Best Countries For Expats Part 2

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Best Countries For Expats Part 2

“You are never too old to set another goal, or dream a new dream.” C.S.Lewis

Australia seems like a perfect place to live – beautiful weather, shrimp on the barbie and kangaroos. Australians speak English and they are friendly and helpful. They have good health care and the outdoor lifestyle is similar to California. Australian TV is like American not British TV.  Some of the natural beauty, plants and wildlife are only indigenous to Australia.  Sporting events are easy to find but outside of Sydney and Melbourne, theatre and ballet are scarce. There are 1500 species of spiders, 6000 species of flies, 4000 species of ants and 350 species of termites in Australia. Finding creepy crawly things in your home is common. I can not picture myself eating or offering a vegemite sandwich.  The cost of living like in New Zealand is very high. Flying back to America is expensive and a  long flight. LIving so far away, I will miss my friends and family and a lot of events here. 

Costa Rica feels like California with a rainforest. It has a steady democracy that spends its money on education instead of the military, A million Americans visit every year, and they have put those dollars back into infrastructure — reliable airports, deluxe highways, huge conservation districts — that make the country easy to get around and easy to enjoy. It has volcanoes, mountains and beaches. It is closer to the US than other countries we are considering which makes travel easier. My Spanish would definitely improve. Crime is a problem. If you have nice stuff or appear to have nice stuff, someone will try to steal it. There are no addresses, so if you need something mailed down, you might have to wait for a friend to bring it in a suitcase. Tourist visas are a cinch but residency can be slow going for anyone who’s not working for a big company. Foreigners have already snatched up most of the property bargains.

Warm weather, great food and “La Dolce Vita” are all good reasons to move to Italy. Every Italian city is basically a huge museum with historic buildings on every corner. The midday siesta is still a thing which is great for me because I can nap anywhere at 3:00 PM.  Real estate prices are good for Americans though many of those old beautiful houses are “fixer uppers”. Italy is not the best country for people who like big cars. It is easier to navigate the narrow cobblestone streets with  a small car or motorbike. The cost of living in the cities is expensive but there are many towns that aren’t.   The health care system is good  and if you can get into the public system, good healthcare is free.

Living in Spain sounds like a dream. I imagine a sunny climate, natural beauty,  cobblestone streets with flamenco music playing in the background, while I sip sangria and eat tapas at a local bar. The cost of living is lower than other parts of Europe. Things move slowly in Spain. When going to the post office, bank, restaurants and shops expect to wait.  Spanish bureaucracy is notoriously slow.  The regional politics are complicated and everything shuts down in the afternoon. Don’t plan on getting anything done in August. The whole country is at the beach.

Israel’s economy is very strong and the standard of living is high. There is amazing food and beautiful weather as well. Any Jew can move to Israel freely. Tel Aviv is the most expensive city in the Middle East and the cost of real estate is high. English is widely spoken here and health care is great. For a small strip of land, the cultures in different areas are diverse.We have already spent a month living in Tel Aviv so I know I could do it.  Everybody smokes which is a problem for me. Everything is closed from Friday sundown to Saturday sundown so that takes some getting used to. Sunday is Monday.  Living in Israel is living in constant fear of terrorist attacks. Lately living in America is the same with constant fear of random shootings. 

Stay safe,
JAZ

Best Countries For Expats Part One

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Best Countries For Expats Part One.

“In any given moment, we have two options, to move forward into growth or to step back into safety.” Abraham Maslow

There are somewhere around nine million American civilians currently living abroad. Where to go is an open question. Mild weather is the most important thing for us. Whether a country has a lot of English-speakers, a favorable cost of living or an immigration process that’s (relatively) navigable are other considerations.  Here are some of the possibilities we are thinking about. These countries make a pretty compelling case to leave everything behind. I think no matter how much research you do and how prepared you think you are, there will always be things that surprise you when you’re finally there. Some are good, some are bad but that’s what the experience is all about! Here are five of the ten countries that we are considering in no particular order.

New Zealand would be an easy place to move to because everyone is friendly and speaks English. It has a lot of outdoor activities, great air quality, Lord Of The Rings scenery and wineries. Wellington is a cool city. There are many areas with milder temperatures year round. It is extremely safe with no violent crime. We can really travel around Australia and Oceania. The downside is that it is a full day’s flight from America and the cost of living on an island far away from everything is high. 

We visited Uruguay for the  first time last year. I loved it. Uruguay has a stable economy, large middle class and a very low violent crime rate. There are no homeless camps. People live simply. It has a functional political system with little corruption and a highly educated population. Marijuana is legal to grow and to possess for personal use. The wine, the beef, and the national soccer team are all world-class. The Atlantic beaches are among the best in the world and the temperature in the winter never falls below freezing. It is relatively easy to buy property and establish residency without bribery. Uruguayans on the whole are welcoming, friendly and helpful. I love South America so traveling around from here would be great. It is not as cheap as other Latin American countries  to live in but is still less than the US. Thefts and muggings are common in the cities. There is not a lot of English spoken here so I will need to improve my Spanish.

Greece is sadly expensive for the Greek people but a bargain for Americans. The food is delicious and fresh – think feta, lamb, fish and tzatiki. The scenery is breathtaking and the weather is similar to California. If you want a city, avoid Athens and try Thessaloniki. I have spent many summers there and love this country and the people I have met. The islands are dead in winter and ferries don’t always run so it’s important to pick an island like Naxos or Crete that is agriculturally self sustaining. I’m familiar with the culture, the beauracracy, and the slow way of doing things. There is terrible unemployment due to their financial crisis  and as long as you are not going there to work you will be ok. 

Peru has some  of the best food in the world. No country with 5000 varieties of potatoes is anything but deadly serious about food. The food in Lima is a mix of Chinese, Andean, Japanese and Incan influences. The landscape is beautiful, diverse. and filled with history. Macchu Picchu is one of my favorite places on earth. There are plenty of Pacific beach towns as well. At the moment, the government and the economy is stable. Good health care, cost of living and travel is very affordable here if you are coming from the U.S.  A tourist visa lasts for six months so it will be easy to try it out and Peruvians seem to like Americans. You do need to speak Spanish and crime is high in the cities. Some parts of Lima are not safe.

Portugal has a mild climate, panoramic seaside views and endless beaches. The American dollar does well here. It is a relaxed way of life and there are many English speakers in the cities. The people are warm, welcoming and helpful which is good when trying to deal with the language and bureaucracy.  Health care is good and affordable even if you pay out of pocket.  Violent crime is very low and theft is mostly pickpockets in the tourist areas. It is considered one of the best places in the world to move to. The downside for me is that the language is very difficult. It looks like Spanish but is pronounced so differently. I have been to Portuguese speaking countries four times and still can only say Thank You.

Stay safe,

JAZ