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You have options – Why we left the U.S. and moved back to Europe (sam-the-man.com)
126 points by samjc 8 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 137 comments



I love to travel, meet other people, experience different cultures, and widen my horizons. For those reasons alone, I'd definitely advocate at least doing a lot of traveling to lots of different countries, and (if possible) trying to live in those countries you like best.

That said, I've found that living in other countries does have its down sides. The one that's bothered me most is being treated like a second-class citizen. In the countries I've been to, I've often felt like an outsider, or a cash machine, or a target. If you don't speak the language, you're usually treated even worse.

Those experiences have really given me a much stronger sense of empathy for how immigrants and other foreigners are treated in my own country, but has also made living in my own country feel a lot safer and more desirable.

I haven't given up on travel, and still like to do so to expand my horizons and experience places that are really different, but I really think twice about just jumping up and permanently moving somewhere else. Most expats can't take it long-term, and wind up moving back after a while. It's a rare breed who can move to a radically different country and remain -- unless, of course, they feel they have no other choice.


Some countries are worse in this respect than others. I've lived in lots of different places, I've never really felt much of an outsider because (1) I try hard to learn as much of the local language that I can, (2) I try to connect to the locals rather than to my fellow country men and (3) I try really hard to be nice to people and help where I can. Having some skills will make this much quicker. Even so, there are definitely many levels of inclusion and you'll likely never be seen as a local but that's pretty much expected since after all you're not.

In order of feeling accepted:

- Canada

- United States

- Poland

- Romania

Those are the countries where I've spent more than just a few months cumulatively, though I never actually had a permanent residence in the United States (I did have an American "Inc" and spent lots of time there). Even to this day I have more friends abroad than in the country I was born in (and where I live).

And moving back here was a mixed bag, for one the Canadian paperwork took forever (we really felt that Canadian government was taking advantage of us and stringing us along), for another there was serious concern about the quality of the education in the place where we lived.

As long as you think of yourself as an 'expat' rather than as an 'immigrant' you're on the wrong track.


>And moving back here was a mixed bag

"here" meaning the Netherlands; is that not so?


Yep.


Interestingly, I see a lot of parallels between the feelings you have described and how people who are opposed to immigration describe their position. Basically, they want the place they call home to remain the way it is, because it’s comfortable and they’re worried that mass immigration will change that (or has already changed that).


People tend to be irrational about things and this is a good illustration. As broken and expensive as US healthcare is, you’re making 3x the money here, and out of pocket maximums do kick in eventually. And the US is not the top country by far, even among developed ones, in number of mass murder victims per 100000 population. You’re vastly more likely to drown in your backyard pool than be a victim of a mass shooting in the US. Majority of firearm deaths are suicides. Majority of homicides are concentrated in crime / gang activity hubs like Detroit, Chicago, and a few others. Firearm homicide has been trending downward for decades, even if you take the crime hubs into account. IOW if you don’t live in one of the well known “bad” places, your chance of dying from a firearm wound is very low indeed.


Out of pocket maximums kick in eventually, unless you accidentally go to an out-of network provider, unless you lose your job and therefore your insurance, unless your insurance decides that a drug you need isn't covered, etc., etc., etc.


You don’t lose your insurance anymore if you lose your job. You are required by law to have insurance whether you have a job or not.


Your formulation makes it sound like the government will make sure you have insurance.

This is not the case. You have to make sure you have insurance or the government will fine you. But if you were unable to get insurance for whatever reason, you still don't have insurance.

And Obamacare premiums are not small and the insurance is not very good.


What's your criteria for "good"?

The worst conforming ACA plans are essentially the catastrophic insurance that people think they are clamoring for; they are expensive because health care costs in the US are spiraling out of control. It could be that people actually want plans with a bunch of complicated limitations and limits, but I doubt it.


> The worst conforming ACA plans are essentially the catastrophic insurance that people think they are clamoring for

Just an anecdote, but I have not found this to be the case at all, and I'd figure I'd offer an example of one such "clamorer who thinks he wants catastrophic plans" to balance the discussion.

Prior to ACA I was on a "catastrophic" plan (despite being able to afford something much more comprehensive). I think the "catastrophic" term is kind of dumb, and I'd instead call it "actually-insurance, not a prepaid health subscription".

The premium was around $95/month and I spent maybe another ~$1k/year on medications and office visits. I was totally satisfied with this health coverage and never felt I had to limit my access to health care because of my plan.

As soon as ACA rolled around I tried to find the most similar plan I could (mine was discontinued despite promises to the contrary).

1) I couldn't get as high a deductible, so I was forced to pay for risk-reduction I didn't want. In an absolutely life-threatening 1%-of-insurees catastrophe, my family can absorb say $25k/year out of pocket so I see no reason to insure against that financial risk.

2) The first year my premium was $180, then $220, then $260. I did not save any money on medications or office visits (if anything it got more expensive, but that may also just be a general trend in US health costs).

So post-ACA my insurance premium cost has nearly tripled, and the product I considered satisfactory before is simply not available on the market.

