Escape from America

March 2nd, 2007

Brother, I’ll drink to that!

Most people reading Cryptogon inside the U.S./Britain are familiar with nonstop feelings of impending doom and frequently asking themselves questions like:

Am I next?
Is this it?
Can I escape?
Is it too late?
Has everyone gone nuts?
Have I gone nuts?
Is this job killing me?
What booze is on sale?
etc. etc.

That was what it was like inside my head for about two years before I bought my one way ticket to New Zealand.

What was the actual escape like for me?

After a couple of hectic days of selecting what to take with me, and what to leave behind, the time arrived for me to get to the airport.

As I was groped and fondled by defenders of the Homeland at airport security, I went into a kind of dreamlike trace. “Will I make it out to the other side of this thing?” I wondered. The cacophony of the checkpoint became a sort of languid hum. The fat TSA employee started to move its lips, but I don’t remember what it said. I complied, on some instinctual level. A few minutes later, I was standing just beyond the security checkpoint, holding my shoes and belt in one hand, and my falling down pants with the other.

I exchanged a couple of brief, humiliated, what-just-happened-to-us? kind of looks with other travelers, many of whom were not Americans, and not used to being treated like that.

I walked to the appropriate Air New Zealand gate and sat down. I took my mobile phone out and called a couple of people to say one last goodbye. Then I called the voice mail system for my phone and changed the greeting to something close to this:

“Hi, you have reached Kevin. I have left the United States and don’t have any plans to return. Goodbye.”

Minutes later, hundreds of people, including me, took our seats in the belly of the large white bird. Minutes after that, it hurtled down the runway and out over the Pacific Ocean, veering South and West. I’ve never been able to sleep on aircraft before. But I did on that flight.

Once I was in Auckland, I had to catch another flight to reach the Far North, my wife (she went over a few weeks before me) and my new family. I walked to the domestic departures area in the Auckland airport and asked an Air New Zealand employee where the security checkpoint was, because I somehow wound up at the gate without passing through one.

“There is no security checkpoint for domestic flights, sir.”

You can imagine my shock at this remarkable statement.

“There’s no security checkpoint?!” I asked.

“Nope. Not for domestic flights,” she smiled.

I felt like dropping to the ground and kissing the polyester airport carpet, but I didn’t.

I took a seat and mumbled to myself, “I’m not even out of the airport and things already seem better here.” That was my first big epiphany in New Zealand, and they just kept happening. (Maybe someday I’ll write more about this. In short, if you’re having doubts about the lies you’ve been taught all your life about the U.S., run with those feelings. Run for your life.)

When I read the story below, I wondered, “How long has it been since I escaped America?” As of today, I have been in New Zealand for exactly one year. On reflection, I think back on my life in America as a vague and distant nightmare. The United States has became a vast nut house inside a debtor prison. I’m still not over the euphoria of being out.


It is near midnight and the dogs sleeping in the sand under my cabana, Rex and Pluto, emit happy, gurgling growls, as if chasing imaginary rabbits in their dreams. I lie in bed just breathing in and breathing out and feeling so free that I’ve laughed out loud a couple of times tonight, something I have never done in my life. At least not while simply looking at the ceiling. Tomorrow I will not worry about losing my ass in the declining real estate market. I will not commute three nerve grinding hours a day, or nervously engorge myself in front of my laptop for hours on end. Nor will I or wake up with the crimes of the empire running like adding machine tape in my head, annotated with all the ways I contributed to those crimes by participating in the American lifestyle. After more than two years of effort, I’m outta the gilded gulag, by damned, and tell myself that I have at last quit being part of the problem — or at least as much as much as anyone can without living stark naked in a Himalayan cave and toasting insects over a dung fire.

When I arrived in Belize a few weeks ago I vowed never to write about this country, mainly because the Americans I write to are more interested in American politics, religion, class issues and the Iraq war. How the hell could anybody with more than an inch of forehead not be anxious over those things? But the contrast here is so stark it seems unavoidable to write about the view of America from Belize and Hopkins Village this one time. I must say that from down here the Empire does not look much different. No worse, no better. But the stress and stench of the empire is less in this Caribbean breeze and the mark of the beast is sharper from a distance.

The effect of moving was immediate. As one expat told me years ago what would happen, whole days go by when I do not think of America at all, much less rage against it, something I would previously considered impossible.

44 Responses to “Escape from America”

  1. Doug Mitchell Says:

    Has it already been a year Kevin?

    Anita & I crossed the four year mark on 02 Dec. 2006, and let me tell you, we can relate to the each and every one of the sensations you describe.

    One phenomenon I’ve always thought interesting (if rather sad) is one of the central conceits of the collective American imperial psyche, all of which I often collectively refer to as the “Bernay’s Effect.” This particular delusion lives at the core of two very contradictory issues. The first is that overweening pride all Americans possess for their “great nation,” the other the strange illogic of immigration status in America. The phenom is the popular fiction that everyone else in the world wants to be like Americans, if only they could. To live there and experience the “freedom” and “prosperity” guaranteed to all, as the story goes.

