Thursday, February 23, 2012

Fleeing the Country to Avoid Student Loan Debt?

Who's thought about doing just that?


Nando said...

In a just world, Albert Lord would be leaving this country, after being chased out by millions of student debt slaves - armed with pitchforks, machetes, and flamethrowers.

Anonymous said...

A great topic Cryn, and I hope you stay with it for a while.

I have had people tell me that I am a coward for not wanting to move to another country in order to get away from my American (United States of America) Higher Educational debt.

They tell me that I will be free of debt and be able to have credit, and that my living expenses will be much more reasonable, and that I will be a much more free citizen and implied human being in another country than I am now in the USA.

It is all so confusing and I look to our political leaders here in the USA and see that this 1 Trillion dollars in SL Debt Problem is constantly being swept under the rug.

That's when the loss of faith starts to creep in, though I don't want to feel that way.

I love the USA and my home, and honest to God I never meant any harm to the US taxpayer when I enrolled in a Law School and borrowed all that money.

It is a deep, deep shame that I feel beyond shame. Regret for having sone something that I thought would leave me and society better off.

Now all I feel is shame and regret.

Russ McCoy said...

In a way, I fled the country. I had to begin a new career half way around the world in order to afford my student loan payments. It took me 10 years but I finally paid them off and was able to return to the US under better financial circumstances.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Russ - where did you go, and how long were you gone? Do you think leaving the country is a good idea for those trying to pay off their debt? (It's something I've written about, but want to hear your thoughts). Thanks for your response.

Russ McCoy said...

Hi, Cryn:

Initially, I went to South Korea for about four years and then Saudi Arabia for another five. It was much easier to pay down debt because I didn't have to pay income tax and had housing provided by my company. All of this was made possible because I had a relevant undergraduate degree--the JD turned out to be worthless. Anyway, to answer your question, it definitely worked for me because I had much more disposable income due to the factors mentioned above.

Anonymous said...

My parents immigrated here, and now I want to immigrate somewhere else. Heck maybe my parent's old country.

It is ironic.

Anonymous said...

"I've always wanted to go to Tanzania."

Anonymous said...

Vampire are real

edububble said...

A surprisingly large number of people come to Edububble after searching Google for phrases like "leaving the country to avoid student debt". It's quite sad.

Anonymous said...

I wonder how much longer two things will be allowed:

A). Other countries accepting economic refugees from the U.S. I would think they shut the borders to them.

B). The U.S. allowing "citizens" to leave if they have defaulted student loan debt. OR conversely, being allowed back into the country.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous 4:32 PM - thanks for your remarks. First, why would another country "close their borders," especially if they are gaining educated workers? I don't see why, for example, S. Korea would suddenly shut their borders to people from the U.S. who want to teach there. Same goes with China and Saudia Arabia and . . . the list goes on . . .

I'm not sure how the government could prohibit people who have defaulted on their loans from leaving the country - that would lead to a host of problems. And I don't see why they wouldn't be allowed to come back. In fact, I'd imagine that it would be better if they were to return. That way, it would be easier for lenders and the U.S. government to collect on defaulted loans through the garnishment of their wages, collecting on one's disability checks, and so forth.

Anonymous said...

@Caryn in 4:38

Simple. The reason other countries should close their borders is because they too have TONS of underemployed college grads themselves.

The higher education industrial complex overproducing college grads is not only limited to the US but world wide.

Furthermore, I can honestly say most Americans who expatriate aren't exactly all that and a bag of chips. This is especially true within the English teaching crowd who seem to attract quite a number of sketchbags hell bent on shamelessly exploiting their white privilege onto the native population. Not saying this encompasses all within this crowd... but you know they exist.

Anonymous said...

Dumb question maybe, but how can one teach English in another country without knowing the language of the people being taught?

Anonymous said...

Dumb question, but how can a person teach English in another country without knowing the language of the people being taught?

Anonymous said...

@Cryn Johannsen,
You asked "why would another country "close their borders," especially if they are gaining educated workers?" The answer is closely related to the earlier comment suggesting that the U.S. might not allow "citizens" to leave if they have defaulted student loan debt. Two oil producing countries recently tried to switch from a Brenton Woods petrodollar into a gold based barter system. Libyia has been made free after threatening cUS corporate banking interests and Operation Iranian Freedom is about to commence. East Germany never effectively walled itself off from a determined world power and watched as the wall was torn down and its soverihgnty was lost. If countries can not insulate themselves from a determined USA, what makes you think a single individual corporate serf could?

Cryn Johannsen said...

@JDpainterguy - people teach in others countries without knowing the language. It's always best to learn it once you arrive, and if you live there a long time. I see that as a courtesy to your host country, and it sure helps in terms of getting around. But plenty of people go to places like S. Korea and don't know Korean. It's more than just possible. It's done.

Anonymous said...

