Worked for Google for many years, quit when I got a WFH job where I was guaranteed an "office" in Washington state.
Nowadays, just hang out with the friends I grew up with when I'm not working, saving money & hanging out with the wife (who also works from home).
Travel used to matter a lot but then I moved back home and realized I just hated living in San Francisco and people are way more important to me nowadays.
Basically the best thing ever and every morning I step out to get coffee & feel legit thankful I got escape the Bay Area and get back to my native biome.
2 on Weather (Mediterranean climate), 2 on Fun (huge developed city with all sorts of entertainment).
It's cool in that it's a nice medieval walled city with all the infrastructure to handle tons of tourists. But those tourists all come at once for San Fermin and the running of the bulls, then they leave. The rest of the year you and the locals get the whole city to yourself, with the little pipe band playing in the square at night and everybody out dancing, then making rounds of the tapas bars and such.
A really nice pace of life. For anybody who likes a walkable city and has the freedom to be anywhere, it's a good place to be.
It's all about:
- Choose the thing you like to do most
- Find the absolute best place in the world to do that thing
- Find a house there
Fortunately, my (and my wife's) first love is climbing. We were worried we'd quickly "climb out" any crag we moved to, but Fontainebleau has just over 20,000 problems so it'll be a few years before we can get to them all. And they have proper French wine and baguettes and Paris 40 minutes away on the train. Sorted.
But yeah, if you can pull this whole location independence thing off, I'd highly recommend it.
My wife and I just moved to Yamba, NSW which fits this pretty well. We're ~500m walk from 2 different beaches one of them a surf beach and about a km from another surf beach. I don't surf(yet) myself but my friends that do are all very excited to be in the area so apparently its pretty good here.
It's one of the highest terrorist-hit cities of the world but my parents love this place and are unwilling to move anywhere else. Due to their age (and lack of better retirement facilities) I live with them.
Our rent is about 200 EUR but we're thinking of finding something even cheaper... and considering living for free in a kind of legal squat that will be a culture house where we could stay and do a few hours of helping out every week.
I'm here because my girlfriend is here, it's cheap, and it's pretty close to my family and friends in Sweden.
Riga is also small and cozy in a way that I seem to like.
In the future I have a hunch that I'd like to stay in Estonia. It seems like a very forward-thinking country tech-wise and a great place to do something like a blockchain business.
Or Romania... or Holland... or Barcelona...
Same reasons mostly, except the city is having a big push to make the city a regional tech hub. There are already quite a few startups here such as Wix, Trafi, Vinted, TransferGo and bigger companies like Barclays employ over 1,500 IT staff in the city.
The city is small but has enough going on. It has a young vibe, as there are lots of students around. Plenty of cafes you can sit in all day and use the wifi. Public transport is good and taxis are cheap (phone or use an app to book them though: ETaksi, Taxify or Uber), or if you'd rather drive there are two car sharing schemes CityBee and Spark.
Oh and internet speeds... I have 100/100 fiber at home for €10/month (there is also a 600/600 option). Ping times to London are 40ms. http://www.speedtest.net/my-result/5458602528
Only negative would be winter. If you like sub-zero (C and F) it's fine. As a digital nomad just escape to somewhere else then. Summers are nice though, around 25c - 30c and there are lots of lakes for swimming if it gets too hot.
It's a hot, overcrowded, dirty city populated by people who don't really want to be there (Thais who come from other provinces just for work), or who only want to be there to be seen by all the people who don't want to be there (the irony of deathly-white hi-so girls shopping in a mall with a name that translates to "Brown people" is lost on most people)
If you're remote anyway, there are much nicer, cheaper places to be in this country.
As a westerner, there are other benefits to being outside Bangkok. The next time I do a 90-day-report (the smart mans alternative to a trip through immigration every 3 months) I fully expect to be in and out of the local Immigration office in less time than it takes to buy/brew a cup of coffee. By comparison the Bangkok offices are constantly overcrowded. For most things, if you're not in the queue by lunch time, forget about getting served that day.
at this point I couldn't go back to living in an apartment, or even a town house - and I much prefer to live somewhere I can jump on my bike for an hours ride without worrying too much about motorbike taxis trying to kill me, rather than somewhere I can step outside and have 4 7/11s, a Mini Big C and a Lotus Express within spitting distance.
