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Old 06-20-2020, 07:32 AM   #81
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Originally Posted by VungTau View Post
I have been overseas in Australia, China and most recently in Vietnam. Left the USA in 1990 and have only lived there 4 years during this 30 year period. I have setup bank accounts, brokerage accounts, opened multiple credit cards, done my own taxes and moved money cheaply and quickly around the globe. It can all be done but you need a few key things:

1) USA address to have info sent to when its required (pretty rare these days as everything is e)
2) Friend or family to open mail at said address if needed
3) USA phone number that will ring anywhere and can receive text messages (easy these days, I have 2)
4) email address
5) VPN so the rare websites that control location access won't block you
6) Willingness to work at night or morning during usa biz hours
7) Patience!

While it is certainly easier to set things up before you leave you can do it from overseas too.
I have 1) through 5) so certainly no disagreement from me. I am a member of a couple of expat forums and it is surprising how many folks move before doing all of this and then discover that they need these things. Forewarned is forearmed.
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Old 06-20-2020, 08:27 AM   #82
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... With the lower cost of living and lower health insurance premiums than in Switzerland, France might actually be a competitive option. For my part, I do find it quite attractive. But if you have a large, inflexible retirement income (like a pension), then yes it is best to look elsewhere.
France near Switzerland (relatively anyway; the border doesn’t have to be walking distance) is near the top of our list when my wife finally pulls the plug in a couple years (I’m a citizen of a different EU country as well as the US; my wife is an American). However, one reason—besides language—France has been more attractive than Germany or even Switzerland is our understanding of how the US-France tax treaty deals with pension income (I realize people can have significant pension income from other countries, and it might be taxed very differently in France, so this is just about our situation, which might be relatively common). We’re not lawyers, especially not international tax lawyers, but the language of the treaty seems pretty straightforward. From the 2004 amendments:
ARTICLE III
Article 18 (Pensions) of the Convention shall be deleted and replaced by the following:
“ARTICLE 18 - Pensions
Payments under the social security legislation or similar legislation of a Contracting State to a resident of the other Contracting State, and pension distributions and other similar remuneration arising in one of the Contracting States in consideration of past employment paid to a resident of the other contracting State, whether paid periodically or in a lump sum, shall be taxable only in the first-mentioned State. For purposes of this paragraph, pension distributions and other similar remuneration shall be deemed to arise in a Contracting State only if paid by a pension or other retirement arrangement established in that State.
This seems to say that pensions are only taxed by the source state, meaning for us, by the US (which would oF course tax them anyway), and are not taxed by France. Maybe we’re reading this wrong and also need to look elsewhere?
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Old 06-20-2020, 08:59 AM   #83
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France near Switzerland (relatively anyway; the border doesn’t have to be walking distance) is near the top of our list when my wife finally pulls the plug in a couple years (I’m a citizen of a different EU country as well as the US; my wife is an American). However, one reason—besides language—France has been more attractive than Germany or even Switzerland is our understanding of how the US-France tax treaty deals with pension income (I realize people can have significant pension income from other countries, and it might be taxed very differently in France, so this is just about our situation, which might be relatively common). We’re not lawyers, especially not international tax lawyers, but the language of the treaty seems pretty straightforward. From the 2004 amendments:
ARTICLE III
Article 18 (Pensions) of the Convention shall be deleted and replaced by the following:
“ARTICLE 18 - Pensions
Payments under the social security legislation or similar legislation of a Contracting State to a resident of the other Contracting State, and pension distributions and other similar remuneration arising in one of the Contracting States in consideration of past employment paid to a resident of the other contracting State, whether paid periodically or in a lump sum, shall be taxable only in the first-mentioned State. For purposes of this paragraph, pension distributions and other similar remuneration shall be deemed to arise in a Contracting State only if paid by a pension or other retirement arrangement established in that State.
This seems to say that pensions are only taxed by the source state, meaning for us, by the US (which would oF course tax them anyway), and are not taxed by France. Maybe we’re reading this wrong and also need to look elsewhere?

I was talking in generalities and you may very well be right regarding US pensions. Since I don't get a pension from the US, I must admit that I never bothered to read that part of the US-France tax treaty.
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Old 06-20-2020, 09:36 AM   #84
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I was talking in generalities and you may very well be right regarding US pensions. Since I don't get a pension from the US, I must admit that I never bothered to read that part of the US-France tax treaty.
Thanks for the clarification.

Since you worked for 20 years in the US it might be worth a quick look at that part of the tax treaty. “Pension distributions and other similar remuneration...in consideration of past employment” is pretty broadly defined and would seem (remember, IANAL) to include distributions from IRAs and 401Ks. And maybe you have US social security coming eventually.
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Old 06-20-2020, 09:51 AM   #85
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Thanks for the clarification.

