Calling all Expats

Old Jan 8th, 2005, 10:26 PM
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Calling all Expats

We have a HUGE decision to make and I am having a hard time wrapping my head around it. I would like to find some forums/expat websites that discuss the issues (non-travel related) affecting Expats. I would also love to find some forums that discuss the pitfalls and opportunities ie growth rates etc. of owning property abroad.

Any ideas?
Thanks!
Jan
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Old Jan 8th, 2005, 11:52 PM
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Hi Jan. We are facing a big decision, as well. We live in Germany and love it here. Our daughter begins high school in 1.5 years, and our second daughter is just behind her. We want to avoid having them move in the middle of high school, so we're deciding if we need to plan to leave in the summer of 2006, or if we want to plan to stay until 2012! As you say..its hard to wrap your head around that.

I'm not sure exactly what you're looking for, but I know of http://www.expatexchange.com/
http://www.liveabroad.com/

Good Luck! Mindy
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 01:02 AM
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Hi SloJan - We're expats living in Indonesia. I don't have any first hand experience with these sites, but these two have oodles of expat links that might help:

http://www.escapeartist.com/expatriate/expatriate1.htm

http://www.transitionsabroad.com/lis...websites.shtml
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 03:06 AM
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www.expatriates.com

your embassy can also fill you in on more important issues as well as conferences that are geared towards the expat abroad.

as american, the american clubs worldwide have info and important suppport systems worldwide. they also have numerous international members, not restricting membership to americans.

having lived abroad for 35 years, having raised two children, i understand the concerns, especially with education.

i hope your concerns can be addressed through these websites or support groups you find of couples in same situation.
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 06:36 AM
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www.americanexpats.co.uk

This is specifically for expats living in the UK.
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 09:53 AM
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Thank you all. I am familiar with most of those sites. Basically, I was hoping to find the expat equivalent of Fodors. I came close!

The decision we have to make is an exciting one. There is a good chance we will lose our residence visas in Slovenia due to a really ridiculous reason. if I was more paranoid, I would think it was 'payback' for our admin's policies. The DHs job is not in jeopardy but this means that the family can't stay here. He will have to commute. We are trying to make a decision on how to tackle this dilemma. The silver lining is that this may be the opportunity to live in Portugal that I have been looking for. My grandparents emigrated to the US from Madeira so there is a good chance that I can get citizenship (after learning the language). Still, the commute would be horrendous.

So, wish us luck. We plan on heading out to Lisbon and the Algarve to look at housing and schools.
Cheers,
Jan
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 10:58 AM
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SloJan: Yes, it would be a huge commute...however IF you are looking to Lisbon for living you would find it wonderful, I'm pretty sure. We lived there 30 yrs ago...had three children ages 10,11,l3 and they loved their school. My husband and I returned just this past NOv. for a "first back" visit to the LIsbon area...and still found it wonderful. There is a new American school...beautiful and modern, between Estoril and Sintra.(the Frank Carlucci AMerican school). Of course things have changed some...perhaps not as many expats living there and going to the school , but all in all it wa(and I'm sure IS) a lovely place to live.
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Old Jan 9th, 2005, 11:32 AM
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Hi SloJan. I can't help on expat web sites, but I would like to talk about the commuting side of the equation.

There were two episodes in my working life (I retired 10 days ago) where I took on a job in another city. In the first instance, I commuted every week, usually Sunday evening to Friday afternoon, by air, to another city. This lasted a year. In the second case, I commuted to a different city, also by air, but on a different pattern: two weeks away, one week at home. I was in this arrangement for four years.

I am married with a daughter who is now 20 years old. The first time I undertook this, my daughter was 10 through 11 years old; the second commute started immediately after her 15th birthday.

I can't predict how anyone else might react to this kind of arrangement. In my case, there were pluses: as a family, we were able to keep our residence in Nova Scotia, my daughter's schooling was uninterrupted, and my wife kept working with her employer. I was able to undertake interesting work, which happily paid a bit more, and I was blessed with an employer who was extremely accommodating and supportative.

On the downside, it was hard to fulfil my part of the parenting role, both in sense of the difficult stuff (she was a teenager, need I say more?) and the joyous side, such as her band concerts or simply watching her grow up. My wife and I were both lonely when I was away, but we talked every evening on the phone and chatted back and forth through the day by e-mail. I found it really hard to do household projects, such as painting a room, because I would no sooner get started when it was time to go back away again. My wife ended up doing some family chores that had historically fallen into my lap.

Nonetheless, we survived it and it may even have strengthened us as a family.

This kind of arrangemeent isn't unique--I'm sure their are many other folk posting here who have gone through far more demanding circumstances. However, we're all wired differently, and what one person takes in their stride, another may find is a major obstacle.

Just food for thought, and I wish you well in your decision-making.

