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Man Moves to Indian Jungle to Escape Student Debt

A 29-year-old American man decided to leave the United States behind and move to a remote jungle village in India so he wouldn’t have to constantly worry about paying back his student loan.

Like many other Americans, Chad Haag had to rely on a student loan to pay for his college education, but he struggled to find a college-level job after graduating, and going back school to pursue a master’s degree in comparative literature didn’t really help in that regard. His first job had him unloading trucks and constructing toy rockets on a factory assembly line, then he worked as an adjunct professor, but with only one class assigned per semester, he could barely make a living, let alone pay back his $20,000 student loan. At one point, struggling to pay the $300 monthly instalments became too stressful, so he just packed his bags, said goodbye to his life in the US and moved to a small village in India.

Photo: prasadganapule69/Pixabay

The philosophy major told CNBC that before moving to a country on the other side of the globe, he considered living in a cave to escape his student loan. He knew someone who had done the same, but after thinking it over, he decided that emigrating to a far away country was better. He lives in a concrete house in the village of Uchakkada for only $50 a month, and recently married an Indian citizen, a professor at a local college. As for his soon-to-default student loan, he’s not worried about it anymore.

“It’s kind of like, if a tree falls in the woods and no one hears it, does it really exist?” he said. “I would say that the debt does not weigh on me the way that it might have in the past, in the sense that most of the measures they could take against me have become practically irrelevant. For example garnishing wages from an American employer is not even an avenue of power that they have anymore.”

While he acknowledges that his $20,000 student loan wasn’t that much of a burden as that shouldered by other borrowers, Haag said that the inability to find a job that would have allowed him to make the monthly $300 payments and still have enough to live on made it a lot more stressful to deal with than most people think.

 

Chad Haag left for India in 2018 to escape student debt from CNBC.

Chad admits that putting his life in America behind him did involve some sacrifices – for example some toilets in his village are just simple holes in the ground – overall he is very happy with his decision to move there. “I saw four elephants just yesterday,” he told CNBC, adding that he hopes to never set fut in a Walmart again.

“I have a higher standard of living in a Third World country than I would in America, because of my student loans,” Haag concluded. “I couldn’t make the math work in America.”

Experts say that moving to a foreign country to escape student loans is risky, as if borrowers ever want to return to the US they’ll find that their debt larger than before because of compound interest, collection charges and late fees. Still, many choose this options, and personal finance websites even offer guides on how to pull it off.

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