LLPOH: Getting Out Of Dodge
About 30 years ago, I took a series of jobs in Australia, turning around failing manufacturing businesses. We were there for a very few years, and during this time became eligible for Australian citizenship, which we took up. In return for saving one such failing business, I received shares in it, which I still hold today. Over the years I have remained an employee of that small private company, as has my wife, and visit regularly to see that it survives and thrives.
With respect to Australia, we love the people of the rural areas, and the land, passionately. We have never met finer people. City folk are much the same as they are anywhere, but Australian country folk are as fine as they come, as they are in the US. We love the "wide, brown land" of Australia.
"I love a sunburnt country,
A land of sweeping plains,
Of ragged mountain ranges,
Of droughts and flooding rains.
I love her far horizons,
I love her jewel-sea,
Her beauty and her terror
The wide brown land for me!"
So, it is obvious by now where this is going, and where I and my family are going. We are building our doomstead in Australia. I have kept this quiet for some time, as I value anonymity and privacy.
Australia does not have a Bill of Rights, and in some ways is far different than the US. Gun rights are substantially restricted, but virtually all guns are available, especially to those that live on the land. Freedom of speech is not specifically protected, but is so generally. Violent crime is far less than in the US. Murder is very rare, and almost all perpetrators are caught forthwith.
The political system is as dysfunctional as it is anywhere. The public debt is smallish, and the country has enormous reserves of natural resources, and has the ability to grow its population substantially over the coming decades if need be. It is a far kinder, gentler nation than the US, but that will need to be continually paid for. It has better prospects than most in so doing, owing to the above re resources and population growth, at least in the near term. It is referred to as "the lucky country" and with good reason.
The following three issues are critical to the plan we have implemented - Australian citizenship, part owner of small business, and employee of that same business. In combination, those three things have allowed us to implement plans over the past almost 3 decades that are now coming to fruition.
The benefits of citizenship are obvious - I can come and go as I please, plus citizenship passed through me to my offspring.
The business ownership allowed me to take and store and save business earnings that have already been tax paid. I am able to draw them down complete with tax credits as and when I see fit. I can access approx. $360,000 per year tax free of these earnings. If I access less, I actually get a refund of the taxes previously paid. This is very beneficial indeed.
Keeping employee status allowed us to access the private pension scheme ("superannuation"). It is a very tax effective scheme, and is meant to encourage people to self-fund retirement, rather than use the government pension system. Not only does your employer contribute a percentage of your income, a person can add more him or herself, either pre-tax or post-tax. I added a lot of post-tax funds, which has some significant benefits attached but which are too complex to visit here. The income prior to retirement is preferentially taxed, and post-retirement, all income generated by the scheme, and all income distributed by the scheme, are tax-free, if properly structured. And it does not depend on the amount.
Re the doomstead - the doomstead is on 40 odd acres of rural land, and is around half an hour from a regional center. The home/garage/shedding we have built are very substantial, and are independent from public water and energy. The homestead is water self-sufficient, with dams of a couple million gallons, and with perhaps 100,000 gallons per year filtered and sterilized rainwater collected for use in the house/pool. The outside areas will be irrigated via the dams through significant installation of pipes/pumps/filters. The option of bore water is available, but it is not high quality water, so unless necessary we will not use that option.
The house will have solar hot water, and solar electric panels will generate around 40 KW hours of electricity per day, complete with battery back-up for overnight. This will more than meet our needs, and we will sell some back to the grid. In the event of insufficient sunlight to power the battery bank, we will have a generator, and should that fail, we can tie into the grid.
The 40 acres is on a hillside with nice views, and is mixed as to its characteristics. Some of it is rocky and unusable, while some is nice pasture for a cow or two. Some of the in-between areas are being planted out for firewood and for fruit trees. A large area for growing food is under development, as are areas for egg production and such. The land is over-run with wildlife, especially kangaroos. There are goannas, and assorted birdlife, and echidnas, the odd wombat, perhaps a koala here and there (very hard to spot and only live in certain types of trees), and some of the world's deadliest snakes about.
The project itself will be fully completed, save for some of the issues re planting of gardens, trees, etc. We are fortunate that we can do this project all at once, and understand what we are implementing, and how we are doing it, is not going to be possible for most people. I do encourage everyone to implement their own plans, however, and work toward that end.
As mentioned, our plan took 30 years, and it was ever evolving, but we had a very good vision of what we wanted to do, and an approximate date when we would do it. If you do not start the journey, you cannot get to the destination.
We are located near our friends from the past, and have responsible, hard-working neighbors of fine character next to us - gentlemen farmers such as ourselves. My kids are going to college in Australia - the education, while not free, costs around $6000 for tuition per year. One is going to the best university in Australia (approximately Ivy standard), and the other will be living at home as soon as the doomstead is complete, commuting to a rural college around 20 minutes away.
I have implemented an exit strategy for my business, which I will perhaps discuss another time.
Another upside is that we get to access our US Social Security in Australia. That pleases me to no end, as it will be good to one day get something back for all we paid in taxes and SS over the years.
There is a significant downside, which I have mentioned in passing oft-times before. The US taxes its citizens on their world-wide income, and places severely onerous reporting requirements on its citizens living abroad. And US tax law does not mesh well with Australian tax law. This will be addressed carefully, as it must. A good tax attorney has been very beneficial to us.
We hope to have transitioned by year's end. I know folks have talked about responsibility to stay and fight, about how it is cowardly to run away, etc. I in no way see it that way.
The US is a place that I love, with people that I love. But it is deeply flawed. The US people are getting what they want, as I believe is their right. But it is not what I want. The police state is too huge, the loss of rights too pervasive, and the international aggression too frequent. The two lazy wolves and the one highly productive sheep are voting on what to have for dinner, and more and more I feel I am the sheep in that scenario. And that disgusts me and makes a travesty of everything I have believed, and everything I have worked for. The politicians and the bulk of the populace stand idly by while productive society is disadvantaged and destroyed in order to benefit the non-productive bankers, corporate giants, welfare recipients, et al.
I have paid my dues and then some. It is time for a quieter, back to nature lifestyle. We love Australia, and we are of no doubt that the lifestyle we can and will lead in Australia will be far, far more peaceful and happy than that which we could enjoy in the US. The entire family is in agreement on this. I do not wish to support financially the corrupt system, and so I am taking steps to end such support. I will vote with my feet and with my wallet, and will no longer be the milk cow for a vast number of takers. I will ultimately be responsible only for property and sales taxes, and will otherwise be largely entirely free of any tax system.
One of the basic human freedoms is freedom to move and to live where one sees fit. We are exercising that freedom, while it lasts. I am not sure that it is going to last much longer - the US is making increasing efforts to discourage its citizens from living abroad, and it is ever more difficult to do so.
Again, I understand some will view these actions poorly. But, to them I say that I am not a slave, although I have begun to feel like it. I am able to choose my own path, and have worked long and hard with foresight so that my family and I can choose our own paths. I encourage everyone to look at what they can do to minimize their exposure to the yoke, and to plan for the day when they can break from servitude to a master who cares not for you, but rather only for what you can do for him. Rapidly the productive of society are being crushed by the sheer number of those that refuse to add anything. The wolves are voting to eat the productive sheep and the process is accelerating. If you can get out of the servitude, the sooner the better, as the noose is tightening every day.
I thank the Admin, and the friends of TBP, who are doing important work here. I will continue to try to add something of value.