In summary: people can rationally prefer pre-ACA catastrophic plans, and post-ACA such options are not available.


I think that's a fair counterpoint. It would be interesting to see some statistics about how many people are informed about the trade offs between deductibles and premiums and such.


To follow up on this, you will be fined by the IRS for every month of the year in which you have no insurance...


Not anymore though, the 2017 tax bill repealed that part of the law.


My experience with a silver level ppo plan through the exchanges is that it is exceptionally good. But yes, I'm sure if you choose the absolute bare minimum coverages it won't be great.


Yes. So rather than putting a gun to my head to make me pay for your insurance they put the gun to the head of the purportedly responsible adult who should be paying, and provide steep discounts if you can’t afford it.

Government can merely redistribute its tax earnings, often in extremely corrupt and wasteful ways. It does not create wealth on its own.


COBRA is a good option to retain your insurance for many months after leaving an employer, during which time you can (for now) pick a new lower-priced provider from your state’s Obamacare exchange.


COBRA is time-limited, and expensive. You're now paying for both the employer and the employee parts of the insurance cost.

Been there, done that.


> As broken and expensive as US healthcare is, you’re making 3x the money here

It's not a matter of the expected values, it's a matter of their distribution. The fact that you're making 3x as much doesn't change the fact that if you're unlucky for whatever reason you'll be in debt for the rest of your life.


No you won't. Bankruptcy is a thing. You have a put option to pay for medical care at the price of "all your non-creditor-protected assets". If you're in a reasonable place like Texas and you're maxing out IRA/401k and paying down your mortgage on your primary residence, you're going to be fine financially as long as you can either work or have good disability insurance.


Oh, so you just go bankrupt. That's a good system then.


And the US is not the top country by far, even among developed ones, in number of mass murder victims per 100000 population.

Snopes describes the report you're probably talking about as "extremely misleading": https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/united-states-lower-death-...


Sure, he is making 3x now, but there are a lot of people in the U.S who do not have healthcare or fall into real debt financing it.

On a side note, the NHS crisis worries me a lot, but I’m thinking it must be better than no public health care at all, right?


You make three times.. until you don't.a big accident,six months out of job?

Never heard working out in America.

In Germany no problem...


You make it sound like Germany doesn’t have poor people. That is most certainly not the case. In fact if you consider percentages, more Germans than Americans live below poverty level.


The state pop ups your income to 800€.

Which allows you to live in a small Appartement outside the city and still have like 400€.

If you are not an alcoholic or smoke you can live a good live. And. Have free and good health insurance.

Source: my mom is in exactly that situation. Pension is only 600, state ups it to 800. She needs to move to a smaller appointment to live now. But she is now some without kids and stuff. No need for a big two or three room apartment.

I know it is sad for old people to move. ( I see it with my mom)

But in live you grow and later you shrink ( home size, income etc etc) it's normal circle of life.

I bet I will be sad when I need to move out of my three room Appartement.


You have own-occupation disability insurance for that. These downside risks are rather easily hedge-able. I don't quite have things set up yet, but my long-term plan involves moving to Texas, storing most of my wealth in IRAs/401(k) plans and my primary residence, and taking out own-occupation disability insurance for the time I'm still dependent on my income to make ends meet.

If something happens, my medical insurance pays for most, and then past that I spend down my emergency fund from taxable employment income and start drawing un-garnishable private disability insurance.


We moved from France back to the US (Miami, specifically) in the last year. Going back to France has come up a lot in our household. Salaries are definitely higher here but once I deduct the major expenses (healthcare, childcare, healthy foods) it comes out to be only 10% bump salary wise.

In our travels the one thing we have found is that medical tourism is becoming a better known option to Americans. I've met doctors and surgeons who keep a small office in Miami for consultation but the operations are done in Colombia, Brazil or Mexico.


Is real estate cheaper here or there? It seems, at least in the southwest, more common to be able to afford more land/property.


Land is definitely cheaper in the US. Building codes vary quite a bit. But I don’t expect these houses to last 50+ years without significant upkeep. It seems like the quality of the buildings were higher in Western Europe. But that could be survivor bias. Crappy buildings get knocked down sooner.


It's funny that Florida has such a pristine reputation internationally. I'm from the Southern US, and my view of Florida is that it's where 80% of the crazies in the US live.

Anytime I see a batsh*t crazy headline? Florida. Check the articles you see from now on and you'll notice a pattern.

So to all the internationals: if you like the US but not its extremes, definitely don't move to Florida.


Florida has embraced open records laws, while other US jurisdictions have not - certainly not to the same extent.

A significant portion of your observation can likely be attributed to reporting bias: it's easy/cheap for a journalist to browse the website of their local Florida police department. In another jurisdiction, that same story might involve: hiring an investigative journalist, spending 3 months, and fighting to have a FOIA request honoured.


