Moved to France a year ago
* Healthcare – not just free, but organized. For example if you test positive for COVID, you get what is basically a prescription for a box fo 50 masks for free at the pharmacy and to claim them you just insert your social security card into the machine and it’s confirmed and charged to the state. It’s beautiful.
* Work culture – this is a big one. In the US I was used to working in the mornings, evenings, the weekend, on vacation. None of that here. Same for lunch. We have a real lunch break here, not eating a sad $15 salad in front of your computer alone.
* The food – I wasn’t a bread or baked goods person before moving here. Now I’m almost at a baguette a day. The butter, cheese, wine, cakes, viennoiseries, etc. are so good and so readily available and so *cheap*.
* A leisure culture – sort of related to 2, but slightly different. People really seem to enjoy the simple things and take advantage of their time off. Things like having a long picnic for no particular reason with friends or family is normal. Never did that back home unless it was a *thing* like “ohh let’s have a picnic today!”. Here it’s like “hey it’s nice out, want to go eat by the lake?” And an hour later I’m slowly making my way back to my desk.
* Less racism, bigotry, etc. France, and Europe in general, *absolutely* have their problems with this, but the US stands alone in terms of severity and ubiquity.
* Being so central and being able to travel so easily (present situation excluded). Want to go to Geneva for the weekend and do some hiking? Ok, 3 hours on a train for 60 euro and you’re there.
* And on that note – the vacation time. I get 7 weeks a year. I don’t even know what to do with it all. Plus public holidays and all that. And when you take them you’re not asking you’re telling. It’s a right not a privilege. Love that.
* All the history, architecture, etc. Was walking home one day and thought “huh that’s an interesting looking church, wonder what its story is.” Looked it up. It was built in the *sixth* century. So f*****g cool.
* Walkable cities with easy to use and cheap public transit
* No hangups about PDA and on a related note, being in a relationship 100% from the get-go. I think this is where the reputation as flirts comes from, but they aren’t bouncing around from person to person w***y-nilly. Rather, when you want to go out with someone, you really commit right off the bat, and if it doesn’t work, ok it doesn’t work, but at least you tried. In the states I see people dating several people at once, always trying to keep options open and always trying to optimize. It looks exhausting.
* Bureaucracy – everything moves very slowly. I feel like I’m in a Kafka novel sometimes.
* No AC – the summer’s can be brutal for a few weeks. I’m from Texas and it’s much worse here. I’m also kind of a baby in this respect but still.
* I miss BBQ
* Nothing is open early. Even Starbucks is like 8 or 8:30 AM. Super frustrating sometimes.
* Big pay cut in general for anyone coming from the states, especially in tech or finance
* The rental market in Paris in particular is a total s**t show.
I’m sure I’m forgetting stuff but the big ones are there. Overall the pros massively outweigh the cons, especially with all the s**t going on in the states right now. Hard to imagine going back.
I used to live in Texas, now I live in Sweden since 2015.
* Accessible healthcare. Taxes and cost of living are high, but so is the wage. No one gets paid under $14 an hour. Going to the doctor usually costs about 20 bucks, and once you hit $100 per year in healthcare costs you get what’s called a free card, and don’t have to pay anything else until the next reset. I got my tubes tied a few years ago and it cost me $30.
* Language. 90% of Swedes speak excellent English, especially the younger generations. Some of my colleagues sound American or English. Everyone learns English in school here, and I’m often taken off guard by almost toddlers speaking English to me. On the other hand, this makes learning Swedish extra difficult since everyone hears your accent and wants to practice their English…
* Public transportation! Even way out in the boonies you’ll find some kind of bus line, even if it’s an hour or so between busses. Exception for the north of Sweden which is a frozen wasteland. I live pretty far out of Stockholm and even at 3 am I can find a bus home. The trains and busses are usually very much on time and if you’re late to something because a train was late, they’ll compensate you for a cab.
* The nature. There’s a very unique thing in Sweden called “allemansrätten” which says that you can camp, wander and forage more or less anywhere you want. One of the only rules is that you can’t camp within line of sight of a house or camp in the same spot for two nights on someone’s property. The nature is absolutely gorgeous here, and this is one of my favourite things about the country.
* Eco-consciousness. Recycling is deeply ingrained in the culture, and there are recycling stations all over the place. Most people have two bins outside, one for household trash and one for food. People swarm to recycling stations on the weekend to dispose of meticulously sorted trash, and workplaces will scold you if you don’t properly sort things. Cars are strictly regulated and we burn trash to fuel cities! Sometimes we even buy trash from other countries since we go through so much.
