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Living in another country?


By American in Japan   Follow   Tue, 22 Feb 2011, 11:36pm PST   8,730 views   60 comments   Watch (0)   Share   Quote   Permalink   Like (1)   Dislike  

This is the "living in another country" post. Who lives outside of the US or has lived outside of the US. For those living in the US now, have you considered living in another country? Which one(s)?
What have you learned from living there?

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FortWayne   befriend   ignore   Tue, 22 Feb 2011, 11:46pm PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 1

My wife and I have considered a few different (English speaking) countries. We have relatives all over the world so that makes it much easier.

Great Britain, Canada were a few biggest considerations which are still on the table.

Japan is a bit too tough, language barrier.

American in Japan   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 12:48am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 2

@SF ace

I must admit I do like Singapore, even though I have ties here in Japan. One thing I envy about living in Singapura, is there are quite a few inexpensive 2-3 day getaway trips possible to a variety of countries via Air Asia. I have been there 3 times...

jvolstad   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 12:57am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 3

My last gig was in London. Loved it!

http://www.flickr.com/photos/jvolstad/sets/72157600399996216/

I wish I was still there but our contract got cut short.

Is the San Francisco Bay Area considered a foreign country? :-)

I would love to work in China. There is some HP Nonstop (servers) in country, but not much.

bob2356   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 2:52am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 4

I've lived in France (pre EU), Canada (hard to consider that another country), Costa Rica, and currently in New Zealand. Why are you curious? Which country you would consider moving to depends totally on your life situation and why you would consider moving abroad. Someone retiring has totally different requirements from someone looking for opportunity.

Everyone should seriously consider multiple citizenships. Trusting your entire life to one government is just totally crazy if you have any type of substantial assets. The vast majority of Americans have absolutely no idea how freely mobile the rest of the world is or how isolated and insular America really is.

Living abroad as an American is a total PIA from a paperwork perspective by the way. Unlike every other country on earth the US taxes your income worldwide even if you are living overseas. They want an accounting of every dime you have and where it came from. Not only that but there are currency controls starting to come on line also that will be even more of a pain. It gets much worse every year. Not only are you required to know all the rule changes, all the forms to file to comply with the rule changes, but the fines if you miss filing any form are so high you would have to give up your citizenship if you make any errors. For example failure to report the existence of a foreign bank account (even your checking account) results in penalties of 50% of the value of the account for every year not reported for up to 6 years (so a unreported 10,000 dollar account balance could have penalties of 30,000) , a 250,000 fine (that's not a typo), five years in prison (which can be doubled to 500k and 10 years if you fail to report 2 accounts). This is not penalties for tax evasion, just not reporting the fact you have an account at all. There are lots of similar draconian laws in effect. Oh by the way if you ask the IRS about these things and they give you the wrong information (they frequently do) it's just too bad.

jvolstad   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 4:47am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 5

@bob2356 I thought about becoming a British citizen as well as my American citizenship. I was on a 4-5 year contact with the NHS in London. It would have made sense to do that. I also had to hire a tax accountant when I was working in London. The taxes were a nightmare.

pkennedy   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 5:49am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 6

The US is in a different situation. People flock to the US to get passports. They do so because it helps them everywhere they are in the world, it also gives them a safe haven no matter what, and they get all the benefits of being a US citizen. Not many people flock to the US or Canada for a "backup passport" People get secondary passports for other reasons, but not as an upgrade or a security feature. Citizenship is really for those who want to live in a country and be part of it. The US has so many people coming here, getting citizenship, buggering off for 30 years and coming back when it suits them best. Not only that, the US has some of the easiest immigration standards around the world.

As a former CEO said to me once, "I ended up with a tax nightmare while working in the UK, but really it's a small price to pay. If I'm ever stuck anywhere in the world, I know who I'll call to get me out of it."

How many governments will bend over backwards to rescue a citizen in another country? Or put pressure on a government to help citizens in another country?

If someone is unhappy with the situation, simply relinquish US citizenship.

bob2356   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 6:47am PST   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike (1)     Comment 7

pkennedy says

The US is in a different situation. People flock to the US to get passports. They do so because it helps them everywhere they are in the world, it also gives them a safe haven no matter what, and they get all the benefits of being a US citizen. Not many people flock to the US or Canada for a “backup passport” People get secondary passports for other reasons, but not as an upgrade or a security feature. Citizenship is really for those who want to live in a country and be part of it. The US has so many people coming here, getting citizenship, buggering off for 30 years and coming back when it suits them best. Not only that, the US has some of the easiest immigration standards around the world.

By the US are you actually referring to the United States of America having some of the easiest immigration standards in the world? Do you live in the same United States as I did? Immigration visa's for the USA are just about the toughest in the world to obtain. Even work and student visa's are very hard to get.