Thank you. I was waiting for someone to bring this up. Native Floridian, born and raised. My whole life I’ve lovingly referred to our mad little peninsula as “The Freakshow State” (from personal observation growing up in Miami-Dade). This area most certainly deserves the title, but there’s a whole lotta state left. Boring orange groves, swamp, and simple folk. If you stay away from a few metropolitan areas you’ll be good. Some areas are indeed crazy, but the public transparency laws paint the whole state as a festering cesspool.


My family vacations there every year and my grandparents lived there for 30 years. I can assure you the crazy is real and not imagined.


You're not wrong about the crazy. The point is that it's not just Florida.


Let us not forget, it was Nevadans who "occupied" an animal refuge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Occupation_of_the_Malheur_Nati...


Your ideas about Florida are a common misconception in America. The reason you see all the wacky "Florida Man" news is not due to Floridians being crazier than the rest of America. It is because of their local government disclosure laws:

http://www.miaminewtimes.com/news/how-floridas-proud-open-go...



A lot of people are in Florida, so you end up with more headlines then from smaller states...


Florida Man. You're talking about Florida Man.


I moved from London to Lisbon and then to Brazil. I get the same kinda "wtf" reaction from Brazilians. The bottom line is, with all that's wrong in Brazil and given my circumstances and my remote well paid job, I'm a lot happier living here than anywhere else in the world. I truly love this place.

I don't think one needs to try to make a place work for them. Sure you can try and adapt. But ultimately most people reading this have the option to live elsewhere. Don't be afraid to take the chance.


I'm guessing not many of them tried to live in London? It's a dream until reality smashes your head open :D


I never understood why it's a dream, but you're right that for many people that I've met living in London is like the goal of their life. I moved here for the money, but the quality of life is terrible.


What makes quality of life terrible in London? Which part of London do you live in?


Farringdon.

Apart from the obvious (weather etc), it's even hard to say. The city just feels harsh to me. One of the things that I first noticed when I moved here was how it's uncommon to find places to sit when you're out and about. If you're out all day you can't just sit in some bench and rest a bit because they're virtually non-existent. You have to go into a coffee shop. I think it's loads of tiny things like that.

Maybe that wasn't very convincing...

EDIT: Of course also the rents. I'm lucky enough that I have big windows to the park, but I'm paying an absurd fortune. The alternative is moving to the periphery where I have to spend 1 hour on the tube each way and when I go home I'm worring that I'm gonna get stabbed.


There are plenty of parks and squares with benches all around the city open areas with places to sit isn’t a problem in London.

You just usually need to get off the high street.


It's too crowded, the rent is obscene and it has nothing to offer besides higher paid work, which is a necessity. Manchester is a way better choice.


Never lived in London, but I hated Manchester. So it's not necessarily "a way better" choice, but there's a choice, which is the point I guess. (I remember Newcastle fondly.)


Well, it is The London in The UK. Live there a few months, it gets to you imo :)


Well paid US job? Could you please provide ball park estimate and what exactly do you do. Also how do you deal with currency exchange and are yoy a native brazzilian speaker? I've been contemplating moving to south america as well.


Yes well paid US based programming job. I transferwise.com funds, you have to read rules about your country of origin and double taxation laws. Brazil is a bureaucratic hell. I speak very basic Portuguese but taking lessons. I would definitly suggest living in a target country for a month before deciding to move.


It's called portuguese.


I'm thinking of moving from Brazil to Portugal. Is there anything special you didn't like in Lisbon? Was is too similar to London and you were looking for something different? Thanks


You'd have to try it for yourself I guess. I loved Lisbon as a place to visit, but living there was a totally different story. Sadly (and apologies to the Portuguese here) Portugal is a harsh country to immigrants, especially Brazilians from what they told me. Frankly I'd say the only thing Portugal and Brazil have in common is the language. My opinion only.


Also plan to move to Lisbon. Harsh in what way? Would you mind giving some examples?


Thanks for replying! I plan to try that.


Three of my friends moved in the other direction (all of them Americans by birth), one with his family in tow.

Having options is good, and it is fairly easy for American entrepreneurs to move to Europe (Germany works if you have enough backing and a good plan) or back again if they decide that's what is best for them.

Healthcare is definitely a factor and so is the climate but when you're young and working hard neither of those will likely move the needle much (but healthcare is a bit of a lottery in the longer term).

The paranoia angle wouldn't factor in for most people, though I can see how if you are prone to that that it will affect you.

If you're an entrepreneur and you wish to address the largest single market on the planet (one language, one currency) with your start-up the USA is probably the place to be if you can get in in an easy way. If not then the EU is likely your best bet but it will be substantially harder to address the EU market than the American one. You might even get a neat balance if you lived in Europe but treated your start-up like an American entity from day one.


I sadly have to agree with you. Regardless of how much we (Europeans) unify the law, the language barrier will still be there for a long time :(

Having said that, in many cases language is not that big of an issue - for example, if you're doing software as a service, or mobile apps, doing them in english, gives you access to the global market from the day one.

