want to reconsider the idea of moving here. And of course there is literally no part of the country that gets no snow.

    For those wondering, I have no student loan debt (paid them off years ago). The reason I moved to Canada was because I'm an academic, and getting an academic job in Canada is much easier than in the US. Considering that middle America is currently in the process of waging all-out war against the education sector, I'm really glad to have left while I still could.

  40. @12:07, 3 years for a primary care physician?

    I don't buy your story at all.

    Canadians that move to my county (10 miles from the border) keep their Canadian citizenship so they can go home and get free health care. If it was as bad as you claim, then they would just use American MDs. They don't trust American hospitals. So, I think your story is far fetched. Do you work for Aetna or maybe Humana?

  41. @10:56, I am dead serious, and you don't have to take my word for it or "buy" my story, it is fairly well documented.

    "Family doctors are in short supply in K-W, and a source of great concern among residents. The Chamber of Commerce runs a waiting list for people looking for a doctor, but as of 2006 the wait is over two years." Source:,_Ontario

    Note that the two years figure dates from 2006. As of now, the wait is three years.

    Your anecdote is talking about Canadians who move to the US and keep their Canadian doctors. That is a TOTALLY different situation, since they have been living in Canada for a long time, and they already have primary care doctors. I am talking about someone who moves in the other direction, from the US to Canada. As a newly landed immigrant to Canada, you will have to navigate the waiting list. I also made it clear in my post that the wait time varies significantly by geographical region. So, unless you live in the exact same city as me, you cannot use your own experiences as a guide to the waiting times here.

    In any case, I live in Canada, you don't, and believe me, I know more about Canada than you do.

  42. Been researching a bit on this just to have another option when shit hits the fan but I got parents who cosigned. Still its of no consequence.
    Australia is looking nice right now.

  43. For the record, I was born in Canada (Montreal), have both US and Canadian citizenship, and have most of my family in Canada. Getting a doctor if you don't already have one is fucking impossible. My childhood best friend reports that her schoolmates are SHOCKED to find out that she has a family doctor. Add my aunt to the list of women who couldn't see an obstetrician until the third trimester. And the taxes are ridiculous.

    Although, hey, if you're actually unethical to borrow money and then deliberately default, I wish you all the very worst that Canadian medicine has to offer.

  44. It is true that there is massive shortage of doctors in Canada, but . . .

    Come the fuck on! There are walk-in health clinics - inconvenient, yes, but I can't say they're less convenient than the emergency room; and, speaking of which, you won't lose your house if you have to go to one. YAY!

    1. Yeah, in CA I do the walk-in health clinics and see a naturopath. Works for me. :)

      US: before I got hitched, I had no insurance, had to use the ER, and was billed out the wazoo.

  45. I'm a U.S.Navy veteran of 13 years. I didn't do the retirement thing due to the fact that my conscience got the best of me. I was activated to go to Iraq, but I simply didn't agree with that war, so I refused to go. I lucked-out because I had been going through a particularly crappy divorce, replete with outrageous accusations which caused me to have my security clearance suspended and therefore my orders were canceled. It took me three and a half years to reacquire it.

    I love this nation, but this nation no longer deserves my support any longer. As a matter of fact, American service members are perhaps the most abused people in the united states, why, because like myself, I truly believed that we were supporting and defending the constitution of the United Stated...but we aren't. The U.S. military has become more comparable to the Pinkertons who were used by the large mining and other big business interests who squashed the labor rebellions during the mid to late 1800s and early's appalling!

    I live in El Paso, TX and can't find work because in spite if the 9.2% unemployment rate, the companies here are sponsoring Mexican workers to come here and work for 2/3rds to 1/2 less than American workers! I was stationed in Canada back in the early 90s and my ex-wife couldn't get a job because the Canadian Immigration wouldn't let her work unless she could prove she wasn't taking work from a Canadian citizen (What a novel approach) One would think that with the 9.2% unemployment rate here that our government would shut the door on work visas and let its citizens have the opportunity to get a job! Meanwhile, I'm getting called from the student loan folks who actually suggested I borrow the money from friends and family in order to at least pay the interest on these loans...what audacity! I offered that they forgive the interest and have me pay the principle down instead, that way at least they stand a better chance of getting their money back. No, their idea is to capitalize my interest and balloon my debt into infinity. Lately, I've sent them all letters repudiating my student loans. So I'm waiting to se how that goes over with them. It should be good for a laugh...don't you agree?

