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How to Become an Expat with Mikkel Thorup

George Grombacher October 27, 2022

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How to Become an Expat with Mikkel Thorup

LifeBlood: We talked about how to become an expat, recent trends of Americans exploring this process, how to know if it’s a fit for you, and what it takes to make happen, with Mikkel Thorup, Founder and CEO of Expat Money, host of the Expat Money Show, and author of Expat Secrets

Listen to learn how to start the process of becoming an expat!

You can learn more about Mikkel at, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and LinkedIn. Get your free ticket to the Expat Money Summit HERE

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Mikkel Thorup

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:00
Hi I’m lead for this is George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong apart from a calthorpe. Raquel, are you ready to do this? Yeah, man. Let’s do it. Let’s go. McHale is the founder and CEO of expat money. He’s the host of the expat money show and the author of expat secrets How to Pay Zero Taxes living overseas, make giant piles of money, but Cal Welcome back and this is your third or fourth time. Tell us a little about your personal life’s more about your work and why you do what you do.

Unknown Speaker 0:43
Yeah, so very happy to be back. Yeah, I think this is probably my I’m gonna say it’s my fourth appearance. So always love coming on your show judge quality work that you do. Life is good, you know, helping a lot of people traveling a ton I as we were just saying before the preambles I just got back from Uruguay and Argentina, I took a group of about 15 or so private clients down to Uruguay on an investor tour to go look at expat life down there. The real estate, the investment opportunities, the immigration, the taxation. So that was a lot of fun. You know, traveled to lots of places I was in Cyprus and Lebanon, and where else Italy, I’ve been to Aruba, Peru bunch of places this year. So it’s been good. Anytime that I can travel, hang out with my wife and kids and help my clients. I’m super happy guy.

george grombacher 1:41
Amazing. How long have you been doing this private tours?

Unknown Speaker 1:45
The private tours kind of come up organically. This is the first like official tour we named it expat exploration and investors tours. And it’s only for private clients of mine. So I’m just my main business. And I’m sure what we talked about on the other episodes is my main business is helping people to relocate overseas. Now I’m not dealing with like, the shipping companies and setting up their electricity bill, I’m more work on the, you know, the legal side of things. So their immigration, their taxation, their investments, the banking, the structuring of the businesses, you know, the purchase of properties and, and other investments overseas. So I work really in that small niche of the legal side of the moving overseas. So I have done many trips for people down here to Panama, where I live and held little conferences in different countries when I would be there or group activities in different places. But this was the first time I’ve loaded up like 15 people, flew them down here to Panama, we had a couple of days here, then all got on the plane and flew down business class to Uruguay, and then did like, rented a conference room and was 567 days, something like that conference material in the morning, and then field trips in the afternoon. So kind of a very long time and brand new, depending how you look at it. How to go. Yeah, good. I, everyone had a very good time. Everyone, you know, was really excited about it. The group melded so well, and so fast, which I was so excited about, because you bring together, you know, 15 independent thinkers, and you’re like, are these people going to get along? Like, you know, like, are we going to have some fights or you know, some difference opinions. These people were amazing. They were there. So, I don’t know, I, I just love my clients just like, you know, you get to a point in your business where you can say no to so many opportunities, and so many people and situations. That’s how I am right now. So I don’t have to like just accept anybody in my business, I can actually push away, you know, 90% of the people but the 10% that I do keep and I want to work with and I can help. I’ve just like the most quality people, they’re just so fantastic to spend time with. I really become great friends with my clients. And I just I just love them so much. All right, that’s awesome.

george grombacher 4:11
What were some big takeaways, maybe surprises from from the trip.