An interesting case is Fintech/Crypto - over there it makes a big difference where you begin, US and EU legal/financial systems being so different. In US, you have the advantage of the language uniformity, but in EU, arguably, the law is much more uniform between the countries - if you get a financial license to run in one of the countries, it allows you to operate in all of them. Also, the laws are uniform, although their execution isn't.

Where US really shines is anything physical (e.g. consumer electronics), and anything local (AirBnB, Meetup.com, and so on) - with these, people expect the service to be in their local language, but I feel it's less and less every year.


One of my college classmates moved about 15 years ago from working for NASA to Europe to work for ESA, I think the decision process is different for African Americans, one has to think about how one or one's child is more likely to be killed by a policeman than a terrorist in the United States (when the President cites terrorism as some existential threat to be addressed by national immigration policies versus no action on police), no matter what your status is, it was not that different for James Baldwin or Richard Wright than it is today.


That's a good point, ethnicity likely is a huge factor in making decisions such as these. That said, racism is alive and well in Europe.


It's certainly less likely to be a cause of death for your child or person, given officers in general are less armed. And in the UK's case, they ban some of the worst offenders from entering.


That's true, in Western Europe police forces are much more disciplined than in the United States. Even so, being a person of color in France is going to be a significant disadvantage in the eyes of the police, less so in most other countries but still definitely not a level playing field. I wish it were different.

What we do have is corruption, and lots of it in some places, again, less so in others. The various countries in the Union are at least as different from each other as the American states.


I moved away from Las Vegas for many of the same reasons as OP:

The Heat: While LV heat is much dryer than Florida's, I hope to never live where it gets so hot ever again. I would push myself to fight the heat and be outside in spite of it, but there's only so much fight.

The Pollution: Only a few, select zip codes have decent air quality in LV. Where I worked, on the strip, mixed disgusting air quality with the highest heat in the valley.

Everywhere you go the sun will beat down on you, the air will offer no comfort, and there will be no shade.

The Violence: I lived in a fine apartment in a fine area (with mansions and golf courses nearby). The cops nonetheless shot and killed the occupant in the apartment immediately above me one night - while I was in my apartment downstairs. He deserved it, too, but that doesn't change my perception of the violence in LV. A woman was hit and killed by a car just outside of the complex one weekend. I worked on the strip the night of the Oct 1 shooting massacre, too. But that's just the tip of the violence problem in LV. People treat one another with so much contempt and hostility in everyday life there. They will actually come up to you, tell you they do not like you, and that they will do everything they can to destroy you. And they will do it often. You will probably have never met this person before their threat, and have done nothing to earn their hate.

Healthcare: I had mixed experiences with doctors there. I had doctors tell me they did not believe I had the symptoms I described - because I'm a guy. But I also finally got a chronic condition under control with a doctor there, too. Of course, that doctor will still, to this day, suggest we stop treatment at the slightest misstatement from me. Financially though, I once had a doctor send my bill to collections before ever actually billing me. Within days of treatment his collections agency contacted me - as though I were a problem patient. Then, years back, a gastroenterologist was found sharing medical supplies between patients. I forget the numbers, but he gave many people HIV/hepatitis/etc that way.

Options: It took a long time after the great recession for LV to recover. I'm sure it will not fare well during the next recession.


I know we’re not anywhere near this being a pressing concern, but Pax Americana is coming to an end and I think there’s something to be said for America’s physical location on the globe and relationship with it’s two neighbors. There have been lots of conflagrations in Europe in the time since the American civil war 150 years ago, but there have been essentially none in America. Meanwhile, the raw ingredients of the terrors of the 20th century still exist in Europe.


Pax Romana lasted 200 years. It's been 70 so far for Pax Americana. You seem certain that it's on the brink. Why is that?


Well, peace may continue, but it’ll be hard to attribute it to America. China’s ascendance is looming on the horizon. Unless something goes drastically wrong for them, their military and economic might will dwarf America’s. And I think there’s tons of instability on the horizon. Weird shit is happening in Europe, Russia is back as a geopolitical force, Japan is on path to militarize again, etc. These are strange times; the world order that the Soviet collapse ushered in seems to quickly be coming to an end.


The Pax Americana has never been free of contentiousness or outright war. People (especially young people) forget how fragile things were prior to the fall of the USSR. The complete US dominance of the '90s and '00s is not the norm. And just as the Soviet house of cards collapsed, there's no guarantee that China's ascendancy is indefinite. Russia's posturing right now is a veil for its domestic strife and decrepit military, they are not much of a force.


I’ve thought this for a long time, but the insanity of the US healthcare system makes is such that it erases the wage differences between here and countries with national healthcare systems for a huge percentage of the population long term.

You’re essentially gambling that you won’t be struck by a finance destroying health crisis for a long enough time that you’ll come out ahead overall. But when you think about the fact that 35-40% of people develop cancer in their lifetimes, or the “financial death by a thousand procedures” described in the post, that seems unlikely, at least for a good portion of people.


