Author Topic: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?  (Read 3705 times)

ivanivan

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Hello fellow Mustachians!

It's my first post here although I've been reading the forum for a while now and have read most of the blog. I would love to find some spare time and post a case study sometime but for now a simple question - would moving to Australia delay my retirement?

Here's a bit about myself: I have a stay-at-home wife and a baby boy and we live in NY metro area. My wife and I are 30, we're both Russian citizens currently on temporary non-immigrant status which expires in a few months. My employer is sponsoring me for permanent employment so we could potentially get our status renewed by then and then we'll stay in the States indefinitely.

We have made some new friends who just relocated from Oz and speak highly about it. I also have a college buddy there (we both studied computer science back in Russia) and heard that getting a permanent status is easier over there. So my wife and I started working on a plan B.

Unfortunately, for us Russians the idea of saving money and investing it to make it work for you is very foreign - the government or some financial crisis will snatch it before you blink. Naturally I was blissfully ignorant of financial badassity until stumbled on this blog and signed up for personal capital. As of January 1st this year, our liquid net worth was -$6,000. We said 'oh, shit' and sat down to think about it. Fast forward 5 months later, we have $10,000 in liquid net worth. Half of this growth was due to returning and selling things we didn't really need and the other half from not buying things we don't actually need.

I was hoping if we keep the savings rate at $1,500-2,000/month I will be able to retire in 10-20 years, if we stay in US. Moving to Aussie, would it be easier or harder to achieve the same savings rate?

Just to throw some things in the mix, I consider myself a badass when it comes to fixing things on my own or getting by with whatever's availlable. My beloved wife is somewhat different as she likes comfort, organic food and some level of luxury. Hope that gives you some idea...

Thanks for reading and for any advice you might have!

bigchrisb

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #1 on: May 24, 2015, 06:50:46 PM »
Hi from an Aussie mustachian.

Is Australia a good place to be a mustachian?  Well, yes and no. 

Yes - incomes are high, lifestyle consumption is high (so lots of opportunities to optimise), quality of life is high (great natural environment, lots of low cost fun that can be had).  Income distribution is pretty flat (large middle class).  Significant welfare state for citizens - healthcare and education is cheap and high quality.  Economy has had ~24? years without a recession - most Australian's no longer know what it actually means.

No - Cost of living is very high, particularly housing (many would argue that AUS housing is in a worse bubble than the US was pre GFC).  Significant additional costs for immigrants (taxation/healthcare/education etc). Job market is softening, and economy seems to be in a rut (falling off a commodities boom).   Single income with 3 dependents will likely be tough.  In the major centres (jobs), you will end up with  either very high housing costs, or a mind numbing commute.  In the regional centres, employment is tough.

Hope that gives you some food for thought?  I'm sure some of the other Aussies will chime in with their perspectives too?

- edit - immigrants for emigrants!  Doh!
« Last Edit: May 24, 2015, 07:52:13 PM by bigchrisb »

HappierAtHome

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #2 on: May 24, 2015, 07:19:25 PM »
In Aus it's pretty tough to get visas / permanent residency - if you have any serious health issues, for example, you're unlikely to be granted anything more than a short-term visa.

Bigchrisb is right that the job market is getting tougher, housing/cost of living is expensive, and the economy *could* be headed for a steep decline according to many experts.

You mention a computer science degree - I have friends in IT and they say it's not all that well paid. Might be worth looking online to see what kind of salaries you would expect for your skill/qualification level?

Australia is a fantastic place to live, but I don't think it would provide an accellerated path to FI compared to the US.

vagon

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #3 on: May 24, 2015, 07:48:59 PM »
I agree with bigchrisb and most of what HappierAtHome said.

Some colour on the job front (where I disagree with Happier):
IT salaries are comparable, assuming the dollar stay's around the 0.80 mark. If you are very good you should be able to get an excellent salary.
For example you could think of Sydney and San Fran being analogous in terms of COL and to the most extent salaries, but the talent pool is far less in Sydney.

If you do decide to move here your main issue will be the wait until you get full citizenship benefits, at which time having a non-working SO could work well in your favour with the right taxation structure.

My opinion is if you can get a deal like MMM himself whereby you get 6 figures in a low COL in the states you will be far better off. Those types of deals don't seem to exist in Australia.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 01:04:04 AM by vagon »

fa

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #4 on: May 24, 2015, 08:50:13 PM »
Just what I heard, so take from it what you want.  I have been told by Australians that it is much easier to emigrate to New Zealand.  NZ apparently has some sort of agreement with Australia, so that you can then easily move to Australia.

I know next to nothing about Australia, but I have been to New Zealand and it is AWESOME!  Maybe consider moving to New Zealand?  I don't know how easy it is to be Mustachian there, but could be worth investigating.  The quality of life in NZ looks great to me.

urbanista

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #5 on: May 25, 2015, 06:13:38 AM »
I have a close friends, Russian-speaking migrants living in Melbourne. Here is their story:

Husband - IT (income 150K gross, nett $7,900 monthly after superannuation and taxes)
Wife - SAHM, income $0
Two kids 1 and 4 y.o.