I fled "The Banana Republic of America - Land of the Fee, Home of the Slave" for the third world over five years ago.

I agree with a few of the other comments here (who seem to be from fellow expats living abroad).

English teaching is the "survival job" which you can always fall back on in many countries outside of the BRA. Depending on the ethos of the country, other expats, and its immigration policy English teaching can be copeable or hell on earth.

English teaching jobs for native speakers will always be available (even though many of the countries would ultimately prefer to train their own people to teach English - but ultimately CAN'T because a non-native speaker simply CANNOT (with very few exceptions) attain the proficiency level of English that a native speaker naturally inherits).

Yes, there is a growing exodus of citizens of the "developed" countries to those of other developed countries (or more commonly "developing" countries). And YES, these new waves of expats are generally more desperate and less culturally aware than earlier waves who arrived when the destination countries had more authentic (non-globalized) cultures.

The bottom line is that globalization is sucking the earth dry, distributing its resources unfairly, and forcing everyone on earth into more fierce competition for finite resources.

Although I don't think the BRA will lock indebted students OUT of the country (where as another poster mention they at least have jurisdiction and more control to seize assets/income) what I am more worried about is that Comrad Uncle Sam will continue its tyrannical passing of laws and start making moves to gain access to the assets/income of citizens overseas. I think it is more than obvious to anyone at this point that the lawmakers in Amerika have complete disregard in their abuse of constitutional limitations and are completely willing to encroach on any jurisdiction between the north and south poles.

JD SchmayD said...

While I didn't do it with that in mind, after a couple years in Hong Kong I realized that that was an option. I truly loathe Citibank and that loan has been a hassle, but it's manageable now, it's my federal's that are the problem. You know, the ones that can't be discharged in bankruptcy, the way, say a bank, could just write off huge losses and get some money from our good friends in the govt. As an expat, no worries about screwing up credit and not being able to buy a house or whatever. As an expat you just have to build up your local accounts and cred from scratch, which is not as hard as it sounds. Now that I am back in the U.S. I have been working with quite a few law grads with huge debts, and bad job prospects and I've told them, if you have no wife/kids/mortgage/whatever truly preventing you from bailing, think about it.

Anonymous said...

My husband is from another country and we were thinking of moving back after I graduate from grad school. (which I had to go to becauase there are absolutely no jobs for people with a mere undergrad degree anymore). Instead of college, my husband decided to back pack the world after high school (which is how we met). WHY IS THAT NEVER AN OPTION FOR AMERICAN YOUTH? We only get asked "what school are you going to?" if you say none then its like you are expected to go the military. Otherwise you are a just a bum living off the government, living in the ghetto and the popular phrase "working at mcdonalds". People working at McDonalds have more money than me. In a year I'll have a doctorate degree. Honestly, I would have been better off to get a job straight out of high school and move up. I would have been working for 8 years now and probably been promoted. Instead, I'll graduate with 200K in the hole.

Anyway, I saw a post on this site earlier that stated that after 8 years, someone was found in another country trying to escape their loans but still didn't have to pay them back. If you gain citizenship in that other country by that time would the US have any jurisdiction in pursueing your debt?

I have limited experience with immigration laws but none with tax/finance/loans, especially when it involves 2 countries. Any ideas?

Because to start in a new country with no debt. OMG, its a dream. I could actually have a baby before I turn 40.

And I don't think the country can close borders to citizens trying to leave with debt. I'd be stuck here for decades while my husband kicks his heels in his home country around the world!

Anonymous said...

After a couple years of trying to find work under the table in the US, because I had effectively been shut out of the US banking system, due to $40k in defaulted SL debt, I decided to just leave the country.

I found a job teaching math and physics in a foreign school and have not looked back. I make good money, have great students, live comfortably in tropical paradise and have good credit and a bank account (with money in it) again.

I am not especially proud of skipping out on my loans in the US. But, I did make an honest effort for several years to find a job in the US to pay back my loans. I wasn't even getting call-backs for dishwasher and bus-boy applications I submitted. I am a bright, hard working guy with a good degree, and I just could not find anyone who seemed to have use for me in the US.

Don't beat yourself up about it if you find yourself in the same situation. Pack your bags and find the place where your skills are desired and where you will be compensated appropriately.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Anonymous Sept 10th - I'd like to interview you. You can remain anonymous. My email is

Thanks for sharing - I hope to write about your decision in a lengthier piece.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this site.

I went to law school in 2005 when I was the average age of most college Sophomores. I researched student loans very thoroughly but, at the end of the day, I was still a kid. The financial aid counselor at the law school advised me to take out private loans. She said that the interest rate was lower and that there was no difference between these and the "government" loans. She also told me that the "absolute maximum" I could expect to incur in student loan debt was $50,000.

In 2008, I graduated with approximately $95,000 tied up in a mixture of private/federal loans. I borrowed the absolute minimum for my tuition, but the numbers just didn't add up.