I dunno, whenever I see European or Canadian software engineering salaries mentioned, I do some quick math and it seems like I come out way ahead, even if I were to pay my family’s out of pocket maximum every year.


I move from Australia to Iceland. Icelanders always go "what the hell man? why would you do that?" when they find out.

It's complicated. Broadly speaking, it's an even split between:

1. Icelands software industry being considerably more vibrant than Australias, which is really sad for Aus.

2. Australias government increasingly intervening directly in it's citizens lives whether they like it or not. The Icelandic government is pretty hands off, þetta reddast etc.

3. Icelanders have no idea what the word "heat" really means. They've never under-clocked their computers to keep them stable during summer. I'll take Icelandic winter over Australia summer any day of the week.

It's been hard, but I wouldn't take back my decision, no way. Any one of those reasons is good enough for me.

We're living in the first age in human history where you can really just pick up all your shit and straight up move to the opposite side of the planet, no dramas. I paid ~$8,000AUD to some dudes, they rocked up at my place with a truck full of boxes and paper and wrapped up literally the entire house and drove off. Three months later some other dudes showed up at my new place in Reykjavik and unboxed everything for me. 8k isn't nothing, but it's not unreachable either, and I also paid for the full service move. Easiest move I ever did, but you could probably do it for half the price if you packed yourself.

Out of the whole planet, what're the odds that you were born in the place that suits you best? It's definitely worth shopping around.


Would love to find out how you got a job programming in Iceland. What were the requirements for language, Visa, how did you find the role etc?


Australians don't need visas to visit or stay temporarily in Iceland, but to work you need a residence permit and work permit.

Residence permits won't get processed while you're in the country as a tourist, so you apply from outside the country and wait. There are no language requirements as long as someone is willing to hire you. To get a residence permit you need to meet the quality of "support"[1], which broadly means either approximately $22,000 in savings per year of your permit OR payslips demonstrating a monthly income that meets $22,000/yr OR an employment contract from an Icelandic company.

If you go the employment route, you need a work permit. For software, this is usually done on the basis of "expert knowledge"[2]. The company usually needs to demonstrate that they're unable to hire a schengen zone citizen to do your job (otherwise you're not expert enough I guess?), and then issue you with a contract that you submit to the directorate of immigration. That's relatively informal though, and mostly means the company needs to advertise in Iceland first and show that it interviewed candidates and they weren't suitable. Iceland is heavily unionized and your work permit will need a stamp of approval from a relevant union. The first time you request this the union will want to see your qualifications. I strongly suggest becoming a member of that union to smooth things over when you get it renewed every one or two years. Iceland is charmingly small-town corrupt like that.

All Icelanders under ~60 speak flawless English, and it's pretty common for Icelanders under 30 to interleave English words into Icelandic sentences in cases where there isn't a good Icelandic word. Unless the company you apply to works heavily with Icelandic language products, it's unlikely that speaking only English would be a barrier to employment.

As for getting the job itself, Iceland is /desperate/ for good programmers. The cost of living is high, the wages are low, and the local universities don't have fabulous software degrees[3]. It's hard for Icelandic companies to hire good programmers. If you want to come to Iceland and you have a qualification, it may not be that hard. However, I suggest visiting for a holiday in June and again in February, to see what this country is really like. If you don't love it as a place to live, you won't stay long.

This might be a good place to start looking: https://www.tvinna.is/

[1] http://www.utl.is/index.php/en/basic-requirements1#support

[2] http://www.utl.is/index.php/en/residence-permits-based-on-wo...

[3] My friends tell me that slightly pre-banking-crisis, all the universities reformed their software degrees to churn out low level CRUD app webdevs to make lots of web apps for the high flying Icelandic banks. When the banks all crashed, Iceland became awash with relatively inflexible developers, and the universities haven't really refocused their coursework much, so the standard of graduates is, I am told, still relatively poor.


Thank you for the detailed response :)


I can't offer any direct comparison with Iceland, but the software scene in Australia has been improving rapidly the last couple of years - particularly with US visa laws making it worse for immigrants wanting to move there.

To offer some data for Sydney, Google has of course been around a while, Google Maps is based out of Australia. Atlassian is hiring as much as ever. Amazon has been growing at a rapid clip here in Sydney (I wish I could disclose numbers publicly!) and we have offices in Melbourne and Brisbane, and Microsoft is in the process of opening a dev centre in Sydney right now as well. Still a long ways to go but it's much better than even a few years ago.


> Australias government increasingly intervening directly in it's citizens lives whether they like it or not

What exactly do you mean? And is it Australian government or individual state ones?


Both. A few examples are in order I guess.

A few years ago, the federal government dissolved the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, which checked peoples passports and asked them stern questions about the suspicious grass dolls they bought in Vietnam. If you did something really stupid, a customs officer might point a pistol at you.

They replaced it with the Australian Border Force, who despite formally not being a military force (how-dare-you-suggest-it-you-unaustralian-piece-of-shit-do-we-need-to-check-your-passport) are armed with the same Steyr AUG assault rifles that are used by the Australian Army and very much like to show them off at all public appearances.