* Workers rights. People are entitled by law to have a certain amount (5 weeks) of vacation per year, unions are incredibly strong and if you’re sick for multiple days, the first day is unpaid (though insurance will pay you for it), and the rest are 80% (I think) of your full pay.
* Parental leave. Parents get 18 months combined time off and receive untaxed money, both of which increase the more children you have.
* Fika! Fika is kind of a cultural coffee break. Most workplaces have 15-30 minute periods where everyone goes to the break room, maybe has some fikabröd (baked goods, often cinnamon buns), and coffee. It’s weird if you don’t drink coffee or tea. Fika is also a thing outside the workplace and is a good excuse to meet up with a friend and have a snack. After living in the US I feel fika breaks really help with workplace relationships – it gives everyone some time to mingle, be on common ground and bring up work related issues or topics.
* Animal rights. Homeless animals are a real rarity here. There are cat shelters, but most dogs are street dogs imported from other countries and rehomed in Sweden. Dogs are registered and usually insured, and backyard breeding is present but not a problem like in the US. I’ve worked at many shelters in the states so this fact makes me quite happy!
* Summer! Coming from Texas, summer was always a word that brought dread. Spring and summer in Sweden are glorious – Incredibly fragrant flowers everywhere, everything is green, people have broken out of their winter hibernation and are ecstatic. At midsummer the sun rises at 4 am and sets around 10pm. Even at its darkest, you can kind of see the sun just behind the horizon. The temperature is at its hottest around 34°C (93°F) but is usually 25°C (77°F) or so. This is what I love second most! 😍
* Social culture. Sweden was voted one of the most difficult countries for expats to make friends in, which I can definitely attest to. It took me four years to find my crowd. People can seem very cold and unfriendly. Trains are usually totally silent and people zoom about on their commute with headphones plugged in. Once you get to know a Swede, however, they will open up pretty quick and you’ll have yourself a good friend. That initial awkward acquaintance phase is just much harder to pass here, and people like their privacy.
* Winter. The cold is an obvious one, but many people don’t factor in the darkness of winter. Right now the sun is setting around 4 pm and going up at 7. In the dead of winter, the sun rises around 10 and sets at 3 in the afternoon, so if you have an office job you might not see the sun all day. However as I mentioned above, the incredible summers kind of make up for it.
* Shopping convenience. Very few stores are open 24/7. Some fast food places and gas stations are the exception. If you live in a big city it’s not so bad, but in small towns everything shuts down in the early evening. Secondly, there are not really any supercenters like Wal-Mart. If you want something special, you have to order it, and you can’t always get everything you want at one store. Shopping can be a real trip and a pain in the a*s if you don’t have a car. On the flip side, shipping is very fast within Sweden and you’ll usually get anything you order within 2-3 days in Stockholm.
* Housing. Housing is INCREDIBLY expensive in the city. Renting a tiny firsthand apartment in the city can take 10-12 years in the housing queue and there is constant construction everywhere.
* Regulation. This is both a good and bad thing, depending on how you look at it. In Sweden, your personnummer (social security number) is used for everything. Banking, work, memberships, purchases, everything. You can’t really live in Sweden without one. There is an app called Bank ID which uses your person number+a code as verification when you use a credit card online or login to anything secure. It is very, very hard to live off the grid here if one wishes.
I might add more later if I think of anything, if you have any questions feel free to ask! 🙂
Moved to Uganda 8 years ago.
* Unless you need fancy stuff from the US/Europe, all the basics are so cheap. Food, medicine, clothes, etc.
* People are generally friendly, welcoming, and helpful. They are very outgoing, they love kids, they are often willing to go quite out of their way to give directions or assistance.
* Beautiful scenery and nature all around. I drive through a game reserve to get to town.
* Labour is cheap, especially in the service industry. Motorcycle taxi across town is maybe around a dollar. You can always hire someone to carry your groceries/luggage/bags of cement for a minimal cost and people are happy to have the work.
* You can bargain for everything. Literally everything.
* Petty theft is pretty much a given. I had a guy steal my shovel while I was resting from trying to dig a vehicle out of the mud. People will steal your phone out of your hand if you are talking in your car in traffic.
* The tyranny of petty bureaucrats. Submitting a complaint to the district land board recently required 13 CCs to various people, all paper, all needing to be delivered by hand. The land board doesn’t have sitting fees, so they can’t do anything until the gov’t comes through or I decide to pay them. At a previous meeting, our issue was discussed but not resolved, but the chairman of the board would not even sign a copy of the minutes unless I paid him a bribe. Meter maids in town recently forged an unpaid parking ticket and booted my vehicle. It took an hour of hard arguing and a bribe to get it unbooted.
