After emigrating to the US from England, I lived there for more than 20 years. Even though I eventually got American citizenship, I realized over time I didn’t want to live in the US permanently – the country and much of the direction it’s going in just didn’t mesh with what I wanted in my life. Does that mean I hate America and hate Americans? Of course not. It’s simply that America and me are just not a good fit.
I like Americans, I like much of America, I just have no interest in living there. Eventually, I moved to Thailand and have been happily living here ever since. As an American that is my right. I can choose to live in the US or not. The beauty of America and democracy. So, why is it so many Americans take personal umbrage to the fact I don’t want to live in the US? And why do I get accused of ‘America bashing?’
Over much of my life, I’ve traveled through many countries in the world. In the last decade, since 9/11 and George Bush’s era of terrorism against other parts of the world, I’ve noticed how much America and Americans are disliked in many countries I visit. Personally, I don’t think overall this is the fault of Americans except to say they have to take responsibility for voting for Bush, twice! Bush and his cronies caused America and Americans to be hated over much of the world and it will take the good part of a generation before that damage is erased.
Even in Thailand, where I now live, Thais aren’t big fans of America anymore. They call Americans ‘arrogant’ and their country’s occupation of Iraq ‘illegal’. They also get tired of the American government telling other countries what to do.
Now, if you’ve spent any time in Thailand and know Thais, you will realize how unusual this is. Thais aren’t particularly political and don’t care about other countries that much. So it’s a unique situation when you get a Thai who will openly criticize another country. With America though, many educated Thais have no problems telling me what they think – even though they know one of my citizenships is American.
Taxi drivers will tell me how much they liked America under Clinton and how they hoped the Iraqis would kick America’s butt under Bush. Let’s just hope, under Obama, America finally has a president that can mend the hatred of America and Americans George Bush caused.
I mention all this because I honestly think, when I mention I don’t want to live in the US, it strikes a nerve in Americans. Many Americans do know, even if they won’t always admit it, America is not only despised by a huge part of the globe, it’s also on its way down when compared to China and the rest of Asia.
Any economist worth his or her salt will tell you the new global leader will eventually be China, most likely in less than a couple of decades. So, when I state I love living in Thailand and would never consider moving back to the US, some Americans take it as an attack on the US. Plus, so many Americans have never actually left the US, they don’t even know some countries really are just better.
In my seven years in Thailand, I’ve met many Americans who live here. Some of them for a few years, some for decades but in almost every instance they have no interest in ever returning to the US to live. Sure, they’re proud to be American and to uphold some of the values America is known for, but when they analyze their lives in Thailand versus their lives in America, there’s just no comparison. Life is happier here.
Now, at this point in my article, I’m sure I already have a bunch of Americans who are itching to leave some hateful comment. Just know, while you’re consumed with all your hate, there is another world outside America and, for some of us, it’s a better world.
With America’s burgeoning problems (no affordable health care, poor education compared to other developed countries, a high tax system, abysmal public transportation, a high crime rate, and a country that’s expensive to live in), as America’s population continues to age, more and more will be leaving the US to live somewhere else.
Retirement outside of America, because of the extreme cost of living in America, is now becoming popular. More than 1.5 million Americans get their social security checks in countries outside the US, because life for them is better. Simple. For them too, like me, it doesn’t mean they hate America only that, when they consider every angle, their lives are better in the new country they choose to live in.
So, the next time you hear someone saying they don’t want to live in America, why take it as an attack on America or call it America bashing? It’s not.
I’m originally British and hear Brits all the time saying they wouldn’t live in the UK again. The thought would never cross my mind to call them “British bashers”. More power to them, and why should I care they don’t want to live in the UK? So why do Americans?
Maybe learn something about other countries and why so many Americans are now leaving the country of their birth or the country of their naturalization. It’s not all bad but other countries can offer better things for some of us. It doesn’t make us “anti-American” or “America bashers”, only people who have chosen a different way of life. What’s wrong with that? Nothing.