Americans Love to Threaten to Move to Canada

My home away from home in Spain

Ryan Reynolds cracked a joke the other day. He said Americans need to stop threatening to move to Canada every time they’re experiencing political unrest. He’s Canadian. As I was watching the clip, I laughed out loud. If I had a dime for every time a friend or acquaintance told me that if things get worse they’re going to move to Canada, I’d have the money upfront to pay for my winter apartment in Spain every year.

The truth is most Americans haven’t spent any time in Canada even though we share a border.

The weather is too cold. They prefer Cancun. Not that they’re remotely interested in Mexico either nor would they want to learn Spanish. Nope! They prefer resorts, booze, and sunshine. Who wouldn’t?

In fact, only 42% of Americans own a passport. So, making a quick getaway isn’t likely.

Yesterday, I stumbled across Tessa Schlesinger, another writer on Medium. She wrote an article about how to immigrate to another country, a practical piece outlining the process of attaining residency in not just Canada but a sizable list of countries. Her article could serve as the starter kit for anyone in the US who is thinking about moving abroad. Thanks, Tessa.

Here’s a link to Tessa’s article.

I had my first passport at age ten.

I’ve been wandering the globe ever since. My personal experiences and adventures have clearly influenced my world view. I’m not interested in replicating my American lifestyle wherever I go, however. Instead, I want to experience other cultures firsthand. I love languages. I love trying new foods. I adore ancient ruins and architectural wonders. The natural beauty of this big old world holds me hostage to its wild charm.

Sixteen years ago, I retired early from a satisfying career as a public school educator, sold 98% of my worldly belongings, and began a four year adventure that took me all over the world.

I’ve been returning to Spain for 16 years. Spain was my first stop on this indulgent wanderlust adventure that I created for myself. I lease the same apartment every year for the same two or three winter months. I love off season travel the best.

I’m not a people person, you see.

I’ve also lived in Guatemala, and have been a long-term traveler throughout Europe, Mexico, the isle of Saba, Japan, and Malta. I’ve driven all the way across Canada, every province on the mainland, and as far north as the Yukon.

I often spend up to 90 days in a country which is typical of the amount of time I am allowed in many countries on my American passport. Clearly, I love to travel and consider myself an untourist.

Yet, whenever anyone asks me where I would live if I could live any place in the world of my own choosing, I always answer, on another planet.

It’s been my experience that wherever there are people there are problems. And although I like to travel because I enjoy the anonymity that one has when traveling and living in someone else’s country, I’m not a big fan of humans overall.

It doesn’t take me long to realize that every country has its share of problems, that every culture places enormous limitations on its own people, and that getting along with others is never easy.

I like to say I live everywhere but nowhere. I don’t think I’ll ever find my home. Yet, in some ways my mental attitude affords me a kind of freedom that those who become attached to their own culture will never experience.

That’s good enough for me. At least, until I can live on another planet some day, that is.

I’ve met many expats, Americans, Germans, Canadians, and Irish, to name a few. Most are retirees. A few are digital nomads. All have tended toward setting down new roots in their new country of choice. You know, buying a home, getting a dog, and finding a comfortable niche for themselves. Most don’t speak the language of their adopted country well and they tend to meet in social group with people who speak their language rather than form close friends with the natives.

It’s hard to have close friends if your language skills are only good enough to order a beer or a meal, greet someone in passing, or make very general enquiries.

Suddenly, these adventurous souls understand why the immigrants who came to their home countries often stuck together and failed to master a new language.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t look down on those who expatriate at all. I’m merely reporting my observations over the years.

During times of political unrest, people tend to make hasty claims that they’re going to leave the US or England or wherever they were born and establish themselves elsewhere. Most don’t. Those that do expatriate tend to recreate their lives at home in the country abroad.

They bring their culture and language with them.

It’s not just Americans, although we definitely have a low threshold of endurance for the rigors of learning a foreign language and a general lack of interest in other cultures.

I suggest, however, that it’s a human thing.

So, that brings me back to my favorite answer to the one of the most common questions I get from non travelers who are threatening to move to Canada. Where would I prefer to live if I could live anywhere in the world?

Well, I’m still looking for that planet.

Teresa Roberts is a retired educator, author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. You can find her books on Amazon.



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Teresa Roberts

Teresa Roberts


Teresa is an author, world traveler, and professional myth buster. She’s also a top writer on climate change and the future.