Six months ago as the collapse of the economy appeared inevitable I decided to not just think out of the box, but to step out of it; I decided to work in Iraq. Having previously ventured to countries such as China and Italy, I had always entertained the idea of working overseas.
Unfortunately as Americans, we're really not given the skills as children to make this an easy task. Most of us just can't grasp the metric system, or speak any language other than English. While other countries, perhaps out of necessity, raise their kids with the aspiration of traveling abroad to work, we do not.
Instead what we seem to do is encourage the belief that money will come to you if you just work hard, and sometimes thats not the truth. Many work hard all their life, and have little to show for it.
Having become involved in this Expatriate lifestyle, I've seen and met many Americans who for the first time have ventured abroad. Many had never previously been out of the town or city they were born in, and I'm not just talking about young people.
Sometimes, from hardship and disaster something good is born. As bad as war is, and as bad as our financial crises is, they have motivated thousands of Americans to venture out into a world they had never considered before; a world only seen to them on television, and at the movies. The people now working in places like Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Dubai, and even Africa, are all making very good money, and sending it home to the U.S.
Many don't have advanced degrees, or any degree at all for that matter. Some are young, and had few opportunities in America to earn a good living.
They've come here to earn $88,000 to $120,000 per year, and they pay a fortune into the Social Security System, which desperately needs the infusion (currently there are an estimated 5 million Americans living abroad; many are retired).
When their vacation time comes they visit countries like Germany, Italy, Thailand, and China. They are seeing the world, and building a solid future for themselves. These Americans come in every age group, and profession. They are Foremen, Plumbers, Electricians, IT, Medics, Fireman, Truck Drivers, and yes, even a Realtor or two. Many stay for years, and some for only days.
So for those of you that aren't making ends meet right now, or are just tired of looking at the same four walls and driving down the same congested freeway each day, give some thought to stepping out of the box for a year or so. You won't melt, and you may even learn the metric system.