Hong Kong becomes world's costliest city for expats
Article at Japan Today:
"Hong Kong has overtaken Angola’s capital to become the costliest city in the world for expats, Mercer’s annual survey said Wednesday.
After topping the Cost of Living report for three consecutive years, Luanda was pipped by the Asian city in 2016, owing to a stronger Hong Kong dollar.
The survey by the Mercer consulting group compares the cost of over 200 items in over 200 cities, including housing, food, transport and entertainment."
The most popular countries for Brits looking to work abroad
Article at the UK Telegraph:
"The US is the top destination for British workers looking for a fresh challenge internationally, attracting 37pc of jobseekers' clicks across the top 10 destination countries. "
The Telegrpah article also covers short-term work situations, and Germany placed number one on their list for that designation.
Who is holding U.S. Debt?
Article at Bloomberg about their FOA effort to get the true numbers on U.S. debt - U.S. Discloses Saudi Holdings of Treasuries for First Time
"Yet the disclosure may bring more questions than answers, because Saudi Arabia’s foreign reserves amount to $587 billion, and central banks typically put about two-thirds of their coffers in dollars, according to International Monetary Fund data. Some nations accumulate Treasuries in offshore financial centers, meaning the holdings show up under the data of other countries. For example, Belgium, which held $143 billion of U.S. government debt as of February, is home to Chinese custodial accounts, analysts say."
U. S. Treasury Department debt date - March 2016
- Saudi Arabia 116.8
- United Arab Emirates 62.5
- Kuwait 31.2
- Oman 15.9
- Iraq 13.4
- Qatar 3.7
- Nigeria 3.1
- Bahrain 1.2
- Algeria 0.7
Source: U.S. Treasury Department. Data as of March.
Seden expat opportunities
Article at the Swedish English language TheLocal - 'Foreigners like to whine about Sweden, don't they?'
“This is the right size of city, the right lifestyle and the right everything for me. I really wanted to stay here. At first I was staying for the job, but after Spotify I interviewed for jobs all over the world – but there was nowhere that felt as right as Stockholm."
“It’s a great place to be based, with lots of tools and networking opportunities.”
"Sweden gives you freedom that you don’t get in other places. You have freedom of movement, of speech, and freedom of time. They have long parental leave, long vacations – compared to six days a year in Mexico! Sweden lets you choose what to do with your time."
Bahrain expat workers
"Employers in Bahrain will have to pay an extra $800 (BD300) for every expat worker that exceeds their regular quota in addition to the regular two-year $530 (BD200) tax and monthly fees for each foreign employee."
New Zealand takes top spot for quality of life abroad for women
Article at newswire titled "Global expat survey: New Zealand takes top spot, Canada ranks 7th when it comes to quality of life amongst women living abroad" heavy emphasis on comparing Canda to other countries in terms of benefit to women.
"Painting a picture of expat life across a broad range of criteria, the annual Expat Explorer survey is an insightful and comprehensive resource for all current and prospective expats. Not only can expats find out how the country they live in performs compared to other destinations, but they can also share the real life experiences of their peers. "
The article is referencing HSBC Expat Survey effort here.
Want to earn $250,000? Try being an expat in Asia
March 2016: Article at the Financial Times:
"If you are looking to ride a career helicopter into the rarefied echelons of those who earn more than $250,000 a year – then consider becoming an expat working in Asia.
...If you’re hoping for a blissful retirement then Canada takes the crown. with three times more expat retirees than the global expat average (31 per cent compared with 11 per cent globally). A whopping 70 per cent of expats in Canada and the US said that both countries offer them an easy time settling in and a great quality of life."
Expat Voters — Will They Start To Matter In 2016?
March 2016 - Article at Worldcrunch:
"...we are witnessing the rise of Expat Man and Expat Woman. The laws have changed to make overseas voting easier and efforts such as Vote from Abroad have helped inform voters and facilitate registration. The Democratic and Republican parties have woken up to the fact that, according to the State Department, 7.6 million Americans live outside the territorial limits of the U.S.; by population, equivalent to the 13th American state.
... Though it is undersized (and voter turnout generally even lower than domestic turnout), the vote potential of Expat Man no longer draws dismissive sniggers. Delayed overseas ballots helped give the 2000 election to George W. Bush (an event that Democrats Abroad says led to a tripling in registrations). Voting from abroad also arguably affected other close election contests, including a 2009 New York Congressional race that gave a narrow victory to Democrat Scott Murphy and the 2008 Senate race in Minnesota in which a Republican incumbent, Norm Coleman, was defeated by a wafer-slim margin by Democratic challenger Al Franken."
Upon re-entry back home after expat life, brace yourself for turbulence
March 2016: Article at Japan Times:
"As I stood there, I felt as if I was seeing my culture for the first time, as someone disconnected from my very own birthplace. Two children and a father sat on the cold, dirty floor eating a gigantic cup of vanilla ice cream. Police officers stood at the corners, armed with guns, ready to snuff out any disturbances. And, of course, diversity: After almost a year and a half living in a city that was 99 percent Japanese, I’d forgotten how ethnically mixed New York had always been.
....After initially resisting certain aspects of Japanese culture (“I couldn’t speak keigo — polite Japanese — for a long time,” said one female student in her early 20s), most of those surveyed hinted at feeling a newfound confidence from having lived overseas. Their perspectives had widened and they could now view their native culture though a wider lens than their peers. "
In Search of That Expat ‘Aha!’ Moment
Feb 2016: Wall Street Journal article:
"My own expat “Aha!” moment came while I was living in the Lake Zurich region of Switzerland in 2011. I had taken up the local pastime of hiking and after mastering a couple of lower foothills with my little dog, Willy Wonka, I decided we should try some higher summits. So one fall day we followed the path of Mark Twain, up to the top of the famous Mount Rigi Kulm. As we reached about halfway, I stopped and looked out across the Lauerzersee (Lake Lauerz), quickly spotting the massive Grosser Mythen (big myth) mountain in the far distance, a peak Willy and I had reached the week before. And as I stood there I thought, even though I was a newcomer to this foreign land, I now had the ability to look out into the vast Alpine mountains, recognize familiar locales, and even point out a few great peaks that Willy Wonka and I had conquered, all on our own. It was in that moment I felt an immediate rush of self-fulfillment and contentment, and knew I was just where I was meant to be. Aha!"
