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Old 03-29-14, 02:24 PM   #1
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Anyone live "abroad"?

Wife and I have pretty much made up our minds that we are migrating elsewhere after the kids are out of the house (~ a decade). I was just wondering if your experiences were better or worse than your expectations during the whole process of identifying and ultimately selecting your new environment.
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Old 03-29-14, 05:23 PM   #2
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Do you mean migrating to another country? If so, which countries are on your list?
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Old 03-29-14, 05:32 PM   #3
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Countries I have lived in- Canada, USA (Texas), Barbados, Israel.

I can't see my wife leaving the kids once grandchildren hit the scene. If we did, I would choose Spain.
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Old 03-29-14, 06:06 PM   #4
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Do you mean migrating to another country? If so, which countries are on your list?
Well, since language is a consideration, she's wanting to limit it to primarily English speaking nations. Top of her list is the U.K. (so long as it isn't London, preferably Ireland or Scotland), followed by Australia and New Zealand. I'm more inclined to think an enclave of ex-pats in the south of Spain or possibly a beach town in Central America- I can 'adapt' to Spanish/Latin cuisine a whole lot easier than other types of food
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Old 03-29-14, 06:25 PM   #5
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Well, since language is a consideration, she's wanting to limit it to primarily English speaking nations. Top of her list is the U.K. (so long as it isn't London, preferably Ireland or Scotland), followed by Australia and New Zealand. I'm more inclined to think an enclave of ex-pats in the south of Spain or possibly a beach town in Central America- I can 'adapt' to Spanish/Latin cuisine a whole lot easier than other types of food
Australia is not an easy country to immigrate to. Neither is NZ, I gather. And the UK is somewhat problematic these days.

Machka is still going through the process in Australia five years on. You need skills that are in demand (there are lists), financial resources, and good health (your eyesight, for example, might be an issue).

You will need to pick your countries, and do some considerable research through the immigration pages of the respective governments.

And I do need to say this, and please don't take it the wrong way... but Americans assume they are welcomed in any country and can just fly right in and set up house. They aren't and they can't.
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Old 03-29-14, 06:29 PM   #6
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Old 03-29-14, 07:12 PM   #7
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Also, I do have to ask... what makes you think the food is any different in Scotland, Australia or New Zealand?
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Old 03-29-14, 07:54 PM   #8
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Just because a country uses Englsih as its primary language does not mean it'll be an easy adaptation if you move there. Culture, weather, and food all need to be considered. I lived in Northern Ireland for about 1 1/2 years in the early 2000s for a contract job (I have family links to the U.K. so it was easy to go and work over there), and it was a tough adaptation jumping from the multicultural, arid weather climate of Los Angeles. The food was really different (no Mexican food and no good cheeseburgers), the pace of life is definately slower, and it seemed to rain all the time. While the folks were all quite nice, I definately was glad to return to Los Angeles. That experience taught me I'd have a very tough time moving, even to some parts of the U.S.A., so I'd probably stay pretty close to L.A., most likely somewhere in the southwest USA, if I was to relocate when I retire.
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Old 03-29-14, 08:13 PM   #9
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Also, I do have to ask... what makes you think the food is any different in Scotland, Australia or New Zealand?
Let's just say I like Mexican/Spanish cuisine and would rather eat authentic than someone's interpretation that is modified to suit their tastes... Tex-Mex would be an example of this.
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Old 03-29-14, 08:24 PM   #10
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Let's just say I like Mexican/Spanish cuisine and would rather eat authentic than someone's interpretation that is modified to suit their tastes... Tex-Mex would be an example of this.
Oh yeah, that scene in Big Bang Theory with Sheldon arguing whether Priya's chilli was authentic because it had beans in it.
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Old 03-29-14, 10:14 PM   #11
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I have a friend who got pulled over to Indonesia. He's staying even though the job ended.
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Old 03-30-14, 09:12 AM   #12
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Well, since language is a consideration, she's wanting to limit it to primarily English speaking nations. Top of her list is the U.K. (so long as it isn't London, preferably Ireland or Scotland), followed by Australia and New Zealand. I'm more inclined to think an enclave of ex-pats in the south of Spain or possibly a beach town in Central America- I can 'adapt' to Spanish/Latin cuisine a whole lot easier than other types of food

