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Old 06-06-2020, 03:10 PM   #1
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Expat Corner

Hi maybe this is totally unnecessary, or maybe there is a de facto thread of the same type already (if so please direct me to it thanks!)

Just thought I'd give it a shot though as I'd love to chat and hear from expats all over the globe. Find out what life is like in your corner, how your mindset has or hasn't changed, and whatever else.

I am presently not an expat, but have plans to be one starting in fall of 2021 (most likely to Taipei, Taiwan). So, I'll kick off with greetings from Miami!
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Old 06-07-2020, 09:42 AM   #2
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There are many expats on this board. We are extended snowbirds owing to Covid flight Restrictions. I think it is hard to discuss common problems because destination is so crucial to any discussion.

If you can suggest what you interests are, we can direct you to the right threads/places?
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Old 06-07-2020, 10:21 AM   #3
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DW & I aren't what you might refer to as typical expats. We are more like nomadic vagabonds living most of the time in various countries outside the U.S. since our E.R. almost 4 years ago. Although we still own a small home in the U.S., we only return for a couple months out of the year to visit family. While we are away, a very nice 50-ish year-old couple house sits for us and covers utility expenses in exchange for free accommodation.

We did live in Costa Rica for almost the entirety of 2018. That was the longest duration for us in any given country or locale over the last 4 years. If we were going to settle into one locale outside the U.S., it would probably be Mexico for a variety of reasons. It is within close proximity to the U.S. making visits to kids and grandkids convenient. We also love the culture, food, people and it helps that we are conversational in Spanish.

Our plan this year was to live in Oaxaca City, Mexico, however, the virus has us stuck here in the U.S. for now. Our apartment in Oaxaca City is waiting for us and we are anxious to get there!
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Old 06-07-2020, 10:26 AM   #4
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I envy you having Taipei in the future. I lived there as a student in 79-80, then worked there 89-91. I still (COVID aside) love to visit and have a lot of fondness for the place.
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Old 06-07-2020, 12:22 PM   #5
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Expat family here in Lima,Peru. I have been here for almost 20 years and enjoy it despite the many challenges the US Guvmint has thrown our way.
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Old 06-07-2020, 02:14 PM   #6
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I think it is hard to discuss common problems because destination is so crucial to any discussion.

If you can suggest what you interests are, we can direct you to the right threads/places?
Well I'm more interested in just hearing about the experiences from people all over the globe. I'm sure we can uncover some commonalities as well, but even without that, I simply enjoy the stories of expats in other countries, and the myriad of styles of living that we can experience.

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DW & I aren't what you might refer to as typical expats. We are more like nomadic vagabonds living most of the time in various countries outside the U.S. since our E.R. almost 4 years ago. Although we still own a small home in the U.S., we only return for a couple months out of the year to visit family. While we are away, a very nice 50-ish year-old couple house sits for us and covers utility expenses in exchange for free accommodation.

We did live in Costa Rica for almost the entirety of 2018. That was the longest duration for us in any given country or locale over the last 4 years.
Oh I think the nomad or fulltime/perpetual traveler lifestyle totally counts! This is what I hope to do for a few years when our kids are a little bit older (4 & 2 right now), and then again when we reach the empty nest stage.

I have a friend who RE to CR about 5 or 6 years ago. They have a large farm a few hours from San Jose where they harvest lumber so I guess that's a side business now, but they're loving it. (Their elderly parents however aren't quite so fond of being out in the boonies. Say it is prison whenever they go to visit)

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I envy you having Taipei in the future. I lived there as a student in 79-80, then worked there 89-91. I still (COVID aside) love to visit and have a lot of fondness for the place.
Yeah we love Taipei! We have been narrowing down our choices in Asia for the past 3 years, and pretty set on Taipei now although things could change in the next year.

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Expat family here in Lima,Peru. I have been here for almost 20 years and enjoy it despite the many challenges the US Guvmint has thrown our way.
I have basically zero experience with Latin America, which is a shame as I've been living in Miami for three years now. Lima is right at the top of my list to explore and I sure hope we get the opportunity to before we relocate to Asia. How are you guys handling covid? The news reports seem bleak.
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Old 06-07-2020, 02:25 PM   #7
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We just repatriated to Texas after 17 years in Africa for megaoil corp.