Ranking for well-being puts Hawaii and Alaska first
Jan 28, 2016: Article at Reuters
"If you want to improve your sense of well-being, leave the Lower 48.
A new report ranking all 50 states based on residents' sense of well-being puts Hawaii at No. 1, followed by Alaska, which held the top spot last year.
Hawaii has been No. 1 in the poll five times since 2008."
The top expat destination of 2015 may surprise you
January 26, 2016: Article at Business Insider:
"Research pulled together by Expat Insider 2015 — which surveyed 14,000 respondents from 195 countries — has created this map to show you the ranking of countries according to expats.
...In fact, there are now as many as 53 million expats in the world, with an estimated growth of up to 56.8 million by 2017, according to international market research and consulting company Finaccord."
Google Most Searched Travel Destinations of 2015
Article at Expatriatehealthcare:
The recent statistics reveal exactly where Brits have been researching during 2015, and reveals some intriguing data about how our travel habits have been affected by world events.
Typically, for example, Paris is the single most searched destination among Brits, long considered the “ultimate” destination for a city break or a romantic getaway. This year, however, it seems that Paris has been completely wiped off the top 10.
... Whatever the case, with Paris dropping out of the top ten, a new winner has been revealed; New York. Following closely along behind New York City comes the USA as a whole.
Low living costs draw expats to Vietnam
October 19, 2015: Article at vietnamnet.vn
"According to the latest Expat Explorer Survey, Vietnam ranks 25th on the list of 39 places that are good for expats to work and live, behind some Asian destinations such as India, Malaysia, Thailand and Japan. Singapore takes the top spot in the eighth Expat Explorer country league table, with expatriates praising the opportunities for career development, appealing salaries and an excellent quality of life.
Meanwhile, Switzerland comes first as the best expat destination for career success and financial well-being. Some 77% of expats feel confident about the local economy, and 53% say it is a good place for career progress. While Vietnam takes the 21st position in economics, it comes 5th in the ability of savings. The majority of expats say they have an easier life in Vietnam as they spend less money on accommodation/housing (62%), transportation (73%), clothing (68%), household goods (62%), utility (70%) and bills (77%) compared to when they were living in their home countries."
The Top 20 Cities Americans Are Ditching
Bloomberg article about 20 cities which are steadily losing populace due to various conditions:
"Interestingly, these are also the cities with some of the highest net inflows of people from outside the country. That gives many of these cities a steadily growing population, despite the net exodus of people moving within the U.S.
So what's going on here? Michael Stoll, a professor of public policy and urban planning at the University of California Los Angeles, has an idea. Soaring home prices are pushing local residents out and scaring away potential new ones from other parts of the country, he said. (Everyone knows how unaffordable the Manhattan area has become.)
And as Americans leave, people from abroad move in to these bustling cities to fill the vacant low-skilled jobs. They are able to do so by living in what Stoll calls "creative housing arrangements" in which they pack six to eight individuals, or two to four families, into one apartment or home. It's an arrangement that most Americans just aren't willing to pursue, and even many immigrants decide it's not for them as time goes by, he said."
The Top Expat Locations
Article at Internations asked 14,000 respondents from 195 countries and overseas territories. The ranking has 64 locations as destinations for expats. The top ten ranking is:
- New Zealand
Is this the best place in the world to be an expat?
Article at BBC
"Singapore may hold the dubious title of “most expensive city in the world,” but it remains the most popular place for expats to live and work, according to an annual survey of expats released by HSBC. Expats praised the city-state for its appealing salaries, career development opportunities and quality of life. And despite the eye-watering cost of living day-to-day in Singapore (including transport costs three-times that of New York), more than a quarter of its expats who responded to the 2015 Expat Explorer survey said they earned more than $200,000 per annum (compared to just 13% of expats globally)."
The Top 20 Cities Americans Are Ditching
July 2015 article at Bloomberg
"New York City, Los Angeles, Honolulu: They're all places you would think would be popular destinations for Americans. So it might come as a surprise that these are among the cities U.S. residents are fleeing in droves. The map below shows the 20 metropolitan areas that lost the greatest share of local people to other parts of the country between July 2013 and July 2014, according to a Bloomberg News analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.
...Interestingly, these are also the cities with some of the highest net inflows of people from outside the country."
The 3 best and worst countries to be an American expat
Article at CBS News
- Saudi Arabia
"Greece, on the other hand, is a surprise. Although expat life in Greece can be excellent, with a culture that emphasizes joie de vivre and some of the world's most beautiful landscapes both inland and coastal, none of that was enough to overcome the country's current economic struggles. Greece took last place in jobs and careers overall, last place in job security and last place in personal finance, making it an excellent destination perhaps for retirees or the self-employed, but a clear loser for anyone who's looking for work."
Recalling a Tokyo Expat Adventure
Article at The Wall Street Journal
"My wife suggested that I sell tofu from a wooden cart on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. That was her plan for my successful re-entry into the U.S. I confess to actually considering it: the homemade tofu in Japan was astonishingly delicious and the people on the Upper West Side do like their nourishment to be organic. I pictured myself wearing a yukata (Japanese robe) and Birkenstocks – a nod to both cultures.
Let me back up and explain: In 1997, when my wife’s law firm asked her to relocate to Tokyo for three years to run its litigation department, we almost immediately decided to uproot our family from its cozy Upper East Side existence – our daughters were six and eight at the time — and make the move to a city to which I had never been."