    My first reading of Eduardo Galeano, back in high school, put the lie to that one. And yet, for the next twenty years I would hear nothing but riffs and variations on the theme, driven home on television (until I happily killed mine on Mr. Zappa’s advice in my early twenties), in film and throughout the popular print media.

    My first dreams of leaving, and distinct feelings of simply not being “American” enough somehow, actually arose by age 12, as my sense of the wider world first took realistic shape and form. And yes, I was a precocious kid, made worse by having jumped the standard education track into “gifted” programs where self-study and wider curriculum choices were de rigeur. Basically, a born dissident, much to my parents chagrin.

    The collision of these two realities, the born dissident trying to survive in the Land of Bernays, left me constantly at war with my own instincts much of the time, not to mention the expectations of so many others. I wonder to this day how I managed to maintain my sanity through my twenties, before I began to grow more comfortable in my own skin and ideas.

    A large part of that process was discovering not just books like Galeano’s “Open Veins of Latin America”, but actual people with actual stories to fill the cracks in my confidence, as beaten down as it was by the prevailing success ethos.

    The discovery of case after case after case of expat foreigners, most of who had married Americans and were nearly all pining for home, wherever it was. Of course, a few had been lured by the marketing, and among this group I’d say about half were pragmatic, living an in-between life with roots maintained back home while working in states to build up a pile of cash.

    In Joe B’s excellent “Escape From America” essay, the fallacy of America as the great dream — the place all people of the world wish to emigrate to or emulate in their own land — is once again revealed to be more words than any sort of wisdom.

    Today, living in the rural German west (and yet very near the beating heart of old world Gladio-style fascism, I might add), I run smack into the Big Lie quie often. Of course, Germany has been an occupied nation since 1944, a fact we are reminded of all too often by the A-10’s & F-16’s flying DIRECTLY overhead on their way to Spangdahlem (0ur big silo is claarly a nav marker on final approach).

    Many Germans still possess a romantic notion of America, driven by influences like “cowboys & indians” Karl May trash lit and the constant throb of the ever-present global palliative of TV against their minds. While we may have escaped from Fortress America, we are still well within Fortress Europe. I’m not deluded.

    Still, it is our hope that a centuries-old legacy of self-sufficiency and the sheer proximity of so much brutal history will work in our favor. As a rule, Germans seem a much less warlike folk than your average American, for a multitude of reasons. They are still aware of what war really means when it’s right in your backyard.

    America, love it or leave it, right?

    The door certainly didn’t hit us on the ass on the way out.

  2. Alek Hidell Says:

    Kevin, I hope that your good fortune continues.

    In my case, within six months of landing in NZ, my younger sister in the US developed cancer. Fortunately, my mother was able to care for her, and a remission followed the operation. However this year my mother has also developed cancer and my sister’s cancer has recurred. My sister will surely die this year.

    There are no good solutions. If I neglect my loved ones, I am a cowardly monster, and what is my own life worth? But getting on a plane to the US is the last thing I want to do.

  3. Technofreak Says:

    Welcome to the real world 🙂
    I am about a couple of hundred miles east of you on the north coast of Australia and its just dandy here too.
    I never realised that you escaped from the asylum? Enjoy.
    I will now read you rantings in a whole different light.

  4. cryingfreeman Says:

    That all was wonderful to read. Great to see the sense of emancipation one gets for being a doer, not a mere dreamer.

    My great desire is to find a place that won’t have the Orwellianism currently escalating in the UK. It is my belief that the whole globe (except maybe poor regions like much of Africa) will eventually succumb to a hyper-ID system, but some places will stand free longer than others.

    Another requirement I have is for dry air. Ireland has destroyed my health. Every time I go to the Alps, I can breathe. When I return the Ireland, the cool humidity triggers a terrible respiratory disease that has debilitated my life – as I write this, I do so on the back of a mere 5 hours of sleep due to the tickly cough from hell. Ideally, I need to be located somewhere on the periphery of
    extensive mountainous country.

    Added to which, I want to be combining all that with somewhere I can grow my family’s own food and live a life below the radar / off the grid, and enjoy the labours of my owns hands without onerous legalised theft (taxes) and without checkpoints and stifling bureaucracy at every step of the way.

    In the meantime, I continue to work to generate the required funds to do this. I won’t be waiting until I am awash with more than I need; the most prudent bare minimum and I’ll be off. The strength I draw from the feeling of anticipated liberty “redivivus” is nothing words could convey!

  5. Technofreak Says:

    that should be west of you…hehehe.

  6. BLOGDIAL » Blog Archive » Escape from America Says:

    […] […]

  7. TimBuck2 Says:

    Oh my, one year and I bet that in someways it already feels like an eternity.
    Having left Germany just over 14 years ago, I can still remember THAT moment of feeling liberated, knowing that I won’t be back.
    Doug says that “Many Germans still possess a romantic notion of America”, mostly I guess it’s not just Karl May and Winnetou (how many folks outside of Germany know of him anyway?), but mainly because for the best part of 60+ years, the US has been hailed as the saviour and couldn’t possibly be doing any wrongs.
    Lets just hope that the feared “hyper-ID system” will be a little while of down here in NZ, but yes, eventually we may all end up in it somehow. But hey, there’s still a number of rather tasty little islands out there in the Pacific…

  8. balogh Says:

    I think that the “escape plan” that you describe is available to all, but relevant for only a few. It takes a certain type of person to be able to pack up and leave the country.

