Baby Boomers Retirement Club
 

The Ins and Outs of Relocating Overseas

Richard Roll Interviews Bruce Reznik

AUDIO TRANSCRIPT

Richard: Hi everybody. It’s Richard Roll at the Baby Boomers Retirement Club and it is
my distinct pleasure today to have as my guest Bruce Reznik who is an old and dear
friend and who recently semi-retired as a lawyer in the US and has moved
overseas to Southeast Asia. Bruce welcome.

Bruce: Thank you Richard, always nice to be back in America, at least for short periods
of time.

Richard: And it’s great to have you with us. We’re going to talk about living overseas in
a high quality low-cost setting in Southeast Asia. And as we get started here Bruce
maybe you can start by telling us your experiences in traveling in Southeast Asia when
you were in your teens and early 20s, I think, is when you first started travelling there, is
that right?

Bruce: I think I was about 25 years I’d just finished working on Mondale’s campaign
and figured that I had my law degree behind me and that this would probably be the last
time that I would be able to travel around the world, which ended up not being the case
but I did travel around the world, it was I think ’85 and ’86. And there is a tremendous
difference in travelling when you have a limited amount of money that an undergrad
might have versus having spent 30 years or so working and having saved up a fair bit.

Richard: So what would be the differences, I mean I guess it’s fairly obvious except
there’s also a difference in travelling from country to country as a tourist versus actually
settling down somewhere.

Bruce: Well, I would say that the biggest difference is the quality of the lodging that one
would have. There are places where you can pay $5 an night to be in a room that an
older person probably wouldn’t want to be in or would think “My God I’ve worked my
whole life and this is where I’m hanging out.” But there is there that it’s probably not
what a retired person would be interested in. There are decent hotels in certain countries
in Southeast Asia where you can get a nice air conditioned room with English movies on
the TV for about $15 a night.

Richard: And is that something that people would consider as a residence where they
would consider as a residence where they would actually live there for a period of time or
just part of the year?

Bruce: Now, I’m just thinking about basically a traveler because I perhaps am in a
unique category. I am a US citizen but I’m what the IRS calls an Itinerant and an
Itinerant, according to the US is someone who not only does not reside in the United
States but who resides nowhere, so he’s indeed a rolling stone. And I have attempted
twice to rent houses in Cambodia and each time things didn’t work out with the landlord
and I just think that as in many countries the notion of Rule of Law and adherence to
contracts is one that hasn’t really stuck yet.

Richard: Well, We’re going to get into that. The premise of this discussion though is that
with the fall in values of homes in the US and a lot of people having lost a lot of money
in their stock portfolios, for some people the option of living overseas is extremely
attractive in terms of cost and lifestyle if they can find the right country and the right sort
of formula for doing it. And so our discussion today is going to shed some light on what
are the conditions in Southeast Asia and how that can be an opportunity for people if it’s
the cultural attraction and if it’s the thing that attracts them, and in your case Bruce
you’ve always been attracted, I think, to Southeast Asia. And I don’t know whether went
around the world, was that your first visit actually to Southeast Asia?

Bruce: The first one was in ’85 or ’86 and I was away from the States for just about a
year.

Richard: Okay, but you had your law practice in Washington D.C. for many, many years
and that was a very diverse culture. And you, actually I recall, spoke some various
languages from Southeast Asia even in that period of time.

Bruce: Well, it always helps to know certain terms of politeness, for example, the people
really appreciated when a Westerner has paid at least a minimal level of respect to their
culture, which would include learning from the fundamental greetings.

Richard: So you’re a single guy so the freedom to travel from country-to-country is more
so perhaps, certainly more so than someone who has kids, whether younger or older and
wants to be continually able to see them, although you’ve been able to come back to the
US, you know, fairly regularly and for fairly decent amounts of time. So as we discuss
this let’s get into the countries themselves and talk about what are the positives and the
negatives of a group of countries that you’ve become very familiar with. Okay?

Bruce: Okay.

Richard: One is Thailand; one is Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines. Let’s
start with this, if you were to talk to a couple who is interested or opened to the idea of
retiring in Southeast Asia, and by the way India, we’re not including India in any of this,
is that right?

Bruce: Right, that’s South Asia.

Richard: Okay, which is another option for people potentially.

Bruce: They’d have to have a pretty thick skin to live in India.

Richard: Okay.

