In the last few weeks I advised a couple of friends about switching countries. They were making their first steps towards location independence. The conversations were very pragmatic, they were looking after specific, technical information, like what type of fiscal residence it would be more suitable, or what health coverage you get under certain setups, and so on. We almost didn’t touch on the necessary mindset for such a change, although I tried my best to give hints about that, and, at times, I even sprinkled some mindset-related themes in the conversation.
The reason is because, when it comes to such an important decision like becoming location independent, I believe the mindset is more important than the technical aspects.
I’m not playing the technical aspects down, far from me, I encourage everybody to thoroughly prepare by doing all the research they can afford, but there’s something even more important than that.
I will try to explain how this is playing out.
What To Have, And Where
One of the questions that was popping out very often in this conversations was about citizenship: should I change my current citizenship when I’m switching countries? The rationale being that, under their current citizenship, they were feeling limited. Because in their current country things were kinda smelly (the same police-state enforced more or less all around the globe, as a result of the Covid-19 mismanagement clusterfuck), they were inferring that, once they get rid of that, their overall status will change.
This is a black and white mindset. Things can be either black (I’m living in a police-state country, I have this citizenship, life is horrible) or white (I’m living in another, more relaxed country, I don’t have that citizenship anymore, life is amazing).
Instead of this black and white mindset, I try to nudge my friends and clients into something more subtle. What if we can think along these lines: “let’s maximize the white potential, while minimizing the black potential, in the current context?”. In our case, that would start by giving everything a neutral value, not black, not white, just neutral. Facts will still be facts, like the police-state will still suck, only we don’t apply an upfront “value” to it. We just describe the context. And we think something like: “in the current context, I have this citizenship because I live in this country, so I want to have a better life, by changing the context”.
And once we start doing this, something very interesting happens: we start to think from the context upwards, not from the current characteristics. We first try to find a new context. A new country, basically. Then we start to look at all the characteristics and how they are fitting in the new context. Would giving up citizenship be actually required if we move in this new country? Maybe not. Even more, keeping my current citizenship, in this new context, could bring me some benefits? Turns out that, in this case, a European Union enabled citizenship is quite an asset, so no, you don’t really have to get rid of it. On the contrary, it will become an asset, allowing you to travel unrestricted on an entire continent, while still enjoying the benefits of living in a country different than the smelly one.
So, the mindset is about maximizing the light potential (a new context, a new country) and minimizing the dark potential (the old context, with all the limiting characteristics).
It may seem that this approach is opportunistic, and, to a certain extent, it really is.
And this extent is the actual meaning you give to the word.
If it means only “grab every opportunity you can, while still maintaining your core values”, then I think we’re ok.