Who are all these people who breeze into the USA, get citizenship and leave for 30 years? I'd like to see documentation on that.

I don't travel on my US passport any more other than coming to the US. The attitude toward Americans has changed dramatically in the last 10 years. People around the world really used to like Americans almost everywhere. They would tell you endlessly that they hated our policies, but they really would be friendly. That has changed. The Iraq war badly tarnished America's image around the world.

If you really think the consulate is going to bend over backwards for you then I would highly recommend not getting into trouble overseas. It ain't going to happen the majority of the time. Consulates are dumping grounds for people owed favors by politicians. Their first priority is maintaining their very comfortable expat colonialist lifestyle and not rocking the boat. Just getting to talk to someone at a consulate is usually about like making a state visit to the king of England. There some hard working dedicated consulate employees, but arrogance and incompetence is more the norm.

The larger question is who is doing the flocking? I keep reading here and other places about the 'rich foreigners" who are standing around waiting to move to America and to buy up high end properties. Why in the world would a successful foreign person do that? The second they get permanent residency their entire world wide income becomes taxable in the US. Why would a high earner in Singapore, Hong Kong, Manila, Shanghai, or where ever trade a 10% tax rate for a 33% tax rate? They would also be subject to estate taxes on their world wide assets when they die, they would be subject to a huge exit tax if they decide to leave America, if they were a high enough earner they could end up owing US income tax for life even if they renounced their US citizenship later on. In 20 years of traveling I've never met a successful person/high earner overseas that had any plans at all for getting permanent residency or citizenship in America. The people that are interested in America are the people on their way up the ladder from the first rung or two. Entry level engineers, medical residents, fresh grads of business schools, etc.. People who don't have assets for the IRS to suck up.

pkennedy   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 7:01am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 8

Have you tried to get visas to other countries?

People always bitch and complain about the US process, but it's one of the most stream lined I've encountered. The US allows for more immigration visas than any other country in the world.

Why does the US have a bad reputation? Because people who don't get it bitch and complain. Those are the ones that everyone hears about it.

Everyone complains about US politics, they all say they hate it, and then if you ask "Do you have a green card application?" they all say "yes! it's taking forever...". If there wasn't a huge rush on US immigration right now, we would be hearing about how "easy it was to get into the US today, as there are no other people in line! no one wants to come here, they're all leaving in troves" that isn't true. We hear about the people who are rejected and upset over it. The US allows in some million people per year.

Check out other countries and how many they allow in, or their restrictions.

The super rich don't have an incentive to move, as they live like kings elsewhere, but the average earner/small business owner has plenty to gain. Especially if they can fly into the country easily.

Look at the hordes of people who wished to stay during the lebanon war a few years ago. Do you think your average tourist is sticking it out? No, they're people who moved ot the US, got their green card and headed home.

bob2356   befriend   ignore   Wed, 23 Feb 2011, 8:08pm PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 9

pkennedy says

Have you tried to get visas to other countries?

People always bitch and complain about the US process, but it’s one of the most stream lined I’ve encountered. The US allows for more immigration visas than any other country in the world.

I have permanent residency in 2 other countries and citizenship in 1 other country (soon to be 2) so I like to think I have a little knowledge on the subject. Trust me, I've walked people through the US process and it is NOT the most streamlined I've ever encountered by a long shot.

The US allows for more immigration visa's than any other country in the world? Really? The US is also the third largest country in the world. Reliable immigration figures for China and India aren't available so it's hard to look at them. Here are some countries that there are figures for, although the year of the numbers varies. The columns are country name, permanent entry visa's, population, percentage of population. I did this fast, there may be some calculation errors.

Us 1 million 310 million .32
Canada 238,000 34 million .669
Australia 123,000 22 million .55
Germany 579,000 81 million .7
Austria 68,000 8 million .68
France 140,000 65 million .21
Spain 700,000 46 million 1.52
UK 143,000 61 million .23
Norway 99,000 5 million 1.98
NZ 45,000 4 million 1.25

So if you adjust for population the US far from the most liberal with immigration visa's.

Who the heck are these hordes of people that pop in for a green card (a process that usually takes at least 1 year and can take up to 10 years) then flit off again. I'll ask again, can you document this? I really think you're confusing visitor visa's with immigration visa's.

pkennedy   befriend   ignore   Thu, 24 Feb 2011, 1:27am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 10

The difference is the number of people immigrating to the US vs visiting. Many countries allow in visitors more freely than the US, but then they lock up jobs more securely to prevent illegals from working, while the US has more strict visitor, but easier work permits in general.

Yes, I've seen many people immigrate to the US on a 5 year plan, then leave. Actually far more than I would have ever suspected, usually illegal becomes legal, or parents got it and their children are then pulled over by their parents to get it, even though they don't have any intention of living here, just having it is good enough.

