Tuesday, December 03, 2013
I am an American expat from Portland, Oregon, now living in Hannover, Germany. I am a freelance graphic designer and copywriter, and an avid blogger of all things humorous (though I most often take aim at subjects like Germany, expat life, culture shock and my beautiful -- and unintentionally hilarious -- German wife.)
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I moved to Germany in September of 2012 in order to be with my wife. If she'd been from England, I would have moved to England. Had she come from Italy, I would have moved to Italy. Had she been from Siberia, I would have said, "Sorry honey, but I'm sure there's a very nice guy for you in Siberia. Probably the quiet type, because he's frozen to death."
What challenges did you face during the move?
My wife and I lived together in Portland before we moved to Germany, and in that last year, we were both working full-time jobs, planning our destination wedding, arranging for my wife's future career in Hannover, and worrying about how I was going to continue my own career in Germany without speaking the language. It was probably the most stressful year of our lives thus far, and we dealt with it by eating cake, pizza and drinking copious amounts of beer. (My wife looked amazing in our wedding pictures. I looked like a bloated veal calf.)
How did you find somewhere to live?
Our location was determined by my wife's job; she's a Gymnasium teacher (and a fantastic one at that), and she landed a job at a school in Hannover. Finding an apartment in any German city can be stressful, and we were prepared to hire a broker if necessary. Luckily, we knew a friend of a friend in Hannover, so we were able to figure out the kind of neighborhood we wanted and what we could afford. But finding an apartment is rarely a pleasant experience, and no matter the country, moving sucks...
Posted by Jamie at 6:38 AM
Saturday, November 30, 2013
Our company is one of the leading real estate agencies in the federal state of Salzburg and Tyrol in Austria, offering more than 450 properties. The area covered includes all major skiing destinations in Salzburg and Tyrol. 17 full time employees provide a full-service real estate agent service at three offices. Our service includes an in-house legal department that is handling communication between seller and buyer and the notary handling the purchase transaction. Our company takes care of everything involved in the purchase, including handover service and after-sales services like help with public utility companies or small renovation works. The company was founded in May 2006, starting with one office in Zell am See. In 2011 we opened our first branch office in St. Johann im Pongau. Our second branch office was opened in 2013. Since our founding in 2006 our company has grown to 17 full time employees. Our company is a family run business. Our CEO is Mag. (FH) Stefan Gassner, he studied Management and Law in Innsbruck and Budapest and has been in the Real Estate Industry since 2002.
What has the property market been like this year?
The market has been quite stable, although the number of sales has slightly decreased. Prices are stable or slightly increasing.
What do you expect to happen to the market in 2014? Are there any "hotspots" to look out for?
For 2014 I expect the market to be similiar to 2013. We do see some recovery in the UK market, indicated by more requests for holiday homes out of this market.
The outlook for the year 2014 shows that for residential properties the demand is still high. Although due to the high price growth over the last 5 years the demand curve has slowed down a little. The Austrian property market in 2013 has been stable with a little growth in prices, depending on the exact location. Demand in the large cities and the well-known tourist resorts has been high...
Posted by Jamie at 8:46 AM
Friday, November 29, 2013
I was in an online ‘expat’ conversation the other day when someone suggested we do our children a disservice when we don’t assimilate to our host country. I agree with her, and go one further to ask if perhaps, even when we try to instill a “bit of the old country”, it might not help? It’s a fine line.
Expat Brit, author, blogger and artist, Emma Kaufmann has lived in the States for thirteen years; she is English and her husband is Irish. She says – “I think a lot of whether you assimilate or not depends on what state of mind you are in when you come to this country. A lot of spouses are brought here with their husbands (I have seen it the other way around but it is mostly thus) and they are homesick, so cling like a drowning (wo)man to the old country.
Typically if you are here for a short while, like a few years maybe, many expats in the US think that this is just a stopgap and that they will go home soon. This makes it impossible to assimilate and it’s therefore really not a very positive experience for anyone.”
Emma makes a great point. While many expats experience difficulties in new locations, they probably don’t realize how much this can affect their children’s experience. A common reaction to culture shock or homesickness is to blame everything on the host country or to insist that things would be better if only you were in - insert name of “home” here. If your children weren’t even born in your “home” country, this can be particularly confusing or upsetting for them. They may feel disloyal by not hating the host country quite as much as you do, or by not having the same feelings about “home”...
Posted by Jamie at 8:20 AM
I must have been looking the other way because it’s suddenly winter and very cold. The manageable minus three degrees, crisp sunshine and bracing air that chased us into the supermarket at the weekend were gone when we came out – replaced by snow tumbling from the vast black maw above and a wind-chill of minus fifteen, so that I almost thought we’d used the wrong exit and stepped out into Siberia.
“Yay, it’s the sticky kind!” yelled my eldest, ecstatic at the prospect of snowballs and frozen frolics. Somehow we manhandled both shopping and three wired children into the Jeep – and then the fun began.