* Always an outsider. No matter how well I can learn how to speak and act, I’m white, and I will always be an object of attention wherever I go. It doesn’t bug me too much, but it’s tough on the kids sometimes.
* Being surrounded by poverty. I live in one of the poorest areas in the country, and there is basically a line of beggars at our door every day. It’s really hard to know if and when to help. A dollar goes a long way here, but, speaking from experience, it’s very easy to get people into a cycle of dependency which rips apart the social fabric in our community.
There are more than 8 million expats today living overseas, and the reasons can be as many and as varied as the number of people who have left the US. Experts argue that the growing number of Americans living overseas may come down to a couple of factors.
First is the rapid rise of work-away-from-the-office and the impact of covid, which kicked that work-away-from-the office tendency into overdrive. Digital nomads and remote workers are now enjoying their lives traveling around the world without being attached to their offices.
Moreover, as 1 in 6 Americans are now pushed into a position of “financially struggling” (World Economic Forum), many people move away from the US for economic reasons. Think of more affordable healthcare, lower taxes and improved education among them. These are the findings of a recent national survey conducted by Harris Poll.
I moved to Denmark ten years ago.
There are a lot of small little culture shock things I miss about the states – mostly food and convenience and people, and cultural differences. Nobody smiles here, and there’s this social norm called the law of jante that I clash with all the time. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Law_of_Jante
It took a long time for me to build up friends and networks. I’ve never had a full time, permanent job while I’ve been here which impacts my ability to get permanent residency. People here speak very good English which has made it harder for me to converse in Danish because when they hear my accent they just talk to me in English no matter what.
I never have to worry about healthcare. I got a full education (bachelor + masters degree) with full student stipend without having to pay for anything but books. Medicine is cheaper here. I can walk to the grocery store, there are 3 within walking distance of my house. One of them has a full service bakery and butcher. Postal service takes less than a week – often if I order something Monday it arrives by Friday. I can walk anywhere in the city at any time of day and not worry about being bothered. I can bike anywhere in the city and most places it’s easier and faster than the bus. If I need to take the bus it’s inexpensive and most places I go I can be there in 20 minutes. My daughter’s daycare was subsidized by the government and we get the kids check quarterly to offset the expenses of having her. We have lots of easily accessible cultural institutions that are inexpensive- we buy season passes to LEGOLAND and go whenever we want – same with museums and zoos.
Danish food is good and hearty, meat and potatoes with lots of sauce. The bread is fresh and plentiful. There are active social cultures for any sort of activity – sports, gaming, arts and crafts, reading, learning. The ice cream is fantastic and so are the cakes and pastries. Coke here is made with real sugar.
The pet culture is amazingly kind to animals. Dogs can go anywhere people can go as long as the owners look after them and they stick to approved areas and don’t cause trouble. It’s not unusual for people to take their dog to the zoos or LEGOLAND or even to work. My first day here I got pounced on by a puppy who loved my shoes. A day later a German shepherd ran up to me on the beach and gave me his ball to toss.
You’re never more than 30 minutes from the beach. The water is cold but it’s nice in summer. During summer everyone is outside enjoying the weather. During the winter everyone is inside enjoying each other.
Everyone has five weeks vacation, guaranteed. Most people take these around Christmas and over the summer. There are lots of paid government holidays. There are strong worker protections and the average work week is 37 hours with most people getting off early on Friday. If you’re on unemployment it lasts for two years, plus the severance from your last job.
I’m sure there’s more, but it’s time for dinner.
South Korea. I’m a recent graduate teaching English here.
I can find afford more than 1 pair of glasses
I can afford to go to the dentist
I can afford to get checkups regularly
I walk a LOT more. (10k to 15k steps just on work days)
Busses and subways are very clean
Quick and easy to get to another town/city
My Korean is bad so I get frustrated at times. Also hard to make friends because of my lack of Korean.
I miss my dad
I miss: fried cheese curds, Culver’s and Chick-fil-A
Korean work culture is stupid (50 hour work weeks are the norm)
Korean educational norms are stupid. I’m so upset when I hear my students stay up till 1am doing homework.. they’re 11
I moved to Germany.
There is lots more to experience here due to the proximity of different cultures and the very diverse immigrants. I have learned a lot about other languages, foods, and cultures that I never had exposure to in the US (or at least not where I come from, the Midwest.)
Worker’s protections. 25-30 days vacation is standard, salaried workers often still get overtime, both parents get a comfortable time off for each child born, it is easier to defend yourself in the case of unrightful firing, unemployment and underemployment protections are much fairer and more consistent (this was especially important in the Covid economic crisis, I may not even have a job if I were still i the US)
More liberal life attitude: This isn’t just politically, although that is also nice, but I find in general people here are more open and understanding and empathetic. There is a lot less “us vs. them”, and I feel like I can just be myself without people treating me like a freak for not being religeous, dressing a certain way, having certain hobbies, etc.