Waking up to the sounds of birds rather than the sounds of street vendors and cars/motorbikes is amazing, and because it's not Bangkok we're still just 10 minkes drive from the centre of town (eg for immigration, amphur etc)
How do you deal with the visa?
I want to move to thailand for an unknown amount of time but the visa seems like more than I would care to deal with. Don't want to have to do visa runs and all of that.
Have you visited before? Unless you're particularly adventurous I wouldn't suggest a move to Thailand without visiting first. I like living here, but its definitely not for everyone.
> but the visa seems like more than I would care to deal with.
You can hire a lawyer here to organise everything for you, it just depends how much you want to spend and what your situation/goal is.
> Don't want to have to do visa runs and all of that
Regardless of your type of visa, you will have to do something. I've lived here for close to 4 years, on a combination of business and now marriage visas, but I've only left the country twice in about 2 1/2 years.
Non-tourist visas get you a longer total stay (and some give the ability to apply for a work permit to work legally) but you still need to report to immigration every 90 days (resets each time you enter the country). As I said elsewhere, reporting in Bangkok is a fucking joke, in the provinces, its pretty quick and painless.
You can also get a student visa (in Chiang Mai at least) for hand-to-hand combat training with the military police. You just take two lessons a week on Saturday and Sunday afternoons for two hours. http://chiangmaibuddy.com/services/chiang-mai-visa-services/....
You're spot on though - doing visa runs all the time gets old fast.
Never understood westerners who live in Thailand (or any non-english, Asian country) but don't bother to learn the language. It's not as if you need to be fluent or even that good at it...
You can get a tourist visa in your home country and then just show up. If you decide you want to stay for a long time you should start researching your options early on and developing connections with people who live here. This is true in any country--connections with locals make everything, including visas, a lot easier.
Getting 1 year multi entry visas for business visa are pretty easy. And then your visa runs are down to once a quarter.
I really enjoyed my year and a half stint in Bangkok. But. It also taught me that I value climate pretty highly when choosing my next location.
(I'm American, from Chicago, and I run Soundslice, soundslice.com.)
We chose Amsterdam because:
* The DAFT program makes it easy for American business owners to get a Dutch visa.
* Everybody speaks English (which is a double-edged sword, because it's tough to learn/practice Dutch!).
* The biking is second-to-none. I'm spoiled for life.
* It's safe. I feel much safer than the U.S.
* It's beautiful.
* Great scene for Django music (gypsy jazz), which I play.
* Easy travel to other parts of Europe.
* It's very international -- in day-to-day life I meet people from all over Europe and the world. A very cool experience (especially for an American).
* Liberal policies make for a culture that we personally agree with more, even compared to liberal Chicago.
As for weather, people complain about it -- but it's better than Chicago. So it's a net win. :-)
You can rent a 110m2 house for around 800 euros a month in a small town 30 minutes away from Bordeaux by car or train. The town is nice and getting better with new projects coming to make it more attractive for wine tourists (Saint Emilion is 10 minutes drive from it). There is a train station where you can get 5 trains per day to get to Paris in 3 hours. There is High school and hospital and all what you need for basic stuff, and if you can't find something you can still go to Bordeaux to get what you want.
I live there with my wife and kids mainly because it's cheap and not too far from our families and friends and because we wanted to get a not too small house (by french measure) with a nice garden for our kids in a nice area. As I see more and more people from Paris coming here so I think we made the right choice.
I do know someone who ran a business where he subcontracted all work to people overseas and basically functioned as a technical manager. He lived in the mountains outside of Silicon Valley. When I saw how he interacted with his friends, and the things he did, "why he lived where he lived" was obvious: He had lots of friends in the area, and was an active participant in the local culture.
It helps that he's close enough to a tech hub that he can drive in any time he needs; although a daily commute would be prohibitive.
I've also signed up for online source control and bug tracking (before Github really "won,") and found that it was a one-man business run by a friend-of-a-friend in Hawaii. The reasons for the owner living in Hawaii, or any area where there's a lot of recreation, are probably obvious.
