It used to be common for people back home to think U.S. expats living abroad were no longer U.S. citizens.
Now, of course, most people know that living, working, or retiring overseas does not affect U.S. citizenship in any way... All the rights and obligations still apply no matter where you live, unless you actively and purposefully renounce citizenship.
Landscape of Sora, Panama
That includes the right to vote.
Military personnel and people working for companies that station them abroad have been using absentee voting procedures for years, and U.S. retirees who move abroad are no different.
In fact, many of the most popular destinations for U.S. expat retirees have organizations set up specifically to help with absentee registration and voting.
The primary source for information on absentee voting is, of course, the U.S. government. The U.S. Department of Defense runs the Federal Voting Assistance Program (FVAP) aimed at helping military personnel and absentee citizens register to vote. (The FVAP webpage for civilian voters is here.)
As we said, there are many non-governmental and largely volunteer organizations in some of the most popular expat havens as well. You can even attend political fundraisers, rallies, and election-results parties when you live overseas. Or not. It's your choice.
Rooftops of Guanajuato, Mexico
With more and more retirees opting to live out their retirement overseas--and with the international reach of television and the internet these days, it's hard to escape news of U.S. political shenanigans. But, take it from us, it's far easier to turn your back on the political circus when you live overseas.
So why are so many U.S. retirees choosing to live in places like Mexico, Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador and so on? Well, some are of course, unhappy with the direction the U.S. is going these days. They feel that removing themselves from that will make them happier.
It's tough to argue with the pursuit of happiness, especially after a lifetime of working. We deserve to make ourselves as happy as possible during our "Golden Years."
Speaking of gold, the cost of living can be significantly cheaper when you choose the right overseas destination. Healthcare can be much less expensive and actually of higher quality in some cases. Property taxes can be ridiculously low, and depending on the climate you choose, utility costs can be negligible.
Public Park in Otavalo, Ecuador
(But why would anyone choose to live in a place with worse weather when there are so many gloriously temperate climates to choose from?)
It can be healthier to live overseas, too. Again, choose a temperate climate and you'll find yourself spending more time outdoors, getting a healthy dose of natural vitamin D.
You'll no doubt find yourself walking more. (We, for instance, don't own a car, both public and private transportation costs are so affordable.) And you'll be living in a place where fresh fruits and vegetables grow abundantly ... year round.
In Ecuador where we live, we can fill our tote bags to the brim at the local farmers' market for $10...enough food to last a week or more, depending how many times we decide to dine out.
Feria in Cartago, Costa Rica
There's a restaurant we love in our little town where we can get a menu del dia (daily special) for just $2.50 per person. (That's right...less than the smallest cup of coffee at Starbucks.)
You get popcorn or plantain chips followed by a rich creamy soup. Then an entrée of meat, rice, potatoes and a garden salad, accompanied by fresh juice and dessert. And it's all freshly made on the spot...nothing comes from a bag, box, or can. The setting is lovely, too, in the open-air courtyard of an historic Spanish colonial convent.
Of course, there's no denying that during election season, it's much easier -- when you live overseas -- to ignore all the negativity.
The benefits to that are obvious ... reduced stress, lower anxiety, and lack of anyone to get into political arguments with. And that certainly contributes to a better, happier quality of life.
But make no mistake -- U.S. expats can still let their voices be heard in elections back home through absentee voting. And you can be sure that most, no matter how far from home they are, will be doing exactly that this year.
This article comes to us courtesy of InternationalLiving.com, the world's leading authority on how to live, work, invest, travel, and retire better overseas.