Mountains are nearby! Skiing and hiking and trail running are all much more accessible than they ever were back home.
Language barrier is obviously an obstacle, and it can be quite frustrating at first not being able to communicate yourself effectively. (After about a year it was not a problem for me anymore though)
Income is generally a bit lower and non-essential goods a bit more expensive.
There is less wild nature, and some things like tent trekking are more limited.
Edit: Can’t believe I forgot to mention these, but **bread** here is outstanding and there are bakeries on every street and in most grocery store lobbies. And **public transit** is also great – in a big city having a car is really optional, and designated drivers are not necessary when going out.
Less violent crime per capita. Health insurance/care costs less in taxes than the cheapest private plan I ever had in the US. One and Two dollar coins are fun. Better transit than the US cities I’ve lived in. Poutine is delicious.
Moved to Japan in 2018.
Pros: Affordable healthcare, healthier and more active lifestyle due to walking and running for the train, sushi, people are polite and helpful if you need help, lowish cost of living, always something to do, even if you live in the countryside. Living in Kansai region means easy access to cities, historical areas, and awesome nature scenery to hike in. Vending machines on every block is a godsend in the summer heat with cold drinks for a dollar.
Cons: Creepy other foreigners (had a guy from NZ try to kiss me at a club and tried to make me touch his bare chest), creepy Japanese people exist too, many people running to Japan thinking it’s like anime, COVID support could’ve been better and not enough testing, earthquakes, typhoons, murder hornets, some aspects are too militaristic, people are almost too passive sometimes.
All in all, I love living in Japan and I have no regrets.
* Very beautiful,
* hiking trails everywhere,
* excellent fast and reliable public transportation, goes everywhere, usually extremely punctual
* Everything is very clean
* Good pay, high salaries
* Pretty fast internet
* Central location, travel to other countries is fast (normally, except COVID)
* Good healthcare
* Heated floors
* Low crime rate
* Variety of food and shopping not as varied as the US (But travel to other countries is fast)
* Driving behavior is not at all as relaxed as in the US
* Making close friends with locals is harder (But there’s LOTS of friendly expats)
* Dreary foggy in many areas for most of the winter
Living in the Netherlands nearly 11 years.
In no particular order…
-Good public transportation, both in cities, throughout the country, as well as to other European countires.
-Affordable cost of living (city dependent, of course)
-Overall more financial and social stability
-Here in NL I don’t need a car
-More financial and social equality
-Nightlife and party life is amazing. Much more underground culture here than in the States
-Far from family and friends
-In the beginning it was hard to integrate (I took me like 5 years to really learn the language, then everything was OK).
-More hierarchy in professional life
EDIT: pro and con. filing your taxes here is super easy, but complicated to file as US individual living in a foreign country
Moved to Australia
Pros: Universal healthcare, preferential voting, no community transmission of COVID in my state for more than a month, very generous legally mandated annual leave and long service leave for permanent employees.
Cons: Its hot, like super duper hot. We keep changing leaders as often as we change our socks. I keep getting geo-blocked when I try to look at cool things on the internet (yes I know VPNs exist). Video games cost $100. I once found a big spider in my bra when I went to put it on and I once found a venomous snake in my bathroom at 5am when I had a sleepy pee.
Edit: someone asked to include how difficult it was to immigrate. For me it was relatively easy but that is due to timing more than anything. I married an Australian which made things a lot easier. However I have heard that the process is a lot longer and more arduous than when I did it more than a decade ago. I paid a decent chunk of $$ and filled in some forms about me and provided proof of our ongoing relationship (I’m not a mail order bride I promise). I can tell you that the interviews to prove our relationship was stressful, and equally stressful was waking up every morning thinking that the decision regarding if I could live with the person I love is in the hands of a stranger and not knowing when that decision would be made.
Moved to NZ in 2008. Got permanent residency in 2013 and became a citizen in 2018.
It’s far away from everywhere else. It’s been like having a balcony seat from which to watch, in relative calm and safety, the chaos of the past decade.
The people are genuinely friendly for the most part, and the massive political division that defines so much of the Western world has yet to take root here.
Healthcare costs as much as it should in a civilised first world nation. In other words, I won’t go f*****g bankrupt if I stub my toe. Eight years ago I had a motorcycle accident that involved an overnight stay in hospital. My total bill: $0.