20 globe-trotting readers share travel tips
Article at Santa Cruz Sentinel on how to conquer some of the difficulties inherent to certain places. Article discusses these places:
Greece, England, Azores, Italy, stonia - and others.
Current account balance compares a country's net trade in goods and services, plus net earnings, and net transfer payments to and from the rest of the world during the period specified. These figures are calculated on an exchange rate basis. Source: CIA Factbook
POSITIVE BALANCE "Top Ten"
8 of the Quietest Places on Earth
Care2 website has a slide show of quiet locations. Their ranking:
- The Science Lab - controlled environment, Minnesota, United States
- Sinharaja Forest Reserve, Sri Lanka
- Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Alaska, United State
- The Kalahari Desert, Southern Africa
- Kronostky Nature Reserve, Russia
- The Hoh Valley, Washington, United States
- Selous Game Reserve, Tanzania
- Samboja Lestari, Borneo
A related story about finding "zero decibels" in New Zealand:
"The last place on Earth without human noise" - BBC Online Article
"...A special kind of noisiness accosts passengers waiting for New York City subways. Down there, sound levels regularly exceed 100 decibels – enough to damage a person’s hearing over time. It was on one such platform that George Foy, a journalist and New York University creative writing professor, suddenly found himself losing it one day, when four trains pulled in at once. “I kind of went momentarily crazy,” he says. He hunched over and stuck his fingers in his ears, desperately trying to block out the cacophony. “I started wondering why the hell I was putting up with this,” he says.
It was then that his obsession to find the quietest place on Earth began. “I thought, ‘If this is the craziness of noise, what is the opposite? What is absolute silence, and does it exist?’”
Foy took it upon himself to seek out the world’s quietest place, detailed in his recent book, Zero Decibels. He joins many others, ranging from health professionals to ecologists to hobbyists, who have attempted to seek out the quietest corners in the world."
Where Are the Hardest Places to Live in the U.S.?
Time Magazine effort to measure counties by a criterium of education, earning power, obesity, etc., produced the following lists for "doing worse" and "doing better" across the United States:
The 10 lowest ranking counties in the country:
- Breathitt (Appalachia) Kentucky
- Clay (Appalachia) Kentucky
- Jackson (Appalachia) Kentucky
- Lee (Appalachia) Kentucky
- Leslie (Appalachia) Kentucky
- Magoffin (Appalachia) Kentucky
- Humphreys County, Mississippi
- East Carroll Parish, Louisiana
- Jefferson County, Georgia
- Lee County, Arkansas
The "easiest" places to live in the United States according to Time Magazine (and this is where the critrium for placement on the list shows its flawed construction: traffic congestion and commute times are particularly awful in the top-ranking Washington DC suburbs. But the Time list doesn't account for that condition - - or many other factors.
"The top 10 counties in the United States are in the suburbs of Washington (especially on the Virginia side of the Potomac River), but the top ranking of all goes to Los Alamos County, N.M., home of Los Alamos National Laboratory, which does much of the scientific work underpinning the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The lab directly employs one out of every five county residents and has a budget of $2.1 billion; only a fraction of that is spent within the county, but that’s still an enormous economic engine for a county of just 18,000 people. "
The list does include an interchange of factors in order to produce better results to describe the conditions of an area, such as this logic put into constructing the list:
"We used disability — the percentage of the population collecting federal disability benefits but not also collecting Social Security retirement benefits — as a proxy for the number of working-age people who don’t have jobs but are not counted as unemployed. Appalachian Kentucky scores especially badly on this count; in four counties in the region, more than 10 percent of the total population is on disability, a phenomenon seen nowhere else except nearby McDowell County, W.Va. "
This is a very flawed effort, though interesting and not without any value. But it ignores too much to be taking as a valid measurement for "better" or "worse".
Norway ranked #1 for country prosperity
Website thelocal.com has a ranking of national prosperity by country.
- New Zealand
- United States
"The Nordic nation retained its number one spot from last year, as the top-ranking most prosperous country. New Zealand moved to third place, up two spots from 2013, while Russia slipped to Europe's worst performing country in 68th place.
The study revealed 90 percent of Norwegians believe their country is a good place for immigrants to live, while 94.9 percent said they felt they could rely on their fellow citizens in a time of need."
The article itself has rankings for the top twenty most prosperous.
2014 Best Places for Expats
Expat Insider online list
- Hong Kong
Best 6 Countries to Retire As an Expat in 2013
Article at Viva Tropical
- Costa Rica
Norway ranked as best place to grow old. Afghanistan ranked as worst.
Washington Post article on ranking best places to age:
"More than 800 million people worldwide are said to be approaching the “golden years.” And a new report gauging their social and economic well-being across 96 countries ranked Norway as the best place to age.
The report placed the United States at No. 8.
“We have a world which is ageing fast,” HelpAge International chief executive officer Toby Porter said. “For too long, older people have been excluded from international and national development planning.”
It’s more expensive to live in D.C. than New York, study says
Washington Post article on the city in American that's rapidly growing into the most wealthy, and then obviously the most expensive:
"The Washington region ranks as the most expensive place to live in the country, ahead of the pricey markets of New York and San Francisco, according to a government study.
The surprising statistic comes from a Bureau of Labor Statistics report that shows that — on average — Washingtonians spend more on housing and related expenses (utilities, furnishings and equipment) than New Yorkers and San Franciscans."
United States moves down to 12 in economic freedom rating
"A new report of "economic freedom" around the world finds the US ranked 12th among 152 countries, tied with the United Kingdom, and lower than neighbor Canada or Australia. The index, published by the Cato Institute and Canada's Fraser Institute, has been published since 1996. As recently as 2000, the US ranked 2nd in the world, in terms of boasting a free economy. The US's declining ranking will lower future economic growth.