As far as why people choose to live where they live; the usual reasons apply: Close to friends and family, lots of recreation, culture, and reasonable cost of living. Choosing a place within a large radius around a tech hub might also be important. For example, a ski bum could live in Tahoe or New Hampshire, but still get to Silicon Valley or Boston when needed.
Downsides: basically zero tech scene, and it's getting pretty expensive these days.
That seems to be a common theme across the few places I know people working in tech in NZ. Wellington and Auckland are exceptions obviously (well, based on my very superficial interactions there at least). Christchurch has a decent amount of tech but the "scene" is quite humble and close-knit, which I think is more representative of most other places I know of in NZ. I'd probably chalk it up to raw population numbers and population density really.
Awesome country to raise a family though; you're totally right.
It's a cute small city with all the necessary services (shopping, restaurants, healthcare, optical fiber with 10-15mbps to California) and a vibrant community created by hundreds of students from local universities.
There're a coworking space, small tech meetups, and game jams. You can also take a one hour flight to Santiago for bigger tech events and meetups.
Renting a good house is $600-700 a month, the climate is mild (only rains in winter). Average lunch is $6-8, we spend about $350 for food and $150 for health insurance for 2 persons. Chile is quite safe in general but here we can walk in night without any worries. The city is trying to be bike-friendly, it just got some bike lanes.
Startup and business visas are too complicated here but you can get a "rentista" visa for any kind of passive foreign income or work visa for a contract with a foreign employer. There're many expats coming, we know a team from the US building a tech village near the city.
Downsides: you will need to learn Chilean Spanish (though many young people know English, especially developers), there's smoke pollution in winter in the evenings since wood stoves are used for heating.
* Clean and modern.
* Very safe.
* Nice people.
* Excellent public transportation.
* Good housing (relatively inexpensive).
* Great restaurants (extremely inexpensive).
* Low sales tax.
* Mandarin is a fun language to learn.
Also, $150-200 buys you a round-trip ticket to almost any other major city in Asia, so experiencing a new culture is just another way to spend a weekend. Taiwan's Eva Air and China Airlines are also excellent.
- Taipei is a green city
- easy to meet interesting people
- Very foreigner friendly
- Good and cheap healthcare
Aside from the obvious ease of doing business bit, I like the rule of law, weather, food, infrastructure, people and values (both Singaporean, and the expat community), low COL (for a developed country), international outlook, English as first and main language, ease of flying to cool places including the PRC and Japan, and the jungle in the middle that you can trek in any time also has a place in my heart. It's a great "home".
It's been a few years since I've been there but is that really the case? I've heard the rent is close to SF level and buying a car is supposed to cost a small fortune in taxes alone.
Just from walking around and eating out there, it seemed more expensive than any European city I've been to.
Car: You can live here without a car. The public transport is exceptional and for times when you must go quickly/directly taxis are dirt cheap.
I can eat a decent quality filling lunch of Hainanese Chicken Rice for $2.50SGD (about €1.70 or $1.90USD) in my local hawker, prices I have never found in Europe unless you are willing to eat potentially hazardous materials.
It's true you can easily spend hundreds of dollars eating out if you like however there are plenty of options to keep expenses down. In CBD I can get lunch for less than $5 but usually spend around $8.
Low crime stable environment with strong regulations for food, water, housing, industrial safety, etc, means that necessities tend to be cheap and accessible even to the poorer part of society.
Status goods like cars, luxury cars, fine dining, strata housing, are as expensive as you want it to be. If your status referent group is based on the people around you, it will be as expensive as their income, and many Singaporeans have a lot of income.
Rent is expensive. But if you only rent a room, you can go within 500-1000. Food isn't cheap compared to neighbouring countries, but there are neighbourhood eating places (hawker centers) that are ~US$5.
> I've heard the rent is close to SF level and buying a car is supposed to cost a small fortune in taxes alone.
The trick is not to drive in Singapore. Uber/Grab/cabs and other public transport options are much cheaper unless you need to move around a lot daily. E.g. in sales.