In 2009 I passed the bar exam and was sworn in as a lawyer. I worked at a local fast food restaurant to pay for my Barbri classes and living expenses. My family was so proud of me.

In 2010, after a year of searching, I got my first law job making $24/hr. I lived with my mom and spent 90% of my paycheck making the minimum payments on my student loans.

In 2011, my mother - a widower - remarried and I moved out on my own at a tiny studio apartment. I could no longer pay both my student loans and my living expenses. My private loan deferments and forbearances eventually ran out and I defaulted on over $60,000 in debt.

2012 brought my my first lawsuit from a lender trying to collect on $45,000 of that private debt. Before the year is over, it will bring me another. My federal loans are in income-based repayment.

I love this country, but I can't fathom spending the next 30+ years working only to have the constant threat of wage garnishments and lawsuits in the background. With my monthly payments and current income, I will never own a house, never be able to save for retirement or for a child's college fund. Funny how a decision made at 19 can have such lasting consequences. I've an ever owned a credit card, never bought anything on credit. Except my education.

2013 is offering me a way out, a fresh start in a new country where I can have a modest income and save some money for the future. Maybe I could even start a family one day or own my own home. Maybe I could live a normal life. That would be nice.

We'll see.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Just found this site! Gosh I wish I didn't have mortgage or lover commitment, I think I would leave here in two seconds. I owe over 200,000 and work for 60,000 a year. I still have sometime to finish my Ph.D. but if I could go back and do it all over again I would really have not gone to school unless I was able to pay cash up front. Now I am constantly overwhelmed and miserable about what I have done to myself. I have never really loved myself and perhaps this was a way for me to destroy myself. It's too late now, what is one to do. Sigh.... I so wish I could leave this country.

sipragio123 said...

@Russ - where did you go, and how long were you gone? Do you think leaving the country is a good idea for those trying to pay off their debt? (It's something I've written about, but want to hear your thoughts). Thanks for your response.

credit consolidation loans

Anonymous said...

I live in the UK. I have over $60,000 in student loan debt in the U.S. I didn't leave the country to escape the debt, rather to be with my partner. We are gay and of course that excludes the possibility of living in the States (no matter that some states now allow same sex couples, Federal law supersedes state law, so immigration is not allowed) I struggled along with my student loan payments from here for 2 years. It was difficult to even make the payments as I no longer have a bank account in the States, meaning I had to pay online with a credo card and each month go through the ridiculous explanation about why my post code (zip code) had letters in it. I am now in default as I recently lost my job and am starting my own business. I feel incredibly guilty. But we do own our home, I have good credit and free health care. I can live with my partner and we aren't (yet) eating GM foods or worrying about gun control. It is difficult to imagine going back to the States at this point knowing I would face debt, no credit, no health care, laws which make me feel like I am not a full citizen with regards to living with my partner of 8 years, the highest murder rate in the developed world, genetically modified food....etc.

whidbeydc said...

YOu had to leave because you are gay? That's hiliarious. It isn;t illegal last time I checked and in fact most places completly accept them. Just be honest, you left due to your debt. No biggie.

Anonymous said...

If you are in a relationship with a foreign national of the same-sex, it's impossible for that individual to emigrate to the United States.

I'm in a similar situation. I'm actually married to a foreigner of the same-sex. I haven't defaulted on any of my loans, however.

We can't move to the United States because of DOMA, which forbids marriage at the Federal level, and thus my rights to sponsor him for U.S. residency.

Cristini P said...

I came across this post while researching the feasibility of escaping Federal student loan debt. My husband and I have joked about it since we started dating, but now that my sister is relocating to England, the possibility isn't so much a far-fetched idea anymore. Coming out of school after several years of huge tuition hikes into a depressed job market has got both my husband and me down in the dumps. I finally have a decent job, but he's still struggling at the bottom of the skilled trades totem pole.

We can only afford to pay the minimum (interest-only) student loan payments and they're still tallying up to $1,000. We've had so many deferments and forbearances for economic hardship that $15,000 of interest has capitalized into the principal. Together we're in about $130K deep with Dept of Ed, Sally Mae, Great Lakes, and Self loans.

Combine this with the credit card debt we incurred making up income shortages for the years when I was the only one working full time, and regular living expenses and auto loans and - BLAMMO - we're so totally F*d.

So yes, absolutely, unequivocally, we think about running away from home constantly.

Anonymous said...