Unknown Speaker 4:18
You know, this was my second time down there. Before we did the trip, I went down with my wife, I got invited by the law firm that I work with there to go and see everything myself and it actually started because some clients needed some information about Uruguay. So I flew down to do a research trip. And then I liked it so much. I was looking at doing a seven figure investment there myself. So when I needed to come back to do a due diligence trip, I decided to bring my clients with me that’s how this came about. So there wasn’t a ton of surprises for me because I kind of already knew what to expect and I had really gone through it in detail. I guess the he the only surprise was, you know, is it going to work? Are we going to be able to organize everybody and everything? Is everything going to fall together? Is everyone going to get to get along well with each other, like I mentioned a moment ago, because I mean, I’m not a travel agent like, Yeah, I’ve been traveling for 20 some odd years. I’m a professional traveler, as in I travel for a living, but I don’t sell travel. That’s not my, that’s not my gig by any stretch of the imagination. So like herding cats all day long is not really what I like to do for fun. But, you know, everyone was super responsible, and everyone took care of themselves and just give them a time and a place. And they were there. And so it was a good trip, not not too many surprises on it.

george grombacher 5:43
Great. Excellent. So there’s a lot going on of the world as as, as there always is, but how is our current geopolitical turmoil, wars, conflicts? How is that changing? US citizens ability to go live other places and get visas and eventually citizenship if it’s changing at all.

Unknown Speaker 6:05
So it is not changing so much in US citizens ability to go overseas, what it is changing is that we are seeing a massive amount of human flight and capital flight from the shores of the States and Canada. You know, over the last two and a half, almost three years now, we saw different breaking points for a lot of people. So a lot of people it was, you know, locked down. So other people, it was the vaccine mandates. For others, it was the Canadian trucker convoy, and then the reaching into bank accounts. For some it was the war in Ukraine, now its energy crisis is now its food shortages. But one after another, there was something in people’s minds, that was like, Okay, enough is enough. This is my breaking point, I need to make a change, I need to protect myself, I need to protect my wealth, I need to diversify in other countries. And the business has just keep growing. So it’s been Yeah, watching it over the last three years, and the type of people that have been coming in, that I help. You know, it’s been really interesting, you know, what it is the things that they’re most concerned about, because it wasn’t just one thing wasn’t like, everybody is leaving because of x, you know, it’s been different things along the way. So the geopolitical aspect of this has really drove a lot of the interest in the offshore markets and becoming an expat and, you know, protecting your wealth overseas. So yeah, so it’s, it’s, it’s been really interesting to watch. I mean, I follow a lot of the geopolitics, like, every single day, I’m listening to different podcasts about it, reading about it, I have private conversations with economists and investors and things like this. So trying to keep my pulse on everything, but at the exact same time, I try not to let it affect my life too much. You know, I mean, we have our solutions. And we have Viable Places, and locations. And we’re successfully moving people down here. And I just keep a close enough eye on it, to make sure that the areas that we’re choosing are staying stable. As long as that is good, then we just keep going. Yeah, I

george grombacher 8:24
appreciate that. What do you how do you evaluate that? How do you look at and think about stability of let’s say, just use Panama as an example? Or, or Uruguay? Whichever we’re both? Sure.

Unknown Speaker 8:37
Panama is a good example. Because a couple of months ago, Panama had some protests here. So I think this is actually a really good example. Because in the mainstream media, people were saying, oh, Panama, it’s on the verge of collapse, and the country is going to collapse. And we’re sitting here in Panama City going, Oh, no, I can only get three heads of lettuce at the grocery store, instead of 12 heads of lettuce at the grocery store. And they’re saying, oh, there’s no food in the country or in the city. It’s like, no, the protesters went on strike, and they blocked some of the roads from the we call it the interior, into the city. So that meant local produce, could not get into the city. But we still have the Panama Canal literally, like outside my window. So there’s still giant shipping containers coming in with food 100 times a day with tons and tons of goods. So although, you know you could look at mainstream media and say, Oh, Panama is not safe anymore. But the reality on the ground, it was still very safe. No one was hurt. This wasn’t civil unrest. There was no smashing of Windows or burning of cars or anything like that. It was people on strike. Just like in Canada, there’s a teachers strike or there’s different organizations that will strike and do After their their worries, you know, be heard. I think that this is a completely normal process. So you have to, you know, look at what is the reality and what is the mainstream. So I didn’t just rely on, you know, what I’ve seen with my own eyes, but also people who are here in Panama, who, you know, work in the security industry. I have a friend of mine who does the security for all of the embassies for Panama. So I get on the phone with him, I give him a call. Hey, Mike, what’s going on? What do you think? What do the embassies think? Are they pulling out people blah, blah, blah? It’s like, No, it’s nothing. Don’t worry about it. Everything’s fine. So if called someone else, I have a friend who’s a owns a gold vault here. What do you guys think? You know, you guys watch the regional stability? No, everything’s fine. Don’t worry about it. So it’s like, it’s a very different type of situation where you get your information and how you look at it. And I always try to get it from really reliable sources. Plus on the ground research, and you know, what I see with my own eyes.