The index, built on decades of research by Nobel laureates and dozens of leading scholars, measures 5 broad factors that impact the economy: 1. Size of government; 2. Legal structure and security of property rights; 3. Access to sound money; 4. Freedom to trade internationally and; 5. Regulation of Credit, Labor and Business. Countries where citizens are freer to engage in business and trade and property and legal rights are protected by the rule of law will score higher on the index. According to economic research, though, these countries will also do better economically and create and generate more wealth. The 10 freest economies in the world are: Hong Kong, Singapore, New Zealand, Switzerland, Mauritius, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Australia, Jordan, and Chile and Finland tied for 10th."
10 Most Stressful Cities
CNN Money magazine on low stress urban areas. From their list:
- New York City
- Los Angeles
- Riverside - San Bernardino
- New Orleans
10 Least Stressed Out Cities
CNN Money magazine on low stress urban areas. From their list:
- Salt Lake City
- Rochester, NY
- Raleigh, NC
- Richmond, VA
27 Reasons We Should All Be Moving To Japan - Buzzffeed
Humorous photo essay of 27 reasons Japan is inviting and interesting (and odd)
Ten things to know before moving to SpainInteresting article at Expatica with long comment section below article with many fine details.
When dealing with any facet of Spanish bureaucracy, remember The Law of Falta Uno: that however many documents and photocopies you take along there will always be ONE missing. Always double check that you have every piece of paper that you think you might need (and possibly even a few more that you don't).
Be patient. Be assertive. Take plenty of reading material. Rope in a friendly mentor who speaks the lingo, and check any papers you are given with a fine tooth comb for names, dates, accounts numbers and more BEFORE you leave the desk or ventanilla (window). Any undiscovered glitch may set you back years. Oh, and don't forget the rabbit’s foot.
Do not forget to tip the butanero – the man (and it will be a man) who throws those two-ton orange gas-bottles on his shoulder and climbs four flights of stairs when the lift is broken to deliver what may well be your main source of heating and fuel.
If it is your birthday, don't stand around grinning, waiting for someone to buy you a drink, or bounce jauntily into work expecting to be showered with goodies. Not only do the Spanish drive on the wrong side of the road, they've also got the whole birthday thing completely wrong.'
 World's Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities
- Melbourne, Australia
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Victoria, Canada
- Charleston, USA
- Dublin, Ireland
List of 20 places ranked by The Independent UK
 World's Friendliest and Unfriendliest Cities
- Salzburg, Austria
- Budapest, Hungary
- Seville, Spain
- Savannah, Georgia, USA
- Cape Town, South Africa
List of 21 places ranked at Conde Nast Traveler online
The 6 Most Gang Infested Cities in America
While gangs are by no means exclusive to America, far from it, when one hears of violence in a major city the typical reaction “it’s probably gang related” echoes across the populace. Compared to many other first world nations, America has a higher proliferation of gang members, and gang violence, and while social conditions that create gangs, and help recruit gang members, such as poverty, failing education systems, and systemic racism all play a major role in exacerbating gang culture, it’s also easy to forget that for a country with a population of over 307 million people, the amount of those members of society involved in gangs is a mere 0.004 percent.
Top 3 ranked cities (out of 6)
- Chicago, Illinois
- Los Angeles, California
- Detroit, Michigan
The 10 Most Corrupt Countries in the World
"Corruption and economic turmoil often go hand-in-hand. In western nations like the United States, and in many European countries, we often see corruption come to light as the result of whistleblowers or journalistic efforts. But in many other areas of the world, corruption plays a major role in fostering staggering poverty and broken economic systems."
- North Korea
- South Sudan
Mainland China Now in Top 10 for Expat Costs
"The survey, which was conducted in March, covers 211 cities on five continents and measures the comparative cost of 200 items, ranging from clothing to transportation to entertainment. In the study’s release, Nathalie Constantin-Metral, the Mercer principal who compiled the survey, attributed Chinese cities’ jumps to the rise in the value of the Chinese yuan.
Other Asian cities, such as Tokyo, Seoul and Osaka, fell in the survey, along with many Australian cities, where the local currency has depreciated against the U.S. dollar. The most expensive cities were Luanda, Angola, which ranked No. 1 for the second year in a row, and N’Djamena, Chad, which increased two positions to number two. Hong Kong, Singapore and Zurich rounded out the top five."
USA Passport Adult First Time Applicants (Age 16+)
All first time applicants must apply in person at a Passport Agency, an authorized Passport Application Acceptance Facility, or a U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
*The passport execution fee is charged to passport applicants applying on Form DS-11 to recover the costs of executing the passport application, such as administering the oath, verifying the applicant's identity, and transmitting the applications. The execution fee must be paid at the time of application execution.
Top 15 Working destinations for expats - Business Insider
HSBC London and Business Insider rank the 15 best business and employment moves for expats:
- Cayman Islands
- United Arab Emirates
- Hong Kong
- United States
- New Zealand
- South Africa
"Expat Mail" - using a centralized, universal mail box
There are a number of services that allow mobile professionals to centralize their mail, a system easily adopted to the needs of expats.
The use of scanning technology has made it possible for a person to read their physical mail without being physically near it: a mail service does this, sending the scanned mail to an email address, or by setting up an a la carte service that shows scans of the outside of each piece of mail, and the account holder selects what they want opened and scanned for reading (this is so time and scanning isn't wasted on junk mail, for example).
Other services provide a simple forwarding service: the mail collects at a mail box, and they package and forward it once a month.
Some services offer a combination of the digital scanning service and the forwarding service.
Some of these services here:
Tips on moving to, and working in, Europe
A simple, straightforward article with a simple title: "Things I Wish I had Known before Moving to Europe to Work," by Christine Maynard at Experience.com
Some of the items covered in the article:
1. Understand the Immigration, tax and banking laws in Europe.
"Some places don't require Americans to have an additional visa to remain longer than the usual 90 day travel visa. Whether or not you need additional passport stamps, most countries will require you to register with the police."
2. You cannot apply for a job: an employer must apply for you to be able to legally work.
3. Get the details correct
"I had my original application returned because the bank accidentally left the word "department" off the cashier's check, so they really are strict about these things."