Three years into my chemical engineering career, I went into a deep depression. Suddenly, the effort of having two jobs, one as a front desk hotel clerk, another as a barwoman, and a spiraling dependency on adderall, did not seem worth it to me anymore. on top of that, parents living in an entirely different country . it was almost overnight that i made the most important decision of my life, to leave. so here i am today, starting my career from zero at one of the most prestigious universities in the country. higher education is free here, even though i have to deal with all the third world country issues you can think of on a daily basis, but you get used to it. capitalism is not so evident here and one goes to college truly based upon passion and dedication, not economical motivation. i have to work full time and then ride a train for about an hr to get to school at night but i feel extremly satisfied. i may not graduate within 5 years but at least im staying true to myself not putting up with the abuse of student loans. by the way, when i left the us back in 2010, i had raked up close to 11k. i do sometimes wonder if i will ever be able to come back, mainly to visit. but it is not something that haunts me or makes me lose sleep.

Anonymous said...

I have done lots of research on this--both online and talking to other people, including lawyers---and here's what I have concluded:

1) It is impossible to collect a private debt from someone living in another country. The first obstacle is the enormous cost of going through a foreign legal system. Most banks will simply shrug and write off the debt because the cost of collecting will easily equal or exceed the debt.

2) Having said that, it is important to know that it is NOT easy to get into another country. Most of the desireable countries (such as in Europe, Canada, and the better Asian countries like Singapore) have very strict immigration requirements. You have to prove you already have a job, and they will not let you take a job that could have been done by a native person. I am suspicious of the claims on this site from people who said they went to this or that country, as if they just walked across the border or took a plane and disembarked at the airport with no problems.

3) It wouldn't surprise me if soon there are laws passed in this country that stop you from leaving if you have such things as an unpaid judgement or a loan in default. I understand that Mike Crapo (ID), the ranking Republican on the Senate Banking Committee and a big recipient of campaign contributions from the banking industry, has already tried to introduce legislation to that effect.

Preventing someone from leaving the country because of a debt is not so far fetched. In fact there is already a precident for it! There already exists a law that prevents leaving the country or getting a passport if you have unpaid child support. That's right--if you go and apply for a passport, you are first checked if you have unpaid child support due.

So my advice is this:

a debt cannot be collected if you are in a foreign country

it can be hard to get into a foreign country

IF you are thinking of leaving, you had better do it SOON. Because more people are doing it, and as the losses increase for the banks they are sure to put the pressure on their bought-and-paid-for legislators to do something about it. Remember--the banking industry is one of THE largest campaign contributors in elections. They wield enormous influence on Congress.

Anonymous said... click the movie that will show you the real side of America that exsist other countrys get schools paid for by government instead we get charged on intrest bearing loans no wonder college stundents are running the hell out of the country I know I would for a lot of reasons im not going to run to timbuck 2 but I will run for all the right reasons go where life treats you good and rewards you honest par for you efforts otherwise you be sorry at the things you didn't do than the things you did like staying behind paying for debt work= your money in somebody elses hands besides yours na fill up the tank or taxi get some food get your passport and ditch unkle same this country is no longer number one. HA

Anonymous said...

I think I am a bit older than some here. 54. Been on top and at the bottom. Life, recessions, dishonest employers. Long story. So in the end with the downs the loans add up. These days am underemployed and building a new company. Ahh those loans. Now if I did not have a few dogs who would not move well I would leave and may at some point. My advice is don't feel ashamed. Do some research. How many big names have bilked their lenders. Trump, the EU forcing Greek bondholders to take a haircut, the people of Cyprus who narrowly avoided having their savings seized due to the failings of the banks they put their money in. Did you lie, did you try hard, are you a scammer.... if not you have nothing to be ashamed of. And trust me, as I know a lot of them, the people with money feel no shame when their investors lose. After all it is OPM. The shame you feel is due to a sham of a value structure that has long been gone.

Anonymous said...

Many problems with this. First is the unenumerated constitutional right to travel intrastate and abroad. You would have to amend the constitution which is not happening. To address your passport issue, if you already have one this problem is irrelevant. 2nd family matters and loan debt are ridiculously different. Also, if you live in the uk long enough you will eventually be eligible for citizenship. Your right it might not happen in a week. But just be like an illegal in the US but abroad for a while and because of the extremely liberal stance of the rest of the world you'll get your citizenship. Just be patient.

Anonymous said...

Hello, I have thought long and hard about posting, but decided to.

I did not leave the country so much as I was told not to come back. I went to school overseas, it was considered equal to the US universities and even paid for by federal loans.

I heard it was difficult to get a job in the industry upon returning, but I thought I was up for the challenge.

As it turns out, it is not harder, it is nearly impossible and no amount of work or effort helps, it is basically a lottery.

Employers outright discriminate, and while there is much conjecture as to why, one was kind enough to tell me that foreign grads do not speak English well enough. When I relate I was born and raised a US citizen this same person told me: "you went to a foreign school, so you are foreign now."

While I wasn't before, I am now. I have been adopted by a foreign country and given citizenship.

I hired a local lawyer to take up my case and using information on the consequences of defaulting on student loans, some right off the US education department website, like being denied employment, credit checks for housing, etc, he filed an asylum application for persecuted groups.