Bruce: It’s a bit of a wild place in a number of respects. After going on holiday in India
for three months one needs to then take a vacation elsewhere.

Richard: Okay. Well, then talking about those five then Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia,
Laos and the Philippines. First of all, if you were to generalize is there one of those that
would be the most compatible for Americans?

Bruce: I would say that probably without question it would Philippines, Rich.

Richard: And why is that?

Bruce: Well, first because we occupy that country for 100 years and that has resulted in
their having a greater understanding than folks from most countries about the US. Many
of them have family members in the US and best of all there’s a much higher percentage
of people in the Philippines who speak English than the other countries that we’re
discussing.

Richard: So in your everyday life you’re going to encounter most people speaking
English.

Bruce: I don’t know about most people but this is the kind of country where if the person
who you go to and try to ask the question about does not understand English. If there are
three other people around one of those three people is more than likely to be able to speak
English.

Richard: And if we were to compare the cost of living for Americans in Thailand versus
Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the Philippines, how do they stack up?

Bruce: I can’t really answer that authoritatively but I would say that in order of being
most expensive and going down that the most expensive would likely be Thailand then
could be Philippines or maybe Vietnam and then you have Cambodia and Laos probably
on par with each other. So Cambodia and Laos are the two least expensive countries to
live in of the countries that we are discussing.

Richard: Okay. And on a relative cost basis just in general between all of them is
Thailand twice as expensive as Cambodia Laos, for example.

Bruce: No. And I think that the different categories on which one spends money differs
in the sense that it might be less expensive to eat in Thailand than in Cambodia and I
would say that that’s a double blessing because Thai food is much more interesting than
Cambodia food. But when it comes to renting an apartment I would be quite certain that
Thailand would be more expensive than Cambodia. For example, in the lease agreements
that I entered into in Cambodia in their second largest city, which is called Battambang I
was paying $300 a month for western style houses so they were quite nice and they had
big walls behind them to presumably keep robbers out, although my third night there they
scaled the wall and stole my bicycle. So I think that it does depend upon the category to
determine which country would be least expensive.

Richard: Okay, but if $300 a month for a western style house was the standard in
Cambodia, would it be $600 in Thailand or more or less?

Bruce: I would certainly - I can certainly say it would be more but I would be guessing
to tell you anything approximating a figure because I just don’t know.

Richard: But just as an order of magnitude because - well, we’re talking about cost and
we’re potentially talking about some trade-offs and I want to get into the trade-offs in a
moment, but the ability to sustain a lifestyle on, for example, supposing people are just
living on Social Security or that’s their plan very close to it, can they do that in a good
style in one of these countries? That’s kind of what we’re looking at it appears to me.
And if so, we drill into, you know, what are the appeals of the countries and the options
of living kind of settings that you can find cities versus rural, for example. For example,
in Battambang where you spent a lot of time in Cambodia it’s extremely rural, right?

Bruce: Outside of the city indeed, if you go oh perhaps one mile from the center of town
then you’re on roads with rice patties all around you.

Richard: So but itself as the second largest city in Cambodia what kind of amenities does
that suggest?

Bruce: It has the goods and services that one would need in general. It lacks an
international courier office, so it’s tough to send things quickly. It is remote from any
airport so it’s about a five hour drive to Siem Reap which is the town near Angkor Watt
that has an airport, and also a five, four, six hour ride to the capital [sounds like
Tanompen].

Richard: Do you need a car to live in Battambang?

Bruce: Most people do not have cars; most people have motorcycles and then the second
largest group of folks for getting around use bicycles. I’m in that category because it
helps me stay in shape.

Richard: Let’s talk about climate. What’s the climate like? What are the seasons like,
etc?

Bruce: In a number of countries there’s two seasons it’s the dry season and then the rainy
season. Largely it’s hot all the time but towards the end of the year just like in the east
coast in the US it’s gets a little bit chiller. One of the problems with the Philippines, and
I don’t know if this is a new problem I have a sense it is, is that it rains too much and it
rains beyond what had always been the rainy season. I don’t know whether that’s
attributable to global warming but it is important for people to brush themselves up on
the weather to determine if that’s the right place for them. I can tell you that anybody
who hates winter would be attracted to Southeast Asia because of the heat.

Richard: So when it’s not raining it’s hot.

Bruce: Yeah and it can even be hot when it’s raining.

