Friday, May 31, 2013

Why not retire to a cruise ship?

Bermuda
A few years ago I took a cruise to Bermuda (lots of pics!) with a bunch of friends and had a blast (as an interesting bit of trivia, a documentary was made of that cruise and I'm briefly in one scene). If you've never been on board a cruise ship, you'll be astonished at modern ones. Imagine an expensive, upscale, shopping mall designed by someone with very poor taste. And instead of mall rats, you're rubbing elbows with a bunch of senior citizens and families. And sometimes, you're rubbing elbows with someone who's retired and lives there.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

The Public Hearing That Wasn't Public

The cover of the first British edition of 1984, a novel by George Orwell.
I'm just a little creeped
out by what's going on.
Over on her blog, Victoria Ferauge has an interesting account of her attendance at an EU Parliamentary meeting on FATCA. The meeting's exciting title was:

The fight against tax evasion - FATCA as a 
step towards international automatic 
exchange of information?

And it was described as a public hearing. I heard about it on short notice and wasn't able to attend, but Victoria and others around Europe took the trouble to head to Brussels to ensure their voices would be heard. The meeting was public, but you weren't allowed in the building.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why You Should See the World

Photo of a beautiful temple in China.
Wouldn't seeing it firsthand be better?
Photo by Carsten Ullrich
There's a very thought-provoking article at Why Young Americans Should Work Overseas. As is clear from the title, it's very much aimed at Americans but the main points are this:
  1. University education in the US is not worth the return on investment.
  2. The quality of life you get for your money is much better elsewhere.
  3. US jobs aren't going to return.
  4. It's time for everyone to explore the world.
While clearly not everyone is going to agree with the above reasons, I'm rather partial to the last one, if for no other reason than to see firsthand that the world is a much different place than what you see in the media. Still, I'll touch on all of these points as I have a front-row seat for the expat life.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Green Card for Africa?

Map of Africa
Africa. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1890
Public Domain Image
I've long wanted to post more information about jobs in Africa, but it's been hard to get solid information. Aside from a couple of classmates from the US who now live in Lilongwe, Malawi (who have a great blog, by the way), most people I know who are associated with Africa have come out of the continent, not gone to it.

Today, aside from some opportunities in Nigeria and South Africa, there doesn't appear to be much of a way to find permanent work in Africa aside from limited opportunities with NGOs. Believe it or not, some people would like to immigrate to Africa but African countries make this very hard to do.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Best Country for Retirement?

Quito, Ecuador
Photo by Marcio Ramalho
Thinking about retiring abroad? I've previously written about Ecuador being voted the best place in the world to retire and recently International Living readers again voted Ecuador to be the number one retirement spot in the world. With a three-bedroom apartment in a major city center costing $200 a month, you can imagine why it might be attractive to some. But maybe Ecuador's not your cup of tea? Here's a list of the top 22 retirement havens around the world, taking into consideration lifestyle, real estate costs, climate, and so on.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Move to the UK on a "start up" visa

Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament on the Thames river.
Photo by Conor Ogle
For those of you who have thought about starting your own business, why not do it in the UK? Trying to become an expat and move to the UK is getting to be difficult (for non-EU citizens) as the UK is sharply curtailing immigration, but since June of 2011 they've had a Prospective Entrepreneur program, more commonly referred to as the Start Up Visa. It's surprisingly straight-forward.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Teach English at a French University

Château du Haut-Koenigsbourg, France
Photo by Francisco Antunes
You do not need to have a university degree to live and work in other countries. However, having a university degree does make life so much easier for those planning on becoming expats, as I saw again with my latest research. While doing my usual work trying to find new opportunities for you to live abroad, I stumbled across a very interesting article about applying for a job as a lecteur d'anglais in a French university.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Violent Crime In the US

Photo by Chang Liu
Pardon today's divergence; I'm still in shock. Today I started with the news and saw that 19 people were injured in a Mother's Day parade shooting in the US. Described by the FBI as "strictly an act of street violence", as if somehow that is more reassuring than terrorism. You have to wonder just how bad things have to get in the US before someone does anything. Sadly, due to overwhelming evidence that gun crime in the US has plummeted sharply in the past two decades, many in the US are using this as an excuse for inaction.

What they're ignoring is that gun murders in the US are far higher than the rest of the industrialized world. Just because we've improved this statistic doesn't mean that it's suddenly "acceptable." There's also another little statistic that many would rather you didn't know.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The End of FATCA?

Rand Paul, US Senator for Kentucky
For those outside the US who do not know who Rand Paul is, he's the son of Ron Paul, a US politician who's perennial quest for the presidency was at first met with mockery but eventually garnered enough support that it's widely believed that the Republican party deliberately locked him out of contention for the Presidency.

So why would I talk about Rand Paul in an expat blog?

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Stateless Americans and Renunciants

So close ...
Photo by وسام زقوت
On the subject of renouncing one's citizenship, I previously reported that I only knew of two individuals who've renounced US citizenship without having another citizenship, making them "stateless". Being stateless, in this context, means "not having a legal nationality." There are many ways in which one can become stateless, with Palestinians being the most prominent example. Other examples stem from people being forced out of their country due to war, or being denied recognition by their home country. Sadly, the problem of statelessness is widespread, with an estimated 12 million people stateless around the world.

Monday, May 6, 2013

A Class for Integrating into France

Liberty Leading the People by Eugène Delacroix
"A government of the people, by the people and for the people." Does that sound familiar to anyone? That's actually the fundamental principle of the French republic, as enshrined in their constitution. In fact, as an American reading about French history and culture, I note how strong the parallels are between the two. Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, separation of church and state, freedom of association, and so on. Despite superficial differences, the US and France have more in common than than either side seems to think and this was reinforced last Saturday when I attended the convocation à la formation civique, or my "call to civic education".

Friday, May 3, 2013

Belgian Blue Card

Bruges
Bruge, Belgium
Photo by Wolfgang Staudt
In September of 2012, Belgium finally introduced their version of the European Blue Card. As with every country in the EU, the Belgian implementation of the Blue Card is unique and many Web sites appear to be reporting incorrect information. I've gone out to the French language Belgian government web site for Service public fédéral Emploi, Travail, et Concertation sociale, or their "Employment, Labor, and Social Services" web site and found the Belgian government's detailed explanation of their Blue Card laws.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Face of Islam in Europe

Kahina Zed: The terrifying face of Islam
A friend of ours here in Paris, Kahina Zed, was recently in Canada with her partner and she met a bunch of Americans. After getting to know her for a couple of days, they were shocked to discover the horrifying truth: she's Muslim. They were incredulous, first assuming she was pulling their leg. With a drink in one hand and a cigarette in another, Kahina, who speaks French, English, Spanish and Arabic, is very proud of being a Muslim and, more importantly, she's practically the poster child for Islam in Europe, but you'd never know it from the news reports.