4. Banking in Europe will contain fees and regulations that will be different from what a person has experienced in America. Find a good bank - this article has tips on working that out.
5. Housing - try to plan ahead:
"Some cities such as Paris, Dublin, and London are crowded in general; prepare yourself to compromise on size, location, or price because it isn't likely that you'll find everything that you're looking for in the same place."
6. Public transportation is a given in most places in Europe, and there's some advantages to having an American licese, if only for awhile:
"According to EU regulations, a US driver's license only qualifies as a provisional, or learning, license for up to 1 year during which time you are expected to complete all written and practical driving tests required by the country in which you are residing. This can take ages in some countries because new testing regulations have created a backlog of people waiting weeks or months to be tested."
Fatca Deadline changed:
On April 2, 2014, the IRS announced that the FATCAi-compliant deadline has changed from July 1, 2014 to June 3, 2014 for registering with the IRS.
The old deadline was April 25, 2014.
More FATCA info
Buying property in Greece - Crete, Corfu and the Peloponnese
More on the Greece Page
The World's Fastest Growing Militaries
Article at Defense One
"The United States may be cutting its military spending, but 23 nations have doubled their defense spending over the past decade, according to a report released by a leading arms observation group on Monday.
Afghanistan tops the list of nations with the sharpest increase in defense spending over the past decade, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said.
...China, Russia and Saudi Arabia have also invested heavily in their militaries since 2003. Those three nations immediately trail the U.S. in overall military spending for 2013."
The 6 Least (and Most) Peaceful Countries
"Recently, The Institute for Economics and Peace released the sixth edition of their annual Global Peace Index. The report examines 158 third-world, developing and developed nations around the world based on 23 separate indicators that, combined, measure the relative level of internal and external conflict in a country."
- New Zealand
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
Top Five World's Healthiest Cities
BBC article that rates cities according to this rubric:
"...ranging from readily available healthcare to excellent mass transit to a commitment to improving access to green spaces."
The top five healthiest cities:
These locations heralded in the BBC article are rather expensive: Monaco average per metre cost for a residense is from €35,000 to €70,000 euros.
The 50 Most Violent Cities In The World
Business Insider has a ranking on the 50 most violent cities, and Latin America takes the lead.
The number one city for getting killed is San Pedro Sula, Honduras, which has 169.30 homicides per 100,000 residents.
Top Ten List Homicides per 100,000 people
- San Pedro Sula, Honduras had 169.30
- Acapulco, Mexico had 142.88
- Caracas, Venezuela had 118.89
- Distrito Central, Honduras had 101.99
- Torreón, Mexico had 94.72
- Maceió, Brazil had 85.88
- Cali, Colombia had 79.27
- Nuevo Laredo, Mexico had 72.85
- Barquisimeto, Venezuela had 71.74
- João Pessoa, Brazil had 71.59
And the most violent USA city is:
New Orleans, 56.13
USA: Best & Worst States to be a Taxpayer
The WalletHub site with a comparison of the lightest and heaviest taxes from state-to-state.
Red is the higher burden, green the lighter.
The Ten Most Expensive Cities in the World
(Also the ten least expensive)
Most expensive: #1 Singapore
Least expensive: #1 Mumbai
"While a mix of European, Asian and Australasian locations make up the majority of the top 10 list, cities in the Middle East and the Asian subcontinent dominate as the cheapest places to live."
Complete story article at the UK Indepenedent
Expat Brits in the United States
The UK Telegraph has a brief photo essay with interesting commentary (also from their readers) about the differences between living in Britain and living in the United States.
Most Efficient World Health Care Systems
More: United Kingdom comes in at #14, and Greece ties with Germany at #30. The United States is ranked #46.
Bloomberg rankings on health care efficiency
Move to France Immediately
A light-hearted, humorous article at buzzfeed on reasons (primarily food-based) to immigrate to France.
World Health Alzheimer / Dementia rankings
Amazing statistics on the amount of death from alzheimers / dementia per 100,000 ranking at worldlifeexpectancy. The top ten places where death is highest from Alzheimers / Dementia:
- United States
America drops to #12 on economic Freedom
"For 20 years, the index has measured a nation's commitment to free enterprise on a scale of 0 to 100 by evaluating 10 categories, including fiscal soundness, government size and property rights. These commitments have powerful effects: Countries achieving higher levels of economic freedom consistently and measurably outperform others in economic growth, long-term prosperity and social progress. Botswana, for example, has made gains through low tax rates and political stability.
...Hong Kong continues to dominate the list, followed by Singapore, Australia, Switzerland, New Zealand and Canada. These are the only countries to earn the index's "economically free" designation. Mauritius earned top honors among African countries and Chile excelled in Latin America. Despite the turmoil in the Middle East, several Gulf states, led by Bahrain, earned designation as "mostly free."
A realignment is under way in Europe, according to the index's findings. Eighteen European nations, including Germany, Sweden, Georgia and Poland, have reached new highs in economic freedom. By contrast, five others—Greece, Italy, France, Cyprus and the United Kingdom—registered scores lower than they received when the index started two decades ago."
Creepy trends in reading: Mein Kampf selling well as ebook
The theories abound on why Adolf Hitler's book (titled "My Plan" or "My Struggle" depending on how you translate the German title) is selling so well. But clearly there is demand.
"Trying to curb Hitler’s sales has proven a futile exercise worldwide. Since showing up in Asia 15 years ago, Mein Kampf has sold in excess of 100,000 copies in India. In 2005, the debut of the first-ever Turkish translation sold 100,000 copies in the first two months. And now, with the e-book revolution in full swing, readers are downloading Hitler everywhere."
Article at vocativ
The "ex-pat lifestyle" in Greece
More on the Greece Page
Joining the "Super Zip" of Washington DC - the highest earning, best educated postal zip codes
Article at Washington Post about the massing of wealth and education around Washington DC.