Richard: Okay. The specifics in terms of, as a US citizen, when you started considering
spending more time in Southeast Asia did you make that decision from the US or did you
make a trip and sort of progressively spend more time there?

Bruce: Well, as you know I was there originally in the mid-80s and then I in the end of
1999 was asked to go to Europe to do some work and I stayed in Europe for two years.
And when I was, basically, tired of doing that work I said to myself “Gosh I’ve always
liked being a kind of internationalist.” As you pointed out I don’t have any dependents
so I tell myself I’m going to be an Expat and because I did feel an infinity with Asia I
chose Southeast Asia to largely stay in but I don’t stay in any one particular country I
move about.

Richard: And the work that you were doing was helping to write new laws on
international investments for Kosovo in Europe, is that right?
Bruce: I am a consultant to generally ministerial level of people in various governments
around the world, depending upon the particular assignment. And it’s partially a matter
of writing laws but it’s also a matter of advising these government officials on the legal
aspects of what they have in mind.

Richard: Okay. So relative to when you were traveling did you decide at that point when
you were in Europe “Okay, I’m going to become an Expatriate and I’m going to relocate
somewhere in Southeast Asia or maybe more than one place.” Was that sort of the
strategy and then you just jump into it?

Bruce: Yeah. As soon as I stopped working and realized that I want to remain an Expat I
shot on over to Southeast Asia.

Richard: And what was your first stop?

Bruce: Well, I was afraid you’d ask that question because I don’t really remember for
sure, but it’s quite likely that it was Bangkok because that really is the gateway to
Southeast Asia and I was doing a lot of travelling as a tourist for several years after I
stopped working Europe in 2002. So I went to a number of countries largely revisiting
the countries that I had been to in ’85 except that it was the first time that I had been to
Vietnam and I think that many Americans will be surprised to learn when they’re in
North Vietnam and ask what country they come from they receive a big smile when they
say the United States.

Richard: And how do you account for that?

Bruce: I have no idea. I don’t know whether it’s a matter of short memory. In a way it
seems analogist to the Camere Rouge period and Cambodia as far as I can tell the kids
going to school hardly spent anytime on the Camere Rouge period.

Richard: So would you say that generally there is a positive receptivity to Americans in
these five countries?

Bruce: Yes and in fact I have been to 67 countries in all and in basically all the countries
people have a very deep level of appreciation and adulation for the United States.

Richard: That’s great to hear.

Bruce: Yeah it is because I know many Americans are a little trepidation about travel but
I’ve never received any kind of anti-US sentiments in any of the countries I’ve ever been
to.

Richard: Okay. So in regard to as we look at the question of individual countries, let’s
talk about Vietnam as a place for an Expat to actually relocate, does that sound like an
appealing place?

Bruce: It probably is somewhat appealing because it is one of the more commercial
oriented countries. And they probably have a level of amenity that you don’t find in
Cambodia and Laos.

Richard: Like what?

Bruce: I don’t know, I just think that because their economy is greater than the other
countries that they have, perhaps, accommodations that are more reminiscence to
Americans of what they’re accustomed to back home.

Richard: Well, that’s one of the questions that I have, Bruce, is basically acclimating
yourself to life in another country, an individual country settling down, you know, buying
some property or having a long-term rent if that’s the strategy that’s most appealing. The
setting that is most compatible to the sensibility of Americans where do you think that
would be found among the five countries? Is it Vietnam?

Bruce: Probably hands down it’s the Philippines.

Richard: Let’s talk about positives and negatives then. What is - talk to me about the
Philippines as a land. And obviously, people could travel and experience these countries
flying among these countries is a proposition of how long, how many hours, you know,
from the farthest to the one extent to the other?

Bruce: For example, from Bangkok to Manila is three hours.

Richard: Okay.

Bruce: And that probably is the longest stretch amongst the countries that we’re
discussing.

Richard: So you really do a tour to get to know them and decide if it’s something that is
potentially compatible?

Bruce: Yes and there are several airlines that indeed are low cost airlines in Southeast
Asia.

Richard: Okay. Well, let’s talk about positives in relation to the Philippines. We’ve
already said that a lot of people speak English, let’s talk about the cost. If you were to
talk about a monthly budget where you could live at a superior level in the Philippines,
any idea what that would be?