The long and short of it, I am not going back to the US. When I relayed this to the collectors calling, they stopped. They don't even send email anymore. A judgment I am told would not only not be enforced, but won't really destroy credit either, because my credit is based on my new national identity number, my SSN no longer has any meaning for me.

As a former US citizen, I don't file US taxes. (I am told you have to if you keep your US citizenship) But there was no reason to keep it. I live in a first world country, I can travel anywhere. I am highly employable, having received multiple offers from multiple countries.

I will not return to the US, but really, what would I be returning to? Not being able to work in the industry I am educated for? Denied jobs, transportation, and housing because of loan debt? Garnishing of wages of whatever menial job I could get as I was consigned to a life of poverty? Garnishing my fixed income social security in 30 years?

Sometimes I struggle with the morality of it, but then i am reminded. I was discriminated on because of my "national origin" no different as if they were saying I am not competitive because I am black (or any other non white color), gay, or a woman.

Certainly taxpayers and investors in my education which is really serving me well have lost. But I think it is a fair trade, they educated me and said "don't come back" I haven't been back in 4 years. When I want to visit family, I fly them here and show them things they will never otherwise see in the US.

I have even learned to speak 2 additional languages.

I will say this is not the type of life for the faint of heart, those lacking ambition or hoping to be another cog in the wheel. But when faced with unrecoverable poverty or a new start, it seems foolish to choose poverty.

Call me what you will, but I am highly educated and free. It wasn't my plan, but I would say it is a win.

Anonymous said...

I am currently racking up student debt and have always planned to return to the country I used to work in to work again, but at a higher salary than I did before. More and more i have considered just not paying back the debt when I arrive there. It is not sizeable (about 20k USD) and the cost of them coming to collect it would surely be far less than what the loan actually is. I still haven't decided what I will do when I move there, but I certainly won't hesitate to not pay it back if the opportunity presents itself and doesn't make too much of a problem for my wife and I. All this nonsense about "my credit being ruined" is irrelevant. I don't want any credit in the US, and if I do want it, I can get it in another country just as easily.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous on May 22, 2013 at 7:31 AM, where did you go? My boyfriend and I are seriously considering going to another country to escape his student loan debt. But he is incredibly concerned about not picking the right country, and the whole venture ending in failure. For example, how much money is needed to start over in another country? We have almost no money, and I've only been able to save up a good amount once or twice by chance. Emergencies can happen, and our savings go away... it's very hard.

I want to leave the US not only because of his debt, but also I want to live someplace new, perhaps with healthier food and happier people if I could find that. I keep saying no plan is a good plan, but he whole heartedly disagrees with that. We need advice...

Anonymous said...

I'm currently planning to leave the country within the next 6-12 months for that reason. My loans were all private and the statute of limitations for my state is five years for written contracts. I currently make the payment, but I'll never own a home or feel comfortable starting a family in the current situation. My standard of living is pretty crap in order to pay the loan. I only have one family member I regularly see (every few months), no real property assets to worry about, and no satisfaction at my job. Deciding to walk away from life here is actually a freeing decision for me and one I wish I would have decided upon a few years ago.

I have a few friends in various countries putting feelers out for me for jobs, but currently looking to teach English in Asia. I have failed at the whole American dream, and I'm actually ok with that. It's off to try other places for a while.

Unknown said...

I want to be a history/english teacher, and the job market is slim. No one from older generations really understand how expensive college is, or how hard it is to find a job.

So me and my girlfriend are considering getting a working visa in australia and moving there. If we can't pay our debt and live there, oh well. But I don't think we will be too well off in the US

Anonymous said...

How does Hong Kong work for this? I was an early adopter of the student loan trap. I can tell you that after 14 years of practicing law, it doesn't get any easier. I'm good at it, but since nobody has any money to pay lawyers, my business has been steadily declining for a couple of years now.

I've considered Uruguay. It's relatively inexpensive to do a crash Spanish course down there so I thought I could brush up my rudimentary skills and then get a short intensive course down there so I don't sound like a WASP American with a California Mexican accent.

I graduated from college in the middle of the Bush 1 recession and couldn't find work that paid more than $9 an hour. This was before they had hardship deferments. Unless I wanted to default, I had to go to graduate school. I was in school, or juggling as fast as I could, through the 90s. Then the economy busted again.

I don't have a retirement. I don't own a house. I doubt I ever will. I've managed to keep the federal loans in deferment while paying down the others, and paying off the credit card debt it cost to get my practice started just in time for the banksters to break the economy again. I've never defaulted - never even had a slow payment - but it's inevitable I will.

I'd like to have a future.

Anonymous said...

