I often write on Quora.com, where I am the most viewed writer on financial matters, with over 273.7 million views in recent years.
In the answers below I focused on the following topics and issues:
- Why do people below the age of 50 want to be rich? Is it a misconception in the first place that younger people are more motivated by getting rich compared to older generations?
- Does the experience of living in China make many Western expats to reconsider previously held opinions? I suggest why many expats do, indeed, change their minds about China, but perhaps not in the way you would expect!
- What is the easiest country to start a business as a resident, or for that matter, non-resident? This one might surprise you!
- Is Thailand a good place to be as an expat if you want to settle for the long-term? I consider many factors including the quality of the medical facilities, ease of obtaining visas and so on.
Some of the links and videos displayed on the original answers might not show up on here, and if so, you will need to refer to the original answers to view that.
If you want me to answer any questions on Quora or YouTube, or you are looking to invest, don’t hesitate to contact me, email (firstname.lastname@example.org) or use the WhatsApp function below
Here is the interesting thing. Deep down, a lot of people want to either be wealthy and/or high-income.
It is ironic, as many people will blame “the rich”, and yet want to be rich themselves, even if they say things like “i just want to be comfortable”.
I have seldom seen somebody give away a large inheritance, regardless of their political views!
So, I don’t think this is solely a young person’s issue, but maybe a higher percentage of young people have misconceptions about what it is like to be rich.
A few years ago, so entertaining and funny memes were circulating about jobs.
The theme was reality vs what other people think you do.
Here are some examples
I will add one. Many people think this is a rich person:
In reality, this is more likely to be a “rich” person:
The point is this. In most developed societies, most people can get wealthy.
That could mean get rich slow via investing and compound returns as per the graph below from Business Insider:
Or that could mean more aggressive wealth management strategies.
But each requires sacrifices such as:
- Hard work
- Taking calculated risks
- Delayed gratification rather than only living for today.
Now sure, you might eventually be able to outsource things and move towards the “4 hour work week” as per Tim Ferris’ book, but that is usually some way down the line.
So, unless you inherit loads of money, creating wealth requires sacrifices, even more so than just having a bigger and bigger income.
Over the age of 50, i think more people realize what has gone into the wealth creation process.
Therefore, I do hear more older people say things like “such and such is wealthier than me, but I don’t envy him because he works longer hours and took X and Y risks ”
A higher percentage of younger people seem to assume that creating wealth is easy and comes with few sacrifices.
This isn’t true and even if it is possible for most people to become wealthy without having a high IQ or working 20 hours a day, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t require some sacrifices.
Social media influencers haven’t helped with that.
Oh yes! But perhaps not in the way you might imagine.
The typical cycle goes like this
- Stage one. Expats come to China with their own pre-conceived notions. Some are good, others are negatives and some others are neutral.
- Stage two. Expats come to China and have a honeymoon period and think everything is better than the West and there is a lot of misconceptions in the media about China. This lasts for a few months, but often 1–2 years. What doesn’t help with this is that China has a concept of “not airing your dirty laundry out in public”. A case in point. Back when I lived in China, one guy I knew seemed very nationalistic when he spoke in English. He always defended the CCP. Then one day, when he didn’t know I was listening or assumed that I can’t understand Chinese, he complained about CCP corruption and a million other things! But most expats at stage two don’t yet have the needed cultural knowledge to understand this point, and also take the WuMao’s at face value. Quora has plenty of those – basically they are paid to troll and put positive things online about China.
3. Stage three. Some expats learn the language, at least to a reasonable level. They start to see the good, bad and ugly. They peel away the scabs. For example, they learn that it isn’t true that the Chinese education system is the best in the world, which even most anti-CCP media peddles. To the contrary, they learn that most wealthy Chinese people want to send their kids to the West to study.
4. Stage four. Unless they live in an expat bubble in Shanghai, most but not all expats become cynical, and start appreciating their home country more and other democratic places they have lived in. According to studies like Internation (link below) China never ranks highly for expat satisfaction. Some expats are satisfied, and they are very vocal on Quora (although some are Mumao’s) but the majority opinion isn’t that good at this stage. Which country is number one or two consistently? Taiwan – the other China!
One caveat I would also make is it depends on who you are. China is quite a hierarchical country.
If you are a German CEO, or British engineer, you will get treated ten times better than an unemployed person from a poor country.