    I wonder what the flip side of your story is? How could one leave close family, friends, and the land you grew up on? How can you be OK with your children (if you’re going to have them) not growing up surrounded by family (aunts, uncles, cousins, etc.)

    I think that it takes a certain personality to pack up and leave. An adventurous one for sure, but also fierce independence, to the point of going it alone.

    Sure the shit may hit the fan, and it may be as bad and as orwellian as you believe. You may stand on the other side of the globe and blog “I told you so.” But, for many the choice to leave family and friends behind would be indefensible. Like Alek said, “There are no good solutions. If I neglect my loved ones, I am a cowardly monster, and what is my own life worth? But getting on a plane to the US is the last thing I want to do.” Who will be there to care for the elderly and the sick?

    I don’t want to come across as knocking your philosophy, I read your site with an almost unhealthy frequency. I did want to comment that for all your readers it may not be that simple, and straight forward to pack up and go. I love your romantic posts about your trip to NZ, but to be sure a truer piece of journalism would be to discuss what you did (or did not) have to leave behind.

  9. Kevin Says:

    I use the phrase, “being out” loosely, of course. As Doug mentions with the U.S. military influence in Germany and cryingfreeman with the growing Orwellian specter in the UK (and elsewhere), the tentacles of fascism are long.

    I think of it as a hub and spoke system. There are hubs of fascism, and spokes that connect to them out of necessity. While it might be possible to leave the hubs (U.S., Britain or China, for example), as long as you’re in a country that does trade with the U.S., the European Union or China, you’re still in on the act.

    It’s not a topic most progressive people would want to address, but I think many countries are riding on the coattails of U.S. hegemony. The influence of the U.S. is so profound that many people who think they’re outside of it don’t even notice it. Take New Zealand for example. The U.S. isn’t so popular with the man on the street here. Who’s New Zealand’s number two trading partner?

    It’s the U.S.

    Number three is Japan.

    Should New Zealand stop doing business with the U.S.? (Crickets, pins dropping, jaws hanging slack.)

    The U.S. is the hub of the hubs. The activities that are shaping life on this planet are geared toward selling goods and services to the U.S. Even out here on the spokes, that’s happening.

    So, it’s not out. As long as the U.S. retains its unipolar superposition on the world stage, its influence will be felt pretty much everywhere. To what degree, though, is what varies. (When the U.S. finally implodes, old regional alliances and animosities will be right back in our faces.)

    But these are the finer points.

    I knew a little history. The parallels between 1930s Germany and present day America became too much for Becky and me. Americans, people I knew, started telling themselves the same lies Germans were telling each other in the 1930s about what was happening back then. For Becky and me, it became, “Get out now. If we’re wrong about what is happening, fine. But if we’re right… We don’t want to be here.”

    Obviously, it wasn’t as dramatic for me as people fleeing other fascist states, but America just seems to be one flick of the switch away from something so overtly grotesque that guessing timelines and trying to hedge our bets started to feel like Russian roulette.

    @ cryingfreeman and “the most prudent bare minimum and I’ll be off.”

    Well said. This was exactly the plan Becky and I executed. Having the plan gave me the motivation to show up to work and perform at the level required, but it also provided the discipline to live frugally as our savings increased.

    The job was transformed from a dead end nightmare into a way of getting from point A to point B, and in a finite period of time.

    This system assumes that you’ll be broke at the end of every month. Holding onto what’s left of your hard earned money (after the state is done with you) becomes a revolutionary act. When you decide to change the way you’re going to play the game, more options spring into view.

    @ balogh

    I don’t talk much about this, but I was more disgruntled/depressed than you might imagine. Everyone has limits as to what they can tolerate, and I was beyond that point. The stress from having to exist in the rat race caused me to shut down. There didn’t seem to be a way to ease back from that insane tempo. The only people I knew who did it there were homeless. For me, there was no future. I felt dead already. It’s incredible what you can accomplish when you consider yourself dead!

    Of course, leaving my family behind was difficult, and it still makes me sad sometimes. But I’m alive. I’m happier than I can remember being in a very long time. Believe me, if Becky and I have kids, they will have far more friends and family members doting over them here than back in the U.S. I love my family in the U.S., but they work six to seven days per week, including my dad, who’s 75. They wouldn’t have any time to be around kids. All they do is work. The sad thing about my dad is that it’s not even necessary. He just can’t stop working, like a junkie who can’t stop shooting up. No interests outside of work. No friends outside of work. No dreams for the future. He doesn’t even watch sports on TV anymore. Work. Work. Work. It’s a sickness. I found him in his car once, head leaning back against the chair. I thought he was dead. I’d long prepared myself for this moment because I knew he’d just drop dead from working so much. Nope. He wasn’t dead. He was just sleeping in the car because he was too tired to walk into the house.