Where we were at - nobody vacations too, but if your needing info on Nigeria and/or Equatorial Guinea - glad to chat/assist based on our experiences and perspectives.
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Old 06-07-2020, 04:05 PM   #8
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Expat family here in Lima,Peru. I have been here for almost 20 years and enjoy it despite the many challenges the US Guvmint has thrown our way.
I am not sure what you mean. Dealing with US banks and US investment firms as an expatriate? Taxes? Or something else?
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Old 06-08-2020, 02:07 AM   #9
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I am not sure what you mean. Dealing with US banks and US investment firms as an expatriate? Taxes? Or something else?
We’ve been living in the UK for 4 years now and find that dealing with US banks and investment firms is easy provided that you have all the accounts set up before you leave. Not all banks and brokerages allow customers or support them well if they have overseas addresses and phone numbers. Opening a new bank or brokerage account from overseas, even as a USC, is nigh on impossible so you need to have everything set up ahead of time.

SS seems to be straightforward enough and everything I read and hear says that it can be paid directly into a foreign bank with zero fees and at the best exchange rate anywhere. I attended a webinar last month given by a member of the Federal Benefits Unit in the US Embassy in London and I have a telephone interview scheduled next week to apply for Medicare Part A which I’m now entitled to. We do still visit the USA most years so why not have this hospital coverage since it is free for those that paid FICA for at least 10 years.

From the view of an Expat living in the UK I manage dealing with the US government quite easily.
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Old 06-08-2020, 03:08 AM   #10
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We’ve been living in the UK for 4 years now and find that dealing with US banks and investment firms is easy provided that you have all the accounts set up before you leave. Not all banks and brokerages allow customers or support them well if they have overseas addresses and phone numbers. Opening a new bank or brokerage account from overseas, even as a USC, is nigh on impossible so you need to have everything set up ahead of time.

SS seems to be straightforward enough and everything I read and hear says that it can be paid directly into a foreign bank with zero fees and at the best exchange rate anywhere. I attended a webinar last month given by a member of the Federal Benefits Unit in the US Embassy in London and I have a telephone interview scheduled next week to apply for Medicare Part A which I’m now entitled to. We do still visit the USA most years so why not have this hospital coverage since it is free for those that paid FICA for at least 10 years.

From the view of an Expat living in the UK I manage dealing with the US government quite easily.
Thanks Alan. I am still in the U.S., although the day is growing ever closer when that will no longer be the case. I have Schwab bank , and I have talked about my plans with them before and they seem fine with me living overseas and having an account with them. I will call them again to verify . I also have a debit card from Schwab to get money when I will be living overseas for living expenses.
Healthcare will be taken care of. Doing my taxes will be a little harder, but I feel I will just have to deal with it. SS for me is a little down the road. I am 50 now. I am planning on not driving again as the public transportation system is much better than the U.S. A complaint I have often stated on this forum is the dismal public transportation system in the U.S. Enough said about that.
I don't want to reveal the country I am planning on moving to yet, but plan on doing it soon. I will say there is a tax treaty with the U.S., so that is a good thing.
One thing I will add is the cost of living is much cheaper than living in the U.S., of course wages are much lower there, but I won't need to work. By the end of the year I plan on making some threads about my experience about living overseas. This is a move that I have been planning for a long time and the paper work takes forever and also preparing for it, so I can hit the ground running. It is not as easy as just jumping on a plane and then revealing to the government, oh I want to stay, how to I get a residency permit?
I guess if you have a work sponsor it would be easier, but that is not always easy, and I don't want to work anyways. In some countries in Europe it might be easy, I don't know, but in the country I am going to, it's not that easy. It's amazing that the country I am going to, requires that you provide proof of income for them allowing you to live in their country. What a concept!
To me that wasn't anything unusual. I expected it, and never thought twice about it. I will write more on this in the future.
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Old 06-08-2020, 06:29 AM   #11
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Thanks Alan. I am still in the U.S., although the day is growing ever closer when that will no longer be the case. I have Schwab bank , and I have talked about my plans with them before and they seem fine with me living overseas and having an account with them. I will call them again to verify . I also have a debit card from Schwab to get money when I will be living overseas for living expenses.
Healthcare will be taken care of. Doing my taxes will be a little harder, but I feel I will just have to deal with it. SS for me is a little down the road. I am 50 now. I am planning on not driving again as the public transportation system is much better than the U.S. A complaint I have often stated on this forum is the dismal public transportation system in the U.S. Enough said about that.
I don't want to reveal the country I am planning on moving to yet, but plan on doing it soon. I will say there is a tax treaty with the U.S., so that is a good thing.
One thing I will add is the cost of living is much cheaper than living in the U.S., of course wages are much lower there, but I won't need to work. By the end of the year I plan on making some threads about my experience about living overseas. This is a move that I have been planning for a long time and the paper work takes forever and also preparing for it, so I can hit the ground running. It is not as easy as just jumping on a plane and then revealing to the government, oh I want to stay, how to I get a residency permit?
I guess if you have a work sponsor it would be easier, but that is not always easy, and I don't want to work anyways. In some countries in Europe it might be easy, I don't know, but in the country I am going to, it's not that easy. It's amazing that the country I am going to, requires that you provide proof of income for them allowing you to live in their country. What a concept!
To me that wasn't anything unusual. I expected it, and never thought twice about it. I will write more on this in the future.
I think proof of income when emigrating to a new country is the norm. It is the same with the UK, including when a spouse wants to join her UKC and live permanently in the UK or an already married couple wish to move to the UK, in which case either the UKC or the spouse has to have sufficient UK income to qualify, or pass a savings threshold.