Look at Belize. They speak English, and are a retirement haven for older US Expats. Also, look at the Philippines.
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Old 03-30-14, 11:16 AM   #13
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Look at Belize. They speak English, and are a retirement haven for older US Expats. Also, look at the Philippines.
Belize added to the list
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Old 03-30-14, 11:23 AM   #14
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Look at Belize. They speak English, and are a retirement haven for older US Expats. Also, look at the Philippines.
Yup. Belize is a great suggestion. Not too big on the Philippines though. I have an acquaintance that is an expat slumlord there.
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Old 03-30-14, 11:47 AM   #15
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Old 03-30-14, 12:20 PM   #16
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We've been in New Zealand for a little over 5 years. Prior to this I was in Bermuda for 7 and Mrs. Fred 5. Prior to that she was in Dubai for 5.

If you aren't moving to a specific place for a job, I really suggest you examine your motivations and what you're looking for in the move. Then, go visit the place for a season. Find out what your maximum visit duration is on a tourist visa and use that.

From our expeience both personally and professionally, less than 50% of new expats will last 12 months.

Every place has it's challenges and many cultures will have new challenges that you don't have the ingrained tools to deal with.

Do you travel internationally now?

Have the two of you defined what you're looking for in the new residence?

The U.S. is such a diverse place, chances are that most of what you're looking for is available somewhere domestically.

I know that you can visit New Zealand for 6 months on a normal tourist visa. Come on an extended holiday and see if you really want to live here.
It's not cheap! That reputation was established in the 70s and those days are long gone. Outside of Auckland it is very rural. If you're of working age and interested in employment, you'll need to be on skills shortage list and I think less than 50 y.o.a. However, you can easily buy your residency by making a substantial long term investment in New Zealand. You still need to have good health and a lack of pre-existing conditions that would cause undo cost to the public health system.

If you're running away from any discontent or unhappiness with your situation now. Don't. Your current issues will come with you and be compounded by many new ones. You really need to be heading toward something that is drawing you.
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Old 03-30-14, 12:47 PM   #17
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50% of expats can survive 12 months? In a place like New Zealand?

Hmmm, that rules out any chance I have of making it in places like Thailand, Vietnam. I have been to Bangkok once and hated it , worse vacation of my life, felt like an endurance contest with the conditions in the city.
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Old 03-30-14, 01:26 PM   #18
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50% of expats can survive 12 months? In a place like New Zealand?

Hmmm, that rules out any chance I have of making it in places like Thailand, Vietnam. I have been to Bangkok once and hated it , worse vacation of my life, felt like an endurance contest with the conditions in the city.
I'm thinking the 12 months is due to homesickness or can't get over the culture shock or the grass just wasn't as green as they thought it would be.

I've got a buddy who is a Merchant Marine (MSC). He has basically moved to Thailand- married a local and she's not really keen on moving and he's not terribly upset about it.
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Old 03-30-14, 01:35 PM   #19
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I catch it on Hulu. I think the show is awesome. Showcases all kinds of nationalities relocating elsewhere for different reasons that have different budgets. I saw one where a corporate exec had a budget of $10,000 a/mo and some that had budgets of $750 a/mo just for housing. That show has opened my eyes- but also has taught me that foreign real estate can change in a decade. What would be desirable and/or affordable may not in a decade.
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Old 03-30-14, 04:02 PM   #20
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I'm thinking the 12 months is due to homesickness or can't get over the culture shock or the grass just wasn't as green as they thought it would be.