    As for leaving the place I grew up (Southern California): I hated that place. I never fit in there. It became more absurd with each passing year.

  10. pookie Says:

    pookie just celebrated her 3-month Escape from America anniversary by sucking down a bottle of local red.

  11. fallout11 Says:

    I’d planned to link to the Joe Bageant article as soon as an appropriate posting appeared, because while reading it I could not help but think of Kevin’s exodus.
    Read all of Joe’s articles if and when you get the chance. They’re great.

  12. Tim Fuller Says:

    Comment #8 probably hit the mark as close as possible. I agree almost 100% with all those observations as well as those of this site. The post on trading issues was interesting, but let’s figure out how that will change when Americans are forced to pay for the true costs of oil. Oil disruption by design (Iran war) seems a likely scenario in the short term. Supply problems in the longer term. Either way, I don’t think American business and society could survive on European level fuel prices We had a shot at saving ourselves, but conservation and solar died when Carter left office. The big crash envisioned by the author of this site need not be predicated by war, false flag ops. etc. Maybe I’m wrong, but wouldn’t five or six dollar a gallon gas prices lead to civilian unrest and that alone be used as a predicate for martial law?


  13. Doug Mitchell Says:

    Your “Germany in the 1930’s” analogy was a frequent invocation of yours truly in the five years leading up to our liquidating and pulling chocks, Kevin. We were mentally preparing ourselves, or more accurately, I was doing my damndest to demonstrate to my Eifelaner frau why we should be going sooner rather than later.

    That said, I KNOW of what you speak ‘TimBuck2’, when you describe your feelings upon leaving fourteen years ago. My wife bolted at first opportunity in the early eighties, with an American, ending up in Tijuana Norte. That’s San Pedro, for those who know eL-Ay. She too had reservations about returning to what I also recognize is a pretty rigid social order.

    However, like Kevin, I was well-armed with historical background, while she was also well-acquainted with both the history and her own family’s recollections of the actual Nazi period. For the last four years we’ve lived in an old Mosel-Frankish style historical monument of sorts, a stones throw from the Europa Point (Deu/Bel/Lux), collecting pre- and post-war anecdotal histories from her parents, aunts and uncles.

    What’s most striking are the multiple accounts of fixed elections and strong-arming at the local level by small-time sociopaths enabled by the rise of Adolf and his Brownshirt Gang.

    How largely hard-working, unassuming and often religious farmers (we’re in Catholic country) were coerced, hounded and threatened into playing along, all the while hoping the assholes would go away. Then came the 100% Nazi victories on local ballots, which they knew were rigged, as many of them (my wife’s family included) definitely did NOT vote for them, despite the steady coercion.

    The American history books I read back in school days used words like “capitulation” and “complacency” to describe the Volks-attitude, but that isn’t what I hear on the ground here. My father-in-law, bless his stubborn and independent heart, cost his father a great deal of money in fines not showing up for Hitler Youth functions.

    That same solo streak runs strong through my wife, and was a major part of her bolting a university education to train her for she knew not what — but whatever it was, she knew she’d be pigeon-holed into doing it pretty much for life. Sound familiar, Tim?

    Our eventual return, when we finally made it, was on our own terms. Like the Farmlet folk, we made bank and parked as much as we could get away with. We came back to a home paid for in 1751, with attached forests and lands, to help her parents enjoy the final years of their lives in greater ease. At this we are succeeding, and at once carving out our own quiet niche as far below the radar as is posssible. The cost of living differences between the LA metropolis and the Eifel are staggering, especially if you’re good at gently massaging the bureaucracy, as necessary.

    With the property transitioning slowly into our ever-more-capable hands, zero debt and a strong desire to record and practice as much old folk wisdom as we can lay our hands on, wee intend to play the small holder strategy to the fullest, as we continue building out our own local food network among farmers in our village and others nearby. Grass-fed limosuine beef we can talk to during our regular walks. Fresh raw milk and butter from the same source. A huge house garden maintained for the last forty years by my mother-in-law, bless hard-working soul.

    The family aspect is the one that haunts me most, quite honestly. What happens when my Mom or Dad go down hard? (and it’s coming sooner than later) Thankfully, my little brother, a highly successful defense contact whore now worth quite a lot, is there and happy to serve the empire. But when they do pass, I will struggle mightily, as I don’t intend to return.

    I said as much when departing, offering them both a comfy country retirement here should they so choose. They just looked at me sideways.

  14. dermot o connor Says:

    That’s a beautiful post.

    “The fat TSA employee started to move its lips, but I don’t remember what it said.”

    Ha! The TSA drones in my case were:
    1. Fat girl
    2. Skinny boy
    They were polite enough. They were little more than kids. I felt sorry for them. What a vile Mcjob – having to rub down strangers to pay the rent on your rat-infested hovel.

    Having moved from to Ireland to California in 94, an then to Canada in late 2006 (albeit on a work permit, not Permanent Residence), I can testify to the relief of escaping the diseased American way of life – by which I mean the 20th century way of life.

