Author Topic: Quest to European mustachians: best (European) country to move in our situation?  (Read 5196 times)

Freestyler

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I am a Spanish guy living with his family (wife and toddler) in France for the last twelve months. After more or less adapting and considering different options (staying in France, going back to Spain or to somewhere else) I am in search for the ideal place to go next. My adventurous side enjoys somehow the challenge of changing countries but it's also been tough and I donīt think my family can stand it indefinitely. So I would like to get the next one right at least for the mid term.

Though my job prospects in France are relatively good, it looks to me like a terrible country to be a mustachian. It may be good if you plan to live on welfare. Not being that my case I somehow resist to being robbed (so a significant part of the population can continue to live on welfare, among other things). I donīt like state control and France is king in that.

If I stay here I will pay up to 70% (with a bare minimum of 50%) of my income in social security (without hardly benefits, and less so once I donīt plan to stay) and income taxes plus over 40% on capital gains. Those figures go up by the minute. If I stay more than six years they will even ask for their generous cut on unrealized gains upon leaving the country... Not my cup of tea.

Though I approach FI, I donīt have any plans to quit money making activities as long as I continue to enjoy them. Taxation of capital earnings is becoming increasingly important for me and will be more so in the future.

My Spanish, English and French are more or less decent and I am very slowly learning German as a long term goal unless otherwise required.

I tend to lean towards Switzerland. I think my job prospects could be good there and I like many things about the country. It is my understanding that capital gains are not taxed and it's also very important that my child(ren) would be exposed to several useful languages. Mainly French and German, tangentially I figure also English. Geographical location and others are also appealing. On the negatives, I know cost of life is crazy and I've heard it might be difficult to adapt socially and culturally. Regarding COL, purchasing power parity seems to be good and I think taxes and others might offset that. My wife's adaptation concerns me probably more than mine's.

Other options are Germany (slowly increasing German language skills...) and Luxembourg. I donīt know if I am skipping something!

Australia, the US and Canada also appeal to me but I see it more difficult and further. It might happen however in the further future.

Though I just read

http://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/welcome-to-the-forum/european-mustachians-what's-different-from-us/

I wondered whether someone could chip in with some advice!
« Last Edit: June 14, 2014, 05:24:03 PM by Freestyler »

swisstash

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Switzerland seems like a good choice to me. You can save money here by having a high after-tax income and exercising your Mustachian frugality muscles. You can easily enjoy a high quality of life by getting around the mountains, lakes, and forests by bike or by train (this never gets old). You get good and affordable services like health care and education. People are very friendly in our experience, though we have the luxury of choosing who we spend our time with.

We have recently become Mustachian converts and it has been fairly effortless for us.

Lyssa

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I second the Swiss option (despite the hcol, of which you should be aware).

Germany is quite bad for the accumulation phase as well, while marginally better than France (taxing unrealized gains? Seriously?).

You might want to split your country of residence between the rest of your accumulation phase and the retirement phase. In retirement you could probably utilize a lot of the German or French social goodies that are available outside the full "welfare career" (e.g. public health insurance for around 150 EUR per month for the whole familiy (spouse, underage kids and studying kids up to a certain age) in Germany in retirement vs. a few hundert EUR per month for each working adult plus around the same amount from the employer).

Albert

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If you already speak fluent French the best option might be a move to the French speaking part of Switzerland thus avoiding all the troubles of learning a new language and making integration in the new society much easier. You could even continue living in France and just commute across the border for work in Switzerland thus alleviating high costs of living. I don't know all the details as I have no desire living there but it must be financially advantageous because vast majority of French people working close to the border do that. The exception might be if your net worth is very high.

Albert

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By the way I would much prefer living in Spain if I knew the language and it was possible to earn anywhere near as much as in Switzerland...

ch12

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My mother's side of the family lives in France, and it's definitely a ridiculously high tax country. The social support is also great, but I don't think it's worth the absurd taxes. My uncle, when 2 of his 3 kids were living in the US, considered immigrating to America to avoid high taxes, especially solidarity tax. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solidarity_tax_on_wealth He has a high net worth, but most of his assets are in real estate. Paying taxes depleted his cash quite a bit.

If you can find a job in Spain, I'd say to move back. I happen to love Spain, but I understand that unemployment is extremely high.

Moving back to Spain will be good, at least for the next few years, especially if you want your kid to grow up near your family. One of the local Madison, WI Mustachians is moving to Granada for a year for the same reason that you'd move your family to Switzerland - useful language skills. http://bucking-the-trend.com/spain-preparation-green-light/ (The Granada cost of living is 73% of Madison's cost of living, but I don't think that Jed is moving to Granada to save money.)

By the way I would much prefer living in Spain if I knew the language and it was possible to earn anywhere near as much as in Switzerland...

