Another of the enduring assumptions made by many of the nature of relocators is that they must be wealthy, especially those at the planning stage. Surely, many people with modest resources are interested (sometimes, you can almost hear them say “daydreamers”), but they wouldn’t actually relocate, right?
Well, the stats above suggest otherwise. Unless we define “upper class” as households with annual incomes from all sources of $50,000 or more, we have to understand that the reality is quite different. Yes, having more money is helpful for many things, relocation among them, but it is not the determining factor.
One shift of note is that the over-100K group did not drop as dramatically in 2009 as other income groups and they rose in 2011, but the under-50K group blew right past them.
As noted elsewhere (the education post, for example), the last decade or two of Internet use has opened the world to the great majority of Americans in a way unknown in earlier decades. It is hardly logical to assume that this has had little or no affect on the middle class. They can now “visit” potential relocation nations, write for information, “chat’ with others on on-line forums, and otherwise get a good idea of what would be required if they were to relocate. With that information available, the idea of relocation shifts from a “daydream” to a potential reality, and then, should they so choose, to reality.
I have seen exactly this happen in Panama. The majority of Americans living here are definitely not from the upper class. Neither are they impoverished. They are middle class, educated, intelligent, and quite capable of looking at relocation realistically, then doing it.
In order to fully understand American relocation in the 21st century, it is necessary to put old assumptions based on the past to one side and look at the facts. That was the foundation for our decision to contract these surveys. We had heard plenty of opinions based on assumptions. Armed with those facts, new thoughts and questions arise, and new potential future scenarios are created.