    As with Kevin’s story, the change is apparent in the airports of foreign countries, not just in the country itself. The SECURITY STAFF are nicer; people talk to you, they’re not fearful every second of every day.

    I arrived near my final destination in a medium sized city – pop ~100,000. It was late, and the taxis were very busy – I was standing on the sidewalk at 1am, waiting for one. The security guard was closing up, and saw me waiting there. He gave me a lift to the hotel.

    That got the trip off to a good start.

    For me, the hardest part was getting rid of possessions – the collected belongings of 20 years. It’s made me skittish about buying anything. When I moved into my apartment I didn’t even bother buying furniture or a bed – I have cushions for seats and I sleep on the floor.

    I haven’t died yet.

    We work in a small studio in a small town. Most of us walk to work, and to one another’s homes to hang out…it’s an unusual way of life for a animator – most studios are in the “hubs”, as Kevin calls them. When I was offered the job here, even though it was paying half what I was making in LA, I jumped at it. Oddly, I’m saving far more money here than in the U.S., for some reason.

    If anything goes wrong and I have to leave here, I’ll have to decide if I want to move back to the U.S. (strictly for work). I’m working on Permanent Residence in Canada, but in a short term pinch I’d have to make a snap decision. As nice as it would be to see old friends again, I just don’t think I could stomach it.

    Europe ain’t perfect, but it’s nice to have an EU passport.

  15. Mark Says:

    I escaped the Fortress many years ago, but my circumstances were unique. Having been a military child my whole life, I had already been accustomed to living in other countries. When I was 17 (1997) I longed for the homeland and decided to live a year back in the US with my aunt, and go to college there too.
    Now mind you, this was 1997. Pre-Bush tyranny, Pre 9/11 hysteria, Pre Afghanistan & Iraq invasions. And I only stayed there 1 year, and I told myself f-this. I couldn’t explain it, but I didn’t fit in. Everyone’s value system was (in my opinion, sorry if anyone finds this offensive) f*ed up. Wrong priorities, wrong conceptions, f*ed up families, it was just all wrong. I couldn’t believe the general state of ignorance that people lived in, and how dumbed down everybody was. I felt like the odd man out in Orwell’s 1984, and at the time I didn’t even know about the book 1984. So after a year, even though I was accepted by one of the finest Universities the Northeast, I decided to pack my bags and go back to Europe. Currently I’m living in Japan and have been here for a several years, but ultimately I’ll settle back to Europe, where I spent most of my life anyway. When I get on Skype and call relatives & friends back in the US nowadays, I feel like I’m talking to people from a different planet, and yet that is my homeland. I mean in high school we would sometimes drive up to the Canadian border on the weekends to get smashed in Canada, since the drinking age was 18 there. A flash of a driver’s license was all that was needed to get through. My friend laughed when I mentioned that to him the other day, asking him if he still remembers. He said those carefree days of driving into Canada as if it was nothing are long gone, he told me it’s a changed world. I haven’t even set foot in the US in 6 years so if I ever even went back for a visit I’d probably feel like an alien in my own land.

    To those thinking of escaping the Fortress but are doubtful – all I can say is, if you have a loving and supportive spouse who will come with you, and you really are too unhappy living in the insanity of the US, then do it. If you’re all alone and would have to go to a foreign country on your own with no connections, it’s a lot harder, but again it all boils down to your priorities. Which would you rather be, happy living in a semi-state of freedom in another country, or miserable living under tyranny? The choice is yours… and you’ve still got time to do it. How much more time, nobody really knows.

  16. neighbor Says:

    I’m in the midst of pursuing one option that may take my family out of the U.S. (actually, let me re-phrase that: my husband is pursuing it as he’s applying for a position abroad – at my urging). It’s one of many applications, including several to US gov. agencies in re-payment of a grant he received in grad school that had srings (service requirement)… It’s a race now, as to which will offer him the job first.

    What strikes me as so completely ludicrious about our “choice” is that we’ll either go into the heart of this beast (DC area), or the claws of another (China). I try to imagine that moving to China (where we speak the language -though I’m not exactly fluent), where we have more family, could be good. I have to imagine pretty hard because I know the beauracracy there. Its tentacles are strong and cunning.

    In the back of my mind, though, are the connections my husband has with western China (eastern Tibet) which is still remote and relatively free, the fact that my children have lived there (briefly) and they love it… so though Bageant meant it facetiously, I keep in mind the slight chance that maybe we can escape to “living stark naked in a Himalayan cave and toasting insects over a dung fire.”

    It’s a little depressing, the whole thing. Either we’re stuck here or we’re not… it all depends on the timing, on the job offers, on the clinging tenacity of the american dollar, on staying under the radar in both countries. Seriously, the brightest star seems to be shining in the Himalayas, for us, but there are so many hoops to jump through before we even get close. And how nuts am I to consider this whole thing, to consider moving somewhere where I have limited communication skills (outside of basic Mandarin), am unfamiliar with most cultural customs (having never lived in Tibetan areas), am basically un-needed because most folks are self-sufficient or tied into the economic system, and where I will be out of reach of my family completely (here in US). Unlike moving to Europe or NZ, nobody in my family would want to live in China, and especially not rural eastern Tibet where the diet is unvarying and showers are few and far between.