I've got a buddy who is a Merchant Marine (MSC). He has basically moved to Thailand- married a local and she's not really keen on moving and he's not terribly upset about it.
If you ever do think about the Philippines, I'll hook you up with my brother. He lives in Cebu and is pretty plugged in to the power structure, there. He's trying to get us to move there. Even found us a beach house we can buy if we want to north of Cebu City. He works in the Philippine gun manufacturing industry as a middle man bridging Eastern and Western business practices. I consult for them as well, as a Social Scientist, from the perspective of resolving cultural conflicts.

Now, it is cheap living there, but there are drawbacks, like health care is cash and carry, and one example, if you need care and have no money, you're screwed unless you have either cash or a health plan. They will just let you die there if you can't pay. They will accept US Medicare, though for ER care only.
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Old 03-30-14, 07:39 PM   #21
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I haven't lived elsewhere, but in my out of my Europe roaming, I would pick Croatia. I really, really liked the people I met in Zagreb, liked the area.
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Old 03-31-14, 04:49 AM   #22
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In the military, I was stationed in England for 3 years. Loved it, children speak fondly of the experience, and even on FB with some former neighbors. Move back? Initially was a pipedream but the idea has cooled over time as so many other places.

With the kids gone and approaching retirement in a couple of years, plan was to relocated "one days drive", perhaps North Carolina) between the kids. Son settled in CT, some thoughts each winter of moving south each winter, however, daughter still 'unsettled' as she is completing her post-doc at a university in Switzerland. But now, in October, will be marrying a Swiss national which kind of throws the "one day drive" out the window. Trying to learn French to converse with his parents when no interpreters (our daughter, their son and daughter) are around. May end up becoming the ultimate snowbird, particularly as grandchildren come along with a US and European residence. Unless I hit the lottery, Switzerland is out, but France (and Spain) is more affordable. Healthcare...even though would be medicare eligible and have Part B supplement, it doesn't apply overseas. France and Spain is, of course, socialized medicine and highly rated. Switzerland is very much like Obamacare - mandated private insurance model - which is successful which the critics won't mention as an example - but would effectively require me to have a US and a Swiss policy.
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Old 03-31-14, 06:16 AM   #23
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Wife and I have pretty much made up our minds that we are migrating elsewhere after the kids are out of the house (~ a decade). I was just wondering if your experiences were better or worse than your expectations during the whole process of identifying and ultimately selecting your new environment.
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Well, since language is a consideration, she's wanting to limit it to primarily English speaking nations. Top of her list is the U.K. (so long as it isn't London, preferably Ireland or Scotland), followed by Australia and New Zealand. I'm more inclined to think an enclave of ex-pats in the south of Spain or possibly a beach town in Central America- I can 'adapt' to Spanish/Latin cuisine a whole lot easier than other types of food
First of all ... do you plan to work in the new country, or will you be going as a retiree with a healthy bank account? If you're going as a retiree with a healthy bank account, it should be fairly easy to move to a new country. However, if you're hoping to work, you've got to have some very desirable skills ... and a lot of patience to get through all the paperwork.

I was able to move to Australia from Canada because I married an Australian, but even so, it was not smooth sailing and I could have been sent home after 3 months and 2 years after that. We had to go through quite a process at the end of 3 months so I could get my temporary residence, and then again 2 years later. Fortunately, I was granted my permanent residency, but even so, it is not really permanent unless I never want to leave Australia again. And so I'm working on the next step. As Rowan says, we're going on 5 years with this process and it's not complete yet.

If I had come to Australia as a skilled labourer, I would have had to work through the points system. Various things give you points (education, experience), and your age will give you points too, but the older you are the fewer points you get. The passing number of points changes from time to time. At the time I was planning to come to Australia, I would have just been on the edge ... I might have made it in on points, but it was touch and go, and my agent advised I go the sponsorship route.


As for adapting to a new country ... fortunately Canada and Australia are quite similar in many ways. If you stood in downtown Vancouver and stood in downtown Melbourne, you probably wouldn't notice much difference ... tall buildings, street signs, traffic lights, sidewalks (footpaths), parks, etc. etc. And I had visited Australia twice before. I had done a 3-month cycling tour here in 2004, and then I returned to the area where I eventually moved for a couple weeks in 2008. So I had an idea of what to expect, and had met a few people.

