Author Topic: The mustachian expat  (Read 2828 times)

Lex

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The mustachian expat
« on: April 19, 2012, 03:02:33 PM »
My employer sometimes has job openings on a Caribbean island, and I've applied and have been accepted (yea, shit happens!). It's for a period of three to five years. My salary will basically double, with all the different forms of compensation that will be added to my income. The cost of living is far higher on the island, so not all of that money will find its way to my bank account. I'm not necessarily planning to, although it would be nice. It's great for the kids there (we have 2, aged 2 and 4) because of the nice weather and the beaches and jungle. Also, we want to travel around in that part of the world, visit Florida, Brazil and some other places. Careerwise, it's not the best thing to do, but I don't care about that (I probably wouldn't be on this forum if I did...). I just want us to have a good time and strengthen as a family and as a couple. Another bonus is that I can sit out the current crisis over there, and then see where the housing market and gas prices have gone when I get back. Also, an important issue over here is the fact that the baby boomers will be all be retired when I get back, so the job market might have gone through an interesting change, although I like my current job very much.

I think I've sold most problems so far. We've paid off the mortgage on our house in Europe and my parents will then rent it from us (at a less than commercial rate, because they have only a small pension). If I'd rent the house out to someone else, I don't know what kind of people will be staying in my house and over here, it's very difficult if not impossible to get unwanted people out of your house, even if they stop paying the rent. Next to the paid-off house, we still have a considerable nest egg in savings and stock, so we have some security there. My wife also works and has received a guarantee that she will be able to start in her current position once she gets back. (It's a legal right, she's a civil servant like me and thus has the right to accompany me abroad for the better good of the country without suffering from it careerwise). For the coming months, my wife will not be working there, but that might change. Financially, it's not necessary and I don't mind if she wants to kick back a couple of months or even years.

We have two cars, one newer Volvo family car and a 20-year old Nissan Sunny, an old beater that has been passed on and on within the family. The Volvo is worth about 10k in euros (about 13k in USD). We are planning to sell it and then use that money to buy an SUV on the island (because of the bad roads, SUV's are necessary there)... Theoretically, we could put both cars in our garage for the coming years, but I don't think the Volvo would survive that. We've had some technical issues with it and I'm afraid it will only get worse, so I'm happy to let it go. As for the Nissan, it was given to us for free and in the ten years we've had it, we've NEVER had problems with it except the usual wear and tear. The thing just won't die. I could sell it to some Pole (they buy up older cars over here for export) for 100 euros, but that would leave me without a reliable car when I get back. I'm seriously thinking about putting it in the garage for a couple of years. Also, when the car is 25 years old, it could qualify for a (less expensive) oldtimer car insurance. Taking the car or cars with us is not an option, because of the bad roads, and the Nissan does not have airco.

A colleague has offered us to take over the lease of his -beautiful- villa (4k in dollars a month!), but I've declined because of the price and the lease will be for three years, which would mean that I would be stuck there without any other option if I don't like it. Also, the villa is quite remote and we'd rather live in some gated community (which is pretty middle-class over there) so our kids can play with other kids. Security is also better in those communities because crime is a serious problem on the island. The people who've been over there keep telling us that "you need two cars over there as a family" but we'll try getting by with only one and I'll see how far I can get -gasp- using my commuter bike. According to the usual standards, not getting the villa and two SUV's is already pretty badass... We will just move there, stay in a hotel for a while (which, for the first weeks, will be covered by the employer) and then see if we are lucky enough to find a house for less money than the villa. If not, we could still get another house for about the same price.

Any other important hings you mustachians can think of that I might be forgetting? Most other administrative problems will be solved. My employer will continue to contribute to my pension plan and health care will also be taken care of. I will take some stuff with me (beds, chairs, table plus some electronics), but only things I won't mind losing because the climate and heat there can wreck everything: furniture, clothing, shoes, cars...
And what do you mustachians think about my car plan?

Lex (not as old as in the picture, but this was one of the few pictures of someone with a mustache I could find, it's actually from a bill from the former Soviet republic of Georgia and admit that the guy does look rather pensive...)

Sparky

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Re: The mustachian expat
« Reply #1 on: April 21, 2012, 10:39:16 AM »
Can I ask wear this position is located? I can't imagine that the cost of living will any what higher if you live like a local. Live like a local, don't live in a western style home and ride a bicycle.

Lex

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Re: The mustachian expat
« Reply #2 on: April 22, 2012, 03:53:49 AM »
It's on Saint Martin. Many things are more expensive because nothing is produced locally. Everything has to be shipped in or flown in. The economy depends for 90 percent on tourism. Some items are cheaper because of lower taxes.

I'll take my commuter bike and see if it's safe enough to drive there. People are not used to people on bikes there.

From what I've seen, it's a severely un-mustachian place. Lots of sun but no solar panels to be seen. And everybody drives a car so traffic jams are quite common there.

astadt

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Re: The mustachian expat
« Reply #3 on: April 22, 2012, 05:17:28 AM »
Have Fun!

I get the whole gated community thing, Crime is a big deal in the part of the world and you can be too careful. Its very difficult to live like a local when youre not one.

Im an American that took a position in Australia, and yeah, you get more money but stuff costs more. I will say that we've been able to live reasonable frugal over here and are certainly banking more that if i had stayed in the states.

Keep us posted!