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Hi,I'm retired and living in China and in France
Old 10-05-2012, 10:21 AM   #1
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Hi,I'm retired and living in China and in France

Loving my retirement but I spend a lot of time researching financial options and issues relative to retirement. I don't have a pension so I have to manage my assets myself to ensure a well-funded, and probably long retirement.

I was an engineer but also took the 2 year course to obtain the CFP license so I am pretty comfortable with the financial aspects of retirement. Still, things change all the time and I try to keep abreast of the changes and new products coming online.

I tend to agree with the folks who say they don't know how they found the time to work as I seem to be busy all the time. But at least I'm busy doing fun projects that I invent rather than work assignments.

I did retire early (at age 47) and then worked again for a few years and re-retired at age 58, so I guess you could say that I've had a lot of experience with retiring
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:35 AM   #2
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How long do you spend in each location? Rent or own? US citizen? Inquiring minds...
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Old 10-05-2012, 03:03 PM   #3
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Welcome aboard, BobbinChina. Sounds like you've got some early retirement experience you can share.

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Old 10-05-2012, 03:15 PM   #4
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What ReWahoo said. Do tell more. As China and France are such different places, I'd be interested to know the appeal of each of those countries for you. Perhaps you're Chinese, and love France? Or perhaps you're American, and there are specific reasons you like both those places?

Hope you don't mind the questions!
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:26 PM   #5
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Yes, would love to hear more about China and France and how you came to live there!
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Wow! such interest...how kind
Old 10-05-2012, 09:36 PM   #6
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Wow! such interest...how kind

I'm American but spend about 6 months in each country (in 3 month bursts). I enjoy the fact that they are so wildly different from each other...china and france. I own in China and rent in France. I was lucky to have sold my house in the US right at the top of the housing bubble so that helps me fund this lifestyle.

I love China for the constant activity and general craziness and France for the luxuriousness of it...so one is the lap of luxury you could say and the other is adventure to the max. If anyone is interested I could point out that an American could live in China (not Beijing or Shanghai but other places) like a king/queen on very little money! So you might consider that as a backup plan for early retirement. Of course most people wouldn't be able to do that I know but you don't hear it discussed much as an option either.

Since politics is what "drove" me out of the US in 2005, I will refrain from comment on that subject. I still visit at least once a year as I have lots of family "back home" and I do a lot of power shopping when I do come back!
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Old 10-05-2012, 09:39 PM   #7
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Very cool. I've considered moving to China for a few years after retirement, studying Chinese, and teaching English. How have you found learning the language?
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Old 10-05-2012, 10:37 PM   #8
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I'm not naturally any good at learning languages but I did study here in China full-time at a language school for 6 months and I am able to get by in the language....i.e., no fancy conversations but OK at the store, getting a taxi, buying tickets, etc. basic level. And I can say that I find the language fun in some ways...it's very logical which works well for me. Getting jobs teaching english here seems pretty easy to do. So good luck if you try that.
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:14 PM   #9
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Bobinchina,

Are the Chinese taxes an issue? I understand that after living there 5 years you become subject to tax on world-wide income. Does this cause double taxation for you?

How about medical facilities for quality, access and cost?
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Old 10-05-2012, 11:44 PM   #10
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I'm officially "tax-resident" in France not in China and I'm not working here (China) so I come on 1 year multi-entry visas. The only taxes I ever pay are at "point of sale" if you will. So there is a tax on buying property but that's done at the time your certificate is issued...things like that.

I do not think the hospitals are OK here (other than in Hong Kong or Shanghai etc.) so I have a med-evac policy in case of something serious happening. I'd evac to Bangkok or Hong Kong or similar good hospital areas. That's a good point though for anyone thinking to really re-locate here. Glad you brought it up.
I'm not sure how you could be over 5 years resident since even work permits are yearly issues but I don't know anything about all that.
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Old 10-07-2012, 02:48 AM   #11
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Welcome to the board, Bob.
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Old 10-07-2012, 04:15 AM   #12
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Welcome to the board from Beijing, Bob! We've been living in China for over 10 years now, not yet FI which is why we are in Beijing and not one of the cheaper/more pleasant cities -- better career opportunities here in the big city, which is largely why we moved here 5 years ago.