Bruce: I don’t really know, Rich. I don’t know because in terms of the house, for
example, if one were to rent it it would have been built with the intention of renting it to a
foreigner, and therefore, the rental price would be higher than if it as for a Filipino. And
this is something every foreigner who lives in the Philippines is aware of that it’s better to
have, if you happen to have, let’s say a Philippine girlfriend, it’s better to have her be in
the forefront and not even mention that there’s a foreigner involved in order to get a
better rate. And again I would just be guessing if I try to quote the rental price for a
western style house in the Philippines. I can tell you that in many of the cities in the
Philippines you could get a decent hotel room for about $20 dollars but that does not
include Manila. Manila, by the way, is one of my least favorite cities.

Richard: Well, I think that’s important. So what’s the issue with Manila?

Bruce: Aesthetically, the buildings are not impressive for - in Bangkok, for example, you
have a lot of basically skyscrapers, you know, you have a modern sense and a sense of
commercial activism in Thailand, you don’t see that in Manila. The traffic is ridiculous,
although it’s also really tough in Bangkok maybe because what you’re seeing when
you’re in Manila is such a level of poverty that it makes the very long taxi rides seem
even longer.

Richard: Okay. So can Americans avoid Manila if they’re interested in living in the
Philippines?

Bruce: Oh, yeah, good question. Yes they can. They can shoot down to the second
largest city in the Philippines which is called Cebu and that’s in the region of the
Philippines called the Visayas and it’s not all that far from Leyte Island which is the
island to which MacArthur returned.

Richard: And how do you spell the island?

Bruce: Cebu.

Richard: No, Cebu C-E-B-U and then the other one.

Bruce: The Island. Leyte, L-E-Y-T-E.

Richard: And the one that starts with the V.

Bruce: Well, Visayas, V-I-S-A-Y-A-S is the region. So Philippines has three regions
and Visayas is the middle one, Manila on the Island of Luzon that whole island which I
think is the largest island of the 7000 islands of the Philippines, is the Philippines largest
island. And in the south you have the politically restive Mendenow area where most
people try to avoid, and certainly tourist and anybody who wants to become an Expat
would not want to choose living there unless danger is their middle name.

Richard: Well, look that leads to a good question and we can focus on the Philippines in
that question and that is the question of safety and communities of expats. Are
Americans likely to be able to find like minded people where they would choose to
relocate in the Philippines and what is the safety factor and how does it vary in different
parts of the country?

Bruce: There is definitely a town where you find a lot of expats and that’s called Angeles
City, which is adjacent to the former US Air Force Base called Clark and that’s about an
hour and a half drive north of Manila. So because there are a number of foreigners that
live there they have some large air conditioned shopping centers and probably a greater
variety of imported food than in most other places in the Philippines.

Richard: Okay. And is that the one where the most - is there any other city or area that
has a congregation of expats?

Bruce: I’m sure the answer is yes, and needless to say, Manila would have a large
congregation, but I think that there’s a good chance that most of those people are working
in Manila. And that most of the foreigners in Angeles City are retired. There probably
are a fair amount of retired people that live somewhere outside of Cebu City as well, but
I’m just extrapolating since Cebu City is the second largest city in the Philippines. And it
is possible to avoid Manila altogether if you find which airlines fly directly to Cebu.

Richard: Okay. And let’s talk about safety. Your relationship…

Bruce: You’re okay as long as you’re staying away from areas where there are rebels,
the main area being in that southern Mendenow region. There are some other spots I
think, even somewhere in Luzon where there are a couple of rebel outfits operating also
but I don’t know where that is. And then further regarding safety the most dangerous
town would be Manila and one would just need to use their common sense as they would
in any city anywhere as to what part of town they want to walk in, especially at night. I
walk around and I never get hassled in a way that threatens my physical security, but
again, it might be attributable to some type of street sense.

Richard: Okay. And in relation to your experience in Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, and
Laos please talk about safety and also community expats.

Bruce: I would say that the largest group of expats would be found in Thailand. I don’t
know how it would compare to the Philippines in terms of numbers, but I think probably
there are more expats in Thailand than in the Philippines. And you find a lot of them
living in a city that’s called Pattaya, P-A-T-T-A-Y-A which is a bit south In Thailand.
It’s on the coast, it’s on a very pretty bay with a large crescent beach and it’s developed
into quite a significantly large city. It actually was started while the Americans were
fighting in Vietnam as a place for R&R for the soldiers.

Richard: And so do you see that as a growth area?

