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Old 01-03-2019, 02:51 AM   #261
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Thanks Retirement_Rookie.

Do you have any German ancestry or you just went to some German embassy and showed you had resources to fund your retirement?

Did you get health insurance with a US insurer or one over in Germany or Europe?
I have distant German ancestry (they left in 1720 for Maryland) but this didn't come up at all. This is how the visa process worked. After I left my job in the United States I flew over to Germany and was staying with a German friend here as her guest in her apartment. She went in with me to the local foreigners' office the first time, just to help out and translate. We waited in a room mainly filled with refugees from Arab lands and Africa for twenty minutes or so (I point this out just to underscore that clearly not a lot of American retirees do this; I was unique in the waiting room as an American). Then we walked in to see the official. I explained through her that I wanted to live in Germany. We didn't discuss my motives for wanting to do this. He asked the following questions after looking at my American passport: (a) do you have a pension? (answer: I do); (b) do you have health insurance? (answer: I do); and, (c) do you have resources? (answer, I do; I showed a 401K with about $700,000 in it). He went into another office for a moment or two, came back, and said "we will give you one year, no permission to work." "That's it?" I asked. "Yes. It's easy if you're from an OECD country" he said without elaboration. "As long as you have some resources and health insurance, there's no issue." A month later I came back and picked up my ID card. I asked the person who gave it to me if I was eligible for German language classes. She said yes and gave me another paper allowing me to enroll. It's not clear to me if these classes are subsidized by the German government but I've been taking four hours of German a day for a fee every 100 hours of €199.00, which I consider a great deal. (Not private, about fifteen people in the class, but great.)

Then came the renewal. I went in, alone this time (those German classes are working!). Showed my previous German ID card, explained that I'm likely to get some freelance payments this year (for writing articles and columns in other countries, my hobby), showed them proof of funds again, no need to reshow the health insurance or other stuff, they still had it on file. I was then renewed for two years, with the right to exercise freelance journalism overseas for pay with approval from the authorities. That was it. Very hassle free.

A key advantage is that I am a U.S. federal retiree and thus have U.S. health insurance. I don't know how doable this is for others without health insurance but given how low German costs are for health insurance, I'd wonder if others know of private insurers who specialize in Americans living in Europe. Because I am routinely surprised by how low the bills are for medical costs here. (My insurer requires that I prepay and then submit for reimbursement. It's just not expensive in Germany.)

I should add that with the residence permit I was able, hassle-free, to open a German bank account. This is important as many American expats know how hard it is these days to have foreign bank accounts because of U.S. financial regulations that impact foreign banks. But a German bank account is critical, otherwise I wouldn't be able to pay my rent and do other things. While Germans use far more cash on a daily basis than Americans (many stores won't accept credit cards from the United States) many financial transactions must be made via the German electronic banking system. The first month when I went in to my landlord's bank to pay my security deposit it was an incredible hassle and involved three trips before the bank would accept CASH for the security deposit. (And afterwards the manager of the bank said he would never accept cash again -- too much hassle for him.) So I suspect it would be difficult or impossible to rent in Germany without the residence permit, ergo the German bank account.
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Old 01-03-2019, 07:47 AM   #262
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Another great update on your residence in Germany - thanks!!

Today I transferred $15k to our bank account in England using Transferwise and their app on my phone, literally takes less than a minute and the money will be there first thing in the morning. It is so easy these days moving money internationally.

For the 7 months we stayed here in 2011 and the last 7 months of 2016 we had health insurance through my retiree health insurance. As you say, it is very easy to use. With my BCBS policy they still preferred in-network providers but I could log into my account online and put the name of the country and town we were interested in and it would show the in-network hospitals. Neither of us needed any hospital treatment during those periods so I don't know how easy the paperwork was, but for primary doctors and emergency rooms all the NHS was covered so it was a case of paying up front and submitting a claim.
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Old 01-03-2019, 08:11 AM   #263
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FIREd - I'm surprised your needed spending is only 1,500 Euro's in France near Swiss. I've heard that area is not very cheap, but perhaps I'm only hearing from people living on the Swiss side.
Switzerland proper is very expensive. The area of France near Switzerland is expensive when it comes to real estate. But for the rest, it is only marginally more expensive than the rest of France.
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Old 01-03-2019, 12:51 PM   #264
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Switzerland proper is very expensive. The area of France near Switzerland is expensive when it comes to real estate. But for the rest, it is only marginally more expensive than the rest of France.

Chamonix or further away from the border?
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Old 01-03-2019, 12:59 PM   #265
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Chamonix or further away from the border?
Interesting you should mention Chamonix I am selling my apartment there. Real estate prices have soared over the last twenty years. It's a bit more expensive than the Midi-Pyrénées in my opinion in Chamonix proper, but Sallanches and the bedroom and the working class areas between Cham and Geneva are less expensive.
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Old 01-03-2019, 01:14 PM   #266
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Well Chamonix is about the only place I know from that area and only because it’s a well known tourist destination, former site of the Winter Games.

