Jeff Thomas: What was your country of birth and what countries have you previously lived (or spent significant time) in?
Keith Callum: I was born in the USA and have lived here all my life, though I have traveled extensively.
JT: What prompted you to seek another country as an alternative to the US?
KC: In general, I have become disenchanted with the country. It seems to me that the culture has taken a nosedive and, as that happens, the government is right in step and reflects the decline.
Who was it that said a people always ends up with the government it deserves?
My father worked for the Bell System from the time he was discharged from the Air force after WW II. He described the fairly quick deterioration in the work ethic among the new telephone company hires during the 1960s. I was too stoned to notice it at the time but I believed him. The average American became self absorbed and lost whatever it was that my dad's generation had. This new attitude spread to the older generations and has not gone away.
JT: Was your original intention to acquire a second citizenship, or to move entirely?
KC: I am a “neophile” and love anything new so even if things were peachy at home I might want to have a change for just for its own sake. However, that said, things are not peachy and I feel out of place in the USA.
So, no, it wasn’t my intention to move entirely – my seeking has more to do with escaping things that I see as ugly in the aesthetic, political and cultural sense more than looking for something in particular.
JT: What were you looking for? (monetary, governmental, social, etc.)
KC: I was looking for a place where people did not feel entitled. In some Asian countries (though not all), the people have a sense of courtesy, humility and a quiet elegance I don't see in the average American. There are also obvious advantages in some Asian countries where many basic things: housing, food and services of all kinds cost a fraction of the price in the West.
JT: What were you hoping to escape from?
KC: As I said, there is a cultural ugliness in the US and it has spread to a lot of the world. Youth culture wants to emulate gang bangers and egomaniacal sports stars. This is hard to get away from now and it can be seen in places like Vietnam and Morocco where the L.A. Hollywood glitz and American pop style is revered by the youth who have seen it in the movies and on TV.
JT: What destinations did you research as possibilities and what made you reject each one?
KC: Years ago, I thought I would like to live in Italy. If it was not as expensive, I would consider it. The Italian people do have a great sense of style and an ability to enjoy life.
Japan has so much going on for it. The people are fascinating to me and have the humility and grace I am looking for. It is just too expensive and a bit too strict.
There are things I love about India but the crowds, dust, lack of reliable infrastructure and chaos would be too much after a while.
China would be a consideration if I were 30 years younger. Beijing and Shanghai feel like the center of activity in the world right now and is very exciting… maybe too exciting.
Indonesia is lovely but I did not feel welcome.
Morocco is interesting and Marrakech was a consideration. I cannot say for sure why I ruled it out but I guess it just was not for me.
JT: What made you choose Thailand in the end?
KC: Northern Thailand is a beautiful place. Chiang Mai is a big enough city to give me the urban fix I would need. In addition, you could get in a car and take a day trip to Laos or Myanmar (Burma).
The Thai people are lovely and they like westerners. Things are cheap, the food is great, it's warm all the time and I will be sure to find a lot of interesting business to keep me entertained.
I feel welcome there and that may be the most important thing to me.
JT: Have you made your actual move yet?
KC: Still in the process of setting up the situation.
JT: What is your present residential / citizenship situation worldwide?
KC: I am a US citizen but will be applying for a retirement visa in Thailand. It is easy to get and renewable if you simply maintain a bank account with around $30,000 balance.
JT: Thank you Keith.
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