Bruce: I don’t know if it’s hit its peak. I think that when I was there last, which was
maybe four months ago, I say a significant amount of construction. So I don’t know if
they’ve just gotten overly ambitious or if there’s still room to grow, but nonetheless, there
are places available. I saw flyers with lots of houses offered for sale. There is, of course,
the question pertaining to many countries of whether a foreigner is allowed to own real
estate.

Richard: Right.

Bruce: A foreigner in the Philippines, for example, cannot own real estate. I think they
can own a condo. In Thailand I think there are also restrictions on foreign ownership of
land. Now, that’ll make it tough for, let’s say, a couple who are two Americans to
arrange for the kind of accommodation that they feel would be continual, because as I
mentioned in Cambodia I had problems with the landlord adhering to the contract.

Richard: Right.

Bruce: And if there wasn’t an ownership interest involved I think that raises an important
consideration. Many American guys have gotten around that by falling in love with
Thais and then property is in the name of the Thai female, but many also Americans have
war stories to tell about that because mysteriously once the house is bought in the
woman’s name she stops loving the guy.

Richard: Yeah that could be a problem.

Bruce: By coincidence.

Richard: Let’s talk about - I mean that raises a real issue in terms of being able to
establish a stable retirement residence in one of these countries and it also raises the issue
of how to provide for continuing healthcare or potential the need for long-term care if
that should arise, if you don’t own the house. Let’s talk about hospital health insurance
and those kinds of issues in relation to Southeast Asia and these countries and also I’d
like to talk about medical tourism in relation to these countries if there’s any pertinence
to that. And then I’d like to get into the specifics for a US citizen living in one of these
countries. So let’s start from the standpoint of medical care, health insurance and
healthcare.

Bruce: Good. Very, very, important and basic consideration. Thailand would be the top
country as far as that’s concerned. It has a number of top notch hospitals in Bangkok
including the hospital that I go to quite often when I’m in Bangkok which is called
Bumrungrad, B-U-M-R-U-N-G-R-A-D. You walk into this place and you can think that
you’re in a Hyatt Regency. All the doctors are fluent in English. Their level of
efficiency is almost beyond belief and everybody is extremely courteous. I self-pay for
most of these visits because, let’s say typically they’re just checkups, and the doctor’s fee
for a consultation then analyzing the blood test and so forth ends up being about $20 US
dollars for the physician’s fee.

Richard: Tell us about your hip replacement.

Bruce: I think because of all the travelling and hiking I’ve done I developed
Osteoarthritis which is also called Wear and Tear Arthritis the cartilage in my hips
basically was worn away. And so I did a lot of research to determine where to go for that
and the US lags behind in this area, the FDA did not approve this new procedure which is
called Hip Resurfacing, the previous procedure being hip replacement, not until ’96 did
the FDA approve Hip Resurfacing so the UK had started about a decade earlier and a few
surgeons from India came up and studied under the Master, the chap who developed this
procedure, and it turned out that the price for the procedure in what was called Madras,
India where this doctor practices, now the town is called Chennai, was about $7000,
whereas, I received quotes both from the US and the UK of $40,000.

Richard: Did you have both hips resurfaced.

Bruce: For one.

Richard: Just for one, okay.

Bruce: Correct. And because I had faith in the very large amount of positive info on the
net regarding this doctor in southern India and because I didn’t want to pay upfront
$40,000 with the expectation of being reimbursed by my insurer, and that was what they
told me I would have to do, I chose to go to Chennai. And by the way, the insurer didn’t
show any appreciation for the large amount of money that I saved it.

Richard: How did you have insurance for living overseas, health insurance?

Bruce: For US citizens not every policy will cover them and conversely there are some
policies that only will cover US citizens who remain out of the US for a good chunk of
the time. So I’m aware of about four insurance companies that require the US citizen to
be out for, oh let’s say have a year or so, or maybe even more than that.

Richard: And are they US based? In other words, would you buy them in the US these
policies?

Bruce: At least two of them are US based, one of them is underwritten by Lloyd’s but
the, I guess the middle man, is in the US.

Richard: All right, so people would be able to find health insurance that covers this but
they’d have to pay, you know, obviously out-of-pocket as they would if they’re retired.
Now, let’s talk about, you’re too young for Medicare, but do you know anything about
Medicare for expats?

Bruce: No.

Richard: Okay.

Bruce: Sorry.