Everything you’ve seen or heard about how pretty the scenery is here is both completely true and vastly understated. Seriously, there are bits of this country that look *otherworldly*. Even the “ugly” parts of the country are no more than a half hour’s drive from something spectacular, and no part of the country is more than two hours away from the ocean.
No community transmission of COVID, and while our response to the pandemic hasn’t been perfect by any means, the government has been extremely transparent and communicative in its approach and has kept the overall impact quite low, all things considered.
No Trump or Trump-style politics. Our current government is centrist by NZ standards but would probably be classified as “radical left socialism” by the sort of Americans who’d vote for Trump.
It’s safe, sane, and *quiet*.
It’s far away from everywhere else. In pre-COVID times, when it was still possible to see the rest of the world, you’d be looking at a minimum of 3 hours and $500 to fly to Australia, 12 hours and $2000 to the States, and a full day and god only knows how much to fly to Europe. Shipping costs are f*****g insane; often it’s not even worth trying to import something from abroad. Shipping *times* are also stupidly long; if you’re used to the next-day Amazon Prime-style shopping experience, then brace yourself for some serious disappointment.
It is *f**k off expensive* to live here. Housing costs are the biggest shocker; rents have risen something like 300% since I moved here, and I have given up on ever owning a house since half a million bucks won’t even get you a shack in a paddock where I live.
Salaries are much lower. If you work in an IT/comms overlap field like I do, prepare to make half of what you’d make in the States.
The two-punch combo of higher cost of living and lower salaries means that a typical American will have to seriously re-adjust their expectations when they move here. If you’re the kind of American who needs a new car every three years and the newest iPhone every September, you will not enjoy living here.
The drivers in this country are among the worst in the world, with roads to match. Rather than focus on roading improvements and/or better driver education, the government and police instead focus solely on increasingly draconian enforcement of speed limits above all other considerations. Basically it means you’re at serious risk every time you drive anywhere because of how completely s**t the drivers and roads are, and god help you if you do 110 in a 100 zone.
Overall, while NZ isn’t the paradise on Earth that a lot of Americans seem to think it is (until they try to live here), it is an incredibly nice place to be, and I have never once had cause to regret moving here.
Moved to Canada a decade ago.
A middle class. Not just a “I’m not in poverty THIS month!” Class.
Working class wages are actually a thing. So are real unions. I think that’s probably related.
Healthcare. Jesus f**k. Until you live in a grown up- big-boy country you don’t truly GET the extent that US healthcare is just f*****g bananas.
Maternity leave. My sister was ecstatic she got 6 weeks mostly unpaid leave with her new baby. As a professional. That’s horrifying. My wife got 1 year and her union tops her up to 96% of her wage for the first 6 months, and she makes EI for the rest.
The culture is (sorry Canadians) almost identical. You just have to learn a few different store names. There’s more differences between the regions of the US I’ve lived in than there is between where I grew up and Canada.
It snowed once in October and I didn’t see grass until a few weeks into March. Then in snowed in April just to remind me what I’ve done.
Randomly find myself adding “hey?” To the end of sentences. I know it’s supposed to be “eh?” But in truth they do both quite a lot and there is a distinction.
Edit: I’m on mobile. Formatting was not so good.
Also edit: I’ve had a lot of people interested in the immigration options for Canada. I’m no expert and my journey was a decade ago, so I’m posting a link to Canada’s well laid out immigration site. They have a lot of programs and avenues into the country. Maybe more after Covid isn’t a daily struggle. https://www.canada.ca/en/services/immigration-citizenship.html
I live in China
Virus is gone = normal life,
Super convenient transportation/payment methods,
Well, I probably shouldn’t write them. They might be watching…
But one for sure is being a foreigner. Everyone thinks foreigners have the virus still and they really make you go the extra mile to prove you don’t.
cheese, fresh baguettes & croissant 2x per day, cobbled streets, lavender fields, chateaus, thousand year old hamlets, history, Versailles, Paris, GREAT health care, all paid for by taxes, incredible social services, fantastic mass & urban transit, Paris, 1.5 hours to London, frites galore, river boats, Spain on one side, Italy on the other, (never mind Belgium though)… The shores of the Atlantic, the shores of the Mediterranean, Cote d’Azur, Cannes… Did I mention Paris? Or that you can get to Venice or Florence is just over 2 hours from Paris? How about Art? the Louvre, Tuilleries, Parc de Sceau…. real architecture and on and on and on…
I don’t miss the USA at all.
Australia: come over in 1978 from USA age 22 for 6 months holiday. Still here.
PROS: quality of life is better.
Health care .
Made firm friends very easily.
Did not have to learn a new language (however the slang did stump me at first).