    I feel like we’re a day late and a dollar short, trying to buy something that is itself questionable. But here we are landless, supported by my wage slavery only (and temporary at that), aware of what’s going on, but merely peons in the bigger picture.

    Is that a long enough mope? I’m sorry. I have no one to talk to – my husband doesn’t even guess that the reasons I’m enthusiastic about leaving are because I think it’s only going to get nastier here. He thinks everything’s peachy in the world and that it’ll just keep humming along, with frequent uninteruppted air travel and plenty of food for everyone.

    Kevin, I take hope in your story. At least there’s hope.

  17. BG Says:

    Maybe my wife and I will one day be able to leave too. I see the same thing here in Oregon you talked about Kevin, about everyone here spending all their time either working or glued to the TV or computer, hypnotized by the message of consumerism spewed out by mainstream media..

    This is not the way we are meant to live.

    Now all I need to do is to formulate a workable plan, decide where to go. Canada and Mexico seem much too close. It would have to be somewhere overseas. A buddy of mine from Indonesia says that there are hundreds of little islands there(By little i mean 1 sq mile or more in size) for sale for really cheap.. Might be worth checking into.

    RE: cryingfreeman Says: It is my belief that the whole globe (except maybe poor regions like much of Africa) will eventually succumb to a hyper-ID system, but some places will stand free longer than others.

    I too have this belief. I was watching this morning how ID theft seems to be running rampant, I could see big brother deciding for us that we all need to be “chipped” in order to function in society, from everything to buying goods and services, to traveling anywhere..

    We’ve got to leave before the gov’t decides that w’re not allowed to..

  18. marco Says:

    Hi Kevin,

    very informative blog!

    The situation in Europe – which rarely if ever is discussed in your posts – is not that bad (or, not yet).

    Every time I visit the US (for business), I’m disappointed at the way people are treated “for security reasons”, and I’m glad in my old continent I can fly from Rome (where my parents and friends live) to Barcelona (where I go for fun) to Paris (where I work) for just a few tens of euros, with no fool security check and no reason to carry with me the passport (any national Italian ID is OK).

    Nice place Europe, isn’t it?



  19. Matt Savinar Says:


    Just so you know, I feel EXACTLY the same way: a day late, a dollar short, and not sure what to buy even if I had showed up yesterday and with the money

    At Kev:

    A big factor for you is you got lucky in matters of the heart. Yes, you planned this out, busted your ass, etc. But if you hadn’t met your “Hot Kiwi Wife!!!” you’d still be here I reckon?

    FWIW, on my myspace page I put a request out for NZ ladies. No luck as of yet.

  20. Steve Says:

    How is your kiwi slang coming along now bro? Have you mastered the intricacies of using words such as ‘sweet’, ‘choice’, ‘wicked’ and of course ‘bro’ and ‘cuz’?

    I assume you flew into Whangarei and drove further north. Exactly how far from Whangarei are you? Of course I’ll understand you may not want to publish this information.

  21. cryingfreeman Says:

    So what do we make of Joel Skousen’s view? I think (unless I’ve misunderstood something) he reckons holing up in remote regions of the USA is the safest bet.

    Personally, I see encroaching Orwellianism as a much more pressing and probable menace than the nuclear war he envisages, not that I wish to disparage his opinions at all, and accordingly I feel that acquiring meaningful liberty and securing a sustainable existence, has to be the number one priority right now. That’s how serious I view this war on freedom (and on the environment) being waged by our rulers right now.

  22. Michelle in Ga Says:

    Kevin-awesome writing. (I will now go
    shop on amazon via your website.)

    Matt-You could try updating your photo.
    Show a little skin. Wear some matrix sunglasses.
    Pose with a fuzzy puppy. I think you get the picture. 🙂

  23. Matt Savinar Says:


    Joel seems to take a bit more balanced approach. He talks/writes alot about the need for many folks to stay in metro areas in order to keep the money flowing in.

    He also has lots of cautionary tales of people who, against his advise, move out to their rural retreat and then need to come back but can’t for lack of funds.

  24. Kevin Says:

    My plan before I met Becky?

    I was planning on building a non-permitted earthbag dwelling on a couple bare land acres in Oregon. I wouldn’t have been able to afford anything with a “legal” house. But Oregon has lots of land for sale that’s not zoned for residence. Hint: these blocks of land are much cheaper than those zoned for residence. I’m not saying to break the law, of course. I’m not saying anything like that…

    Why did we choose New Zealand over Oregon?

    A) Oregon, sadly, is inside the U.S.
    B) Becky has lots of family in the area where we live in NZ
    C) Oregon’s climate is a bit cold for Becky’s taste

  25. Chris Says:

    Lively discussion on this post.
    It’s kept my wife and I up late tonight discussing our options…
    Kevin, I’m glad that you’re out there working the farmlet.
    Although maybe you and Ran could have turned out to be neighbors up in Oregon?
    Thanks for everything.