Richard: All right, well let’s talk about - so in general if you’re selective you can find
places that are able to provide state of the art medical care at low, low cost, yes?

Bruce: Half way yes, Richard. There are some countries where you’re not going to find
state of the art medical care. That would include Laos and might well include Cambodia,
I don’t know about Vietnam and in connection with the Philippines it’s probably only
two hospitals and they are both in Manila.

Richard: Okay.

Bruce: There is a hospital that is in northeast Thailand just across the Mae Kong River
from Laos and that also is a top notch facility. So for example, if you’re an expat and
you’re living in anywhere need Vientiane you would more than likely, if you have
something serious go across the Mae Kong to this hospital in Thailand.

Richard: Okay. Let’s talk about the requirements for a US citizen or their restrictions.
We just talked about a little bit in relation to health insurance, again I’ll start the question
out about the Medicare, but what about as far as what is the US and the IRS require or
restrict for expats, and also the countries themselves?

Bruce: For reasons that I don’t quite understand the IRS code provides for a tax
exemption on the first $85,000 or so that one earns. So here we’re not talking about
necessarily retired people, although many retired people, of course, become part-time
consultants, so no income taxation on the first $83,000 or so. I don’t know - there are
bilateral tax treaties between many countries to avoid double taxation and I simply don’t
know whether or not such treaties exist in the countries that we are discussing.

Richard: Okay, but you could get Social Security in any of these countries and would it
be excluded from the first $85,000?

Bruce: I don’t know but when you can say you can get Social Security, do you mean that
let’s say through the mail or through a wiring process?

Richard: Yeah or direct deposit, let’s say.

Bruce: Yeah. Yes.

Richard: Is that correct?

Bruce: Right.

Richard: What I mean is that you can live overseas, you can receive a Social Security
check and that’s one of the strong positives in terms of living in a lower cross place such
as Southeast Asia. And, you know, in a bit we’re going to wrap this up in terms of sort of
the bottom line or who should look into it further and for whom is this definitely - this
isn’t for most people I think is what we’re, you know, it’s clearly an adventurous route to
take for an adventurous minority but…

Bruce: Agreed.

Richard: …just going back for a second to any other - you said there are tax treaties,
what about sort of retiree or other just Visa qualifications where the country is basically
saying “We’ll let you live here as a retiree.” Is there that in existence?

Bruce: In some countries, for example, in Thailand you get a retirement Visa but you
have to put a substantial amount of money into a Thai bank account. An amount that,
you know, some folks might not have, especially if they have no other income coming in.
And even if you get this particular Visa you have to go out once a year for reasons that
aren’t really understandable and go to a Visa office of the Thai Embassy to get it renewed
annually.

Richard: What’s the best way for an American citizen to find out what are the protocols
involved in being an expat living overseas and still maintaining US citizenship?

Bruce: Where to find the protocols are you saying?

Richard: Yes.

Bruce: What do you mean by protocols?

Richard: I guess probably it’s either the State Department is probably - the State
Department’s Web site probably has information on this.

Bruce: It would probably have general information about safety, common sense safety,
practices for US citizens. Of course, the State Department does have a danger alert that
will inform people of which countries the State Department suggest that they not visit.
But I wanted to jump back for a moment, if you don’t mind, because a friend of mine has
a doctorate in Accounting and when she learned that I was living, let’s say in Cambodia -
and spending $13 dollars a night for a very nice hotel room that has internet inside the
room and so forth, she said “Oh, you’re arbitrating your money.” So, you know, one is
taking an amount of money from the US that is an amount that is unseen by most people
in the countries that we’re discussing and are able to apply it to economies that require
much less in transactions than is required in the United States.

Richard: Well, that’s something that comes into my mind also is that for people who are
looking to conserve their money during an interim period before they want to start taking
Social Security, for example, supposing they, you know, they’re retired or finished with
their primary career employer, and they now have a few years before they’re going to be
collecting Social Security, and they don’t want to consume a large part of their liquid
funds in living expenses in a high cost place in the US, they could even potentially rent
out their house in the US and live in Southeast Asia or travel in Southeast Asia pretty
economically if they chose to do so and if that fit their lifestyle. Does that make any
sense?

Bruce: Absolutely. And as you said, this is not for everyone and it is for folks who feel
adventurous and feel like they still want to learn more about life on earth.

Richard: Well, it also is something that could be done on an interim basis with the option
of returning to the US and that’s a whole other concept that really doesn’t assume
permanent expatriate status.