I do speak Spanish, but I think the only reasons I haven't moved to Spain myself are immigration paperwork and finding a reasonable job. I was fairly close to applying to the Ministry of Education's program to bring over North American English speakers, but heard that people got placed in random tiny towns instead of places they'd actually want to live (for me, Valencia).

I miss being a 10-minute bus ride away from the Mediterranean.

Freestyler

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Sorry for the late answer, but this week has been pretty busy.

Thank you very much for the responses. Very good points there.

Switzerland seems like a good choice to me. You can save money here by having a high after-tax income and exercising your Mustachian frugality muscles. You can easily enjoy a high quality of life by getting around the mountains, lakes, and forests by bike or by train (this never gets old). You get good and affordable services like health care and education. People are very friendly in our experience, though we have the luxury of choosing who we spend our time with.

We have recently become Mustachian converts and it has been fairly effortless for us.

I agree with all and every of your points and those are some of the reasons why I think Switzerland may be the best choice. I'd probably be able to make a high after-tax income (probably not VERY high for Swiss standards). What would you consider a high enough income to have the good quality of life that you talk about and being able to continue to significantly save?

[..] (taxing unrealized gains? Seriously?).

You might want to split your country of residence between the rest of your accumulation phase and the retirement phase. In retirement you could probably utilize a lot of the German or French social goodies that are available outside the full "welfare career" (e.g. public health insurance for around 150 EUR per month for the whole familiy (spouse, underage kids and studying kids up to a certain age) in Germany in retirement vs. a few hundert EUR per month for each working adult plus around the same amount from the employer).

Yup. Seriously. It is that bad. In fact, it is even worse than that. Like compulsorily paying 90.000 euros in 8 months for public healthcare and retirement in exchange of no rights to them at all (also neither unemployment, professional accident insurance or others), among other things.  And that's why despite some advantages (relatively good job prospects mainly) I want to quit the country before four years. But I donīt want this to become a (probably well deserved) rant about France.

Are you saying that I can claim to be "retired" in Germany (even if I didnīt work there and don't qualify for retirement pensions in Germany) and buy health insurance at that price? That's interesting. Anyhow, should I "really retire" I'd probably go to Spain instead of Germany. But a wide range of possibilities and time frames may apply.

If you already speak fluent French the best option might be a move to the French speaking part of Switzerland thus avoiding all the troubles of learning a new language and making integration in the new society much easier. You could even continue living in France and just commute across the border for work in Switzerland thus alleviating high costs of living. I don't know all the details as I have no desire living there but it must be financially advantageous because vast majority of French people working close to the border do that. The exception might be if your net worth is very high.

Thatīs a good point also. Though I may learn German anyhow, not having (me and my family) the additional stress of having to learn a language is probably positive. Though I believe opportunities may be better in the German speaking regions (and the French ones are probably already crowded with... French). Though my French is still not great (I arrived knowing almost nothing one year ago just before turning 35), communicating is important in my job and I've done that all the time. So je me débrouille and I guess I'll continue to improve.

Being a frontalier could be a good option for some time and probably moving to Switzerland afterwards to become a fiscal resident. I have what I consider to be a significant portfolio (in the mid six figures in euros) for my humble origins and standards, but I am aware that's not at all a high net worth, and much less so in Switzerland. So it may make sense to build up a bit more before facing the higher expenses and for the period where I could (more or less) avoid the additional crazy French capital gains taxes.

By the way I would much prefer living in Spain if I knew the language and it was possible to earn anywhere near as much as in Switzerland...

Of course there are people who manage to amass greats amounts of money in Spain, but it's very rarely (if at all possible) through (honest) work. Our income as a family was decent for international standards and probably high to very high for southern Spain standards. And, even with that, it was becoming difficult to bear the general atmosphere of corruption and stagnation. I literally worked my ass off day and night (and weekends) just to try not to go backwards (both from a professional and financial standpoint). We wanted to try something different. Having said that, coming back at some point is not ruled out. Spain has many appealing things (more on holidays as compared to working and trying to make a career), but it just wasnīt the right moment for us and the country. We wanted better things and opportunities for our family.

That's an ongoing debate anyhow and it will depend probably as much on our circumstances as on the country's evolution. Choices, choices, choices...

My mother's side of the family lives in France, and it's definitely a ridiculously high tax country. The social support is also great, but I don't think it's worth the absurd taxes.

See above: it's not. Unless you expect to live on welfare and that "social" support (meaning state support, cause society itself it's not at all that supportive) and, thus, not pay any taxes whatsoever. Which, apparently, is what people are encouraged to do. Though that seems to be slowly changing (and there are many other problems) that's the exact same reason why I quit Spain.

If you can find a job in Spain, I'd say to move back. I happen to love Spain, but I understand that unemployment is extremely high.

Moving back to Spain will be good, at least for the next few years, especially if you want your kid to grow up near your family. One of the local Madison, WI Mustachians is moving to Granada for a year for the same reason that you'd move your family to Switzerland - useful language skills. http://bucking-the-trend.com/spain-preparation-green-light/ (The Granada cost of living is 73% of Madison's cost of living, but I don't think that Jed is moving to Granada to save money.)