I went to law school with the same high hopes as any- that we would never be given loans we wouldn't be able to repay. My father and I spent evenings reading over statistics that showed what I would make afterward and where I could make the most money.
Upon graduating it was disclosed that those statistics had been fabricated by the school to increase attendance. At that time I owed $152k. Now, after four years of minimum payments I owe $180k. My starting salary was $37,500. I am seriously considering abandoning my life in the USA and taking up law practice in the UK or Australia. Does anyone know if I'd be able to maintain my solicitor's license if I then defaulted on my student loans? My whole family is in America, but there is no hope staying in this country.

Cryn Johannsen said...

@Urban Inventor - how old are you?

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a liberating post!

My "short" story: I am a non-traditional student who has chased the American dream. I came from a lower-middle-class family, with GED in hand, to junior college at the age of 26. I put myself through undergrad, working full-time and taking out a minimum of loans. I met and married and active-duty military man and supported his career by transferring colleges, which increased the number of classes I needed and forced a year of out-of-state tuition. Despite that, I kept a 4.0 gap, eventually graduated at the top of my class and was accepted to medical school.

I went to a state medical school but, between costs of living and tuition, was adding $50K a year to my undergrad debt. At graduation I owed $250K.

I started residency in 2006 and had to defer my loans....which was what was advised by my loan officer at the time. "You're a'll make plenty enough money to pay off your loans in 10 years or less" RIIIIIIIIGHT........

After my mandatory 4 year residency, working 100hr work weeks the entire time, and making less than $35K a year, I confronted my compounded debt....$405K.

I've been paying $3500/mo for 3 years now and my student loan debt is $385K, alone. Not to mention the $60K I owe for the house we had to sell at a huge loss due to the housing recession (had to take out a deficiency loan to save my credit). Now I'm leaving my current practice because I can no longer physically work 100hr work weeks to survive. I'm going to have a mental or physical breakdown. I've been at this for 7 years straight now (not even counting all those long hours studying to get here!). Because I'm a doctor, I have to obtain "tail" insurance when I leave. Add in another $22K.

Not to mention the normal expenses that a 44yr old person would have (a mortgage, car payment, and some credit card debt - all left over from residency!).

Becoming a physician was the worst financial decision I could have ever possibly made. And now with Obamacare essentially freezing hiring (despite the overwhelming physician shortage) and the long, long lead time in getting a job (it takes MONTHS for a doctor to be credentialed so that they can actually see patients and earn a paycheck) I am facing something that I never imagined....unemployment and complete wreckage of my life.

Oh, and those student loans are slated to be paid off in 30 years....when I'm 72. Who works 80-100hrs a week in their 70s???

My husband and I have done everything right. We played by the rules. He just RETIRED from the military after serving 20 years (and I served 18 of those with him). We worked hard and were responsible. We haven't defaulted and we have perfect credit (right now....) but this is completely unsustainable. I'm seriously considering putting the house on the market this week, and dipping into my one-year-old 401K to buy tickets across the pond.

I wonder if Fiji needs any doctors??

Anonymous said...

I have heard people say that the student loan situation in Canada is better, but I disagree.

As a woman in my mid thirties, I want a home and a family of my own.

I have earned A's in community college, a bachelors and a masters degree all throughout my education. I have dedicated my life to my career as a social worker. I have worked with my country's poorest - have stopped suicides, prevented families from going homeless, and have helped thousands of youth find meaningful lives following horrific abuse and neglect.
My career has never earned much money, but it is my calling, and what I do best.
My student loans eat up over half of my take home pay every month. I was told that following my MSW that I would have a higher paid job, in a hospital, but this is not true for many of my fellow classmates. The universities lie. I graduated from the best, and at the top of my class.
I made the decision last year to leave the country to pursue opportunities abroad. This has been the best decision that I have ever made. The weight of debt on my back for over 15 years was making me sick. I suffered from stress, trauma, anxiety and depression because of the constant threat of unemployment and loan default.
The best advice that I can give ANYONE who is in a position to do so is to find another country, shut down your online identity, and never look back.
For the first time in 20 years I am living. I have a savings. I have a life. The best part of it all is that I am experiencing more job satisfaction that ever.
Leaving the country was the most difficult thing to do. However, I am much more useful to my family and friends now, than as a stressed out person spending 1000.00 a month on loan payments, with zero quality of life, no money saved for retirement, no child of my own, no time or money to afford dating etc....

Anonymous said...

Could anyone tell me which countries are better areas to relocate, in terms of jobs, etc. for U.S. citizens? I am trying to work out a move to a foreign country.

Thank You

Anonymous said...

Could anyone recommend a country that would be good in terms of jobs, etc... for U.S. citizens?
I am trying to work out a plan, and would like some advice.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

I left the US in the late 90's and eventually attended a foreign university. I went on deferment during school and started to pay back my loans after I left school. I began with $50,000. I paid down to $32,000 and kept sending in my payments even when it cost me an extra $60 a month just to get it sent over.