- SGD 2,400/month for 80 sqm, 2 beds, on the other side of the hedge from the Istana (the Presidential residence). Mango tree outside the window. Couple of hornbills live in the neighbourhood. A further SGD 150/month for electricity and water. Managed building, so everything is new and works and can get replaced free if it breaks. I know people paying less to live in landed houses but they are very good at searching. Rents drop fast outside the centre; I saw a 120sqm 4 bedroom in Bukit Panjang (~1h from CBD by MRT, 20 minutes Uber) which was going for SGD 1,500/month in 2014.
You can also pay over SGD 15,000/month for a super penthouse in the best condo; there's quite a bit of demand for these because Americans with a high enough salary can offset their tax bill with it, so instead of giving it to the IRS they live lavishly.
- SGD 400/month for food including frequent "nice" restaurants (sometimes every night). This is helped by going to wet markets instead of supermarkets (in my case Tekka Market just down the road). I could probably cut that to SGD 50-100 by cooking every meal or eating only in hawkers (SGD 2-4/meal).
- SGD 200/month on Uber, mostly out of laziness. The MRT is ultra cheap (SGD 0.8 a short ride, maybe 1.2 for a 1h ride) and about as fast but requires an extra 5-10 minutes walk both ends. The 25 minutes ride from the airport to my flat cost me SGD 17 last night at 3am with a 2 minutes ETA.
- SGD 40/month for health insurance, this is for AIA gold max whatever (I asked for the best coverage they had) although only covers hospitalisation. Wife has corporate insurance which covers me, so GP visits etc. are free anyway.
- around SGD 500/month for flights. Both the yearly/bi-yearly flight home (usually around 1,000 return) and the various trips to Sydney, Tokyo, etc. which at the moment are every month (around 200 return, thanks budget airlines!). I typed my original comment from Sydney. I think I spent almost 50% of the year abroad in 2016.
- I "get back" around 1.5 extra rents thanks to the ultra low income tax rate (between 4-8% for a typical developer salary).
As far as I know, I could not get that quality of life for that money whilst being as central in any of New York, Sydney, Paris, Geneva, Zurich (maybe just, because of the high salaries), London or LA. I think it was doable in Berlin when I was last there (2010 or thereabouts) but have heard of skyrocketing prices since; also, Berlin is damn cold in winter. It's probably doable in secondary US cities like Chicago. I'm not familiar with SF but based on the rents I've seen, it's definitely not doable there.
Costs skyrocket when you have children if by then you do not have PR; in particular, the frequent pickups and drop-offs mean you either need to buy a car (which costs more than an American house) or take a lot more Ubers. House prices are comparable to capital cities in countries with equivalent GDP per capita; if you can't afford a flat in New York, Paris or London, you can't afford it in Singapore.
It's also quite expensive to drink due to high alcohol taxes. In my experience France, Italy and Spain and perhaps Germany are cheaper; the UK and the US are about the same. If alcohol is important to your social life, that can also rack up quickly.
I love visiting Singapore (from Thailand) but I can't imagine living there for any more than about 12 months at a push. What are the chances you will ever in your life be able to afford to buy anything bigger than an apartment/condo (aka a house on a piece of land) in Singapore?
Maybe it's OK from an American perspective but I can't imagine anything worse than living your entire life in a box surrounded by other people in their own little boxes.
About the same as in Paris, London, New York or Tokyo. The difference being there's no "outer suburbs" where you can get a landed property cheap at the cost of a 1h+ commute. At the end of the day, where you live is about acceptable trade-offs. London hedge fund managers bid millions of pounds on houses in SW7 that an accountant in Ohio would pass for $200,000.
I have many friends in Bangkok raving about the quality of life there, but I think it's for an earlier stage of life. At this point in time, I value the rule of law, equality before the law for citizen and foreigners, stable infrastructure, stable non-corrupt government, etc. much more than I used to, and cities like Bangkok (or any PRC city) whilst a bit more exciting are just too much work.
In terms of actually running a business, every company I know of that has its owners in Bangkok somehow has incorporated in Singapore or is owned by a Singapore holding company. I think that has to do with farang ownership restrictions, again, didn't look too deep into it.
Again, it's a very personal outlook and if I could go back in time 10 years, I would head straight for somewhere like Bangkok or Beijing.