Since you worked for 20 years in the US it might be worth a quick look at that part of the tax treaty. “Pension distributions and other similar remuneration...in consideration of past employment” is pretty broadly defined and would seem (remember, IANAL) to include distributions from IRAs and 401Ks. And maybe you have US social security coming eventually.
I lived in the US for 20+ years, but I was retired for a good portion of those years (I retired very early). All my 401Ks and IRAs were eventually converted to a Roth IRA and I cashed in the latter when I left the US. Furthermore, I'm still 21 years away from full retirement age, so plenty can change as far as SS and the tax treaty are concerned.
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Old 06-20-2020, 10:13 AM   #86
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All the material out there focuses on trying to find the best country but the truth is that expat success is 90% you and 10% the country. People who are well suited could do well anywhere while people who are not well suited wont do well anywhere.

The first criteria is how self sufficient you are. It is a huge advantage to be able to do a lot of DIY stuff yourself. House stuff like simple construction skills, electrical and plumbing and be able to fix you own car. Other countries do not have the level of services, or else they do have the services but there is no follow through. Being able to just do it yourself saves a huge amount of frustration.

You also need to be able to accept things that you would not accept in the US without it bothering you. Things like dropping your car in for a service and getting it back dented. Would you be able to smile and just accept it. Are you happy to buy new things that turn out to be broken and not mind. This is not so easy.

Then there are language skills to consider and there may be things in the culture like racism or corruption. You just have to be able to suck it up.

After all this then the individual countries comes in. Its very different to all the expat marketing out there that focus on how the drinks are cheap or the bus is free.
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Originally Posted by VungTau View Post
I have been overseas in Australia, China and most recently in Vietnam. Left the USA in 1990 and have only lived there 4 years during this 30 year period. I have setup bank accounts, brokerage accounts, opened multiple credit cards, done my own taxes and moved money cheaply and quickly around the globe. It can all be done but you need a few key things:

1) USA address to have info sent to when its required (pretty rare these days as everything is e)
2) Friend or family to open mail at said address if needed
3) USA phone number that will ring anywhere and can receive text messages (easy these days, I have 2)
4) email address
5) VPN so the rare websites that control location access won't block you
6) Willingness to work at night or morning during usa biz hours
7) Patience!

While it is certainly easier to set things up before you leave you can do it from overseas too.
Love these excellent bits of advice.
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Old 06-20-2020, 10:31 AM   #87
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Moved for good back to UK/N Yorkshire 5+ years ago (retired 2011). Total of about 19 years in the UK (10 Germany, 5 Okinawa). Went back to the Spokane area for 4 years when I retired.....like it better here (weather better in E Washington, well....actually almost anywhere). Not planning on returning to the US unless my brothers need me for something.
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Old 06-20-2020, 01:07 PM   #88
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Sounds awesome and glad you're enjoying it there! Take your time in your search and decision. The journey is just as important as the destination!
Thank you.


Loving the journey. At some point things will open back up and we will be able to head out again. And I'm sure a lot of locations will change their rules/requirements going forward.

Just really wanted to do this while we were young enough and healthy enough to completely enjoy. Hopefully we can continue on by next summer.

Till then, there are a lot worse places to be than here for sure.
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Old 06-20-2020, 02:49 PM   #89
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Itchy feet - is it an incurable disease? We currently live in the UK, which is not where either of us were born. So no question, we’re expats. Or are we? Reading this thread I feel an almost unbearable desire to be “somewhere else” again, even though we just got back to the UK in 2017 after being back in Asia for six years on the last stint. The only real thing holding me back is there is no f^^ing way I want to put my life in boxes again. No way! But the wanderlust is real and strong. I think after a career as an itinerant expat my body clock simply goes off every 3-5 years automatically.
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Old 06-21-2020, 05:12 PM   #90
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Oh we have two posters from Vietnam! Vungtau and Esterhazy. Care to share why you've chosen to settle there at least temporarily?