I know the area around Luxembourg is also supposedly wealthy so housing costs are probably high there as well.
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Old 01-03-2019, 01:34 PM   #267
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Chamonix or further away from the border?
I am 1 mile from the border. Real Estate prices in Chamonix and many high-end ski resorts (like Megève) are very distorted compared to the rest of the area.
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Old 01-10-2019, 04:12 PM   #268
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So some elaboration for JakeinChina and Explanade.

-- Yes I live in a small town in Germany. Less than fifteen minutes by train from Frankfurt airport, forty-five minutes by car. We're in a distant commuter suburb of Frankfurt. Many people here commute; I wouldn't. Too far. The town is medieval. A tourist attraction quite crowded much of the year. My rent for a 2500 square foot house, twenty years old very high-end by American standards (radiant floors, excellent insulation, high ceilings, etc) is €1200 monthly. It took some finding. I have a small pond for gold fish, a large unfenced yard, and can have plenty of space, which I needed as I had a lot of possessions left over from when I was a worker. One car garage. I have a bike path to my city center (6 kilometers away) although when I buy bread or groceries I bike through the countryside to the nearest bakery (1.4 kilometers away) or the nearest supermarket next to the bakery. I spend fifty to a hundred euros a week on groceries, mostly organic or very good quality. (I also grow what seems to be TONS of tomatoes and pick a lot of fruit in my area, rich in apples and pear trees, in season.) I make some conscious choices. Gas here is expensive. Very expensive. But in my professional life I was always in cars or vehicles and I like to bike. (and now I have time). Electricity very expensive. Ditto for water. And garbage. Probably €250, say €300 a month to be safe. Internet not so bad. Phone is expensive, about €60 monthly because it includes an iPhone and I have friends and family in different countries. Beer and wine are much cheaper than in the U.S., and no comparison. A good bottle of wine here is under €5; beer runs the gamut but is better and cheaper than in most other countries unless I am looking for one of those odd new designer beers favored in American microbreweries. But I have uncomplicated tastes. I have Netflix for visual entertainment and Amazon.de for books. I read a lot and the prices, well higher than in the U.S., are not so horrible that I can't afford them. You can look on Amazon.de for English language books and see that the costs aren't outrageous. There is nothing I can't get by mail. Delivery usually takes one to five days. I reckon I spend about €3200 a month to live in a way that I would consider quite upper middle class in the U.S. I also have to figure in travel but I watch the discounters, like the Hopper App. I flew to Porto, in Portugal, earlier this year for I think €75 roundtrip. Then I airbnb-ed while there. It was a cheap vacation. Within five hours by car of where I live I have Berlin in one direction, Prague in another, Luxembourg, Amsterdam, almost Paris, Switzerland, etc, in other directions. So the limiting factor is the cost of hotels and (much higher) food and restaurant prices when I arrive. My last job in the U.S. was in San Diego so I can compare. I was considering Borrego Springs but housing there was expensive and frankly it was too far from what I like to do, which is more biking in diverse areas, museums, art galleries, and the like. I agree that it's an apt comparison to say where I live is a bit like the Central Valley of California in price terms, but the difference for a Californian is that distances are so much shorter in Europe. So I live "in the sticks" but these "sticks" are very close to urban areas in every direction. The other day my daughter was visiting and we went for the day to Cologne with its marvelous urban life and cathedral for the Christmas Markets. Germany has a spa culture which I enjoy during the long dreary winter months. (The spas are basically very nice public swimming pools with saunas and the like.) Regarding eating out, if I go for a rustic "meat-and-potatoes" type place, it's around €15 including a beer or two per head; if I go to white table cloth sort of place with gourmet pretensions, it will set me back up to €50 a head (although the sky can be the limit once when goes to the high end of the wine list). Still, generally a drinkable bottle of wine in a restaurant will set you back €15 at the lower end of acceptable.

Regarding France (explanade's comment). I have quite a few friends and family in the Gers, in Southwest France. I first started spending summers in the South of France in the late nineteen seventies and I don't like the traditional South of France in the east part of France anymore. It's been overdeveloped, too many cars, it's too close to Geneva (which has driven up housing prices) and there are too many Hollywood types there now. But in my opinion the South of France of my youth can still be found in the Gers (although the weather is admittedly a bit colder in the winter). The Gers is eminently affordable. One can find a really nice house with land for €300,000 with some looking. Traditional French culture survives there very well. It's more expensive than Germany (which is why I am not living there now) but I really like that area. It is also close to Toulouse Airport, which while not as good as Frankfurt in terms of connections is pretty good nonetheless. I have a daughter working in the French aerospace industry. I am waiting for a few years and will relocate closer to her when the time comes.