I use TurboTax when filing from the UK but it is not for sale unless you have a US CC with a US address. I have 2 US CCs, 1 with a UK address and 1 with a US address (our daughter lives in LA). I pay tax or receive tax refunds directly into my US bank.
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Old 06-08-2020, 11:05 AM   #12
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I have basically zero experience with Latin America, which is a shame as I've been living in Miami for three years now. Lima is right at the top of my list to explore and I sure hope we get the opportunity to before we relocate to Asia. How are you guys handling covid? The news reports seem bleak.
Dealing with covid has been a breeze, you may be confusing Peru with Brazil? Peru as a country is much safer than the USA covidwise. Our infection rates are similar to the USA, but the death rate is about 1/2 yours at 2.7-2.8% this whole time. One difference is 70% of cases are in the adjoining cities of Lima and Callao which represent 30% of the population of the entire country. Covid is virtually non existent at the higher elevation cities, such as Cusco.

The main problem in Peru is the lack of ICU beds and a lack of oxygen tanks right now.

I live in the wealthiest area of the city with about 100K residents in a city of 11 million. In my area we have 170 positive cases as of now. The poor areas of the city is where the problem is as people need to earn money everyday and shop for food everyday in very unsanitary conditions.
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Old 06-08-2020, 10:12 PM   #13
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Technically we didn't become expats, but moving from the Midwest to Hi SEEMS a bit like being an expat. The cultural differences are likely not completely dissimilar to expat living in other countries. Kind of glad we can afford to still remain US residents, but while HI IS the US, it is NOT America.

As far as what it's like to live in HI, I guess you just need to read the tourist books. All the "good" stuff is pretty much true (nice weather, friendly people, amazing scenery with mountains and oceans, flowers everywhere, amazing 'fusion' foods, etc. etc.) The "bad" stuff that everyone knows even without visiting (high costs, rock fever, at least 2500 miles and 5 hours from ANYPLACE else, etc.) are also true. YMMV
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Old 06-09-2020, 07:16 PM   #14
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I will write more on this in the future.
Looking forward to hearing your experiences and where you actually move. Good luck!!

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Dealing with covid has been a breeze, you may be confusing Peru with Brazil? Peru as a country is much safer than the USA covidwise. Our infection rates are similar to the USA, but the death rate is about 1/2 yours at 2.7-2.8% this whole time. One difference is 70% of cases are in the adjoining cities of Lima and Callao which represent 30% of the population of the entire country. Covid is virtually non existent at the higher elevation cities, such as Cusco.

The main problem in Peru is the lack of ICU beds and a lack of oxygen tanks right now.

I live in the wealthiest area of the city with about 100K residents in a city of 11 million. In my area we have 170 positive cases as of now. The poor areas of the city is where the problem is as people need to earn money everyday and shop for food everyday in very unsanitary conditions.
Not confused. Peru has been in the mainstream media headlines (CNN, ABC, The Guardian, Al Jazeera) lately for how awful the situation has gotten, but of course you being on the ground may offer the best perspective. The numbers from worldometer also have Peru being in the top 7 for most new cases each day and most deaths each day, and the trajectory hasn't slowed down at all. So from an outsider's perspective it does seem grim.

I have heard many great things about Miraflores. Appreciate you checking in and please stay safe!

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Technically we didn't become expats, but moving from the Midwest to Hi SEEMS a bit like being an expat. The cultural differences are likely not completely dissimilar to expat living in other countries. Kind of glad we can afford to still remain US residents, but while HI IS the US, it is NOT America.
Hawaii seems pretty awesome, just perhaps not in the cards for most people to retire to a higher COL area. It's definitely high on my list to visit though! I've still not had a chance visit except for the airport many years ago on a refueling stop.

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We just repatriated to Texas after 17 years in Africa for megaoil corp.

Where we were at - nobody vacations too, but if your needing info on Nigeria and/or Equatorial Guinea - glad to chat/assist based on our experiences and perspectives.
Wow...yeah not traditional FIRE locations. Did you more or less live in expat compounds? Was there much opportunity for authentic experiences in the community? What were the pros and cons of life in those particular countries?
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Old 06-10-2020, 07:50 PM   #15
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I moved back to the U.S. in February of this year after spending 20 years living in Mainland China, mostly Shanghai and Guangzhou. Taipei is really nice, and if I was forced to live the rest of my life in Asia, I could do Taipei.