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Originally Posted by Dd852 View Post
Itchy feet - is it an incurable disease? We currently live in the UK, which is not where either of us were born. So no question, we’re expats. Or are we? Reading this thread I feel an almost unbearable desire to be “somewhere else” again, even though we just got back to the UK in 2017 after being back in Asia for six years on the last stint. The only real thing holding me back is there is no f^^ing way I want to put my life in boxes again. No way! But the wanderlust is real and strong. I think after a career as an itinerant expat my body clock simply goes off every 3-5 years automatically.
Have you been traveling much since settling back in the UK? Does travel help to ease the itchy feet?
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Old 06-21-2020, 11:22 PM   #91
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Travel helps a bit - (and maybe my mood is made worse by the fact that Covid means we’ve been in one place longer than any other time in our adult lives!) but best has been a couple of two-three month long extended stays in places - that simulates what I love about the spat life: getting a new routine, finding little shops and parks that become our regulars, recognizing people on the street in a new place etc. it is great that there are good options for serviced apartments etc around the world
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Old 06-22-2020, 03:20 AM   #92
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Originally Posted by Cricky View Post
France near Switzerland (relatively anyway; the border doesn’t have to be walking distance) is near the top of our list when my wife finally pulls the plug in a couple years (I’m a citizen of a different EU country as well as the US; my wife is an American). However, one reason—besides language—France has been more attractive than Germany or even Switzerland is our understanding of how the US-France tax treaty deals with pension income (I realize people can have significant pension income from other countries, and it might be taxed very differently in France, so this is just about our situation, which might be relatively common). We’re not lawyers, especially not international tax lawyers, but the language of the treaty seems pretty straightforward. From the 2004 amendments:
ARTICLE III
Article 18 (Pensions) of the Convention shall be deleted and replaced by the following:
“ARTICLE 18 - Pensions
Payments under the social security legislation or similar legislation of a Contracting State to a resident of the other Contracting State, and pension distributions and other similar remuneration arising in one of the Contracting States in consideration of past employment paid to a resident of the other contracting State, whether paid periodically or in a lump sum, shall be taxable only in the first-mentioned State. For purposes of this paragraph, pension distributions and other similar remuneration shall be deemed to arise in a Contracting State only if paid by a pension or other retirement arrangement established in that State.
This seems to say that pensions are only taxed by the source state, meaning for us, by the US (which would oF course tax them anyway), and are not taxed by France. Maybe we’re reading this wrong and also need to look elsewhere?
Unfortunately, with these treaties the US inserts a clause that basically says they reserve the right to over ride everything in article 18. I have been given advice that says most income is taxable in both countries (Switzerland and the US in my case). I can offset *most* but not all US taxes due with Swiss taxes paid. The end result is about a 5% US tax along with my usual 21% Swiss tax.

One thing I detest the most is that when you fill in the annual online FBAR form, which reports highest amounts during the year in each of your non-US bank accounts (in my case one savings account and one payment account), the agency you report to is called, "The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network". Makes me furious every year staring at that on the screen. I am not a criminal, damnit!

-BB
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Old 06-22-2020, 05:06 AM   #93
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Makes me furious every year staring at that on the screen. I am not a criminal, damnit!

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Old 06-22-2020, 05:11 AM   #94
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Unfortunately, with these treaties the US inserts a clause that basically says they reserve the right to over ride everything in article 18. I have been given advice that says most income is taxable in both countries (Switzerland and the US in my case). I can offset *most* but not all US taxes due with Swiss taxes paid. The end result is about a 5% US tax along with my usual 21% Swiss tax.
The so called "savings clause". Yes, very annoying, the UK/US treaty is very similar. For some bizarre reason US SS is taxable only in the UK but UK SS is taxable in both countries, although as you say, foreign tax credits cancel out most of it.
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Old 06-22-2020, 06:57 AM   #95
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Unfortunately, with these treaties the US inserts a clause that basically says they reserve the right to over ride everything in article 18.
Yeah, the savings clauses in these tax treaties mean that with few exceptions the US is always going to tax pension income of US citizens and permanent residents, wherever they are. What’s different for the US-France treaty (at least compared to the few others I’ve looked at) is that France agrees not to tax US-sourced pension income for residents of France.
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:11 AM   #96
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Yeah, the savings clauses in these tax treaties mean that with few exceptions the US is always going to tax pension income of US citizens and permanent residents, wherever they are. What’s different for the US-France treaty (at least compared to the few others I’ve looked at) is that France agrees not to tax US-sourced pension income for residents of France.
That's good news. Switzerland taxes all income from anywhere in the world. Plus it has a wealth tax. It's only a percent or two; but crikey! I've read in some places that with FBAR and FATCA the US is building an international records structure to enforce an eventual wealth tax on all US "persons" whether living in the US or abroad.

Final point on this. There are an estimated 6-8 million US citizens living abroad, none of whom are represented in the US Congress. We are essentially without a voice.
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Old 06-22-2020, 09:32 AM   #97
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Old 07-13-2020, 04:07 PM   #98
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This is my dream!

Love hearing about ya’ll’s experiences. My husband and I get wanderlust, so we hope to keep our base in our cabin that we airbnb in Waynesville, NC then live for a few months wherever we choose overseas.
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Old 07-13-2020, 05:31 PM   #99
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Love hearing about ya’ll’s experiences. My husband and I get wanderlust, so we hope to keep our base in our cabin that we airbnb in Waynesville, NC then live for a few months wherever we choose overseas.
This is how I felt about the gypsy-nester thread you started! haha, hopefully we hear more from everyone after this pandemic has passed. We are planning our expat journey to begin next fall.
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Old 07-13-2020, 06:49 PM   #100
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Written by a couple called Going Gypsy. I just ordered it.
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