The other thing is that when I get box fever (which is rare, my box is comfortable) I just fly somewhere. You can rent a 2 bedroom bungalow steps from the (deserted) beach on Rottnest Island offshore Perth for around $120/night. The flight takes 5 hours and the ferry another 45 minutes. One of many options, including Thailand and Bali.
So.. slim to fuck all?
> I have many friends in Bangkok raving about the quality of life there.
For reference, I'm not advocating for Bangkok either - frankly as a city-vs-city comparison Bangkok is less liveable than Singapore.
There are limits on foreign ownership but its definitely possible to base your company here.
> I think it's for an earlier stage of life
> when I get box fever (which is rare, my box is comfortable) I just fly somewhere
I don't understand how these two phrases fit into the context. To me, living in a shoebox apartment in the middle of a city without a car (which could be either BKK or SIN) "is for an earlier stage of life". When I moved out from my parents place, I moved into a series of small apartments, which progressively got bigger until now when we're back in a real house on a piece of land, and our child(ren) will grow up with a garden to run around in like I had as a kid.
I came here from Australia, so while I understand what you mean about stability of government and rule of law - I've come to appreciate the freedom that a lack of red-tape provides. Yes, I have to be more personally diligent and responsible, and yes I get some weird looks because I've put on a seatbelt, or used a car-seat for a child, or worn a bicycle helmet, or used a drill and screws rather than a nail to hang something on a concrete/brick wall, but I'm ok with that.
I don't particularly need a police officer fining me for driving 5km over the speed limit on a highway in the middle of nowhere to understand the benefits of a car seat for a child.
Foremost because it's always been 'home'. I grew up here and it's where my family and friends are.
There's plenty of space to explore and enjoy outside. I love having so many great beaches, places to mountain bike and go bush walking.
There's clean drinking water, unpolluted air, have a pretty decent healthcare system and healthy work culture. Speaking of culture, I'm yet to come across another culture that's as laid back and easy going.
At the same time, I take advantage of being 'location-independent' and travel frequently. In the past year I've explored Vietnam by motorbike, been surfing in central Australia, gone skiing in New Zealand, road tripped around California, Nevada & Arizona as well as spending some time just soaking up the culture in Japan.
There's not much going on in the middle of the country.
I don't think anyone ever in the history of the planet has described that location as "Central Australia", before you.
Ideally I'd move to Wales where it's cheaper and prettier, but realistically I need to be able to get to London and airports relatively quickly, as well as to not be too far from friends and family.
The why: My wife's from here and I've grown to like the culture and how much further money stretches. Luxury outside of London versus living in a shoebox is no real contest for me (but is a legitimate one for others).
As far as startup culture, people really admire and encourage lean bootstrapping, which results in far more B2B companies than B2C. We do have an incubator working to change that, but I actually prefer it this way. The SV culture of equating raising money with success is completely opposite of my own beliefs.
I'm an American living state-side but I have done some research on relocating to Hong Kong. I work from home with a salary that would be at least semi-respectable anywhere in the US (though of course not luxurious in high CoL cities), but it doesn't seem like it would be enough to furnish a home or lifestyle in HK that is anything like what we have now.
Immigration seems like it will be a problem without employer sponsorship, and employment opportunities for programmers look terrible (though, to be fair, I don't know much Cantonese yet so I can't search in the native language).
I'm starting to come to the conclusion that the only realistic way to get there would be a career shift into finance and specifically targeting the type of jobs that often end up being exported to HK (along with luxurious compensation and relocation packages).
Anyone here run a biz from HK and want to share some details? I see several of its neighbors have been mentioned: Singapore, Taipei, Bangkok, but no HK. Is that just luck of the draw or is there a reason that entrepreneurs avoid HK?
I have an indirect acquaintance, someone I just barely know enough to follow on Facebook, who opened an office in HK. He's been there for 3 or 4 years now, but just announced he and his family are relocating over the border into Shenzen to open another office there (as I understand it, his HK office is still operating, and, for the record, his company primarily does Wordpress sites). I thought this was interesting. I don't know the guy well enough to ask him directly about what motivated him, but is this something people are seeing a lot of? From my reading, it sounds like the only benefits of Shenzen are cheaper rent and more protections from hostile Western governments (HK more likely to extradite and/or honor civil judgments issued by Western countries than mainline China), and there appear to be many additional limitations despite Shenzen's status as a Special Economic Zone.