In the sense that education means high-end skills, then the District is a magnet and a cross roads for the wealth, influence and business-skilled of America (and the world, the city itself is a Babylon of racial groups and nationalities).
But there is also a huge 'underclass' of people (hardly mentioned in the Washington Post piece) who work the restaurants, the building-cleaning, maids, nannies, and many other low-end jobs that make the bubble of high earning lifestyles manageable. Both ends of the 'zip code' scale need each other. But there's no doubting who has the harder time staying within job-commuting range in this area of opportunity in the United States.
Particularly telling are anecdotes like this:
Most of the houses on Overbrook Street used to look like one Brian Sherry grew up in during the 1970s. Now, he shares his childhood home of 1,200 square feet, with three bedrooms and one bathroom, with his wife, Lisa, and their 10-year-old daughter.
Up and down the street, mansions are being built on lots where much smaller houses were razed; two sold recently for about $1.5 million.
In the top drawer of a dining room sideboard, Sherry keeps a neighborhood newsletter dating, he estimates, from the late 1960s or ’70s. It lists the professions of Overbrook’s residents — a land surveyor, a Marine major, an interior designer, an insurance agent, a teacher, a lawyer, an FBI agent and an engineer. But also a bus driver, a hairdresser, a policeman, a maintenance worker and a secretary.
“Today, it’s mostly government workers,” said Sherry, a contractor. “There are six, seven, maybe eight lawyers. Doctors. Some of their kids go to private school. They all seem to have professional house cleaners and professional landscapers.”
The Washington Post article covers the possible and the impossible about being in the DC Metro area. It also underscores how far apart the different worlds are in the sometimes called "Capitol of the Universe."
IMF Top 15 GDP Ranking of Countries
16 People On Things They Couldn’t Believe About America Until They Moved Here - Thought Catalog
Deep article (www.thoughtcatalog.com) covering the experiences of 16 different people interacting with United States culture for the first time. Certainly not comprehensive, but interesting in an anecdotal way. Some examples:
- By and large, people do not carry cash. That you address your boss (and some of your professors) by some abbreviated variation of their first name.
- Tipping – Enough has been said about this, but I hated it too, so I’ll include it. Specially for services like a haircut. So I pay you for cutting my hair…..and then I tip you because you were gracious enough to cut my hair?!
- Obsession with fitness – I saw loads of people running/jogging on the sidewalks. A lot of people I knew cycled or ran marathons for 50 miles plus. This was a stark contrast though, to the average person I saw who was usually overweight.
- Many children, even in well to do families, work in fast food, car washes and do a lot of other things to get money and it is not an embarrassment.
- Walmart (and other big supermarkets) – So much stuff for so little price.
- Huge serving portions. I’m a big guy and love eating, but 50% of the time I could only finish half the food on my plate (how do you guys do it?!).
Thailand "is tops" for expat workers - WSJ
"The Southeast Asian country topped the latest HSBC Expat survey for best overall expat experience, particularly when it comes to setting up, integrating and finding friends. China, Singapore, India and Taiwan all emerged in the top 10, with Malaysia (No. 20), Indonesia (No. 31) and Vietnam (No. 32) still among the top 50.
The ranking, now in its sixth year, compiles surveys from among more than 7,000 expatriates from nearly 100 countries across the globe.
When it comes to economics, Thailand (No. 4), Indonesia (No. 6) and Singapore (No. 9) ranked among the best places to live for expats. Lower living costs and higher earnings potential, however, made Thailand the most cost-effective place for foreigners, while Vietnam and Indonesia ranked highly for presenting the best career opportunities.
...Asia is home to the highest paid expats in the world, according to the survey, with the highest proportion of expats earning more than $250,000 located in Indonesia (22%), Japan (13%) and China (10%).
In recent years Asia has seen some of the world’s strongest economic growth, and many emerging economies in Southeast Asia have drawn in an increasing number of foreign workers seeking better career opportunities with growth in their own economies remaining sluggish."
9% Have Considered Quitting Their U.S. Citizenship - Rasumussen Polls
A telephone survey of Americans by Rasmussen has shown that 9% of their participants have considered renouncing their citizenship and leaving the country.
A peculiar thing about this report is that they couch the information by saying "only 9% have considered quitting their citizenship" which would indicate this number is down from some other previous high, but no other data is provided. Certainly 9% is an awfully high number when extrapolated into a picture of the entire United States citizenry of 316,803,000 persons: 9% is 28.5 million people.
The trend line
The UK Daily Mail recently reported that the trend of Americans renouncing citizenship was way up, but the numbers they highlight for that trend is a miniscule amount - 1,800 people, almost all quitting because of tax issues from the clumsy 'Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act" (FATCA) legislation from 2010. But 1,800 people is barely a blip in a country of 316 million. However, 9% of the entire country is a completely different matter.
Current count of Americans living overseas
According to the Association of Americans Resident Overseas, there are 6.32 million Americans overseas.
Countries with more than 100,000 American expats
Israel & West NBank
Rasmussen web site here.
Getting Residency - see country information here
Embassy Link List - Washington DC
Top 10 Cities to Live in
The Economist Intelligence Unit has released an analysis that lists the Top 10 Cities of the world in terms of liveability and cost of living (and a variety of other factors). From the PDF report online:
"Earlier this year the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) teamed up with data sharing company BuzzData to host a competition offering users the opportunity to combine data from the Worldwide Cost of Living and Liveability surveys with other sources to provide a ranking of their own."
Here's the top ten for liveability:
- Melbourne, Australia
- Vienna, Austria
- Vancouver, Canada
- Toronto, Canada
- Calgary, Canada
- Adelaide, Australia
- Sydney, Australia
- Helsinki, FInland
- Perth, Australia
- Auckland, New Zealand
Over 200 hundred cities are ranked in the report according to numerous categories. For example, Hong Kong ranks highest for education, but poorly for "cultural assets."
