Friday, March 29, 2013

Why Should You Travel?

I have to confess that I hadn't heard about Rick Steves before now, but I really enjoyed this talk he gave at a TEDx conference (as you may know, TEDx isn't TED and it's been subject to some quality issues).

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Four Stages of Expat Life

Le Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde
Photo ruthlessly ganked from their site.
Used under Fair Use
Today I'm am very pleased to be heading to Le Dernier Bar avant la Fin du Monde, a geek bar here in Paris. As you may know, I've been helping people get jobs in Amsterdam and a gentleman from South America was offered one of the positions. By coincidence, he's visiting Paris, so my wife and I will be meeting him.

I believe (I could be mistaken) that this will be his first expat experience and that got me to thinking about how to be a successful expat. I define "successful" as "an expat who adjusts successfully to his or her new country." To succeed, it helps to know the four stages of being an expat.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Crime in Europe versus the US

Burglar Relief
Williamsburg Savings Bank Tower
Photo by wetman
When decided to be an expat, you naturally have to decide where to move. There are many things involved in that decision (not the least of which is "where can I move"), but crime has to be one of the more important considerations. After all, with the Honduras having the highest murder rate in the world, it's probably not your first choice of destination, right?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Are US renunciations five times higher than reported?

We the People
Image by Chuck Coker
Back in February, the final quarterly figures for Americans giving up their citizenship were released.  For 2012, 932 Americans were reported as giving up their citizenship, leading to one Web site claiming that there was a 48% Decrease in Number of Expatriates in 2012. Had the article referred to reported number of expatriates, it would be correct: the reported number of expatriates is indeed 48% lower than in 2011.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Germany's Blue Card law is working

Bonn - German flag
Photo by R/DV/RS
For would-be expats, there's some good news! In January I reported on the German news site's claims that not many skilled workers were being attracted by Germany's Blue Card law. At the time I wrote:
I can actually think of a few different issues causing the problem. First and foremost, it was reported after the law had been in effect only two months! I'm surprised that a brand new program taking time to get started is actually newsworthy, particularly when you consider that it can take months to find a new employee locally, much less internationally.
Note: Apparently that was published in November, about 3 months after the program started.

I thought it was idiocy to complain about a jobs program struggling when the program had been in place less time than it often takes to find a skilled worker. Couple that with reports I was getting about German government offices being confused over the implementation of the law and it was guaranteed that's reporting was a precipitous.

Friday, March 15, 2013

US expat evacuations: not what people think

Saigon Evacuation
We've turned your country into a parking
lot. The least we can do is evacuate you
Over on Reddit, I asked people's opinions about why more Americans are planning on leaving the US. As is to be expected, when an expat pointed out that we're taxed by the US government and get nothing in return, there was the silly comment of "I wouldn't say you are paying taxes for nothing. If shit hits the fan in your country the US tax payers usually shell out to get your ass out of the country."

I hear this constantly. It seems like it's the last line of defense for those trying to justify the USA's unique worldwide taxation schema. However, Reddit user prezvdi replied to the above with a stunning response:

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Gay Expats

I have no idea if these men are gay
Photo by Jakkaphan Sanitprem
Brandon Perlberg is an American who is reluctantly living in London. He lived in New York City and loved both the city and his country, but his country wouldn't let him apply for a visa for his male partner of seven years. Brandon's partner, Benn Storey, however, is British and Britain approved Brandon's visa within 48 hours. Brandon had to give up his law career in New York for a new live abroad in order to remain with the man he loved.

Even more interesting is the fact that Perlberg and Storey could have legally married in New York state, but under the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), that marriage could not be used to apply for a visa for Storey.

Monday, March 11, 2013

No, Bill Clinton can't run for the French Presidency

No, this man cannot become
the next president of France.
There appears to be a persistent belief that if you live in any of the US states acquired in the Louisiana Purchase, you can quickly acquire French citizenship. This was sparked, in part, by none other than Bill Clinton claiming that he could become President of France. He said:
And because I was born in Arkansas, which is part of the Louisiana Purchase, any person anywhere in the world that was born in a place that ever was part of the French empire, if you move to — if you live in France for six months and speak French, you can run for president.
Bill Clinton said this in 2012, but was unaware that this interesting quirk of French law was eliminated in 2006.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Returning to your home country

christiania, glass house, august 2007
Home, Sweet ... er ... Home
No matter whether or not you plan to return to your home country, many expats do. Sometimes they miss family and friends. Sometimes homesickness takes them. Sometimes the great job/relationship/adventure just ends. If you're returning home after a few months abroad, you'll probably readjust quickly. However, if you've been living abroad for a few years, be prepared to face some issues that many "repatriates" report.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

American firm gets hurt by ignoring Dutch law

Fire him at your peril.
Public Domain
For would-be expats eyeing jobs in Europe, you might find yourself wondering what would happen if you moved there and got fired. Would you have to go back? Well, you're probably not going to get fired unless you really, really deserve it.

A perfect example comes from a recent event with a US company in the Netherlands. Though the US firm is unnamed, they had very recently developed a presence in the Netherlands and decided thy were unhappy with the HR manager. So the manager was written up and fired five days later.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Congress Again Gunning for Expats

US Capitol Building
Photo is public domain
In the latest round of attacks against expats, the US "do-nothing" Congress is nonetheless very, very concerned about making life more difficult for expats abroad. In a fairly angry post on, user Eric provides details of the latest bills targeting expats.

Friday, March 1, 2013

Would you attend a "how to become an expat" seminar?

YAPC::Europe 2012. Frankfurt, Germany
Your author speaking at a
conference in Germany
Photo by Claudio Ramirez
I've been writing this blog for years now. There is a huge amount of information here and it's getting to the point where the would-be expat is going to love the information, but find it very hard to find all of the information that's relevant to their needs. Or maybe they just wouldn't know where to start.

I've been thinking about this problem and I have an idea of how to solve it. Starting in May, I'm going freelance. I already have a nice contract lined up (and working with some awesome people), but I'll have a bit more flexibility in what I do and that gives me an opportunity.