  46. On this subject..... Let me briefly tell you what I have been going through. Back in 1983 I was a recipient of a Guaranteed Student Loan for 20.000 $ when I was going to college in NYork. After working for 4 years in the US I moved back to Italy -I am an Italian citizen- and for all sorts of reasons I stopped making payments. Time passed -about 22 years- and I totally forgot about the loan when 2 months ago a Collection Agency located me in Italy -thanks to LinkeDln I guess- and placed a very agressive call where they claimed they were going to garnish my wages -I work for an Italian company- and that I owed them now 100.000 $. They were calling me at an Italian number so I wonder why they claimed that they can garnish my wages or if was just a threat .....Maybe they think I live in Italy but my salary is in the US. Honestly though: I feel bad and want to do good and maybe the fact that I am in Italy gives me the necessary leverage and will help me negociate a settlement where I only pay the principal amount though I have heard they do not do that sort of settlement with student loans. On the other hand, if I was totally certain that they cannot touch me I can find enough reasons not to do anything ...

    Here are my questions: I have no bank account or property in the US and I believe it would be legally hard for them to force me to pay while I remain in Italy. I have no intention of EVER returning to live in ths US. I did read the Litigation manual from the Department of Education and it does seem to say "leave alone people in foreign countries". Should I feel secure in this appreciation?
    Am I wrong in thinking they would have a hard time enforcing this payment on me since I now live and work in Italy? I keep thinking they might be able to sell the debt to an Italian collection Agency and then I would be in trouble .. is that possible? This is nagging me ...

    Thanks in advance for any further thoughts on this issue....

    1. 22 years??? That loan is WAY past it's expired status....DO NOT PAY THEM A CENT. His threat is meaningless!

  47. @11:35,

    The walk-in clinics are no substitute for a family doctor. There are many horror stories about people falling through the cracks. Here is one. My experience has been entirely similar. The health coverage is good in Canada, but if you actually want health care, it's best to look abroad.

  48. Yea America is not as great as people think that it is. Here is a
    really interesting actually How-to-Guide on Fleeing the Country with a
    bunch of other articles on Fleeing the US for anyone considering fleeing:
    How to Prepare for Fleeing the Country

    America can be awesome for some entrepreneurial things but if you are
    in any type of trouble whether student loan defaults or even unjust
    criminal prosecution, sometimes it is better just to say screw it and
    go to the sunny beaches of its much cheaper there

  49. When life hands you lemons? Say fuck it, and make lemonade

  50. I am moving to Australia from the US. I have a $30K balance on my student loans. I have paid them back their 30K over the last 7 years, but with interest, I will continue to pay them back for another 15 years! What the heck???

    It is a similar thing with my credit cards. Screw this nasty nation that made us debt slaves because we NEEDED a college education to provide for ourselves. I'm gone. I suggest the rest of you reading this follow the author's advice and run.

  51. I was actually homeless in the USA when parent phones were buzzing out of control from the onslaught of Sallie Mae phone calls. Finally I had saved enough cash one way to Europe in 2005 and have lived abroad ever since. I became an English teacher by default - what else could I have done? After all, I have felt safer in Kurdistan, Iraq that I had ever felt in Lynnwood, Washington or Korea Town, Los Angeles, California. I was tired of sleeping in my car, selling my CD and toy collections to feed myself and put gas in my car. My student debt is 24 hours from default and instead of signing another forbearance, I wrote them a letter. My student loan topped at $20k at the end of '95, I paid $7k over the period of 3.5 years, and then went thru the deferment and then the forbearance process due to unstable work since 1999. Due to ailing from fibromyalgia (unknown to me at the time), I dumped a lot into private medical care and frequently lost my jobs due to either the psychological or physical symptoms of the illness. When I had a job, I only had enough to make my car payments because in 95% of American cities, public transport is atrocious. So the interest and penalties continued to build. Now my debt is over $30k. When I did profit from a job overseas, I made the mistake of sending money home to my step-father's home equity account. Within seven months, that money was gone due to the bank's devaluation of the family home. So do I want to do business in America again? Hell no! I have made the mistake of trying to capture the American dream over and over again, always getting hurt and getting thrown into further debt time and time again. From now on my money stays with me. Trust no one in the private or public sector. IF anyone has any advice:

  52. I agree with this blog post. I skipped out on 80K+ in student loans student 15 years ago from the U.S., and besides the occasional ignored phone call when they transer the loan to somew new collector, I am left alone.

    I have beautiful credit in Canada, a mortgage, and thank goodness that I happened to fall in love with a Canadian and move here right after I graduated.

  53. I am booking out this coming fall, and my partner will follow when the house is sold. I grew up poor, my single mom had to go on welfare at times to stay home and take care of my disabled brother.