Americans renouncing passports goes up 66%
Listed by the USA Dept of Treasury (online record PDF here) - 1,131 people officially quit their USA citizenship last year.
Global Peace Index
"Most peaceful" rankings for countries around the globe from the Institutes for Economics and Peace (offices in Australia and USA). Their 106 page PDF report is online at this link here.
- New Zealand
(The United States clocks in at #99)
'Least Corrupt' countries
Ranking of the 'least corrupt' countries from worldaudit.org:
- New Zealand
United States ranked #15.
Freedom in the 50 States
George Mason University has conducted research to compare various attributes of each of the American 50 states and measure them as to which are "more free" and "less free."
From the report:
"We ground our conception of freedom on an individual rights framework. In our view, individuals should be allowed to dispose of their lives, liberties, and property as they see fit, so long as they do not infringe on the rights of others. This understanding of freedom follows from the natural-rights liberal thought of John Locke, Immanuel Kant, and Robert Nozick, but it is also consistent with the rights-generating rule-utilitarianism of Herbert Spencer and others. "
Top 10 Most Free States
1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
4. New Hampshire
Bottom Ten Least Free States
42. West Virginia
46. Rhode Island
48. New Jersey
50.New York State
American Institutional Corruption?
"Little surprise... that Americans hold the government and financial institutions in very low regard. Surveys by the Gallup Organization last year found that 60 percent of Americans believe corruption is widespread among businesses, while only about one in five has much trust in banks. As for politicians, 54 percent of those surveyed rated members of Congress “very low” on honesty and ethical standards."
The article on American corruption is derived from "Corruption Perception" polling data at Transparency International
Washington DC: On a path toward becoming the leading economic city in America
The impetus to open a branch office of an established business (or to move it wholesale right into the DC Metro area) is based on many factors.
The favored location is in Virginia, which directly borders Washington DC and is a "Right to Work" state which many businesses find attractive if they are fleeing union states. But the DC area is a harder area to find commercial rental space and because of competition for skilled labor, can make it harder to find qualified workers (a problem shared by the other entity bordering the USA capitol, the state of Maryland).
Washington DC itself hosts many small offices, but not full-flung businesses because of a combination of cost and the added pressure of DC government regulation, taxes, and the lack of affordable real estate (on the other hand, this is an issue that doesn't slow down the many large law firms which are headquartered in Washington DC.)
But if your business makes (or loses) money based upon government regulation, there is no choice but to be in the DC area, because you must maintain relationships with the political beings who make these rules. If a regulation favors a competitor, then either direct lobbying or the hiring of a lobbyist (one of DC 's lucrative industries) is necessary.
One more important industry is the legions of businesses that cater directly to government agencies and have been approved by the Federal GSA (Government Accounting Office) which opens up short and long-term contracts worth million, and billions, of dollars.
"Since 2001, Washington has enjoyed the lowest unemployment rate of its peer group. Over the course of the entire decade, it ranked second in job growth, trailing only Houston. That wasn’t just because of the federal agencies and gigantic contractors of Washington stereotype. The region has also been a hotbed of entrepreneurship—much of it, to be sure, dependent on federal dollars. During the 2000s, it had 385 firms named to the Inc. 500 lists of fastest-growing companies in America, according to Kauffman Foundation research—by far the most of any metro area. From 2000 through 2011, according to rankings developed by Praxis Strategy Group, Washington’s low-profile but powerful tech sector had the country’s second-highest job growth, after Seattle’s. The region is also one of America’s top life-sciences centers.
Then there’s economic output. During the 2000s, per-capita GDP grew faster in Washington than in any of its peer regions except the Bay Area. Today, Washington’s per-capita GDP is the country’s second-highest—again, after the Bay Area. Unlike Washington, however, the Bay Area hemorrhaged jobs over the course of the decade. Related to Washington’s impressive output is its astonishing median household income, the highest of any metro area with more than 1 million people. A remarkable seven of the ten highest-income counties in America are in metro Washington. And during the 2000s, per-capita income rose in Washington faster than in any of its peer metros."
Sweden reinventing capitalism and socialism
Interesting article on the viability of socialist safety-net priorities and economic freedom.
"Thirty years Ago Margaret Thatcher turned Britain into the world’s leading centre of “thinking the unthinkable”. Today that distinction has passed to Sweden. The streets of Stockholm are awash with the blood of sacred cows. The think-tanks are brimful of new ideas. The erstwhile champion of the “third way” is now pursuing a far more interesting brand of politics.
Sweden has reduced public spending as a proportion of GDP from 67% in 1993 to 49% today. It could soon have a smaller state than Britain. It has also cut the top marginal tax rate by 27 percentage points since 1983, to 57%, and scrapped a mare’s nest of taxes on property, gifts, wealth and inheritance. This year it is cutting the corporate-tax rate from 26.3% to 22%.
....The Nordic countries have a collective population of only 26m. Finland is the only one of them that is a member of both the European Union and the euro area. Sweden is in the EU but outside the euro and has a freely floating currency. Denmark, too, is in the EU and outside the euro area but pegs its currency to the euro. Norway has remained outside the EU.
But there are compelling reasons for paying attention to these small countries on the edge of Europe. The first is that they have reached the future first. They are grappling with problems that other countries too will have to deal with in due course, such as what to do when you reach the limits of big government and how to organise society when almost all women work. And the Nordics are coming up with highly innovative solutions that reject the tired orthodoxies of left and right."
Complete article at The Economist.
Caution: On the other hand, Sweden has a extremely heavy-hand on homeschoolers, something taken for granted in many countries is absolutely verboten among the Swedes. Home School Legal Defense Fund
Safety in Mexico: Legends and Facts
The Lonely Planet web site on cutting through the violence statistics and making comparisons: is an American in Mexico safer than one in Houston, Texas, for example? How many Americans are murdered while in Mexico (and why?)