With the 80K expat foreign income allowance, most people don't have to worry about US taxes abroad.

pkennedy   befriend   ignore   Thu, 24 Feb 2011, 1:33am PST   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 11

Hordes isn't the correct word to use for people doing this. I said the hordes who were in lebanon and stayed, they had some 25,000 living there. You don't visit there, find yourself in a war and then just stay, you stay because your life is there. People living there most likely had ties. It's not a typical tropical destination for expats.

Many come here to work and live. Those usually have to go through employees etc. When they get a "free citizen ship card", such as parents and/or spouse, they take it, but don't necessarily stay either.

American in Japan   befriend   ignore   Thu, 24 Feb 2011, 9:43am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 12

@pkennedy

>Many countries allow in visitors more freely than the US, but then they lock up jobs more securely to prevent illegals from working, while the US has more strict visitor, but easier work permits in general.

Well said.

bob2356   befriend   ignore   Thu, 24 Feb 2011, 10:43am PST   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 13

pkennedy says

The difference is the number of people immigrating to the US vs visiting. Many countries allow in visitors more freely than the US, but then they lock up jobs more securely to prevent illegals from working, while the US has more strict visitor, but easier work permits in general.

All the numbers I gave were immigration visas, not visitors visas. Who are these "many countries"? I only looked at first world, since that's where most people want to immigrate to. There are quite a number of other countries around the world that have strong immigration also. Singapore and Hong Kong have 4 times as many immigrants on a percentage basis as the USA (12% for the US), most of the middle east is 40%-70% immigrants or higher. Côte d'Ivoire, Gabon, Gambia, and Libya in Africa are higher than the US, as is lot of eastern Europe. A number of countries, especially in central and south America don't have a large number of immigrants but are heavily encouraging them at this time. Chile, Panama, Costa Rica, Ecuador come to mind.

pkennedy says

Yes, I’ve seen many people immigrate to the US on a 5 year plan, then leave. Actually far more than I would have ever suspected, usually illegal becomes legal, or parents got it and their children are then pulled over by their parents to get it, even though they don’t have any intention of living here, just having it is good enough.

You have seen many people come a 5 year plan? What exactly is that? Are you talking about 5 years to apply for citizenship? You seem confused on the difference between people who come for a specific time limited job (hint, the don't become citizens, they don't get a passport) vs people who plan to stay and become citizens.

How exactly do children get pulled over without any intention of living here? Where do the kids live? They kind of have to show up to do the paperwork. Do they get shipped back to grandma in Mexico after they have their green cards? They can't do that, they will lose their green card after 12 months. Otherwise they have to say 5 years and become citizens. How do the kids know they have no intention of living here unless they are almost an adult at the time? After living in the US since they were say 5, are they going back to Mexico when they turn 18? Not very likely. The same applies to parents, they have to stay 5 years, apply for citizenship and pass the test. The sponsor has to prove they have the financial means of support for their charge for the 5 years by the way. Can you explain this mish mosh of a paragraph?

What do you mean illegals? This entire discussion has been about visas. By definition illegals have nothing to do with visas. You keep wandering into uncharted territory.

pkennedy says

Many come here to work and live. Those usually have to go through employees etc. When they get a “free citizen ship card”, such as parents and/or spouse, they take it, but don’t necessarily stay either

I'm assuming you meant to type "such as FOR parents and/or spouse". You are aware that if a permanent resident lives outside the US for more than 12 months they lose their "free citizenship card" have to go through the entire visa process again aren't you? The only way the people with a "free citizenship card" can leave for extended periods of time is to live in the US for 5 years then obtain US citizenship.

Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. Can you document somehow the large numbers of people "flocking" (your word) to get citizenship then leaving after spending 5+ years living and working here to get it? You keep talking about it but I don't see your evidence. What are the numbers?

I have no clue what you are talking about in your discussion of tourists or expats or people who want to be tourists or people who were expats or whoever the group is you are trying to talk about that was in Lebanon. What's your point and how does it relate in any way shape or form to the discussion about the ease or difficulty of obtaining residency in the USA?

American in Japan   befriend   ignore   Thu, 31 Mar 2011, 4:06pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (1)     Comment 14

I think Bob2356 lives in New Zealand. It is a wonderful country in my opinion. I have been there once.

Has anyone lived in a SE Asian country?

Done!   befriend   ignore   Wed, 6 Apr 2011, 11:25pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like (2)   Dislike     Comment 15

I would love to live in Malaysia,if I were single.

American in Japan   befriend   ignore   Wed, 6 Apr 2011, 11:26pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 16

Which part... Borneo or the Peninsula?

George

zzyzzx   befriend   ignore   Wed, 13 Apr 2011, 11:13pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike (2)     Comment 17

I hear Poland is nice.