One time a check arrived two days early and I lost the discount on my interest! Of course I appealed, but hey, it was done internally by the company and they were not going to uphold anything. It did not matter I had to send everything from overseas and try to time it right for the payments to be made on time. That is when the payments became more expensive with the extra interest and became harder to keep. Oh, and they added a late fee for my early payment!

I asked them to use the percentage of my salary as a basis, but they used the U.S. guidelines, which was very different to where I live. I live in a very expensive country and while in the U.S. I would be able to buy a house with a swimming pool, here I would be lucky to share a 2 bedroom apartment on my income.

I got married and pregnant. And things became tighter. I asked for a reduction in the payments as my income was going to be reduced for 9 months and was told it did not matter. I had to keep paying the same amount. I finally gave up. It was a matter between keeping a roof over my baby's head or paying the loans.

I contacted them several years back to try and come to a payment arrangement a year after I defaulted. And found out they tacked on nearly $20,000 in fees. I came up with an offer and it was rejected. And then I was told my wages would be garnished and any tax returns. I laughed and said they would have to be able to enforce that in the country where I lived. And of course I was told my credit would be ruined. The people I spoke to were obnoxious and certainly not interested on coming to a working payment arrangement. So, I told them to get stuffed.

I've made a life for myself in another country and as my family lives here, it is not such an issue. My mother is still in the U.S. and I get to see her. I also have to now support her as without me she would be homeless. She is a double amputee and on dialysis. I would not be able to take care of her and pay off the loans at the amount they demanded. I've also had to cut down on my working hours as my son has special needs. These are the people that count in my life. And they are my first priority. Not servicing an executive's fancy home or car.

And I have no desire to return to the U.S. to live as I am happy and settled. I had every intention of paying off my loans, but would have thought the company had a duty to work with the debtor when there is a time of need. By taking a hard line towards me and treating me like scum, I have taken a hard line back. And if the day comes they try to pursue me, good luck. It will not uphold where I live.

If the day ever comes where I hear the companies who hold student loan debts are finally able to work with the people who owe the money then I will make my repayments. Until then the company can go fly a kite.

These companies have powers the Mafia wish they had. Garnish wages without a court order? Come on. Take your tax returns? If you become bankrupt of have a problem in your life such as a disability these companies will take your SSDI!

It is time that some humanity is restored and the U.S. takes a stance against the predatory practices of these companies. And for people to not be treated as wage slaves.

Anonymous said...

I've got a master's degree and about 70k in loans. I only used loans for actually tuition and books and worked all through school to cover living expenses (I've literally had a job non-stop since I was 15). The original principle was 50k, but I graduated in 2007 and could only find part-time instructional positions at community colleges--which left me unemployed for three months out of the year. Thus, I was on economic hardship deferment which capitalized the accrued interest leading me to have a principle of 70k, even though I never actually borrowed that much. Then Obama did the whole income based repayment, so I started doing that, even though at this point I was living overseas.

Anyway, I followed the rules, did my best to pay loans for about 7 years after graduating. I tried to be frugal and often made payments greater than what was due. Then, I got cancer and realized there's a pretty good chance I won't live long enough to pay these things off, so I decided to say "fuck it" and let it go into default.

Flash forward to the present, and now my cancer is in remission and it looks like I'll have a near normal lifespan. Now my loans are waaayyy in default, and I haven't started saving for retirement (I'm 32). I'm working as a foreign university professor now, and it just seems better to put as much money as I can into my retirement accounts. If I ever find a really sweet job in the US that pays commiserate with my education and experience, I can always buy back into the economy with my retirement account. But, I'm pretty sure that won't happen. If the job market ever does pick up, by then my skills will probably be out of date.

The only thing I worry about is the collection agency coming after my retirement savings, but I think that's unlikely for several reasons. First, they'd have to find out which country I'm in, and I've made that pretty difficult I think. Then they'd have to hire local lawyers to take me to court here and get a ruling against, yet they would have no assurance that once they obtain that ruling I wouldn't just pack up and move to another country putting them back at step one.

Pragmatically, I think I'm in the clear. As far as morality goes, I don't give a fuck. You do the best with the situation you've got. Everyone in the economy is trying to exploit the rules to their advantage and that's all I've done. When you make an investment, you take on risk because you want to make a profit. Sometimes you get burned, sometimes other people get burned. Morality has nothing to do with it. Banks give students loans without collateral because the government guarantees it. The government guarantees them because they make more money from having an educated work force than they lose through student loan defaults. If that changes, then I'm sure they'll change their policy, but for now that's how it works and you'd be a fool not to use the system to your fullest advantage.

Having said that, if the banks and government engaged in economic policies that made it possible for me to be fully and gainfully employed within the US system, then I would have happily pay them back. They didn't, so fuck 'em.

Anonymous said...