Better wages and I am not a professional.
Much more laid back life style but that could be because I do not live in a major city.
CONS: I really can not think of anything I would say is a negative. I live in a regional town, Cairns, northern Beaches. Love the weather, love the heat, love the ocean.
Had to come back because of Covid, but I plan on returning next year-
Dominican Republic. I was in Santiago, which turned out to be a neat cultural zone.
lots of fantastic, high quality food and activities for cheap
the easy access to my favorite fresh favorite fruits and vegetables (passionfruit, mango, purple malanga especially) is awesome
the people, while loud and annoying, are generally friendly and humble
beautiful views and animals (I lived in a town but had hummingbirds living in the tree outside my window!)
definitely cheaper to live here, my total monthly budget was around $600 for everything, including eating out in restaurants and travelling to the beach, etc. The rent for my brand new apartment was $150 a month and public transport is 60 cents.
the tropical weather is friendlier on my skin
Since everything is nearby, I usually biked or walked everywhere and, combined with the awesome food, lost weight and got toned
The locals will do anything for a few bucks. I mainly asked for little things- changing light bulbs, killing a particularly sinister roach, bringing up my groceries (lived on the 4th floor, heavy stuff). They loved me because I tipped generously (an extra dollar) for anything they did.
Weirdly enough, the people are incredibly clean with their own homes but disgusting in public. Littering everywhere and ridiculously difficult to find a public toilet with soap or even a toilet seat are the 2 things that bothered me the most.
Men are open perverts and sexist. I look like a local due to my dominican descent and they were still a pain. For my blonde friends it’s a nightmare. It’s just not a good idea to go anywhere alone.
Most things are little too casual and a bit lazy for my taste.
The poor and the rich are intermingled. As a result, I can be walking down a block with mansions, and when I turn the corner, there are people barely surviving below tin can roofs. Really, really sad. A ruined place that was obviously abandoned could still be hosting a family of 7 inside.
Imported luxuries are stupid expensive here. Explain to me why a fair trade chocolate bar costs almost $10 here. Maple syrup is $30. Why?!
Giant flying roaches at night. ’nuff said. I don’t mind tarantulas and snakes. Can’t stand roaches. Had window screens installed, laced poison under my front door, and that basically took care of it.
In spite of the negatives, I loved it there. Life was simple and I lead a minimalist lifestyle (and i always carried soap and pepper spray, lol).
Australia. I’m actually in the US right now and kind of stuck here due to personal reasons and the pandemic, but we still have our Australian home and will be heading back as soon as travel restrictions lift.
Pros: almost everything. Seriously though, other posts have covered this but good salaries, better work-life balance with a more leisure focused culture, guaranteed vacations and healthcare, retirement system with minimum 9.5% employer contribution, fantastic quality of food … even basic supermarket stuff tastes so much better than the US, and pretty nice weather for most of the country. Ranked choice voting nationally, and elections run by an independent electoral commission who also sets district boundaries according to a neutral data-driven formula. Oh and essentially Covid-free right now (7/8 states had zero cases yesterday, the 1 remaining state had 3 cases).
Cons: it’s smaller and more isolated market so if consumerism is your thing, you’ll find less variety of goods and services, fewer options for things like streaming services (though with VPN and a valid foreign address most of that is a non-issue), certain things like cars and appliances are more expensive. Opening hours for stores are shorter and deliveries from Amazon etc. are a bit slower. You may also find salaries in certain industries are a bit lower than the US, though still pretty good by global standards.
But overall the pros vastly outweigh the cons.
Lived in Ireland for a year (and plan on moving back…long story short bar exam delays because of covid)
pros: The people are super friendly like insanely so. You can go from a big city to ‘the middle of nowhere’ in an hour or 2. The entire country takes a lackadaisical approach to basically existing. “Serious” crime is almost nonexistent as is police brutality. They are part of the EU (so there are actual human rights)
neutral hit/miss: the weather is super consistent. It is going to be cold enough you need a jacket and it is going to rain today. Every single day. I know to some people this is awful but to others this is great. (it rarely gets cold enough to snow, and summer lasts a few weeks)
cons: the rent in Dublin is INSANE (like nyc levels) homelessness is a problem as is petty crime, and really be ready to tell people to p**s off (like the young woman who all of a sudden comes up to you with a sob story about her and her 5 brothers and sisters). The bureaucracy is also laughably inept, like as a student you have to register and get an ID (which is going to take you all day) and no one will EVER ask for it no exaggeration.
Currently living in Japan. From the Midwest originally.
– Amazing food… like really amazing.
– quite affordable once you learn the ins and outs.
