International Living?

A reader asks;

Do you ever return from an international trip wishing you lived in another country besides the United States?

This question has come up several times over the years on this blog, various magazines, MSM websites and there are websites devoted entirely to this subject. Doesn’t everyone watch House Hunters International and wonder what if for at least a minute or two?

Living in another country is intellectually appealing to many people on some level. In many instances it is cheaper than living in the US which makes financial plans go a lot further. A $5000 monthly lifestyle in the US might only take $3000 or $3500 in a well chosen foreign destination. Additionally many countries offer very attractive tax benefits or other forms of lifestyle discounts that make it much cheaper to get on.

The dollar size for a portfolio can obviously be much smaller when the income need is $3000 per month versus $5000.

There are of course drawbacks that relate to family and medical care among others. For people who need to spend a lot of time with family (not a knock, some people do) it would be easy to envision any savings living abroad being soaked up by traveling back to the US. This doesn’t have to be bad but would seem to nullify one advantage.

Another potential drawback is medical care. If you do some research you will find plenty to tell you that medical care in some country is just as good as the US but I could see this being a situation where you may not really find out until something comes up. I also realize this could be some sort of bias of mine. Obviously it doesn’t matter how well a medical system works if it doesn’t work for you when you need it.

I tend to view this as a very individual type of life choice so my trying to make a case either way seems silly. I do think that something this big needs to be very well planned out. There does not need to be a panicked or overly impulsive call to action. Being in New Zealand, which would be relatively easy to move to, there are plenty of things that would take some adjustment besides the driving. There are serious differences at the grocery store, on television (although I caught the end of an NHL game last night before dinner) and I have heard two completely different accountings of the medical care here.

If someone is looking to move to reduce their expenses because they have to, I could see that having unexpected and unresearched consequences and undoing such a move could have devastating costs. Success with such a move would have to include several trips to the destination. I know some recommend “living” in a place for six months to make sure it is the right fit.

If the reader really cares about what I would do; no I have no plans to live elsewhere. Visiting places and wishing you had more time to stay seems like a better psychology toward these things–at least for us.

We are in Auckland until tomorrow. The one picture is down on the water and seemed interesting and the other is of the neatest espresso machine we’ve ever seen. I mentioned the other day the extent to which the coffee culture is flourished since we last came here in 2005, well all the more so in Auckland. We staying downtown, one block off of Queen Street and there are dozens of coffee houses. My favorite from last time is still here; the Vulcan.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for answering my question.

    While serving in the U.S. Navy, tears would well up when returning to home port from a lengthy deployment and seeing all things American again. I would feel chills seeing Old Glory flying from a prominent building. As corny as it sounds, I would always think of those who gave their lives that we may have the freedoms we enjoy today.

    I have a hard time understanding why some U.S. citizens bash the American way of life. The only thing I can think of is they haven’t experienced first hand how hard life can be like elsewhere.

    You seem like a partriotic fellow giving service to your community. Our country needs more people like you.

    Reply
  2. Many would think we presently live in a foreign country.

    T

    Reply
  3. Don’t know your opinion of Pat Buchanan (I see him as the Isaiah of our times), but here is a link to a recent article pertinent to today’s discussion:

    http://www.humanevents.com/article.php?id=49721

    The article closes with the following chilling observation:

    “The 19th century statesman John C. Calhoun warned against allowing government to divide us into ‘tax-payers and tax-consumers.’ This, he said, ‘would give rise to two parties and to violent conflicts and struggles between them, to obtain the control of the government.’

    We are there, Mr. Calhoun, we are there.”

    Reply
  4. Certainly agree that anyone who wants to expatriate needs to test-drive the situation thoroughly. Even very desirable destinations may have a different code for aliens, including taxes, and it worth recalling that the USA is fairly aggressive in getting their share of those taxes as long as you are a citizen regardless of where you reside.

    In any case citing John C. Calhoun, who is probably best known for his strong defense of slavery and support of secession from the Union, on the subject of taxed vs. non-taxed citizens doesn’t make any sense in 21st Century America where everyone pays taxes w/ those below income-tax liability facing the highest marginal rates overall because virtually all the remaining liabilities are regressive (sales taxes, payroll taxes, property tax, etc) and no dollar earned is exempt from them.

    The Employment Policies Institute at http://epionline.org/study_detail.cfm?sid=27 illustrates the problem:

    “…a single mother with two children could increase her earned income from $10,000 per year to $25,000 per year and actually find herself with 2,540 fewer dollars once she accounts for lost tax credits and benefits …the working parent in this example faces substantial tax rate effects that claim between 58% and 109% of the next dollar she earns from a full-time job (see tables). How does one account for these radically counterintuitive (and presumably unintended) effects? In a nutshell, such massive effective tax rates are the result of …changes in means-tested federal tax credits, …and …benefits, housing subsidies and welfare payments. …magnified by payroll taxes that apply to the first dollar of income.”

    Reply
  5. Thanks for the thoughts. It does seem like living internationally might make for a dream year, but I don’t think about the drawbacks not presented in some shows like House Hunters.

    Reply
  6. Roger, there was a sobering article in Bloomberg magazine about New Zealand and what was described as a slave trade for fishing. How do you factor in ethics when evaluating portfolio choices?

    Reply

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International Living?

A reader asks;

Do you ever return from an international trip wishing you lived in another country besides the United States?

This question has come up several times over the years on this blog, various magazines, MSM websites and there are websites devoted entirely to this subject. Doesn’t everyone watch House Hunters International and wonder what if for at least a minute or two?

Living in another country is intellectually appealing to many people on some level. In many instances it is cheaper than living in the US which makes financial plans go a lot further. A $5000 monthly lifestyle in the US might only take $3000 or $3500 in a well chosen foreign destination. Additionally many countries offer very attractive tax benefits or other forms of lifestyle discounts that make it much cheaper to get on.

The dollar size for a portfolio can obviously be much smaller when the income need is $3000 per month versus $5000.

There are of course drawbacks that relate to family and medical care among others. For people who need to spend a lot of time with family (not a knock, some people do) it would be easy to envision any savings living abroad being soaked up by traveling back to the US. This doesn’t have to be bad but would seem to nullify one advantage.

Another potential drawback is medical care. If you do some research you will find plenty to tell you that medical care in some country is just as good as the US but I could see this being a situation where you may not really find out until something comes up. I also realize this could be some sort of bias of mine. Obviously it doesn’t matter how well a medical system works if it doesn’t work for you when you need it.

I tend to view this as a very individual type of life choice so my trying to make a case either way seems silly. I do think that something this big needs to be very well planned out. There does not need to be a panicked or overly impulsive call to action. Being in New Zealand, which would be relatively easy to move to, there are plenty of things that would take some adjustment besides the driving. There are serious differences at the grocery store, on television (although I caught the end of an NHL game last night before dinner) and I have heard two completely different accountings of the medical care here.

If someone is looking to move to reduce their expenses because they have to, I could see that having unexpected and unresearched consequences and undoing such a move could have devastating costs. Success with such a move would have to include several trips to the destination. I know some recommend “living” in a place for six months to make sure it is the right fit.

If the reader really cares about what I would do; no I have no plans to live elsewhere. Visiting places and wishing you had more time to stay seems like a better psychology toward these things–at least for us.

We are in Auckland until tomorrow. The one picture is down on the water and seemed interesting and the other is of the neatest espresso machine we’ve ever seen. I mentioned the other day the extent to which the coffee culture is flourished since we last came here in 2005, well all the more so in Auckland. We staying downtown, one block off of Queen Street and there are dozens of coffee houses. My favorite from last time is still here; the Vulcan.

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