Within literally less than a month of it's formation the government attempted to deploy this new department, which is under unusually direct control of parliament for an armed force in Australia, to spot check for expired visas on the streets of Melbourne. Fortunately, we never got to find out how the Aussie Stazi were going to tell the difference between visitors and normal Australians. Australians are not required to carry ID and due to our wonderful melting pot of cultures cannot always be distinguished by accent. As it happened, Melbourne did us proud and brought the city to a halt in protest:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-08-28/border-force-to-check-...

https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/aug/28/prote...

Meanwhile, in my home state, a new government has just been elected on the back of an unironic campaign promise to deploy sniffer dogs in schools to ensure children don't have drugs:

https://strongplan.com.au/first-100-days/ (ctrl-f "sniffer dogs")

One of the reasons I left Australia is that I am expecting them to close the borders and start granting exit visas within the next 5-10 years. They've already successfully used "won't someone think of the children" to establish precedent for denying people freedom to exit the country: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/12/13/world/australia/pedophile...

The next step will be expanding it to preventing people with "dangerous ideas" from "embarrassing Australia and endangering our neighbors". I expect to see vocal anti-vaxxer proponents denied permission to travel within about 3 years. It'll creep from there.

Basically what's happening is that Australia is sick to death of its two identical political parties, and they're both losing support rapidly in both state and federal governments. Understandably, neither one is willing to accept that it might just not be wanted by the new generation, so both are grasping for provable victories they can display like trophies at elections. This has resulted in huge tax increases on booze and cigarettes, burdensome increases in the difficulty of teenagers getting drivers licenses and reductions in the utility of those licenses, sweeping surveillance and data retention laws, attempts to criminalize the teaching of encryption algorithms, big increases in security theater at airports and a litany of other annoyances.

Mostly I want the government to just fuck off and leave me alone, but it won't play ball. So I fucked off instead.


I've enjoyed reading your comments in this thread. Have you considered writing up any of your observations about places you've visited, lived or worked in in a blog/book/etc? I would check it out.


I've certainly considered it, but it's very much not me. It's hard to be more expressive than that without posting a huge long introspective ramble. I'm one of lifes natural born psudo-anonymous internet posters, I guess.

edit: Thanks for the compliment by the way :) I really do forget my manners on the internet!


Dude, I moved to Reykjavik just over a year ago from NYC!


Wanna do lunch next week?


Yeah man, somewhere downtown?

edit: If you've got keybase, you can add me with user "arkaroo". Otherwise, what's a good way to get in contact?


The US has a lot more to offer than Florida, especially when it comes to the complaints (heat, health care and mass shootings) in the article.


Can you explain the healthcare differences? From what I know it is pretty bad all over the USA compared to say France or Germany.


Healthcare is one of those areas where your experience varies dramatically based on how rich you (or your employer) are. I had nothing but good experiences when I was on Google's health plan - basically walk in to any of a number of top-notch, very wealthy clinics, don't pay a cent, get great care. Ditto when I was on my mom's government-employee plan. I was hospitalized with an acute kidney infection when I was 15, one that would've killed me had I lived 50 years earlier. Immediately got referred to a top-notch children's hospital, attentive doctors, pumped full of antibiotics and made all better again, and my family didn't pay a cent of what would've been a $200-300K hospital bill. Similarly, my dad's hospitalization at the end of his life cost close to a million bucks, of which we didn't pay anything.

At the other end of the spectrum, if you don't have health insurance, you will be bankrupted by the slightest medical emergency. You'll get care, but the doctors generally won't care about you. Oftentimes you end up going to hospitals that are poorer, with more overworked nursing staff that more frequently make mistakes. Even having private health insurance these days or a HDHP from a smaller organization still is a much lower level of service, with much higher amounts paid out of pocket. When I left Google I bought a private individual plan from Anthem, the same insurer I had at Google; despite it being the same company, my existing doctor wouldn't take the new plan, and I couldn't even see the same doctor I'd just waltzed in to see on Google's plan without paying $400 out of pocket or so.

Much of Obamacare's achievement and Obamacare's pain comes from being an attempt to spread the misery around, so that we don't have a caste system for healthcare in the U.S. It's meant that 20-30M people who were previously unable to see doctors at all now have basic health care, but it's also meant that many people for whom health care used to be completely covered, free, now have to pay something close to the real cost of their care, and they're finding out just how much the experience sucked for the rest of America.


Ok, but the number of people employed by companies such as Google is very low compared to the total number of Americans.

So statistically speaking chances are that you'll find yourself on that 'other end of the spectrum'.


Statistically speaking yes, health care in the U.S. sucks more than in countries with socialized medicine.

You are not a statistic. Evaluate your expected experience accordingly.


From a rich persons point of view such expected experience will vary drastically compared to a poor person's. They can evaluate all they want it will likely not make much difference.


How will your insurance change after you retire? Will a retired google engineer be able to afford a google-class health insurance? I am asking to learn, not to imply anything.