Great posts!
I am also in too much student loan debt (275K) and I'd like to expat. I'd prefer an English speaking country or at least a place with some expat population.
Any ideas for a country? Canada, UK, etc.
Fuck this country if it wants me to be a wage slave.

Anonymous said...

Yes, I'm very disheartened by what I'm seeing here. People say they've "gone to another country" or "living in another country".....several say they were already living there. Almost nobody stated WHAT country, how they got there, or gave any practical suggestions that folks could use as a start. Please, step up, or I'll have to conclude I'm just reading fabricated, wishful-thinking posts. I don't need to be convinced to leave the US. I'm a penniless 38-year old who knows that at this point, rebuilding a good quality of life for myself in years to come is about as likely for me as winning a lottery.

Unknown said...

As a US doctor, u can go almost anywhere. How does Rome or Madrid sound? I was studying to be PA-C an ran out of money. School said adios, come see us when u have some more cash. In default an owe about 150000 now. Considering teaching english in Spain. You should take off...for real.

Unknown said...

I was school studying to be a PA-C. Ran out of money and was shown the door by the school. In default an now owe about 150000. Done a little research and it all depends on you educational background or skill set. Since I was unable to finish my degree. I'm looking at teaching english In Spain. There are some hoops to jump through but its not impossible at all. Even if u r broke.

Unknown said...

What was your area of study and did you finish your degree? You can always look into teaching english abroad. I'm looking at Spain. But there is also Russia, China, East europe, SE asia.

Unknown said...

Please help! Please tell me which country granted you asylum. You can contact me directly if you prefer.
hh.thesteppenwolf at gmail.

Unknown said...

I am inspired by your post, as your situation sounds similar to my own. I would love to know the particulars of you managed to get out. I am having a great deal of difficulty finding a way. Please help.

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Anonymous said...

:Leaving the anglo-sphere will never be a valid option for the vast majority of u.s. suckers. Most non-Anglo countries have elites that actually care about their cultural/racial identity and will not destroy it for a few decades of lower wage growth.
The only exception to this are for jobs locals can't do, usually for technical reasons. One is education, but that is pretty saturated, even at third world wages, for a variety of reasons. In fact, it's so hard to get non-English jobs for Anglo country people, that it's a badge to lord over. (Try meeting a fully employed corporate American in Japan--he won't even acknowledge you, lol.)
I tried to get out for years with decent employment. Unless one has that goal from age 19 (e.g. "I learned an Asian language and will get a JD degree for foreign doc review), it is almost impossible to make the transition. I eventually decided military, but got screwed over by an authority figure, and had to scrounge for something way below my credentials.
If someone has an idea for a non-education career abroad, I'm all ears.

Anonymous said...

I had 100k in defaulted US federal loans and finally got sued by the US gov. I had a parent that was Canadian. I got Canadian citizenship and moved to Canada. I don't file tax returns with the US since Canadian tax is much higher, I would not owe anything. Even though you are supposed to file, they would not get any money since I would not owe tax, as can be proven from my Canadian tax returns.

As a Canadian citizen, I am governed by the jurisprudence and laws of Canada...Not the USofAssholes. All my assets reside in Canada and not the US and under my Canadian identity.

I have a nice job in Canada. I wish it did not have to be like this. I did try to pay off my loan but it was ridiculous and odious. Even the mafia can't get that kind of deal.

Anonymous said...

From the comments above, it just shows how much everybody loves to use the United States, get what they want then bail on it. Ya know I'm sure that if you didn't go to the top college or got in state tuition your debt would not have been that high. It's rather bothersome to see the abuse the US takes and no one likes to pay it back. No wonder taxes are so high and the economy is in such a mess. Working while going to college or getting paid while getting your masters or working for the college while attending are all very viable options. There are quite a few programs that pay students to work for the college and attend. Most people on this page took the easy way out. Very disappointing. Enjoy your other country hope it's all you want it to be.
Gob Bless America!

Michael Fox said...

Honestly I've been thinking about it really hard recently. Especially since the school I went to (ITT Tech) shut down. Almoust all of my freinds are programming buddies who live in another country. One of them even pays the server bills so my blog and other stuff can stay up.
I have a debt of 50k due to hit and start collecting interest in december. Every employee I've talked to has either outright said no when I mentioned ITT tech or they never bothered to call me back, especially after an interview.
I tried joining the navy but I have collections I didn't know about until recently so that was shot down pretty fast
I've done nothing but regret my useless outdated college education and fall deeper into depression more and more. I'm pretty close to filing bankrupcy and I'm only 21.

Cryn Johannsen said...

Michael - if you left, where would you go? Have you done research on options of places to live?

Michael Fox said...

If I had to choose anywhere it would be japan. I've heard many good and bad things from freinds and people who lived there and visted there to see their freinds and or family. I've done some research online on places to live in japan (probably not enough).

I've always had an interest in japanese culture from a young age.