Approximate costs:
$1500 rent for a small 2 bedroom unit 45 minutes commute to work in the CBD (highly paid IT professionals work in the CBD).
$1000 child care (after government subsidies) - this is only twice a week for each kid. If you put both kids in child care full-time, that's about $2500 mid range.
$1200 food (they are not mustachian, but in my opinion, $800 is absolutely minimum that you can achieve)
$300 car (petrol, registration/insurance for a very modest 10-y.o. Toyota Corolla)
$500 bills (electricity/gas/water/renters insurance)
$130 commute cost

$4650 monthly is the almost absolute minimum for a family of four who must rent and want to use part-time child care for kids.

Airfares to go back home and visit the family sets them back $2000 per person.

Everything cost double compared to the US. iPhones, laptops, kids shoes, books - just double the price.

In regards to the buying a house, my friends have amassed a $200K downpayment. They now choose between an old 3-bed apartment - $660,000 + $40,000 stamp duty = $700,000 - that's 3 bed/1bath/1car place, but only 30 min commute from CBD; or a nice 4-bed/2bath/2car house with a backyard, but 1hr15 min commute one-way to the CBD. That's in Melbourne, Sydney is much more pricey.

Oh and did I mention that the job market is worsening every year?

The U.S. have one great advantage that there are low cost of living places, where one can retire. There are no such places in Australia. It is high cost everywhere.
« Last Edit: May 25, 2015, 06:15:16 AM by urbanista »

Rob_S

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2015, 06:20:28 AM »
One downside to AUS is that 9.5% of your wage is placed into Superannuation. Some say this is a perk but I see it as a bug. Superannuation locks your funds away until age 60 where its a handy bonus but not helfpul in your journey to FIRE. Unlike the US and their 401k/ROTH??? plans there is no realistic way to touch this money.

Imagine how much quicker you would hit FI if you could invest/pay off debt with that additional 9.5%.

marty998

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #7 on: May 25, 2015, 06:28:36 AM »
One downside to AUS is that 9.5% of your wage is placed into Superannuation. Some say this is a perk but I see it as a bug. Superannuation locks your funds away until age 60 where its a handy bonus but not helfpul in your journey to FIRE. Unlike the US and their 401k/ROTH??? plans there is no realistic way to touch this money.

Imagine how much quicker you would hit FI if you could invest/pay off debt with that additional 9.5%.

And imagine how much tax you would pay on those wages...ouch

okonomiyaki

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #8 on: May 25, 2015, 08:18:28 AM »
1. Australia is *far*. Like - really far away from everywhere. In case of a family emergencies it *will* take you 3 days and ~$2000 to get home, and at least $1000 to fly on holiday anywhere except New Zealand. This is actually a lot more isolating than you think, having lived (I assume) in Russia and the US.[ On the plus side, an 8 hour flight will never seem long again.]

There is also much less "culture", much less non-shopping stuff to do. I don't know how important this is for you, but it *is* a veritable backwater, and you may sorely miss the myriad of museums and public libraries with all of their awesome events available in the US (or bigger Russian cities). And - culture is expensive; it is not uncommon to pay over $100 for not the best seats in one of the 2 theatres in the city. [NB To Australians - I love it here, and I know there IS culture - I'm not trying to offend. What I am trying to say is that there is a lot *less* to choose from than in the US or other, more populated areas /and don't get me started on the rather minor representation of all of the (even historic) immigrant communities in the arts here!/]

2. The expat community is a lot smaller here. I don't know what proportion of your friends hail from the former Soviet states, but there will be many, many fewer of them here. So -simply- things like kvas, kefir, grechka, kolbasa, and other random foodstuffs you may want may not be as readily available, and - more complexly - you may find it a lot harder to find Russian-speaking people to fit in with. Also, not really relevant for you yet, but may be in the long term: in the US (in NY and DC, at least) you can send your children to the Embassy school for a "normal" evening externat, meaning they get the standard education in Russian, including the language and good maths (much better than in American school). In Australia, the only thing available is a Sunday school type thing, affiliated with the Orthodox church, with language classes coupled with the whole Horovod-Narodniye tanci-Samovar stuff - not nearly as useful as what is available in the US (and other countries in Europe).

3. Australia is expensive. Much more expensive than the US, even relative to median salaries. It is nearly impossible to find a "decent" 2 bedroom apartment for rent in the bigger cities for less than $1500/month, and houses for rent are not nearly as "nice" (read - solid, well-built, modern and comfortable) as they are in the US. Google "Victorian terrace house" and "Queenslander" to get an idea of what many of the older houses here are like, and hence what people think is comfortable. I used a spreadsheet of >75 places before finding a place that was acceptable in terms of price/quality the last time we moved, and I was just looking for something that wasn't dark, falling apart or drafty (and I live in a place where it is never colder than +8!). Food is also expensive - fish is at least $20/kg, meat - $10-20/kg. Veggies are very fresh and cheap, though, and available (amazingly) year round - I still can't get over how great this is.
And, yes, buying a house you could live in /not in Sydney/ is likely to set you back at least $400k-$750k. Sydney just multiply all of my numbers by 2.