  26. tsoldrin Says:

    I’ve actually looked into Oregon myself… it’s not flawless, but it has interesting possibilities, for the short term at least. It’s all short term of course, there is no real escape, unless you’re going to leave the planet or kill The Beast… it’s all just temporary reprieve.

    If I didn’t think THEY would just torpedo it, I’d suggest something wacky like a flotilla colony on the high seas. 😉

  27. Matt Savinar Says:


    “a flotaill colony on the high seas” LMAO!

    I take it you saw Water world? Just think that but with Blackwater contractors as the bad guys.

  28. Englandland Says:

    sounds idyllic,,,, but as a londoner, I know just how many aussies and new zealanders come with some longing in their bones, back to the motherland.

    If escape works for you, then great, a lot of americans have never quite planted their roots in their home country anyway, a lot of the brit escapees end up back home though, just where they started, so the message to me is that if you don’t like where you are, fight for what you do want.

  29. Englandland Says:

    com… but then, of nice beaches and beautiful forests are OK with you, best of luck!

  30. ashley Says:

    i am a college student and going to NZ in January for a semester…i wonder if i could just not come back, or if i have to stay in the US shitter until i paid off all my student debts…what are my chances?

  31. passerby Says:

    I’ve had romantic notions of such a move recently. The cognitive dissonance is becoming more difficult to handle. Freedom, economic advancement, and stability (maybe also exceptionalism) have been touted as unique characteristics of living in America. All seem more hollow now.

    The size and scope of the government here has become comparable to those of European states (local + state + federal reflect ~40% of economy). Unfortunately, whereas most of these sums represent social services or producing (e.g., state-owned corporate) interests in the EU, the US expends far greater resources to policing the populace and war. The number of civil/regulatory cases, as well as prisoners is quite astounding.

    Economic well being seems more difficult for most as both income disparity and social mobility have become quite stratified. It now seems easier to change classes in Canada and many EU countries than here. This is a surprising finding.

    I get the sense that America manages stability and integrity through growth (primarily economic, but also territorial). Having no threatening neighbors also helps. There seems to be significant signs of competitive degradation, and weakening of the reserve currency will likely lead to fiscal and monetary strains (maybe longer term comparative advantage, though?). In any case, I fear an 1890’s or 1930’s style depression over today’s social fabric.

    There were periods in American history where all three were in greater jeopardy than now. However, alternatives were less favorable, and the means of maintaining order would not be fitting in this era (Americans would be the butt of even more human rights jokes). Moreover, it seems that American policies (especially foreign) have been outsourced to other people. Generally, families are better than orphanages.

    I work in an industry where America still maintains a tenuous primacy, so movement would not be best now. However, many private entities have sounded alarms about how regulations and police state impulses have undermined even this engine for ‘growth’. True or not, there are now more alternatives in the world.

  32. Rongomai Says:

    Well I’m a kiwi and I was born and raised here… and you’re all welcome…

    I’m headed to the states as soon as I get some cash. I want to go to the heart of the beast. See how bad it really is!

    Ashley – I suggest marrying a local student, they will receive a larger student allowance if they are married. You will get residency. Unfortunately you will have to live with your spouse and know which drawer they keep their socks in…

  33. fallout11 Says:

    My better half and I have decided to remain in the US and “hunker down in the ‘hood”, staying where we have friends and family, know the people, the land, and the resources at the local level, if no longer recognizing the government, mass media, and increasingly the culture at a national level.
    We have some land and are presently building our ‘lifeboat’ in a quiet rural backwater close enough to the smallish city I grew up in that, in a pinch, we could bicycle to work. We remain pessimistically optimistic (prepare for the worst, hope for the best).

  34. Cathal Dunne Says:

    To you who languish in the Land of the Not Quite So Free I say–Come to Ireland!

    We have the freest press, highest quality of life and third freest economy in the world.

    We have jobs growth at 2.6 times that of the US, so those who escape the US will find jobs just like that. We have a free and friendly nature and will accommodate you here.

    As well as that, we have low levels of income taxes so you will be able to keep much of your wages when you work over here.

    And we have a very young country, 50% of our capital city’s population-Dublin is less than 27 years of age. That means LOADS of relationship prospects for young singletons coming here too.

    If you love life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, I repeat.. Come to Ireland!

  35. Henry Miller Says:

    I’ve been out of the prison country now for 11 years. Things have changed though. It seems the “Beast” is spreading her sharp and unclean claws. It’s harder to escape and to fly under her breath. Even though I’m in Japan it stills seems to anger me and draw me in. I feel now that I can’t ignore anymore even if my anger leads me to more heartbreak. I have made it my last mission to tell people about one man, Ron Paul. I’m sorry for bringing politics to this web-site but I feel he is worth giving attention to. A breath of fresh air, a last gasp from a floundering democracy….

  36. Novell Says:

    It seems you never “fit in” being in the USA…that is why you left.
    Lots of people dont fit in so they leave their native country and go to another one. Like Indians or Chinese who go to Canada.
    But you seem to take it so personal that things are changing in a way you dont like such as National ID cards, or popular culture.
    Its that accurate or am I missing the point here?
    I was born in Asia, moved to the US as a child and now work in both Asia and the US. If you dont like the way the US is going why dont you do something about it instead of just running away?