Covid-19 is one of the many things that has changed living in China as an expat. I have two young daughters now and I wanted something better for them then growing up in a expat or Chinese wealthy community bubble. Plus, even though I speak Mandarin, at the end of the day I'm a white guy and it's challenging to integrate into society, even with the help of my Chinese wife. I want to be apart of a community, have friends, attend a good church as well as see my family in the U.S. more often then once a year, so it was time to move back.

I quit my job right before I left China and officially retired at 41. We love living in the U.S. and I spend most of my days with family and helping my wife raise our kids. Perhaps we would look to move overseas one day once the kids get older, but for now, as much as I loved my Expat life, the U.S. is pretty comfortable for a family.
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Old 06-10-2020, 09:10 PM   #16
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Jake!! What's up, thanks for coming in and introducing yourself. (Of course I already know your story...as we've spoken many times on city data)

I actually did not know you lived in Shanghai previously. Which neighborhood(s)?

Also didn't know you were seeking a church. Was that available at all in China?

Yeah I love Taipei the most of the sinosphere region, but I'm concerned whether Taiwan will be able to maintain its independence while we are there.

Btw, if I did not have any ties or networks to any specific places in the US, where you are (well the Philly region in general) would be at or near the top of my places to live. Great balance of city vibrancy, culture, diversity and cost.
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Old 06-11-2020, 06:15 PM   #17
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Jake!! What's up, thanks for coming in and introducing yourself. (Of course I already know your story...as we've spoken many times on city data)

I actually did not know you lived in Shanghai previously. Which neighborhood(s)?

Also didn't know you were seeking a church. Was that available at all in China?

Yeah I love Taipei the most of the sinosphere region, but I'm concerned whether Taiwan will be able to maintain its independence while we are there.

Btw, if I did not have any ties or networks to any specific places in the US, where you are (well the Philly region in general) would be at or near the top of my places to live. Great balance of city vibrancy, culture, diversity and cost.
Around 2002 I moved to Shanghai and first lived in back of Jingan Si (Temple) right in the heart of downtown. It was great. I was single, like 22 years old or something, played beer league softball and ice hockey with a bunch of expats from all over the world each weekend, and hit the bars at least three times a week. Things were really cheap back then in Shanghai as well. Rent for a two bedroom was like 500 USD per month. Now it's like 2500 to 3k usd haha.

Once I get married to a local Chinese woman, we bought a place where I managed a factory out in the suburbs of Shanghai called Jiading (Where the F1 race is located). We bought a townhouse in 2007 and went into downtown SH on the weekends. We attended a good non-denominational church in Shanghai, then again did find a good church in Guangzhou called GICF when we moved down there in 2011. Neither were perfect, but certainly good enough.

As for Taiwan, it's really nice and I like the people. People in Taipei esp are well educated with many living or have lived in the U.S. Food is good, a couple of shopping malls and great restaurants.

If I had to guess, I would say nothing happens to Taiwan for the next 10 years. After that, who knows. China is getting stronger. Just look at Hong Kong as the Communist party has broken their promise on the treaty in interfering with how HK is governed. I do know many Hong Kong people who have moved, or are in the process of moving to Taiwan to escape the CCP.

Keep me posted on how your move goes.
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Old 06-11-2020, 06:57 PM   #18
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I am a long term expat (over 30 years).

Have lived in Pacific and South East Asia.

I am still an expat but now do "fly in fly out" so spend a week every month in Australia.

Covid 19 has put a stop to that and I have been back in Australia since March - it has turned out to be the safest place to be in the world.

When the world return to normal, I will get back to my "normal".

Good luck with the move to Taipei.
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Old 06-11-2020, 07:20 PM   #19
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Expat Corner - Good idea. Thanks.

I ER'd in 2011 and moved to Bangkok, Thailand in 2017. I love the culture, the climate, and the food and my Thai wife. Married last year. During Covid it has been much safer here than the US and just much more pleasant living here except for the 2 months the condo pool was closed.

I am happy to talk all things expat. Thailand - of course the cost of living is mostly lower than the US. It is hot all the time. I wouldn't want to be working here in this climate but as a retiree it is great. It is pretty easy to come as an expat but Immigration keeps an eye on you throughout the year so it is best to keep up on the Immigration rules.
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Old 06-12-2020, 07:13 AM   #20
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martyp, if you had to guesstimate overall cost of living reduction, what would you say? I have friends who retired to Nicaragua and think it’s about 60% of the U.S.
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