george grombacher 11:00
Makes sense. What are your thoughts on on on crypto assets?

Unknown Speaker 11:06
What, in general or in anything particular? George? Because that’s a we need a very long podcast episode, I think.

george grombacher 11:12
So you have you have many thoughts on it. How is Panama? How does Panama think about it? Talk about it.

Unknown Speaker 11:23
Sure. So Panama recently has come forward and done what we expected them to do. They have deemed crypto gains as foreign sourced income, meaning there’s no tax on it here in Panama, we have one bank who’s recently opened up and decided that they would be crypto friendly. So you can now hook up your crypto exchange with the bank account. The only thing is that they have a pretty low minimum, monthly minimum. So I think they’re just testing the waters right now. I think it’s only five or $10,000 a month that you can transfer in and out of the account. So not a huge amount. But for an offshore jurisdiction. Getting more friendly with crypto is is very interesting. You have to understand that Panama, because it’s the center of the offshore world, we catch so much flak for things like what happened with the Panama Panama Papers. You know, and the center of the banking world down here and how many companies registered and this, there’s no tax here, because it’s a territorial so that they don’t really want to go into crypto, but it is heading that direction. I work with crypto on a very regular basis with most of my clients. I’m a big fan of it, I think that it can solve a lot of problems. There’s a lot of transparency. You know, I’m not one of these people who think that the government is gonna go out there and try to ban everything. I think that some of the best companies are actually working with the government. And you know, it’s kind of a slippery slope, like, at the same time, I’m not a big fan of government at all. But on the other hand, I don’t want to wage war against them. I mean, I just want to live my life and peace. So I do think that crypto is a good defensive weapon. But we have to be smart about things as well. And we have to stay compliant and stay legal through all

george grombacher 13:17
of it. Yeah, certainly. I think that makes a lot of sense. For people who are who fall into the group of people who are interested, and there’s frustration because one thing after another that we sort of laid out with the vaccine mandates and the trucker this that the other thing it’s it’s it’s been a lot of over the past several years. Is it? Is it primarily just having assets? That is attractive to a country like Panama? And or is it this human being George also has has marketable skills? And it looks like he’ll be a productive member of our community? How do they how does a country look at a potential candidate to move there?

Unknown Speaker 14:05
Great question. So most countries are looking for Yes, high net worth individuals, people who can bring in money. But definitely there is a lot of skills that are missing in other countries. And they’re very welcoming to entrepreneurs. So if you have an entrepreneurial background, then definitely countries like Panama and many countries in the world, not not just I mean, we’re talking about Panama because I’m here, but many, many, many countries in the world will really welcome entrepreneurs allow you to set up a business. There can be huge tax advantages for this. And if you can go in and fill a gap there can be fast tracks to citizenship as well. So you can actually become a national of that country. There’s a lot going on from that front. So obviously they want to attract people of good caliber, you know, people who have either built up money or skills, you know, if you have a criminal record or you’re a felon, like your chances of doing immigration are very, very low. They want people who have good character, if that makes sense. And it’s good to see because, as I don’t know, wealthy people and entrepreneurs and business owners get attacked and felt like they are not respected in their home countries, or they’re taxed to death, and they can no longer be profitable in their businesses, that they can go somewhere else that respects them, and wants to see them in the country. So just because things might get bad at back home doesn’t mean that the rest of the world is like this. So you’ll actually be celebrated.

george grombacher 15:50
Awesome. So somebody reaches out to you today and says, This Panama placed sounds awesome, what is what is the fastest kind of or perhaps the most common way, and walk me through the process of doing what you did?