By the way I would much prefer living in Spain if I knew the language and it was possible to earn anywhere near as much as in Switzerland...

I do speak Spanish, but I think the only reasons I haven't moved to Spain myself are immigration paperwork and finding a reasonable job. I was fairly close to applying to the Ministry of Education's program to bring over North American English speakers, but heard that people got placed in random tiny towns instead of places they'd actually want to live (for me, Valencia).

I miss being a 10-minute bus ride away from the Mediterranean.


I happened to have... three jobs in Andalucia! (southern region of Spain, which was meant to be the "European California", ha). And my wife had another one. All in a region with almost 40% unemployment, the highest in the UE (did we already talk about incentives, corruption and others?).  I allegedly have the right to get back at least one of them, so does my wife. We might do that, but I'd probably rather retire or do almost anything else. Also, that possibility will likely stay there for something ranging between eight and more than ten years.

On the other hand I totally agree on the kid and the family. But I have very little close family. Parents died young and brother and sister have been quite mobile. In fact, when we lived in Seville, our closest family (my wife's) was 500 km away. My brother was in the Canary Islands (nearly 3000 km away) and my sister in Brasil. My extended family lives in Barcelona (where I was born) and they don't consider themselves to be Spanish any more, haha. I certainly miss having family around, but moving back to Spain wouldnīt necessarily change things much in that regard. So, for the moment being, I send wife and toddler back to Spain with their family for some weeks from time to time.

By the way, I lived in Granada from 8 to 24. It's a great, affordable place. You should go visit.

Yes, Spain is great in so many regards, but in later years it has had too many drawbacks for too many people. I also used to value the sea side and thought about moving to Cadiz or to the French DOM-TOM (which was/is feasible). Now I am not so sure, among other things because of my too white skin. I know it sounds stupid, but has already posed serious problems in the family and would (or will) probably be the same for me.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 04:57:30 PM by Freestyler »

ch12

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On the other hand I totally agree on the kid and the family. But I have very little close family. Parents died young and brother and sister have been quite mobile. In fact, when we lived in Seville, our closest family (my wife's) was 500 km away. My brother was in the Canary Islands (nearly 3000 km away) and my sister in Brasil. My extended family lives in Barcelona (where I was born) and they don't consider themselves to be Spanish any more, haha. I certainly miss having family around, but moving back to Spain wouldnīt necessarily change things much in that regard. So, for the moment being, I send wife and toddler back to Spain with their family for some weeks from time to time.

By the way, I lived in Granada from 8 to 24. It's a great, affordable place. You should go visit.

Yes, Spain is great in so many regards, but in later years it has had too many drawbacks for too many people. I also used to value the sea side and thought about moving to Cadiz or to the French DOM-TOM (which was/is feasible). Now I am not so sure, among other things because of my too white skin. I know it sounds stupid, but has already posed serious problems in the family and would (or will) probably be the same for me.

It sounds like you've taken sensible action up to this point and probably will continue to do so. When thinking about your prospects, I realized that we didn't speak at all about Belgium - you can get by on English and French, as they are two of the major languages, and it is a tax haven place for Frenchmen, as proven by Gerard Depardieu in his controversial citizenship change. Switzerland is a popular choice.

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And after Depardieu pointed out that he was not the only French celebrity to want to minimise his tax bill by moving abroad, the newspaper Le Parisien produced an interactive map showing he was right. It revealed Switzerland as the country of choice for fiscal refugees, including national treasures such as actor Alain Delon, singer Johnny Hallyday and a colony of tennis players and sports stars.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/dec/22/gerard-depardieu-tax-move-divides-france

Freestyler

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When thinking about your prospects, I realized that we didn't speak at all about Belgium - you can get by on English and French, as they are two of the major languages, and it is a tax haven place for Frenchmen, as proven by Gerard Depardieu in his controversial citizenship change. Switzerland is a popular choice.

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And after Depardieu pointed out that he was not the only French celebrity to want to minimise his tax bill by moving abroad, the newspaper Le Parisien produced an interactive map showing he was right. It revealed Switzerland as the country of choice for fiscal refugees, including national treasures such as actor Alain Delon, singer Johnny Hallyday and a colony of tennis players and sports stars.

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2012/dec/22/gerard-depardieu-tax-move-divides-france

I didnīt give much of a thought to Belgium as I took it for something quite similar to France. The fact that many Spanish (including some of my "non Spanish" Catalan relatives ;-) ) have flew there (and started to be rejected) in order to take advantage of the generous entitlement system reinforced that idea. But Iīll take another look.

Interesting article. It speaks also about roots and sense of duty. But, had I those towards any given country, it wouldnīt be France. Not right now, at least.
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 06:30:04 PM by Freestyler »