After 65 you go on Medicare which is a gov't program. Quality is quite good from what I've heard however some doctor's limit the number of Medicare patients as the reimbursement is quite low.


Well, to be clear Health Insurance and the US companies that supply it often do so poorly (Kaiser isn't too bad except for mental health), but the healthcare itself can be top notch. People travel from all over the world to get the best treatment, but basic healthcare (preventative etc.) is expensive and not even uniformly acceptable.


The quality of health care is so high in Europe that I really cannot imagine any European going to the US for treatment apart from perhaps very few experimental treatments that are not permitted in Europe.


Unsure what it's like in Europe, but when my Canadian cousin had a brain tumor, he went to the U.S. for treatment. Canada's health care system is on average better than the U.S, but when you have a brain tumor, you don't want an average doctor, you want the best. And by and large, these are still in the U.S. because they can make an order of magnitude more money than they could in a country with socialized medicine.


The US has a much larger number of inhabitants than Canada does, so a much larger number of people that could be outliers in any one profession. On top of that the bigger pay draws the top players from Canada as well. So it is no surprise that that 'best' doctor is in the US, it would be far more surprising if they were in Canada (and stayed there).


Are they actually better doctors or just doctors that make more money?


Quality migrates towards compensation. It’s like how the best programmers are in the US.


From what I've seen, compensation isn't a great indicator of skill or quality. And how do you even measure the "best programmer"? I don't buy it.


And the best lawyers too ;)


This was my experience in Canada as well. Everybody get the same level of care, but when the shit hits the fan, I'd prefer to get care in the US.

A good example is cancer. Cutting edge cancer drugs are pretty universally covered by both public and private insurance, right after FDA approval.

In Canada it can take years before the gov't agrees to pay for it and sometimes they say "no".[1]

"It's crazy that I live in Canada, but now I'm looking at having to sell my house for coverage of my medication."

[1] http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/british-columbia/a-tale-of-2-f...


Overall it's good in Europe. But there are some specialists and specialist clinics in USA (high priced of course!) which can be better than in Europe. E.g. Houston medical center is a big area of specialist clinics (e.g. cancer) and I can imagine rich people do medical tourism to this places. It's somehow comparing Europe Universities with US ones... they are not on the same level.


Every time I fight with my insurance company about what's covered or not, I certainly consider it.

When I had to enter my kid into a lottery system and cross my fingers he'd end up in a good school, I certainly considered it.

Canada's not too far away.


Ever live in Canada? It's more US-lite than western Europe.


The only problem with the US is that you have to report to IRS even if you live and work in some other place...


The good news here, is that many countries have double taxation treaties. So that you don't get taxed by 2 countries for the same income. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tax_treaty


Only to a point. I think the limit is around $100,000.00 nowadays. Anything over that gets taxed by both the country you live in and the U.S. (if you're a U.S. citizen).


The problem is if you do business in tax free zones for example...


I'm currently in the process of moving out of the U.S. to Japan. I'm considering ditching my U.S. citizenship for this reason.


Do you have Japanese citizenship? Ending up stateless doesn't seem worth it.


I may be wrong, but I believe if not so the US legally can't allow him to renounce his citizenship.

(Allowing a person to become stateless is illegal if I remember correctly, but my memory's ever-so-slightly fuzzy around this topic.)


My wife is Japanese and obtaining citizenship would be fairly easy. I agree on not ending up stateless.


FWIW, I would much rather be in the US than Japan if China becomes aggressive. Keep your options open. History is long. Pax Americana may be coming to an end.


Note that on certain US visa applications, they ask you whether you've ever renounced US citizenship for the purposes of avoiding tax.


I wonder if it would be possible to state "no, I renounced due to not wanting to be associated with Donald Trump" (or, if you're leaning to the Republican side, Barack Obama)...how are they going to prove otherwise?


With all of the options he had he decided to move to ex-soviet republic... Let's see how long you'll manage to stay there before ludicrous levels of corruption at all levels of society start making expensive healthcare in the US seem insignificant in comparison. I say this as Ukrainian/Armenian who was born and lived in the USSR and seen my father, who's a brilliant engineer, stagnate in the professional culture that pushed him aside because of his ethnicity or because he became a threat to some old bastard who's been warming his seat for 40 years instead of retiring.


The Ukraine, Armenia, and USSR != Estonia. Estonia is regularly ranked as one of the least corrupt countries in the world, on par with Japan: https://www.transparency.org/country/EST , among the many other superlatives you can find listed in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Estonia . (If he's going to worry about something, I would suggest that since he worries about such rare events as movie theater shootings, he ought to worry a lot more about Russia invading Estonia...)


Is Japan really that incorrupt when they have zaibatsus and Yakuza?


The correct question is: how strong is corruption in other countries if Japan is basically considered a no-corruption area even if they have zaibatsus and Yakuza?


See, this is a weird ill-informed argument to make.. Estonia is ranked by most observers as having levels or corruption roughly equivalent to other developed western democracies.