There are many things I love about HK, but the control of the property market by a cartel of local families permeates every aspect of life.
There's zero sales tax in HK and goods are manufactured nearby, and yet a nice TV from a retail electronics store will cost you double what you'd pay in the US, because they need to cover the rent.
Even something simple like finding a cafe to sit down, enjoy a coffee and read the paper becomes a nearly impossible challenge at times given the inability of a cafe to support its exorbitant rent from customers spending an hour sitting around.
To put some numbers on it, the average rental per per square foot at the high end is $0.55/hour . Assuming you're serving customers 12 hours a day, and you have nothing but customer seating, with one square meter per person, that's $12/hour in rent alone for every seat.
Without zoning, the highest bidder wins. So food and beverage have been pushed up into the high floors of office buildings where rents are cheaper, and the pedestrian areas are instead lined with jewelry and watch shops.
Although HK has a lot of nice forest (as only 25% of the land is developed), within the developed areas, this is what passes for a park:
There are many great things about HK, but it's important to be aware of the space issue.
I'll admit that legal troubles are what initially got me interested in HK. A corporation with a lot of influence in the U.S. threatened to sue my startup for violations of the CFAA, thereby shutting us down. I started to look for other places in the world where the law was less ambiguous and from where I may be able to operate my business.
The telecommunications law in HK seems to make it somewhat-explicitly more legal there, though it's still probably not a slam dunk. We have to personally relocate, can't just re-incorporate in HK, because this company will sue me in the U.S. if I resume operations. Relocating a) provides an additional layer of indirection between American court systems and my personal assets and freedom, and HK specifically makes further retreat from Western influence more feasible, should it become necessary, given its proximity to PRC and other countries that are not US lapdogs; and b) makes it more difficult for an American court to establish personal jurisdiction over my activity, though I have no doubt that BigCo's lawyers would get it easily.
HK is a modern, high-tech city with fast internet and easy access to everything, including a lot of the brands that we're used to in America (I understand the HK versions may be substantially different). It's reported to be very safe and very clean. English is an official language (though I read that only about 5% of locals have more than the most basic proficiency in it), which would make it easier to operate than other areas of Asia as signage in English is available, official business can be conducted in English, etc. It's a great base for further exploration of the region. There is a large and apparently vibrant community of American and English expats. There's a culture of hard work and there are very low taxes. The weather is not necessarily ideal, but reasonable. I also believe that there would be developmental benefits for my children, including but not limited to the opportunity to fully immerse in Cantonese.
In the course of my research, I learned that Snowden's first preference for refuge was Hong Kong, and it's easy to see why. Singapore is probably the only other comparable candidate. Europe is out of the question in general due to their social and political stances, but it has even worse computer access laws than America if you can believe it.
Realistically I understand that HK is not a practical refuge with regard to my specific legal issues. There's nowhere in the world I could go and be safe from the wrath of one of the world's largest and most recognizable companies. In any modern country, they'll easily outlawyer me, and the laws on these matters are not completely unambiguous; it'd take me millions of dollars to mount a defense, and even then, there's a substantial likelihood that they would prevail.
In any developing country, the officials will be far too easy to buy off, and most likely all this company would have to do is ask, because the officials would much rather have their goodwill than mine. Look at the Pirate Bay guys; even though what they were doing was completely legal under Swedish law, the US State Dept pushed for their prosecution at the behest of a cartel of large companies, Sweden held a kangaroo court and convicted them, they fled to Cambodia/Laos/Thailand (basically the only countries with computer access that don't extradite on command from Western nations) and still eventually got caught at border crossings and sent back home to serve their time. Moral of the story appears to be that if BigCo wants your life screwed up badly enough, they will relentlessly pursue until it's done, and petty things like the laws of the nation-state are not relevant. Ultimately, money talks, no matter where you live.
I also don't really want to become an effective exile from my own home country, which is what would happen even if there was a country that would shelter a little person like myself. Criminal charges are possible under the CFAA and there would be an arrest warrant issued if a criminal case was brought, probably meaning I'd get arrested at the first American border stop. There would certainly be a standing civil judgment against any assets I own within American boundaries, which means I would never be able to have a bank account or own a home without resorting to identity theft. Not good stuff, and my little business is absolutely not worth all of that.