Particularly interesting are the anecdotes in the comment section which are full of stories on crime in Mexico, the majority saying it is rare unless you are in contact with the Cartel drug trade.
Speaking More Than One Language Could Prevent Alzheimer's
The NPR Blog on this statistical anomaly and what it might mean.
Attitudes Toward America - from around the world
Interesting polling numbers from PEW Research ("Image of the U.S."). While there are a lot of negative (i.e., less than 50% positive responses, especially in the category of "Is the United States considerate of other countries... only China and Brazil barely edged above the 50% positive mark) it is in the area of American movies, technology, and music that the higher positive remarks from people from around the globe.
For example, these are the Greek stats:
How does Greece feel about the USA? Pew Research
Polling results from 2012
Opinion of the United States: 35% Favorable
Opinion of Americans: 44% Favorable
U.S. Consideration of other Countries interests: 19% Great Deal/Fair Amount
Confidence ion the U. S. President: 30% Confidence
U. S. Anti-Terrorism Efforts: 29% Favor
American ideals and Customs: 25% Good
American Democracy: 29% like
American Business: 29% Like
American Music, Movies and Television: 62% Like
American Technological and Scientific Advances: 73% Admire
Pew Research web site with complete polling results.
Forbes article on the basics of why (and why not) for moving to New Zealand, an English-speaking island.
"...Getting a three-month visitor visa is a snap [for Americans]. You can renew the permit twice within an 18-month period.
...A big decision is whether to go for permanent residency. By remaining visitors, Americans escape a lot of red tape, but they are unable to work or take advantage of New Zealand's health care system."
New Zealand has only 4.4 million people living there, generally in the northern cities.
In 2010, population estimates put the city of Auckland as easily the heaviest populated place in the country, with 1,397,300 people.
[Below: New Zealand from a NASA fly over.]
thelocal.se web site ("Sweden's news in English") has a succinct "ten tips for moving to Sweden" page. The highlights of the article are:
10 practical tips when you've moved to Sweden
1. Staying legal while in Sweden
2. Register with Skatteverket (Swedish Tax Agency)
3. Getting insured
4. Getting a resident ID card
5. Opening a bank account
6. Find a job or starting your own company
7. Find a place to live
8. Learning the Swedish language
9. Paying your taxes in Sweden
10. Getting a driver's license
This interesting website describes the differences (and advantages/disadvantages) of living in Australia from the point of view of an American who has been there for about ten years. Titled "Tips for Americans Moving to Australia " it is not about the legal mechanics of migration, but the experience of the Australian culture, and this writer has done a good job selling Australia as a good place to live.
The writer describes Australian attitudes toward politeness (a stronger element in Australian society than in the United States); honesty (apparently held as a more definitive virtue in Australia, versus the United States); and that Australians have a more benign expression of political differences between themselves.
There's a great deal more to the writer's description of the land (he compares the climate as similar to Southern California, though the sun is significantly more dangerous with too much exposure.) Altogether a thorough overview of one mans experience of the differences between Australian and the United States.
Below: NASA photo of the Great barrier Reef, Australia.
Economic Headache Department: "None Dare Call It Default"
Article at Wall Street Journal with a fairly logical doom-and-gloom projection of the American economic future: "A nicer term for what's about to sock the middle class is 'entitlement reform.'
Americans moving abroad for work the highest numbers ever recorded
From Washington Post article "Need a job? Move abroad":
"According to State Department estimates, 6.3 million Americans are studying or working abroad, the highest number ever recorded. What’s more, the percentage of Americans ages 25 to 34 who are planning to move overseas has quintupled in two years, from less than 1 percent to 5.1 percent. Among 18- to 24-year-olds, 40 percent are interested in moving abroad, up from 12 percent in 2007. "
Spain wants you: Residency for foreigners who buy houses
The Associated Press has this:
In an attempt to reduce the country's bloated stock of unsold homes, the government is set to offer permanent residency to any foreigner provided they buy a house or apartment worth more than (EURO)160,000 ($200,000).
...Spain is in the midst of a double-dip recession with 25 percent unemployment, though Rajoy said he believes Spain has managed to avoid a financial implosion and will start growing again in late 2013 and in 2014.
"I'm convinced that the worst is over," Rajoy told reporters after meeting with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff.
More about Residency for purchase
The World's Most Dangerous Countries
"Terrorism and civil war haven’t stopped certain countries from promoting tourism and running tours. Is the risk worth the trip?"
Travel and Leisure Magazine on the most dangerous locations to go and hope to return from. Article online here with photo slideshow.
- Georgia (the country between Russia and Turkey)
- North Korea
- Burma (Myanmar)
The Island Where People Forget to Die
Remarkable story about a man diagnosed with cancer and given a short period of time to live who returned to the island of his birth in the Mediterranean, expecting to die. Instead, sleeping regularly (many siesta naps), working moderately outside, eating food from the local agriculture, and leading a very low-stress lifestyle, he has now lived decades past his original diagnoses.
More on the Greece Page
"U.S. Economic Freedom Ranking Tumbles Again"
"The United States, long considered a champion of economic freedom, plunged to No. 18 in new rankings published in the 2012 Economic Freedom of the World, an annual report co-authored by Florida State University economics Professor James Gwartney."
Free podcast on this subject at the Cato Institute website
Resource: Freedom House Org
Their website contains a plethora of information, with an effort at non-partisan analysis of the political freedoms enjoyed (or withheld) from an exhaustive list of countries from around the world. For example, their "2012 Freedom in the world" report provides a simple ranking system dividing countries by a criteria of three types: free, partly free, not free.
For example: Australia FREE; Columbia PARTLY FREE; Angola NOT FREE.
Reuters article: Poll shows many Americans would move if they could
Complete article here.
"Nearly 60 percent of Americans would move from their communities right now if they could, according to a new survey by the YMCA.
But with economic and other financial considerations preventing them from doing so, nearly two-thirds said they will become more involved in their community in the coming year in hopes of improving quality of life."