– People are generally polite
– pretty good healthcare system
– hanami and matsuri
– can have a beer in the park if I feel like it.
– Lots of national holidays
– clean (other than The party areas of Tokyo)
– This country is beautiful.
– convenience stores are super convenient
– so much paperwork for everything.
– No insulation in houses or apartments (in Kanto region)
– can be expensive
– racism/xenophobia (I.e. gaijin seat)
– little opportunity for career growth
– basically can’t get mortgage, loan, or start a business unless your business partner or spouse is Japanese
– ATMs aren’t open 24/7
– work opportunities constrained to type of visa (US does this too but posted this in case someone is interested in moving here)
– work- life balance doesn’t exist.
– plastic. Everywhere.
– very collectivist. Kind of the polar opposite of the extreme individualism back in the states. It has its own pros and cons so I’m just putting it as neutral.
I’m an American that immigrated to Canada two years ago.
Pros: Almost everything
Cons: Cold most of the year and no Publix.
Been in Taiwan since 1999. I go back to visit every two years or so.
1. Affordable healthcare
2. A healthier diet (on average)
3. Better public transportation
4. Cost of living (outside of Taipei)
5. A safer place to raise my kids
1. The constant threat of China
2. Ambivalence about Taiwan’s national identity
3. Summer heat when I have to work
4. Good hamburgers and pizza hard to find
5. Worrying about my kids’ future (see: #1)
Lived in Manaus Brazil for a good while
1. Decently low cost of living (come from rural Midwest so my mind is based on that)
2. Work is relatively easy to come by even if you don’t have a college degree
3. Free public healthcare with option of paid private
4. Free public university with option of paid private
5. Pretty great workers benefits
ie. Guaranteed ~30 days vacation, childcare, maternity leave, healthcare (obviously different workplaces will have different benefits but it’s basically standard)
6. An absolutely crazy amount of nature, I drive 2 hours out of the city and I’m in the middle of the rainforest. Most beautiful place I’ve ever been
7. Friendliest people I have ever met, never had any problems with people (possible con is there isn’t much concept of personal space so if that’s important to you then I’m sorry)
8. Sexy sexy people
1. Hot all the time, at least in Northern Brazil. Southern gets more temperate (think 95F everyday)
2. Rain almost every day, dry season doesn’t mean dry, it just means less wet
3. Can’t flush toilet paper
4. If you’re not born there it’s usually a bad idea to drink any tap water
5. Once had a 10 inch tarantula land on me while I was pooping
6. Crime is pretty bad in some places. If you’re not dumb it shouldn’t affect you but people go to places they shouldn’t.
7. TRAFFIC, once took me 2.5 hours to travel about a mile
I lived in China for 2 years
convenient, there are a lot of places within walking distance that offers really good food
you pay with your phone everywhere, you rarely have to carry cash with you
safe to just stroll around at night
most stores offer next day delivery when you shop online, and the food delivery service is miles ahead of what’s available in the US and at a fraction of the cost
lots of websites are blocked, so better have a VPN ready
some of the infrastructures in some t2 t3 citiies haven’t cought up so people just park everywhere on the sidewalk and such
food safety…you really have to be careful your delivery doesn’t come out of a dingy little kitchen where they just heat up food packets or something worse
be aware, the crime rate isn’t that bad but it exists like everywhere else, watch out for your pocket because it can be picked and in ways you would be impressed with
Rural Ireland for 5 years
Affordable and non-defensive healthcare, beautiful nature, pretty much no dangerous animals, small enough to make day trips to the big cities.
Very little diversisty, high cost of living, the government only cares about Dublin and Cork, a lot more sexism than I was accustomed to.
Moved to Sweden.
– Healthcare. Man. Takes a while to get in the system, but it’s buttery smooth after that. Even paying out of pocket here is cheaper than good insurance in the US.
– 20-30+ days paid vacation. I don’t even know what to do with that much vacation. Jesus christ.
– Almost as many sick days as you want. Just don’t be a d**k about it.
– Public transportation. It exists. Didn’t exist where I came from.
– Weather. I love the cold. Summer can be bad. If its 80+ outside, there is no A/C, and the sun will be out for a long time.
– Lots of modernization. Everything is tied to your SSN. Little scary. But you update your phone/address at one place and all your bills and such will get to the right place.
– The people are super nice and pretty smart. You can have a good conversation with just about anyone.
– Healthy food. It’s mind blowing how unhealthy american food is in comparison.
– Easy language. Swedish might be the easiest language for an English speaker to learn. Everyone speaks English so it can be hard to learn to speak it if you don’t have a dedicated practice group.
– Beautiful landscape (if you like trees).