Finally, if you know France, this is not a bad website for sussing out what is available www.green-acres.fr although www.pap.fr is also good if you know precise regions. www.pap.fr is only in French but the other one is in English. (There's a button to switch to English at the upper right hand corner of the screen.)
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Vietnam is a growing choice
Old 01-10-2019, 06:54 PM   #269
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Vietnam is a growing choice

I am living in Vietnam now and loving my retirement here. Americans can get a 1 year tourist visa that allows multi-entry but it does require me to leave the country every 90 days. I actually enjoy that aspect as it forces me to go on holiday, haha! Last year I went to Manila, Seoul, Bangkok, California and more. Life over here is very different and has advantages and disadvantages but one thing is for sure - the cost of living is a small fraction of California where I spent my first 3 years of FIRE life. Its been great and I don't plan on ever relocating back to the states.
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Old 01-12-2019, 03:21 AM   #270
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I am living in Vietnam now and loving my retirement here...
Why did you choose Vung Tau as your retirement location in Vietnam? I know that many expats in Vietnam prefer large cities like Hanoi or Saigon.
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Old 01-12-2019, 07:45 PM   #271
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The big cities in Vietnam are too crowded and polluted. The motorcycles drive everywhere - On the sidewalk, into restaurantst into hotels. Makes the walking I enjoy very problematic.

Vung Tau is laid back, has a decent beach, good food yet is close enough to Saigon to use the airport and other services as needed.

VT has a lot of foreigners too so you get different food options, entertainment, etc. you wouldn't see in a more local city.
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Old 01-27-2019, 01:17 PM   #272
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Heard about this website offering health insurance for Americans abroad.

https://www.internationalinsurance.c...al-medical.php

Looks like there's underwriting so you'd have to go with some kind of application process which includes disclosing preexisting conditions.

But people say that there are plans with coverage abroad only and coverage abroad and in the US. But much higher for the latter.
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Old 01-27-2019, 02:56 PM   #273
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Or you can go to Cigna global and many others directly. You have to see who is better in your country of residence. I am pretty happy with a Cigna Global.
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Old 01-27-2019, 03:49 PM   #274
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Or you can go to Cigna global and many others directly. You have to see who is better in your country of residence. I am pretty happy with a Cigna Global.
Do you pay out of pocket and they reimburse you?

Do they have networks?

Do they have to preauthorize certain procedures?
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List of countries offering retirement visas?
Old 02-03-2019, 02:11 AM   #275
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List of countries offering retirement visas?

I retired to Bangkok, Thailand in 2017. Thailand has a “retirement” visa which is more accurately named a long term visa for expats over 50 years old. Working, including volunteering, is prohibited. You have to meet a financial requirement of either 800,000 baht in a Thai bank or 65,000 baht per month income, the money originating outside Thailand. You have to report to Immigration every time you stay in the country for 90 days and you can get annual 1 year extensions of stay.

It is very easy to live here and of course the cost of living is generally lower than in the US. If you don’t want to live in the big city of Bangkok then there are smaller cities, beach communities, and rural areas. I am loving it.
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Old 03-09-2019, 12:42 AM   #276
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Came across this article about the pop star Shakira, who's facing tax evasion charges in Spain.

She's from Colombia but has lived in different places over the years. She started living with a soccer star in Barcelona, ended up building a home there and even had a baby there.

She's paid tens of millions in taxes already but is facing another big 8-figure tax bill and the possibility of a prison sentence.

She formally changed her residency to Spain in 2015 but the Spanish authorities are pursuing possible charges for the 2-3 years before this change of residency status.

Quote:
Shakira was accused of tax fraud in December 2018, following an investigation into how many days she had lived in Spain before changing her residency in 2015. Spanish tax law requires that individuals who spend 183 days or more in the country are residents and must pay taxes there.

The investigation monitored Shakira's activity, using paparazzi and social media photos as evidence of her whereabouts. Those included photos of the "Waka Waka" singer supervising the construction on the family's new home in 2012 while pregnant with her first son. She gave birth in a Barcelona hospital in early 2013. Investigators even interrogated a local hairdresser to determine the frequency of her appointments.

The investigation found that Shakira spent 243 days in Spain in 2012, 212 days in 2013 and 244 days in 2014. Prosecutors claim that during that period, Shakira did not spend "one day" in the Bahamas, even though she claimed residency there.
https://www.billboard.com/articles/b...olicy-analysis

That's right, Spain will tax your worldwide income if you reside more than 183 days in Spain in any year.

And as the article notes, they like to make examples of celebrities, shame them or hound them out of the country apparently.

It also mentions that these policies are in contrast to neighboring Portugal and Italy, which offer some kind of tax inducements to attract people to move there.

Not sure if it's any people with means or celebrities.
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