    I have major depressive disorder and somehow, made it through and got my BA and MA. I was told go to college, then you'll get a decent job. This country worships at the alter of the so-called, "free market" and we the people are getting poorer and more in debt.

    And I'm never coming back and I'll be debt free.

  54. ....I would also like to add: If ou wish to continue your education in the new country, make sure you get multiple copies of your transcripts, signed and sealed, and keep them in a safe place. Schools are now refusing to release transcripts if you default and even if you fall behind on loan payments. Also: consider having your transcripts evaluated with an international credentialing service, even if English is your first and only language. All of your transcripts will be in one safe, and centralized place. The schools send the transcripts directly to the credentialing service, and they send them to the schools. This way, if you default in the future, you are covered because sometimes, schools will not take transcripts from you, they want them from the school, and this covers you if that happens. It's a few hundred bucks, but it is worth the peace of mind.

    1. Excellent information for me! Would you recommend a particular agency? Many of them seem to target those who want to work in the U.S. Thanks so much!

  55. As someone that has made the move to Canada, I have to say, you just can not decide one day to move here without proper planning and being able to fit into one of their proper categories of immigration. The door here is not wide open as one might think. You need to check the Canadian website on immigration first and for most, to see if you would fit into one of their categories for immigration. If you do not, then forget coming here(at least legally). Also it takes about a year to process permanent resident status before you can enter Canada.
    Having said that, it was the best move I have ever made. I thoroughly agree with most all of the negative things said here, about living in America now. The health care here is fantastic, however taxes are much higher(to pay for it). I do have a number of health issues and was at first afraid of some of the negative comments about health care in Canada, but now, I can not believe how well I am being treated(better than the health plan I had at work in the states and at no cost...$0....nadda!!)
    I was fortunate to be able to marry my partner( a french canadian) so I got in through their family status.
    So anyone considering this move, just be aware that they are very strict at following to the letter their immigration laws, but if you can fit into one of their requirements, then....GO FOR IT!!

  56. Military = welfare for white people? When I served the majority were not white in my unit. Course I was in when it wasn't popular and we were all not called heros for doing a job we voluntered to do. I don't understand the disrespect for the military here though except that you don't know your own history. I have never collected a penny or get any disability from Uncle Sam after my service of 14 years, but I do see a lot of people who never even deployed overseas getting paid pretty well after 20 years behind a desk and for thier bad back. While other in the meat grider and injured from combat fight for decent care.

  57. That being said I borrowed $70,000 for school, took another $60,000 living expenses for my wife and two kids (and worked too), and had another $100,000 tagged on from interest after deferement (big mistake, but felt necessary at the time). I pay $1870 a month and am wondering how I do it, though I barely get by and I think my accountant will fire me this year. I am ready to leave this country, but not because it is a bad one. I have lived abroad in many countries and we have it pretty good. But Canada sounds good as does the land of Oz. The student loan is such a scam and I KNOW I borrowed the money, but I also know it will make me homeless in the end. Better to have a life somewhere else I think.

  58. I'm sorry, but hearing people complain about $30,000 debt makes me laugh. Try $254,000. Half of which is interest. If I could refinance it, I might make it as I make good money gross, but just above poverty net. I could of had a lower interest but the banks blew me off for 4 months until it went up. Now I realize they did it on purpose. They could care less if I get hurt and can't pay it off as I hear they garnish disability checks as well. Nice system we have.

  59. Someone said they skipped out on $80,000 from loans right after they graduated and are proud of that? You didn't even try and pay it back? You my friend are a loser. People skipping on $30,000 are crazy IMO. If you try to make it and can not that is one thing, but to just leave after taking the money? That pisses me off and I think you are a scumbag.

    1. The "scumbags" are the banks that have made a fucking bonanza off of student loans (if the students cannot pay them, the government kicks it all in, this is the sweetheart deal Sallie Mae got) AND we had to bail them out and they are sitting on that money, not using it to help the economy, mortgages, student loans, etc.

      This is how stupid Americans are: the student debt scheme is class warfare, its damages are intentional, yet Americans want to scapegoat lenders, and not give a thought to the banks, the real crooks.

      A slight increase in taxes along with caps on tuition rates could give us both free education and free healthcare, but you morons want "no new taxes" and you are too dumb to realize that tax cuts are pennies for most of us and only benefit the filthy rich, (aka those who own this country and the US Congress and the Presidency).

  60. I am moving to Australia from the Us. I have a $30k adjust on my understudy credits. I have paid them back their 30k throughout the most recent 7 years, however with investment, I will press on to pay them once again for a different 15 years!