Even though I understand that there is nowhere on Earth that would allow my business to resume operations, after the research I've done, I still believe it'd be good for my family to spend a few years in Hong Kong for the reasons enumerated above. I continue to be interested in learning as much as I can from people who have experience there, especially experience with the entrepreneurial scene and/or raising a large family as an expat.
I have no input on your legal woes, but your points above are pretty accurate. It's a very easy, safe (excluding the air pollution) and convenient place to live. The only point I'd disagree with is in raising a family there, but I imagine that's a personal preference. I'd also suggest that Mandarin would be immensely more useful for your children than Cantonese.
I don't want to turn this into a discussion, so i wont reply here again, but I'd direct you to the following popular forum for expat families here, which should contain a lot of relevant information and where you can ask questions of other HK expats:
Why? maybe the best sailing area in the med (we live aboard a 11mt old/cheap sailing boat), cheap, easy, great weather, great & cheap internet (mobile) everywhere. Winter not aboard anymore (electricity is getting too expensive), so maybe will join some of you in wintertime
On the flip side there is no tech ecosystem or it can sometimes be a bit boring, you need to travel to BCN to get your culture fix :) It can also be a bit hard to get out since closest airport is BCN.
Not a particularly inspiring environment, besides the good beaches and view of the mountains. Non-existent developer community. Sufficiently sized city (200k) to have everything you need. Fun festivals.
For our family of two adults and a baby, our living cost is very roughly $3000 / month. Biggest cost is my health insurance, second highest expense is rent, our place is $720 / month. You need a car to survive.
At first it seemed that taxes would be much cheaper than Finland, but actually there are many varieties of fees and when you add them all up Japan is about the same. Putting a child through the schooling system would tip that in favor of Finland, where they actually pay you to study.
I wrote this ages ago, been meaning to update it: http://www.bemmu.com/what-it-costs-to-live-in-japan
1. Any noticeable societal differences between living in Tokushima and Tokyo?
2. Assuming you are still renting, do you eventually plan to purchase your own property in Japan?
It seems property costs outside of Tokyo are really cheap. I've been contemplating moving near Kamakura as it has a beach and it's still reasonably close to Tokyo.
Being Romanian, it wasn't really a tough choice, having family and friends here. Quite happy with the quality of life, cost of living and income taxes. The city has been changing for the better in the past 10 years, feeling very cosmopolitan these days and open to foreigners.
- Sunny most of the year
- Small EU capital but lots to do, beautiful cities countrywide
- Almost all young people speak fluent English
- Cheap (though this is slowly changing)
- Very multicultural (if you know where to look)
- I rent a big room w/ an amazing view of the city and my total monthly bills are under $600 (includes going out several times per week).
Currently in Bali because it's cheap, the weather is nice, I'm right on the beach, there are solid coworking + cafe options, and the Balinese people + culture + architecture are absolutely splendid.
The more I make solid friends with other long-term travelers, however, the more I prioritize the locations where I know those friends will be.
It's important that the time I don't spend working be fulfilling -- a value that Parisians all seem to share.
Cheap (if not free) museums, cultural events, and small gatherings in which people talk about life are what keep me here.
I like California for a lot of reasons, but the deciding factor is my health.
I've also chosen my coworking space ("Ecoworking") based on the awesomeness of the community and the variety of entrepreneurs (NGOs, architects, book writers, motion designers, etc). I'm a software editor.
If it were only for the quality of living, I'd be in the south of France (Nice), but the coworking space I met there wasn't friendly. Besides, the cost of living is much lower in Lyon, notably because the car isn't necessary.
The beautiful old architecture paired with modern public transit made it an excellent city for adventures. We could be anywhere we wanted via bike, scooter, skateboard, and metro in almost no time, and there was so much to see. Coming from living in a car-centric US suburb, it was extremely liberating.
One of my fondest memories was when my exchange student was here in the states, and we were eating at an Applebees. The waitress took his 3/4 empty soda glass away, and he swore at her in french. She just shrugged and returned with a free refill. His jaw just dropped since drinking that much soda, and free refills, was totally foreign to him.