Unknown Speaker 16:07
Sure. So we help people every day with coming to Panama, but also, many countries in the world, probably, I fully work in about 22 different countries, but technically, I could help people with probably about 40, some odd, maybe even 50 countries to relocate to, but it might just be a little bit of a stretch for civilians. But today, the the most one, the most popular 20 places, we’re fully set up with the lawyers, the CPAs, the developers, everything you would need in these countries. Now Panama in particular, we have a visa called the friendly nations visa. And so if you’re from the US, or Canada, or Western Europe, or Australia or South Africa, these types of you know, Western countries, then you can go under this investment program. It’s a $200,000 real estate investment, you get a temporary residency, and then you get your permanent residency, after five years of holding your permanent residency, you can get your citizenship here. Panama is a nice safe place zero tax if the money’s made offshore, basically, outside of Panama. So if you have an online business, or Amazon FBA, or your consultant or investment properties back home, or anything like that, it doesn’t get taxed here in Panama. And it’s not too challenging of a process, you have to work with a professional like me. And I don’t just say that for my own good. I mean, like, you literally have to have a lawyer that will do it for you. So I partner, my business partner is a lawyer here, Panamanian, and, you know, we take you down to immigration, we hold your hand through all of it, we open your bank account, we do company structure for you, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, anything you need. And you’ll have to come down to Panama. So we’ll need you here for eight business days. In person once the paperwork is done. And yeah, it’s, you know, gathering the documents, like we talked about earlier, you can’t have the can’t have a criminal record. So we need a clean criminal record check. And I think that’s about it. Easy peasy. Easy peasy. I mean, it’s like, it’s easy peasy for me, because well, I’ve done it myself. And I’ve helped relocate over over 100 families down here to Panama. So, you know, for us, it’s pretty easy, but going through it the first time might be a little bit scary. And that’s why it’s super important to work with someone who knows what they’re doing. You know, not something you want to just try to wing it yourself or Google someone and maybe you get someone good. Maybe you flip a coin and you get someone terrible or fraudulent. I mean, it does exist. But it’s the same thing in Costa Rica and Belize and Nicaragua and Mexico and Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay. I mean, we work in lots of countries down in this region. And I’ve been through a lot of the programs myself and seeing it firsthand. We have all the lawyers set up for all

george grombacher 18:55
of it. So outstanding. Well, Michael, thanks for coming back on. Where can people learn more about you? And how can they engage and explore this process?

Unknown Speaker 19:05
Yes, so I work I work exclusively with private clients. So if you guys go to expat, up in the top right hand corner, you’ll see a button that says work with us big orange button, click on that there’s a big letter there. I want you to read it, don’t read it on your phone, please. It’s pretty long. It really details what we do and how we go through all of these types of things. So it’s best to pull out the laptop and, you know, pour a cup of coffee, spend 15 minutes and then go through it. Fill out the application form at the end and then we’ll go from there, see if it’s a good fit. If you guys just want to learn about the offshore and expat markets in general, then I would suggest you guys check out our upcoming summit so it is November 7 to 11th it is if you can go to expat money You can get a free ticket there. We do have a paid version of the ticket a VIP with a heap of both This is if you’re really into this stuff but if you just want to get your feet wet then check out expat money and grab the free tickets and we’ve got 37 presentations over five days lots of really fantastic speakers these the lawyers I work with I’m presenting myself some really famous people out there who will be presenting as well so expat Is the blog the podcast work with us and then the summit is expat money summit calm

george grombacher 20:30
Excellent. If you enjoyed as much as I did show McHale your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to expat And check out those resources read the letter on your laptop at night your phone and then go to expat money summit and grab one of those free tickets for the for the summit on November 7. Thanks again Michael.

Unknown Speaker 20:54
Yeah, Cal My pleasure. Like yeah, I don’t know where you after four times, just just

george grombacher 20:59
right at the end I totally screwed it up. Unbelievable. Thanks Kevin McHale pleasures on my thanks. Good. Until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

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