– Weirdly conservative about certain issues. Drugs/alcohol especially.
– Trains suck. Always late. Sometimes they just don’t come at all.
– If you don’t like bread, the food is a bit underwhelming.
– You have to know someone on the inside to make anything happen. Looking for a job? Way easier if you know a guy who knows a guy… Looking for a place to rent? Impossible if you don’t know a guy who knows a guy…
– Pay is on the lower side. I could easily make double in the US what I do here. Don’t care cause I like the benefits way more than the extra money. Minimum wage is way better here, though.
– Cost of living can be high. Sales tax is way higher here. My condolences if you end up needing a car.
– Renting an apartment is impossible. They love condos for some reason. Can take 10+ years to find a place to rent.
– People don’t talk to you. 4+ years and there has been maybe two times that someone just walked up and had a conversation. Can’t even remember the last time someone said hi.
– Very hard to meet people and make close friends if you’re not incredibly outgoing. Swedes are very respectful and don’t want to bother you. They’ll become acquaintances in an instant but it will take years for them to go beyond that.
– The country does not work if you don’t have a full social security number.
Great place to live. I’d only consider giving it up for Canada.
If you want to get into Sweden the best bet is to be some kinda programmer. Ideally web stuff. And you gotta know someone on the inside. Other than that you gotta find a Swedish significant other. Expect extreme wait times with migrations.
Moved to New Zealand
-More individual choice over health(prenatal, postnatal, labour and delivery)
-12 month maternal leave, 6 months paid, $60/week payment NOT income tested for first year of baby’s life, with extensions to age 5 for low income families
-Food is less diverse but ultimately far healthier/less processed/less sugar and salt, etc
-Buying property is far easier
-Getting a loan is far easier
-Going to University is far easier, cheaper, I did my BA in two years because summer school
-Jobs are much more attainable, and the application and interview process is far more friendly(you don’t apply online for ten jobs and hear back from one)
-Work and trades are so much easier to find and keep, no fear of layoffs except in exceptional circumstances
-4 weeks paid time off, a lot of places allow more, our Christmas period shuts almost all business down for two weeks(except groceries, gas, big companies, etc)
-You’re ALLOWED to easily take 2 or more weeks off at a time, some of my family in Cali would need a medical certificate and claim stress leave to get more than two weeks off which is f*****g ludicrous
-No traffic unless you live in Auckland
-Anywhere in the country you’re relatively close to the bush, the beach, or both
-Our beaches aren’t crowded, there’s still very accessible but remote places
-So much more safe, my kids can play in the street, walk into town, ride the bus to the next town over
-California has such a huge number of stolen kids/people I honestly wouldn’t feel comfortable having my kids live there, I think I’d be overly protective
-Lifestyle and people are much more easygoing
-Lots of rain which I like, but still beautiful summers, not extreme heat like California(where I’m from)
-We have a mean a*s prime minister with a focus on human rights/equality and putting families first
-COVID got the boot so life is normal here
-Schools are multicultural, with a focus on inclusivity(bilingual units, school uniforms made specifically for Pasifika students)
-General relaxed attitude towards material possessions, not built purely on hard out capitalism so if I lived in the states, I’d feel pressure to look a certain way(am female) and have a certain standard of lifestyle like nice car, nice clothes, even if I’m broke. whereas over here nobody really gives a s**t which is cool.
-Our police don’t kill us
-Can’t get spicy food unless I make it my damn self
-Restaurant/food variety like damn I just want some BBQ
-Can’t get used to Christmas in summer
-Food and clothes, makeup, alcohol, general items are more expensive here
-Vehicle WOFS are b******t, in America as long as the car runs you can drive it haha here they have to be kept to a “safe standard” pfft.
-Halloween, no holidays are big here, so bring your own decorations
Moved to Japan.
Clean cities, people generally polite in public, good food, quiet even in big cities
Employment options are plentiful if you’re bilingual and have another skill, like IT or web design/programming
Each month seems to have at least 1 holiday
Public transit is very convenient in big cities
Language is hard to learn, people often put on a “polite” air but really don’t like you or don’t like non-Japanese in their companies.
Cities are CROWDED.
Public transit is often very complex and hard to figure out.
People all go out on vacation on holidays, making them hard to enjoy, or companies often use those holidays as opportunities to get caught up on work.
A lot of unspoken rules can affect your work and personal life and no one tells you because they assume you know them.
Customer service is attentive but the “customer is always right” doesn’t always exist. Restaurants get your order wrong and you pay full price but they apologize profusely. Returning items in stores is trickier than the U.S.
I can’t stress this enough… Free healthcare!
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