  37. Jason Says:

    Oh my, this is just so precious! I’m especially interested in your solution, your self-imposed irrelevancy let’s call it: You move to a country that contributes about 1% the foreign aid that the US does, but you’re happier about your contribution to the world at large! Wonderfully illustrative and hilarious at once!

    It’s amusing to think about how those who’ve actually suffered throughout history would get a kick out of this trendy new faux-suffering (in the freest, wealthiest nation ever, no less). Those like yourself, so insulated from the realities of hardship that you must invent it in hilariously improbable settings, are one of the West’s most oddly unique accomplishments, and, I think, a symptom of our success.

    If only more like yourself had the courage of your convictions! I think we’d all gain immensely from further such trans-pacific transactions.

  38. tochigi Says:

    hahaha…the trolls come out to play!
    ignorance is so, IMPRESSIVE, right?

    BTW, Kevin, reading the comments above, seems like you have more Japan-based readers than we thought.
    I’d be happy to try and guide you through the sign-up process if you are interested…cheers!

  39. americaheldhostage Says:

    Back when I and my childhood sweetheart-wife to be, were young and idealistic, we had, for whatever adventurous spirited ideas, desired to emigrate to Australia, New Zealand, or Denmark armed with only a few National Geographic articles and 60 minutes documentaries we had read and heard. We even considered idyllic Iceland, for as New Yorkers the cold didn’t seem to be an issue, and she loved the sheep and wholesome politically neutral peoples. And Canada, no less, as we were minutes from the border and staying employed, and financially well off was not in the stars, for us most of the time. This was during the Vietnam war era, which was but a small factor in desiring to go but we were back from a cross country trip of three weeks on a shoesting, immediately regretting upon return to NY that we hadn’t remained in the Oregon, Idaho, Montana region. After writing and applying to Canada as willing expatriates to be, we were turned away as unnecessary to the socio-economic benefit of the commonwealth of mother Canada and our dreams of faraway places diminished for us however slowly. In practicality as well as perhaps not having quite the visionary resourcefulness of finding that elusive, hard scrabble money to go someplace regardless. And later, life just became that all too common redundant rut of staying alive surviving rent & mortgages, dozens of stateside moves, raising a fine little family and continual underemployment. And then she was gone in 2005- at at all too young age of 49…life throws hardballs when you blink or sleep at the wrong times.
    What if we had taken the road not taken? How different might life had been for us? And my now irreversible regrets not acting upon those aspirations of adventure, come hell or high water. Not procrastinating and letting the dreams vapourize?
    If you have the dream to move on and beyond the borders, or merely to realize your dreams here and hunker down below the radar for all the right geo-political cultural-economic reasons for yourselves, then I say do it now! Forge ahead thoughtfully, having weighed all the options with cons and pros, but move forward and go for the prize…don’t be harsh on yourself if things did not turn out quite the way you imagined on your journey…you can still hold up your head high and say: ‘We’ve done it, so there’!

    PS. For some fascinating reading, there is a expat by the name of Mike (in Tokyo) Rogers, ex radio dj and rocker musician, who lives by choice, since the eighties, in Japan of all places and writes of his positive experiences extensively in current updates and in archives on a forum called Lew Rockwell dot com.

  40. hawaiigeorge Says:

    So many of the comments echo my feelings, yet Leaving America is like a bizarro Porgy and Bess analogy:Tired of Staying But Scared of Leaving.When your country is all you really know,traveling abroad notwithstanding,it is hard to leave.However no one on this site has mentioned how HARD it is to live anywhere outside the USA legally.No one wants Americans and we cannot apply as Political Refugees as the UN will not apply that convention to US citizens..nor will most foreign governments!!!NOT ONE of our Allies will admit US nationals as immigrants except under stringent exceptions..and Australia and New Zealand are simply not open!!!!So it is off to the 3rd World to “buy” your way in through investment or retirement.But it may not be so bad as the 1st World is ever feeling the noose of one world government become reality faster and more frightening than most….

  41. Kevin Says:


    You’re right. I have the easiest path to tread here in New Zealand, because I’m married to a Kiwi, and the process is a pain.

  42. Greenguy1 Says:

    I’m a few months out from my final escape. Every time my plane lands in a foreign country I feel the same sense of euphoria you describe, the “I’m finally free (of the land of the free)” feeling.

  43. Tina Says:

    I’ve been seriously thinking about getting out myself, but I have a husband and eight year old son to consider. (Our son also has autism.) For the last three years, I have been fed up with the constant bickering and fighting in this country. And I think both parties are to blame.

    Any of you who have left the US and settled down in NZ, feel free to drop a comment on my blog and tell me of your experiences.

  44. Tangoland Says:

    To my fellow Americans, the best place to relocate is San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina-South America. Clean air, dry air, not dangerous wild animals, NOT criminals, NOT politicians, full of crystal-clear lakes, long sunny-days, cheap food, cheap health services,the best of the best. The only thing is that you have to learn a little Spanish.

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