Undergraduate Honors Theses

Thesis Defended

Spring 2018

Document Type


Type of Thesis

Departmental Honors



First Advisor

L. Kaifa Roland

Second Advisor

Carla Jones

Third Advisor

Joe Bryan


Lifestyle migration, residential tourism, and retirement migration—all are variations of a privileged form of transnational mobility, whereby relatively affluent citizens of high-income countries electively move to destinations in low-income countries in order to achieve a better quality of life. This growing trend may be summed up as leisure-based migration, and the individuals who migrate are leisure-based migrants or leisure-based expatriates in their adopted country. Unlike the traditional understanding of immigration and labor migrants who move to stronger economies in search of opportunity, leisure-based migrants seek opportunity in weaker economies. Leisure-based migrants/expatriates move to low-wage economies where their relative wealth enables increased buying power, which allow expatriates to work less and have more free time for family, leisure, or whatever they deem important. U.S. expatriates in Nicaragua represent a unique instance of this leisure-based migration trend owing to the long history of U.S imperialism and hegemony in Nicaragua, which has produced greater relative wealth for U.S. expatriates and less for average Nicaraguan people. U.S. leisure-based expatriates act on their positionality when they move to Nicaragua to produce a higher quality of life in Nicaragua’s low-wage labor market. Neoliberal subjectivities and market-based social organization naturalize a transnational capitalist strategy of reducing the cost of producing one’s desired lifestyle by relocating lifestyle production to a low-wage labor market. For U.S. leisure-based expatriates in Nicaragua, this strategy represents the ‘offshoring’ of the American Dream.