Yes, this can exist everywhere, but in China it is the case to a larger extent than most other countries.
I had this discussion with a German friend of mine when I lived in China. He disputed what I said.
So, we did an experiment. Instead of saying he was an engineer from Germany (the reality), for one day only he would say he is between jobs and is from Romania.
After doing the experiment, he himself was shocked, but some foreigners get deluded about this point.
For me, from my 4.5 years in China, I did learn some great things about business.
The Chinese people are some of the most entrepreneurial people in the world, who have come to realize the importance of technology and speed.
When I first came to China, most people used coins and notes to pay at the restaurants and other establishments.
When I left, even most older people were using their mobile phone! People adapt to the times.
This isn’t a Mainland Chinese thing, though. Chinese people who emigrate globally are known for this.
But what I did learn is that for all its faults, democracy is by far the best system in the world.
As Churchill once said, democracy is a bad system….except all the others!
Every time there is an authoritarian country which outperforms, people get excited.
In the 1930s, the USSR was growing by over 20% per year when the US, UK etc were in a depression.
Many people thought we should follow that system. As recently as the 1980s, as a result of Pinochet economic success in Chile, people thought dictatorships have certain advantages.
These things come and go.
This depends on if you are a resident or non-resident, and also your industry.
Let’s start with if you are a resident
This one might surprise you! But the easiest countries to start a business are often developed, high or relatively high-tax, countries, including:
- New Zealand
- The UK
- The US
- Various Nordic countries like Denmark
However, Hong Kong, Singapore and Georgia also tend to be high on the list
How about for non-residents?
Let’s say you are a non-resident, and want to set up a global business. For example, you live in Dubai but don’t want to incorporate locally.
In which case, most offshore locations tend to be difficult. Far easier are places like the UK and US.
In the UK, all you need to do is:
- Register with companies house. You can do this as a non-resident. Usually takes 1–2 days
- Then start the banking process. Some banks, such as Revolut, will bank non-UK residents. This can literally take minutes with some banks and 1–2 days with others.
US LLCs are also surprisingly simple to set up for non-residents, and like the UK, they aren’t always tax-inefficient if you are a non-resident.
In terms of more traditional offshore locations, the UAE, Singapore and Hong Kong are often best.
However, it also depends on your industry. Some industries, like arms, gambling, or non-profits, are harder to bank than others.
Even financial services isn’t easy, due to anti-money laundering worries and regulations.
E-commerce and vanilla businesses are easiest. That only becomes a problem if you are residing in a sanctioned country like Iran and many others.
It depends on what you compare it to, your expectations and so on. If you are looking for the cheapest possible place to retire, you could do better.
Malaysia is probably, on average, cheaper than Thailand now and English is more widely spoken.
Visas also aren’t easy to get, and when they are, you have to pay decent amounts to get onto certain schemes (golden visas and such).
Places like Cambodia and Panama are certainly easier from a visa perspective.
Singapore and Hong Kong have more expat work opportunities as well.
What keeps people in Thailand is
- Familiarity if they have been living locally for a while. Like anywhere else, it gets harder to move if you have many friends locally, and social activities to attend.
- An easygoing lifestyle for the most part
- The food scene
- Family if applicable.
- Travel opportunities regionally.
- Businesses if applicable. Many long-term expats have set up their own business or consultancy.
- The healthcare system, which is generally good in the private sector, for older people or those with pre-existing conditions. It is very affordable for what you get.
- Taxes are reasonable for the most part.
- Obviously, COVID-19 makes it harder to move from country to country as well.
What makes people leave Thailand is often the state of local education.
Most public schools aren’t that good. International schools can be excellent, but cost a lot of money.
It is for that reason that many expats leave Thailand if they have kids.
I know a lot of people living in Thailand. Some have become a bit cynical, but the majority seem to like it.
For most people looking to retire overseas it is therefore a decent option, but it has become a bit too “typical”.
If you haven’t been in the region much, I would check out nearby countries as well.
Spend time in each place for a while before deciding where to settle down.
Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?
Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 274.1 million answers views on Quora.com and a widely sold book on Amazon
In the article below, taken directly from my online Quora answers, I spoke about the following issues and subjects:
- Which luxury watch would be a good investment and will go up in price?
- What investment options are available to South East Asian expats living in Dubai?
- Is China, Japan or South Korea best for most expats?
- Is Dubai or Malaysia offer more for expats?
To read more click on the link below.