I've also done quite a bit of travelling, and have moved quite frequently, throughout my life ... and that helped me with the adjustment. Having Rowan here also helped because I've been able to ask questions and get advice.

However, there have been several things I've had to adjust to. After 5 years, it is getting better, but little things still catch me out now and then.

One significant thing is driving ... I have not done much driving here, and part of that is because I'm not confident driving on the left side of the road.

Another is the language ... sure, Australia speaks English, but it is a different English than what Canada speaks (and very different from what the US speaks). Just the simple act of buying a bag of candies for the candy dish at work ... and then telling someone that the candy dish has been refilled ... results in strange blank stares and laughter. They're not candies ... they're lollies, and it is a lolly bowl. And the spelling ... fortunately I learned some British spelling in Canada, so I get it right about half the time. But I have had documents handed back and have been told to spell the words correctly. There are lots of terms and phrases that are very different here ... I've had people say something to me, and I haven't had the faintest idea what they were talking about. The first six month I was able to work, I came home just about every day and asked Rowan what a particular phrase meant.

And there are times I feel left out. Someone will refer to a situation being just like ... and they'll name a character in an Australian TV show from a number of years ago, or a famous Australian sporting event, or a well-known Australian political event, or something like that. And everyone will laugh or nod in agreement ... but I haven't the faintest idea what they're talking about. Fortunately Rowan has been able to fill me in on some of it, and one particular evening with friends we all watched clips of old Australian TV shows ... at least now I've got some idea what people are talking about!!

There are things I can't get here ... especially in the way of food. I spent most of my time in Canada on the prairies where Ukrainian and Mennonite food is prevalent. I miss perogies!! But they simply do not exist here. I've been looking up recipes and may end up having to make my own. I also miss dill pickle potato chips. And it is very hard to find Mexican-style food. Rowan makes it for me now and then because I can't go anywhere to get a burrito.

I've also had to get to know the wildlife here ... it's quite different from Canada!

So there has been an adjustment process ... but there's a lot I like about Australia, and I'm not ready to go back to Canada yet.


If you aren't a traveller or haven't been one to this point, I'd highly recommend becoming one over the next decade. Travel to the UK, and spend 2 or 3 months there one year. Travel to Spain the next year and spend a couple months there. Travel to Australia the next year and spend the full 3 months here. Then off to New Zealand the next year. You might try parts of Asia next. Then go back and spend a few weeks or months in each of the places you particularly liked ... your top 5 or top 3.

I could see us moving to Scotland or France ... and I can see that because we've been to both places, have spent some time there, and have liked them very much.

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Old 03-31-14, 09:00 AM   #24
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To answer one of your questions- neither of us have been outside CONUS (don't even have passports yet).

Further discussion in the car during our pizza run last night firmed up that the U.K. is top prospect. A trip is tentatively planned for 2016 because we are focusing on eliminating debt right now. We are thinking 3 weeks just to get an idea for the scenery of various towns/regions and then compare notes. Then go back the following year to whichever spot we both like the best and then spend 3 weeks gauging the vibe.*

A couple of reasons why the U.K. is so highly placed on the list is because they allow for Dual Citizenship, so we should still be entitled to any US benefits until we cut that cord. Another reason is, as Rowan brought up earlier, my vision- it ain't gonna get better. I'm already qualified medically to use a guide dog. Well, I did a bit of searching and the U.K. has a rather extensive network of guide dog facilities and should also have have the accompanying infrastructure/support system for someone with low (or no) vision.

*We are currently limiting it to 3 week blocks because my wife only gets 5 weeks of vacay/PTO a year and we want to keep some in reserve for illness, concerts, bad weather (blizzards and ice storms). If and when she accrues 6 weeks, we will add that extra week to the trip(s).
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Old 03-31-14, 09:08 AM   #25
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Costa Rica is really nice, and the majority of people there seem to speak enough english for us 'mericans to get by pretty well. And it's not real expensive.
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