It was indeed the sticky kind. It stuck to the roads and became a slick mirror reflecting with crystalline cruelty the impotent wheelspins of drivers wrestling Momentum for control.
Each intersection on the journey home became a heart-hammering, suspense-filled “Are we going to stop in time?” game – but with flesh and bone housed in great chunks of metal muscle instead of pixels on a screen.
Our short, intense trip took us past fire engines and crumpled bonnets, across the path of traffic when the icy brakes couldn’t do any more than slow us too slowly, and finally, thankfully, home – in one piece.
Coming to Canada has been a learning curve that continues even after forty plus months. Take snow tires, for instance. Many people fit them once temperatures drop to single digits (seven degrees Celsius is the magic number) and insurance companies reflect this good sense in a reduced premium. When we first bought our car we figured, with the efficiency of the plows and gritters here, they were an unnecessary expense only really needed if you lived in a more rural area...
Posted by Jamie at 6:03 AM
Thursday, November 28, 2013
I am a woman in my mid-twenties from Minnesota, United States. I went to undergraduate in Arizona and gained a BA in Social Psychology. I then went on to earn my MA in Social Entrepreneurship from a university in California. I enjoy writing and reading, especially novels about utopian/dystopian and conflicting ideals. I enjoy living near the ocean, as I grew up in the Midwest and could only visit the ocean on vacations. I also love trees, as I believe they possess a knowledge and patience beyond what humans have been able to appreciate and comprehend. I enjoy traveling and feeling the energy of the morning in a new place.
Where, when and why did you move abroad?
I decided to move abroad when I was studying Social Entrepreneurship for my MA degree in California. The focus of Social Entrepreneurship is to create sustainable business models that work towards a triple bottom line- effectively helping people solve world problems. I wanted to see some of the “third-world” dynamics firsthand, so I decided to move to Costa Rica. The country has had great growth recently, and the residents have benefited greatly. I wanted to take in firsthand the experience of living in a country that was considered “third-world”, but was now growing into a new market as they gained resources.
What challenges did you face during the move?
Deciding to move to Costa Rica was a challenge, as I had never before lived outside of the United States. As a young woman traveling alone, I was enraptured but nervous about the move. I sold a large amount of my belongings, and settled for storing the rest with family in the US. The main challenge I experienced during the move was just maintaining the feeling of courageousness every day. It was important to recognize the situation for what I would (hopefully) gain, rather than the fears that struck me every once in a while. Once the decision was made, I just kept pushing myself to make the next move...
Posted by Jamie at 8:18 AM
My name is Ashley Tiernan, I am a partner in Direct 2 Developers and Pattaya & Jomtien Real Estate in Pattaya Thailand.
I was born in England and have lived in Pattaya Thailand since about 2000 with my wife and 3 kids. Most of my time has been in the property sector for major developers and my own agency.
I teamed up with my partner Alan Beilby in 2012 and set up this company. Alan has many years’ experience managing real estate companies in Australia, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, he holds an Australian real estate license and is accredited with ASIC (Australian Securities and Investment Commission) as a financial / investment advisor.
Pattaya & Jomtien Real Estate Co. Ltd. sells previously owned condominiums and houses / villas at realistic prices and offers rental condos, houses and villas throughout the Pattaya and Jomtien region.
If you are planning to buy an off plan or a completed property in Pattaya (condo, house, villa or even just land) you will find that the real estate market in Pattaya, Chonburi has something for everyone...
Posted by Jamie at 6:39 AM
The first year I lived in the UK I was here with other American students. We lined up at the phones with our phone cards calling home and cooked a sort of Thanksgiving dinner with what we could find in the shops, which meant no pumpkin pie. We all felt a bit lost, unsure, but also a bit rebellious that we weren’t with our families for such a family focused holiday.
My second year in the UK I bought a massive turkey and invited loads of British friends around and cooked the whole meal myself and collapsed in a tearful wreck at the end of the day. It wasn’t Thanksgiving, just a massive meal with guests watching me expectedly throughout as if Something Important might be revealed. I felt very homesick.
How do you share a holiday with people who don’t celebrate it? Sure, there are traditional foods you can serve (and all the ingredients are now readily available), sure there are a few regular routines each family follows, but what would those matter without the shared cultural backdrop to the day? The national holiday, the pause in autumn routine, the shops and television shows all swirling in a fest of reds, oranges, yellows and browns, the schools putting on pilgrim plays where little Native Americans hand ears of corn to little Pilgrim Fathers on stage (no, they don’t cover the bloody side of the shared experience of Europeans settling in the New World), and the countless turkey themed crafts for children, like the old favourite: tracing a line around your hand, colouring it in in turkey colours, taping it to the fridge door.
After the Year of the Massive Feast I didn’t do anything for Thanksgiving for many years apart from call home and listen to everyone else having a good time. Attempting to celebrate it in the UK amongst the British just emphasised how far from home I was...
Posted by Jamie at 1:37 AM