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Archive Page 1

March 2014

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:

  1. Singapore
  2. Tokyo
  3. Perth
  4. Copenhagen
  5. Monaco

These locations heralded in the BBC article are rather expensive: Monaco average per metre cost for a residence 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

  1. San Pedro Sula, Honduras had 169.30
  2. Acapulco, Mexico had 142.88
  3. Caracas, Venezuela had 118.89
  4. Distrito Central, Honduras had 101.99
  5. Torreón, Mexico had 94.72
  6. Maceió, Brazil had 85.88
  7. Cali, Colombia had 79.27
  8. Nuevo Laredo, Mexico had 72.85
  9. Barquisimeto, Venezuela had 71.74
  10. 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.


Millionaire Expat: How To Build Wealth Living Overseas - Amazon

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 Independent

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.

UK Telegraph "Is life easy in the Land of the Free?"

Most Efficient World Health Care Systems

Life Expectancy Table International

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.

Buzzfeed "30 Excellent Reasons To Move To France Immediately"

World Health Alzheimer / Dementia rankings

Amazing statistics on the amount of death from alzheimers / dementia per 100,000 ranking at world life expectancy. The top ten places where death is highest from Alzheimers / Dementia:

  1. Finland
  2. Iceland
  3. United States
  4. Sweden
  5. Netherlands
  6. Switzerland
  7. Cuba
  8. Chile
  9. Andora
  10. Spain

America drops to #12 on economic Freedom

Wall Street Journal reports on this years rankings (from work done at the Heritage Foundation in Washington DC), and its big news for the USA to slide out of the top ten.

"...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 'under class' 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...”

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

Top GDP by COuntry ranking chart

See all 170 GDP Country rankings here.

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

Wall Street Journal on the HSBC Bank survey of expat attitutdes concerning various countries and what is best (or poor) about them.

"...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

Dominican Republic
Israel & West NBank
United Kingdom

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:

    1. Melbourne, Australia
    2. Vienna, Austria
    3. Vancouver, Canada
    4. Toronto, Canada
    5. Calgary, Canada
    6. Adelaide, Australia
    7. Sydney, Australia
    8. Helsinki, FInland
    9. Perth, Australia
    10. 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.

  1. Iceland
  2. Denmark
  3. New Zealand
  4. Austria
  5. Switzerland
  6. Japan
  7. Finland
  8. Canada
  9. Sweden
  10. Belgium

(The United States clocks in at #99)

'Least Corrupt' countries

Ranking of the 'least corrupt' countries from worldaudit.org:

    1. New Zealand
    2. Denmark
    3. Finland
    4. Sweden
    5. Singapore
    6. Switzerland
    7. Norway
    8. Australia
    9. Netherlands
    10. Canada

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. "

Download the George Mason Univ. PDF

Top 10 Most Free States

1. North Dakota
2. South Dakota
3. Tennessee
4. New Hampshire
5. Oklahoma
6. Idaho
7. Missouri
8. Virginia
9. Georgia
10. Utah

Bottom Ten Least Free States

41. Mississippi
42. West Virginia
43. Vermont
44. Maryland
46. Rhode Island
47. Hawaii
48. New Jersey
49. California
50.New York State

American Institutional Corruption?

Lying, Cheating, Stealing: How Corrupt is America? - Fiscal Times

"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 legion 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.

Hail Columbia! - City Journal

"...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.

"...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.

New Zealand

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.]

New Zealand


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.

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

Amazon Where to Retire

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.

    1. Pakistan
    2. Sudan
    3. Georgia (the country between Russia and Turkey)
    4. Lebanon
    5. North Korea
    6. Syria
    7. Yemen
    8. Uzbekistan
    9. Iran
    10. Algeria
    11. Afghanistan
    12. Eritrea
    13. Zimbabwe
    14. Burma (Myanmar)
    15. Iraq

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."



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