As most of you already know, in January of 2021 I am finally moving out of the Collapsing USA for good. My current plan is to live in my primary home in either Australia or New Zealand for six months, then be in Hong Kong for approximately three months, then spend approximately three months in the USA, all under a five flags model where I will not be affected (as much as normal residents) by the laws or taxes of any of these three nations.
I just got back from a two week trip where I:
– Took a long look at homes in two cities in Australia: Gold Coast and Brisbane.
– Took a long look at office space and a few apartments in Hong Kong.
In this article I will cover my methodology in terms of what I’m looking for, how I’m conducing my search, and what I found.
Criteria for My New Home
In terms of my primary home (six months a year), this is what I’m looking for, listed in no particular order:
- Tolerable, mild climate, with not a lot of rain. I live in the Pacific Northwest USA where it rains almost all year long and I can’t stand it anymore.
- Low humidity. Warm weather is fine. Warm weather + humidity is unacceptable.
- Low crime.
- Low pollution, quality environment.
- Quiet, relaxed vibe. This is because I’ll be spending three months a year in crazy Hong Kong where I will be plenty stimulated.
- A nice view. This is because my current home in the USA has a fantastic, breathtaking view of the Columbia Gorge and I don’t want to give that up. This new home has spoiled me!
- Nearby water, either a river, lake, or ocean, ideally clearly visible from my back yard.
- An actual detached house; no apartments, condos, or flats. Since Pink Firefly and I will be in apartments the rest of the year (Hong Kong and the US), we really want a house for our home base.
- 4-5 bedrooms. That would be a master bedroom, an office for me, an office for PF, a guest room for visiting family (both parents and grown children), and a fitness room / media room.
- Two separate kitchen areas. This is to maintain my OLTR marriage logistics for minimum drama, as I explained here.
To conform to five flags, I can not own this home. I must rent it. This is because I can’t have any assets in the primary country where I live (my Country A). If I own the home, I’ll be subject to their laws and taxes. No thank you.
I’ll simply purchase rental real estate elsewhere (likely Cambodia or Thailand, perhaps even the USA in the short term), pay for it in cash out of my investments, and have the rental income from this pay the rent of my Australia home. Pretty much the same thing as having a paid-off house.
A fantastic thing about living in Australia is the weakness of the Australian dollar as compared to the US dollar. AUD is worth about 30% less than USD. Australia jacks up their prices to adjust for some of this, but with rental real estate, that’s not really the case.
That means that $3000 rent in Australia only costs me around $2100 in US dollars. Pretty damn awesome. Since my income is in American dollars (which is the way I want it, at least for now) I can get into a much bigger house in Australia for much less money. Yet another benefit of five flags; benefiting currency differences and geoarbitrage rather than getting screwed by them like everyone else.
It’s true the American dollar is doomed long-term as America slides towards collapse, but in the short and medium term, the US dollar will actually do very well, as I’ve discussed on this blog before. During the next worldwide recession, most counties will, very stupidly, flock to the US dollar, jacking up its value.
It’s also true that I incur a possible risk if the Australian dollar increases in value, but Australia is due for a huge real estate collapse soon. That will be great for me, an American who isn’t an Australian citizen and who rents Australia real estate in US dollars that come from outside Australia.
It’s pure win all over the place.
Gold Coast is Australia’s version of Miami. It’s a beautiful beach with nice apartment high-rises. The people are very chill (as always in Australia) and the women are very hot, far better than Melbourne or Brisbane and on-par, or perhaps even a little better than Sydney.
Gold Coast also has lots of man-made mini-rivers and canals so that most of the homes there actually have water right in their backyards, which is very neat.
The problem is the houses there look very odd. They’re built in a squat, ugly, angular style, and they look old, even the nicer, more expensive ones. If I wanted to get an apartment in Gold Coast, I’d be sold. But I want a house, so I was forced to pass.
If you drive about 30 minutes north, there’s an area called Hope Island where the homes are more expensive but are also more normal-looking. One of them I toured is the picture for this blog article. These homes are much better, and most of them have the water-in-the-backyard.
I really like this area. I will revisit it later this year, this time with Pink Firefly with me, to confirm we both like the area.
Brisbane (pronounced “briz-bin”; say it right or you’ll look weird!) is Australia’s third largest city behind Sydney and Melbourne, sporting about 2.4 million people, roughly the size of my hometown of Portland. It’s just under an hour’s drive north of Gold Coast.
For some reason, I figured Brisbane would be a boring city, but was wrong. The buildings are very new, clean, and modern. There’s plenty of activity there and there’s lots to do (though there is no beach). I was very, very impressed.
I didn’t have time to actually get out of the city and tour the neighborhoods, but when PF and I return later this year, we’ll do the necessary research and go look at some homes we like in some of the more quiet neighborhoods.
Living in Brisbane would be preferable to living in Gold Coast since A) the homes look more normal and B) travel will be much easier. There are very few international flights in and out of Gold Coast’s tiny airport, but with Brisbane’s airport it’s no problem at all. It’s also a surprisingly good airport; Australia has definitely upped their infrastructure game in the past five years. Good for them.
In the next installment in this five flags series, I will describe what I did in Hong Kong, analyzing apartments, office space, and even long-term stay hotels for when I start spending three months a year there.
More to come.