Khufu, to answer your question about the five year rule, my understanding is that you can reset the tax clock at any time by spending 30 consecutive days outside of China, so that isn't a huge issue for most retirees. Also, the bureacratic systems in China are not very robust so it is highly unlikely that anyone is going to come looking for taxes from expat retirees soon.

A bigger concern is getting a long term visa. Increasingly difficult to do at a reasonable cost unless you have an employer (not desireable for most people who are FIRED) or local relatives who you can claim to be visiting. Even then, visa policiies are constantly in flux and the ease of getting long-term visitor or business visas ebbs and flows with the political winds.

Medical care outside of Beijing and Shanghai is a crapshoot. If you are lucky, you get a good doctor and cheap, decent care. If you aren't you end up like my FIL with a massive abdominal infection as a result of an incompetent surgeon (guy hooked the veins up backwards after gallbladder removal), six months in and out of a coma, and brain damage that leaves you basically like a big 4 year old.

There are nice places to live in China, but I don't think it is going to become a retirement haven any time soon. DH and I will probably return to the US after we stop working here (sometime in the next 5-15 years).
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Old 10-11-2012, 10:45 AM   #13
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Wow, very interesting.

Do you speak French? Do you have some kind of permanent visa there?

My understanding is that France also has a 5 year rule and that after that time they have a tax on your assets, not just an income tax. I seem to recall that Paul Terrhorst wrote about this once.
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Old 10-11-2012, 08:08 PM   #14
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Well, I do speak French but definitely not well...it's only a little better than my Chinese as far as communicating successfully. As an aside, I've found that living in 2 foreign countries has been a great exercise in ego deflation! If you're not good at languages, then you feel a bit stupid all the time.

I was lucky enough to get my residency in France while it was still relatively easy to get into the health care system so that is a great benefit to have. (I'm not sure what the rules are now but I think it might be harder.)

After 5 years (of 1 year cartes) , you get a 10 year residence carte which is what I have now. The wealth tax would apply at any stage of your residence here I'd think but it's a high enough threshold that I don't have to pay it. Maybe Hollande will lower that, I don't know but Sarkosy was making it higher actually. I'm sure that number is available online.

I guess I can also say that living in 2 foreign countries gives me a 'built-in" project for language and customs, that helps keep your mind active
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Old 10-11-2012, 08:58 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by BobbinChina View Post
After 5 years (of 1 year cartes) , you get a 10 year residence carte which is what I have now. The wealth tax would apply at any stage of your residence here I'd think but it's a high enough threshold that I don't have to pay it. Maybe Hollande will lower that, I don't know but Sarkosy was making it higher actually. I'm sure that number is available online.
FYI. The threshold for the wealth tax is 1.3M euros. Hollande has said he prefers to increase the wealth tax rate than lower the threshold.
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:54 AM   #16
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I have not been to Beijing, but just found this video that I thought was interesting. They timed a Porsche and a bicycle traveling the same 6.2-mi trip through the city. The bicyclist took 31 min. The car took 53 min!

Porsche Vs. Bicycle in Modern-Day Tortoise and Hare: Video - Bloomberg
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Old 10-27-2012, 01:12 AM   #17
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NW-Bound,

For the record, I would never recommend living in Beijing unless you were still trying to work. So, for a retired or early retired person, I'd seek out the cleaner air, lower cost of living areas which are currently in the southwest of China.

The video results do not surprise me at all though....All the big cities have way too much traffic congestion to the point that bicycles and electric scooters have the advantage over cars. Public transportation is being upgraded all the time and that's what I use if it's too far to walk.
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:24 PM   #18
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Thanks for the info. Same as many posters here, I find stories of people who retire abroad interesting. It is not for me though, mostly because of the language barrier. At this age, I find it more and more difficult to learn just a few words of a new language.

Just yesterday, watching Pierro le Fou on DVD, an old French movie starring Belmondo, I had problems following the dialogue. I would catch even fewer words if I did not have the English subtitle to watch, and to translate in my mind back into French. I am in no position to learn anything new.
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Old 10-27-2012, 12:45 PM   #19
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Bob, how do you find doing taxes for France and the US. The resourcing of income and apportioning taxes on pensions dividends etc is a pain. As are FBAR, FATCA, and PFIC. I'll have to deal with US and UK taxes and finances when I move back to the UK and it's pretty complicated.
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