Bruce: Correct. And as I think you alluded to they would indeed need to find out what
kind of Visas are available because typically these folks would be applying for tourist
Visa, and unfortunately many countries have rather short windows for these Visas. For
example, in Cambodia I think it’s only three weeks. That’s actually one of the upsides
about India, they give you a six months Visa for tourism.

Richard: And then you leave and you can come back and get it again.

Bruce: Possibly. I mean I’ve never heard of an instance where in a country one could
not do that. So it’s quite possible that that’s true for India.

Richard: Okay. Before we finish I want to just touch on delights, if you will, I mean in
terms of lowering cost is one thing but without having compensating advantages and
appeals it may not be adequate as a concept. What are some of the delights that you’ve
experienced in these five countries?

Bruce: So we’re not at the moment talking about quality of life we’re talking about
interesting aspects of a country for a tourist.

Richard: No, I think we’re talking about quality of life. In other words, I don’t want to
give people the notion that living in one of these countries is a drudge experience…

Bruce: Okay.

Richard: …you know that you’re doing just to have much lower cost.

Bruce: Right. Well, I would say that for most people Laos and Cambodia would just be
too far on the spectrum for them because those countries are quite traditional, they’re
quite underdeveloped and they bare very little resemblance to what people in the States
are accustomed to. So if we look at the remaining three countries, Thailand, Vietnam and
the Philippines they, Thailand and Vietnam, have pretty good infrastructures. A friend of
mine told me that he went to his mother’s home town which is in Cambodia along the
Vietnamese border and it was at night and everything was dark on his side of the border
but as he looked down in the valley there were lights all over in Vietnam showing that
their power system is on a better level. And that’s something actually that should be kept
in mind that often there are power outages in countries that are not fully developed. So
anyone who is really looking into living in a given country should do their best to find
out the reliability of power supply.

Richard: Yeah power and what about communication access?

Bruce: People are using cell phones and talking and texting in the countries continually.
It’s only if one is in a fairly remote are that there’d be problems. For example, my
girlfriend lives in that region of the Philippines I mentioned called the Visayas and she
lives in a small village that’s not on the coast and quite often is hard to get through using
cell phones.

Richard: But what about the internet? I’m sorry because of…

Bruce: Internet because of the remoteness. Internet is fine. I’ve a friend who’s a
correspondent and he remembers, let’s say, seven years ago being in the very pretty town
in Laos called the Luang Prabang which is a must for anybody who is seeing that region
of the world, and that it would take two minutes for the page to open up, you know, just
like it use to in the old days with the internet. Nowadays, internet are pretty good
everywhere and, for example, the cost in Cambodia is about 50 cents an hour to use the
internet.

Richard: Okay. Bruce, you talked about in a discussion we had you talked about
Battambang having how many Buddhists temples?

Bruce: About 15 beautiful golden gleaming temples.

Richard: And constantly monks circulating around, Buddhist monks.

Bruce: In beautiful bright orange robes often swirling a light brown or orange umbrella
above their heads, which many people in Southeast Asia try not to let the sun affect their
natural skin color too much.

Richard: So it really is for people for whom that kind of an environment is interesting
and appealing, this is really something that people should explore and see if it - it’s
probably an approach where you want to visit, you want to do your homework, you want
to narrow down some choices and visit them and see if this is something that could be
viable. I think with all of the things we’re talking about, a little bit of forethought goes a
long way in finding the optimum solution or combination of factors in making a decision.
Something that you can live with and something you don’t necessarily have to live with
forever.

Bruce: Correct but before they even come on out to that neck of the woods they ought to
read some travel books, perhaps the ones that are published by Lonely Planet, that’s a
company that has blossomed into one that has books on almost every country, I saw
recently they have one now out on Libya, and it’s a favorite of many travelers. It’ll give
the reader a sense of the culture, the economy, places to visit and perhaps places in those
given countries where they might want to live either for a year or forever.
Richard: That’s great advice, Bruce. Bruce, thanks so much it’s been great talking to
you and this is Richard Roll of the BBRC saying thanks for being with us and we’ll talk
to you soon.

Bruce: And as we say in Thailand, Richard, “My pen rye”, never mind, it’s my pleasure.

Richard: Okay.

Bruce: Take care.

Richard: You too. Bye-bye.

Bruce: Bye.

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