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  62. I left the USA for Canada 2 years ago. My outstanding balance was 8k. My employer received a letter requesting garnishment on my loan that has ballooned to 12k. How the F did my loan increase by 50% in 2 years? That's mega interest on a direct federal loan.

    Anyhow, my employer laughed and said.. don't they realize "name a Cdn city" isn't in the USA? They have no jurisdiction here.

    He was laughing but I wanted to cry. I'm a single mom (going through a divorce with the American dad - who doesn't pay child support). Is there anything I should do? I don't even own a Canadian credit card. I pay for almost everything in cash/debit card. I don't ever plan to move back to the USA. I started a new life here.

  63. Curious as to what happens with regard to someone's inheritance from their parents in the U.S., years later? I'd imagine that there could be a way to transfer those funds to the expat, if properly arranged beforehand, but what about real estate assets?

    Disaffected attorney here, just fantasizing and inquisitive.

  64. I left the U.S. in the 1990's with a $50k student loan and paid a portion back. When I owed £32k I informed the company I needed a brief reprieve to pay smaller amounts as I was pregnant and my income had dropped. The people I dealt with were rude and unwilling to work with me. I also need to add it cost me $60 extra dollars each month to get a US dollar amount check and then to send it out recorded delivery. And one time when the check arrived 2 days early the discount I was getting on the interest was taken away and then a fee and charges were tacked on for being late!!! I appealed, but was told I should have made sure it arrived on the exact day it was due.

    So, each month I got late charges added. I had my baby and a year after I stopped paying I made contact to work out an arrangement. And I was met with rudeness and told I was in big trouble for defaulting and the payments I was coming up with in my price range was not accepted (and they were not small amounts I came up with. I offered £$350 a month instead of the $550 a month), which is what I could afford. So, I have not looked back. They can whistle for their money as I have no intentions of returning to the U.S. to live. I have a very nice life where I am. I am not wealthy, but I can keep a roof over my son's head, clothes on his back and help my disabled mother out who depends on me sending her money each month so she does not become homeless.

    As for an inheritance (referring to the above poster), anything that is due to come to me is being given to my son. So, no worries there. It was going to him anyway.

  65. I will be leaving the country as well. Sallie Mae screwed me out of my education. I went overseas to study for medical school. I was doing very well, I was one of the top students in my class. Unfortunately during my 3rd year, my father who is retired now, was a victim a investment scam that took all his income away from him.

    For my 4th year, (its a six year program) Sallie Mae refused to let my father cosign my loans. I had to drop out because I could not get a new loan for the next year. 4th year I would have had pharmacology, that would have enabled me to take my USMLEs but as of now I cannot because I do not have the requirements to apply.

    Now I am working a miserable minimum wage job where I cannot support myself. I have to live with my parents and all my money goes to support them. I have no life, no way of getting out of this hell hole.

    Fortunately I am a citizen of the country I went to medical school in. My cousin, he has a waiter job in this country and guess what...he has his own apartment, his own car and he goes on vacations and is living a good life. I spoke to him recently and he said he has saved enough money to buy a small house in outskirts of the city. WOW. And look where I am. I am in the US, broke off my ass and living with my parents with no life.

    Oh yea and Sallie Mae is asking for $2000 a month. Which is total BS. I asked them to send me copies of the loans I took out. They sent me loans that MY BROTHER took out in High School, that my parents paid off for him. They are charging me for old loans that aren't even mine. I only took out $50,000 in loans but Sallie Mae want me to pay $200,000. Finally after many tries, they sent me the loans documenting MY TRUE LOANS, and guess what....the amount came out to $50,000 and yet they still are asking for $200,000! Unbelievable!

    Well SCREW THEM! SCREW AMERICA! I am tired of being poor and just trying to eek out a meager living. I am moving out to my true home country and will start enjoying life.

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  67. I'm 63,000 in debt and work as a counselor in a psych hospital - but it is "for profit" so no loan assistance ( FYI - 99% of jobs in the "public service" fields are "for profit" so even the programs to "help," are bullshit).

    I can barely make payments and am trying to help my autistic brother by giving him a home while me and hubby are in parents property (we are trying to do right and have him set up for long term).

    But the non stop work, the constant lack of time off (damn USA vacay bennies suck), being told bc I'm a counselor I should have my loans discharged after a period but then finding out oh no not if you work in for profit only if u work "here" with 1% of openings. I dont know what to do.

    I don't want USA going after home we're paying on for brother (another 94k in debt) and hubby is a marine surveyor so while I want to flee the logistics of fleeing feel almost as overwhelming as the crap here :(

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