There are also many fewer stores here (clothes, electronics etc), not only than in the US, but even than in modern Russia! H&M opened their first store last year, Ikea has like 6 stores, and many other brands/shops are just not there - meaning that there is very little variety in what you can buy, and it is quite, quite expensive - definitely more so than in the US.

4. Status issues - no one in Russia will question your decision to move to the US - it is, by definition, the "best" place to emigrate to (on par with the UK), as perceived by people "back home". When you say you moved to Australia, people will question your choice a bit more, and sometimes act as if you settled for second best... Depends on how important this is for you.

Having said all of this - I love it here, and I would not live in the US again. The reasons for this are:

1. The people. They are a lot more European than Americans, and a lot more tolerant, open and friendly. They are also a lot more laid back and just have the "no worries" attitude that has really grown on me over the years. And they have an amazing resilience in the face of natural disasters and in general a harsh land that is mostly not friendly to humans. There is a lot of community here - community which is often not as segregated by race or socioeconomic status as it is in the US, or by educational status or profession as it is in Russia.

2. Australia is a modern immigrant country.
The US was an immigrant country in the 19th - 20th-post WWII century. Australia is an immigrant country *now*. There are *so* many people from so many backgrounds living in the major cities here. So while there is much less "culture" in the museum/theatre sense, I get my fix by eating out, going to street fairs and random free cultural festivals, and just talking to people in the community - so many of whom have such amazing stories to tell...

3. The nature. Enough said. Bushwalking, hiking and the most beautiful parks are within a day's drive of even the major cities.

4. Australia is (comparatively) very safe. I have walked (female under 30) in Kings Cross on a Friday night, in the Valley in Brisbane, and on the Gold Coast during schoolies - and while there I have seen some minor kerfuffles, I have never walked into a neighbourhood like you do in the US, where you realise you are in the wrong place, then slowly turn around and just backtrack your steps (I'm thinking of parts of DC and the Bronx here).

5. The potential. Especially in light of (2), you can really feel the potential this country has - it is so young, and it's so great to feel that you as a human being can contribute to the community here and actually make a difference.

6. Income inequality is a lot less here. As is the tendency to show off by having the most in luxury items, fancy clothes, makeup and other blingy objects - so if that's important to your wife, she may be better suited to living in the US, where being interested in these kinds of things may not garner as much incomprehension as it could here.

Other things you might want to consider:

- Getting PR is easy if your job is on the skilled occupation list (google this - for the whole country, and for each of the states - but then you have to live in that state after you've come). Otherwise it is much harder. And irrespective, document processing will still take you forever.  The fees to get PR are about $6000, and  it takes ~1.5 years (onshore), after living in the country for a number of years. Offshore you could easily spend 1-2 years before you can come here - although your employment in the US would be a big boon to your application, so your processing time might be on the short side.

- Australia has free public health care, and many social benefits and tax concessions. The US does not.

- Any international move will set you back - the question is by how much, and whether the other factors make it worth it in the long run.
So - basically - it's a quality of life choice...

#
Note: I am sorry if any of the above offends any Americans or Australians. I am grateful for my time spent in both countries, and love each dearly in their own special ways.

Australia is now home, though, and a home for which I am very grateful and love very much - irrespective of all of the "flaws" I have listed above. For me, just as with a significant other, the flaws are as endearing as the attractions (although I will never be endeared by the whole "double taps" thing!).

beee

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #9 on: May 25, 2015, 02:15:30 PM »
Quote
no one in Russia will question your decision to move to the US - it is, by definition, the "best" place to emigrate to (on par with the UK), as perceived by people "back home"

cmon, only russian oligarchs think of UK as a great country for immigration :))


ivanivan Don't forget about another first-world country with great outdoors. Hello from another Russian mustachian :)

olgsie

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2017, 06:56:39 AM »
Quote
no one in Russia will question your decision to move to the US - it is, by definition, the "best" place to emigrate to (on par with the UK), as perceived by people "back home"

cmon, only russian oligarchs think of UK as a great country for immigration :))


ivanivan Don't forget about another first-world country with great outdoors. Hello from another Russian mustachian :)

Hello, another Russian here living in Oz :)

Wadiman

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #11 on: June 03, 2017, 05:17:54 PM »
There is quite a large Russian community in Sydney - if you did come here it wouldn't be too difficult to make friends.  Also there are a number of Russian delis so I'm sure you would be able to find many of the specialist food items. 

marty998

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Re: Best places to be a Mustachian - is Australia one of them?
« Reply #12 on: June 03, 2017, 05:31:28 PM »
OP is long gone, and this thread is old (I was going to reply to it and then realised I had 2 years ago!)

House prices have gone berserk since 2015 (everywhere except Perth & Darwin). It's all a bit ridiculous.

Otherwise the country is still wonderful :)