Anselm
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 12:47 AM
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Hi Jan, we also have some commuting dilemmas...my husband is still spending most of the week in Brussels, coming back to the UK on Thursday or Friday evenings and leaving Monday evenings.
However, later this year he may be going on a long term assignment to Dubai. We have to decide whether to stay officially domiciled in the UK (where we already have the right to live, work, etc.) even though we don't like living here nearly as much as we liked Belgium and Germany. He would fly back every other week-end for four or five days. OR, should we bite the bullet, go through all the palaver of residency visas, yadda yadda yadda, and move to France, which is where we would much rather live. As a Quebecois by birth, my husband would be on a fast track for a French passport once we had residency there.
In two weeks, there will be a fair in London on buying French property; we're going to check that out. Good luck!
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 01:07 AM
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Some sights I have used:

www.expat-essentials.com
www.expatforum.com
www.expatnetwork.com
www.outpostexpat.nl
ebusinessnomads
http://www.expat-moms.com

Canít help with the property question, run a search on the internet. Have you tried slowtravel.com? The site is about renting villas, but may have links to property ownership as well. You will also need good legal advice about owning property in another country, esp with regard to inheritance issues. Some countries (like Switzerland where I currently live) place restrictions on non-citizens inheriting property (they must sell it), which could affect you on the death of a spouse if you jointly own property in Switzerland. Also if you are a US citizen getting a housing benefit from your employer, you cannot deduct house payments on your US federal income tax like you can deduct a portion of rent payments on subsidized housing, so generally US expats who are not tax equalized and who receive a housing allowance are better off not living in owned property but are better off renting.
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 02:49 AM
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Hi SloJan,

Sorry, I have no insights or ideas about your decision. I only wanted to pop up to say hello, and to say I really hope this all works out for you guys! I remember when you moved to Slovenia to avoid just this type of commute, so I know how upsetting the problem is for you. I hope you find a solution that will have MORE blessings than curses!

All my best!

s
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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 02:52 AM
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Jan,

I don't know of an expat-specific message board. My wife and I have lived abroad for 18 exciting, challenging, rewarding years. (And we do own property.) Would we do it all over again? You bet!

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Old Jan 10th, 2005, 02:58 AM
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Jan,

Having read through the thread, I now understand your question. For three years on the early 1990s, I lived full-time in Paris while my wife taught at the University of South Carolina, on a 9-month-per-year contract, and we commuted back and forth. If we had it to over again we would NOT do that!
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Old Jan 11th, 2005, 07:06 AM
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Hi all,
Thank you for som many helpful answers. BTilke, your dilemma sounds a bit like ours. I think I would bite the bullet, go to France and buy a house. What an opporunity! (of course, that is easy to say...I KNOW how difficult it is). Let us know what you decide.

Some of the pressure to move is off now, due to some semantics. This whole process is really ridiculous. We are still thinking about doing the move however. Basically, to get some real estate (we sold everything when we moved abroad) in a place we love and perhaps, citizenship. I have a joke that when I get bored, we start moving. Perhaps, it is now.

Ansel and Dave, thanks for your insights on the commute. We could just chuck it all and move back to the US, but we are having too much fun here!

Cicerone, thanks for your advice. I had forgotten about Slowtrav.com. The whole tax equalization and housing allowance thing doesn't affect us. I wish it did! $-)

Swandav---Hey to you too! It will work out but it might be a bit of a slog for the next 9 months or so.

Cheers,
Jan
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Old Jan 11th, 2005, 09:36 AM
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Be careful about getting European citizenship for your children, as most European countries have mandatory military service and your children would be subject to that. (If your husband is of draft age (up to 45 in Switzerland), he could be subject to military service as well.) If you donít get them citizenship, find out how they can keep the right to live and attend school in Europe with you, usually this can be done on a dependentís visa. Query whether the citizenship of the parents should differ from that of the children, could make for some difficulties in travel, etc. Get good tax and legal advice before taking out citizenship for any family member.

If you or your spouse have an Irish or Italian antecedent, you can usually get a passport issued from that country. This will give you the right to live and work in any EU country, a big plus. This would hopefully also give you the right to apply for dependentsí visas for children and the non-Irish/Italian spouse in any EU country, but do check on this. This would avoid having to have the children made nationals and do military service. It should allow you to purchase and inherit property in any EU country. For info on whether you qualify for Italian citizenship, take a look at the website for the Italian Embassy in the US at http://www.italyemb.org/. I find this site hard to use, but you may have more luck. For info on dual citizenship in Ireland, you might try the Irish Embassy in the US at www.irelandemb.org.

Finally, assuming you would keep your US citizenship, the State Dept is not crazy about that, see their comments at http://travel.state.gov/dualnationality.htmlt.
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Old Jan 11th, 2005, 09:44 AM
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Portugal has similar rules about gaining citizenship and my grandparents were born there. Yes, I had thought about the military service and won't be pursuing it for the children until I understand all of the ramifications.

I have heard some very interesting stories about the US's attitude on dual nationality. Apparently, the US pulled one man's citizenship due to his dual nationality and it went to court. The US lost...but they will still bully.
Cheers,
Jan
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