I'm not sure where that quote is from though.

elliemae   befriend   ignore   Thu, 14 Apr 2011, 12:01am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 18

zzyzzx says

I’m not sure where that quote is from though.

This is all I could find...

"Everytime I hear Wagner I feel like invading Poland." - Woody Allen.

American in Japan   befriend   ignore   Tue, 26 Apr 2011, 9:57pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 19

If you like cheap gasoline:

http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Articles/2011/04/26/The-15-Cheapest-Places-in-the-World-to-Buy-Gas.aspx

clambo   befriend   ignore   Tue, 10 May 2011, 5:51pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like (3)   Dislike     Comment 20

I have lived in two countries outside the USA. Each had pros and cons. I would surely consider living in an interesting place if the conditions were right.
The problem is most places have weather that is inferior to where I live.
I've spent a few months in Japan also, and visited Hong Kong and China. Sometimes I was freaking out at how many people there are, so I would probably not adjust to that part of the world.
If I mention girls and food in Asia some guys will get pissed off at me, so I won't.
Since I speak Spanish I could someday consider retiring to Baja Mexico or some other latin countries that may be mellow enough. I would avoid the rest of Mexico.
I like scuba diving, exploring, hiking, boats, etc. so this makes Baja attractive to me.
Living in a foreign country long term may be tough because some people have attitudes towards Americans.

clambo   befriend   ignore   Tue, 10 May 2011, 5:53pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike     Comment 21

If I could retire anywhere I wished, I would consider Australia. I have not been to New Zealand, but it probably is a good choice too. I liked Quebec and New Brunswick Canada but only in the summer.

American in Japan   befriend   ignore   Tue, 10 May 2011, 6:11pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like (1)   Dislike (1)     Comment 22

I like New Zealand a lot. The only drawback there for me is that it is inconvenient/ expensive to travel to other countries from there...

Done!   befriend   ignore   Fri, 8 Jul 2011, 11:50pm PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 23

American in Japan says

Which part... Borneo or the Peninsula?

George

Kuala Lumpur

What a harmonious town.

thunderlips11   befriend   ignore   Sat, 9 Jul 2011, 4:54am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 24

Tenouncetrout says

I would love to live in Malaysia,if I were single.

Indonesia, too :)

Ahh, I had the joy of visiting the region when I was 25, thin, blonde, and single. So many diverse beauties in all kinds of builds, skin tones, etc.

Singapore is clean, nice, and yet scary for it's Company Town sort of undertone. Too Kiasu for me.

American in Japan says

I like New Zealand a lot. The only drawback there for me is that it is inconvenient/ expensive to travel to other countries from there...

NZ is good for any young person who can't find a job. I know several kids who just went down there after graduation and they were both employed in a week at standard, middle class wages. In the US, they were working menial jobs for several years out of college. However, the traveling IS brutal.

thunderlips11   befriend   ignore   Sat, 9 Jul 2011, 8:18am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 25

Speaking of life in Singapore, Maids don't have a single day off:

If you're a domestic maid in Singapore, there's no such thing as the weekend. Since employers are not legally bound to grant days off, the weeks never end.

In the country that officially works the longest hours in the world, where one in six families has domestic help, the legal right to a day off has long seemed unthinkable for maids.

But a government minister's suggestion that a mandatory rest day could minimise stress has reignited a long-standing debate in Singapore over workers' rights.

Halimah Yacob, Singapore's minister for community development, health and sports, says domestic workers need one day a week to "rest and recuperate". The government has said it is "studying the suggestion".

But no legal right to a day off isn't the only problem for Singapore's 201,000 domestic workers, for whom there is, perhaps not surprisingly, no minimum wage either. It's the attitudes of their employers – and indeed the country at large – that stands in the way of progress.


"Are maids really that overworked?" asked schoolteacher Low Ai Choo, in a letter to the local Straits Times. "My maid has a day off once a month. Every time she comes back from her outings she appears even more tired and listless, and needs to recuperate from her outing.

"My maid is the one who goes to bed by nine every night and my husband and I are the ones still up way beyond nine to tuck in our children and catch up with school work."

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/08/singapore-domestic-workers-rights

She lazy: Get whole day off each month, lah! She also clean all house tile with toothbrush very bad! I spank her many times with belt. She make 1 Sing Dollar each day plus plate scraps, sleep on kitchen floor, I treat like princess.

Ah, the free market at work. Can't believe Singapore is considering such socialism. What's next, a minimum wage for domestic help?

bob2356   befriend   ignore   Sun, 10 Jul 2011, 1:45am PDT   Share   Quote   Like   Dislike     Comment 26

thunderlips11 says

NZ is good for any young person who can't find a job. I know several kids who just went down there after graduation and they were both employed in a week at standard, middle class wages.

Doing what, on what type of visa?

thunderlips11   befriend   ignore   Sun, 10 Jul 2011, 4:25am PDT