II. Work Life
III. Day-To-Day Life
IIIV: Love Life
As I enter my late 20’s I find myself at a crossroads on which dream I want to pursue in life.
The American Dream or The Expat Dream.
Anytime before the 21st century, it would have been an easy choice – The American Dream.
The Expat Dream was too difficult to attain and not nearly as appealing.
The American Dream was more attractive because economic and societal decline we see today was not yet in full effect.
Costs were low. Morals were high.
And lastly, the internet wasn’t around to allow people to more easily carve out alternative entrepreneurial roads to freedom.
But these two vastly different lifestyles have changed dramatically over the last century.
It’s worth taking a few minutes to compare the different components of each dream as they exist today, and determine which one may be a better fit for the modern man.
Your Work Life
The American Dream
You are the employee.
If you’re on the right side of the bell curve, you graduate from college with a degree that makes you semi-competitive in the job market. After some awkward interviews, you score an entry-level position making just enough money to barely cover the bills. If you want to get any enjoyment out of life such as traveling twice a year or going out to dinner or drinks once a week, you’ll probably be racking up some significant credit card debt to finance your social life.
As you approach the age of 30, you finally are earning a salary that allows you to live normally. If you don’t suffer any setbacks like getting fired or getting forced to work for a shitty boss, you might be able to get yourself into a middle-manager position by the age of 35. From there you’ll be able to work 60-70 hours a week in exchange for a steady 6-figure salary. Rinse and repeat for an additional 30 years.
The weeks go by so fast that you before you know it, the train has stopped and you’ve arrived at your destination. Retirement. Hopefully, you’ve saved up enough money to find a small house in Florida where you can sit in a chair and watch the news until you die.
The Expat Dream
You are the entrepreneur.
If you’re lucky, you got your hands on a copy of The 4-Hour Work Week at a relatively young age. You were captivated by the stories you read about people breaking out of the dull 9-5 system by creating various online businesses.
As a kid, maybe you used to think that entrepreneurship required millions in start-up capital and was only a game that the ultra-rich could play. But then you started toying around with websites, blogs, information products, freelancing, etc. You made a lot of mistakes and tried and failed at dozens of different ventures. But eventually, you found a few that stuck.
You realized that the feeling you got from making 8 bucks off a cheap eBook was immensely more gratifying than receiving a $3,000 paycheck from a job you didn’t care about.
You got to work and slowly built your online empire. You grew it to the point where it could pay for itself, covering all the hosting fees and other business-related services. Then you grew it to the point where it paid for your monthly bar tab. A year later it was paying your rent. And after several years of consistent and strategic hard work, it was paying for your life. There is no “retirement” in this scenario. Your online businesses bring in money until you die.
Your Day-to-Day Life
The American Dream
You live within a pre-determined schedule that was structured by somebody else. You are jolted awake every morning by an alarm so that you aren’t late for your job that requires your physical presence Monday – Friday from morning to evening.
You have a location-dependent life and you spend your years anchored to one city. Usually, all to serve the demands of an employer.
You get 10-20 days of vacation a year in which you get to travel and see the world.
At the end of a long day of taking marching orders from your boss, you park your car in the driveway to your house and just sit there for an extra 10 minutes. You psych yourself up before entering your chaotic home complete with nagging wife, defiant children, and chores you forgot to do.
The Expat Dream
You live within a self-determined schedule. Since your income is obtained through online businesses, you wake up whenever the fuck you want.
You always thought it would be cool to wake up based on the exact moment the sun rises, whenever that may be since it changes slightly from day to day. So you download an app to set your alarm to accommodate this until you train your body to naturally wake up at sunrise. Unless of course, you stayed out late the night before. Then you sleep in because you can.
You have a location-independent life. You spend your years bouncing around different countries or settling down in one spot if that’s what you choose. The point is that it’s your choice.
Your Love Life
The American Dream
You got married before the age of 30. Either to a girl who went to your college, or to a girl that you swiped right on amidst a million other girls in your post-graduate city.
The moment you placed the ring on her finger, she started gaining an extra 2 pounds per year until the time she initiates divorce proceedings a few years later.
You’re now in your mid to late 30s. Ousted from your home, you live in a dingy one-bedroom apartment while random men from the internet have sex with your ex-wife in the bed that you used to sleep in. You don’t find out about this until your 6-year-old son asks if you’ve met “mommy’s new friend” Zack yet.
The Expat Dream
You stayed single and enjoyed your freedom much longer than the average man. You realized that commitment in your 20s was a huge mistake unless you knew without a doubt that she was an outlier and serious about commitment, truly wanting it and not just doing it because it’s “what people do”.
You’d get looked at funny whenever you told friends that your last serious girlfriend was 10 years ago. But you didn’t care because you consistently had passionate and interesting liaisons with every flavor of woman that the world had to offer.
You came to realize that monogamy was kind of a sham with most people. Maybe you eventually came across a unique one and found a way to make it work. Or maybe you just stayed a bachelor forever.
There were times when you wondered what a grounded and stable family life was like. But at least you weren’t a slave crushed by mortgage payments, credit card debt, tuition costs, and a 50-hour work week. You knew for a goddamn fact the grass was greener on your side.
At least you had freedom.
It should be clear that The American Dream is no longer a worthy pursuit in the 21st century.
At the very least, the modern man should consider some kind of hybrid lifestyle, combining elements from both dreams. I.e., getting married and having kids but being free from employment. Or working a day job but holding off on any other commitments until he can achieve true financial and emotional independence.
When people pursue The American Dream in the modern era, they will soon find themselves enslaved by commitments that they probably rushed into without thinking them all the way through.
There was certainly a time when the benefits of getting college-educated, getting a well-paying job, and buying a home were worth the costs. But America has priced itself out of the market. Better to short-sell The American Dream and find another venture to go all in on.
And the good news is that there is another way. The Expat Dream is the new pursuit of happiness.