Estonia has quickly grown to be a very technological advanced country. I had several interviews within a week when I started applying, and I don't regret my decision. Who knows, it may change in a few years, but even if it does, I can always get up and move again.


Being a high-skilled person with remote work makes all the difference. Plus it's the EU and getting better.


This is great, but... Sunlight. I couldn't live in Estonia for a long time. I need sunlight. Plenty of sunlight. I live in San Francisco, where the weather is great. I am originally from Italy, where the weather is quite good especially in the center/south.

I would love to live in Estonia, if not for the weather, and the loooong winters.

Hard to solve this puzzle, I guess.


What's it like in Tallin? I'm thinking of going to study there after I'm finished with my first degree? I like what they're doing to encourage startups etc. Can you speak Estonian?


The weather is vastly different and very cold, but I enjoy and missed the winter, and spring is almost here as well. The people are not as open to talk to strangers, but I've noticed that once they do open up, they are fun, honest people. I believe education is free over here, I haven't looked into it from an immigrant's perspective. I don't speak Estonian, as I currently don't need to... There are a bunch of tech companies who's primary language is English, so the incentive is still low, but if we do decide to stay long-term, I plan on learning it.


The grass is always greener on the other side. Being born in Europe and living here is suffocating me.


Europe is a big place and covers at least 6 different kinds of lifestyle and 3 kinds of weather. That's a few shades of grass to try before you give up entirely?


+1. And do not need a visa if you are European.


Unless, you know, you're British and your fellow countrymen decided to go crazy all at the same time.


I know you're being humorous, but to spell it out: They aren't crazy, they're simply like that.

And, like the article says, you have options. For anybody still on the fence, I can't recommend leaving the UK enough.


We feel for you :-/

2016 year of the chav.


We're on HN. The startup industry in most of Europe is non-existent. Very few options. As a founder, much of Europe looks pretty much the same. Want to actually assimilate - good luck given the prevalent ethnocentrism. It's nothing like moving from one US state to another.


To be fair, 75% of US venture capital accumulates in just three states[1], and leaves the overwhelming majority of the country out. The US startup industry is higher but not wider than the European one.

The ethnocentrism is prevalent in US startup culture as well, it is overwhelmingly white and Asian with Hispanics and African-Americans being left out. Underprivileged minorities face steep challenges in the tech industry, almost regardless of geographical location.

[1]https://www.recode.net/2017/6/1/15725826/steve-case-revoluti...


1. VC funding is hardly well-spread in Europe - UK, Germany and France compromise roughly 75% of European funding too [0].

2. The entire European pie is roughly 25% of the US.

3. That's racism and it's a problem in the EU too, albeit less recognized. The ethnocentrism is an additional, different one (and it only amplifies racism). It's the way European national identities are defined mostly along ethnic and linguistic lines. American culture and identity is 100x more universalist than the European ones. This means not only will people have a harder time seeing you as one of them, you'll also have a harder time seeing yourself as one.

[0] https://medium.com/yankeesabralimey/european-israeli-venture...


I didn't really disagree with the first two, but concerning the third one, that's really not true in all places in Europe any more and a little bit of a stereotype. Berlin is very much a cosmopolitan city at this point, and Sweden has always been very open as well. As is London and even cities like Warsaw are becoming more and more accepting.

France and Italy as two very large countries stand out, the former because it's very closed up culturally, the second because it's not in a good shape politically.

I won't deny that the US has a more open culture (having experienced both myself as a German citizen who has worked in the US) but the gap is not so large any more that the generalisation is valid without qualifications.


Ok, so we agree Europe is so much worse for a startup person.

Sure, there are many nice cosmopolitan cities in Europe. If you want to get a few year-long stint doing whatever - not a problem.

What happens once you get children? Are you going to send them to a local school and have them grow up speaking a language you hardly know? If you're Jewish aren't you going to worry about your children getting hurt? If you're an Arab aren't you going to worry about your children being othered? If you're not a Christian, can you fully practice your religion? (i.e. some European countries ban kosher slaughter, there are plans to ban circumcision, burqa bans, Poland just made talking about some parts of the Holocaust illegal). How certain are you an EU citizenship will mean a thing in 10, 20 years? How strong are your property rights? For how long has your European country of choice been a safe, welcoming place?

For some people these aren't big problems, that's okay. For those that do worry about these, they aren't being picky or unreasonable. US is simply a better, safer deal.


I find that quite difficult to believe.

"Europe" is essentially meaningless as an identification of a place you live. The difference in culture, society and lifestyle between, say, Athens, Bucharest and Inverness is pretty extensive. There are of course some elements of shared culture, but there are also a whole bunch of different lifestyles.

The same applies in the US to some extent, though of course a common language and federal government homogenises the country much more.


You can move elsewhere in Europe, it's pretty diverse, even city by city.


Looking through your comment history, you might want to stop making sweeping generalisations about Europe and then refusing to say which countries you mean.

(I could also be less kind and write: don't feed the troll.)


Really? Where do you live?




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