Tuesday, March 25, 2014

How The 2014 UK Budget Affects British Expats Living Abroad

Oliver HeslopExpatriate tax director of Global Expatriate Tax Services Ltd and official Expat Focus UK tax partner Oliver Heslop discusses the recent UK budget and its impact on British expats

Budget Day in the UK was 19 March 2014, when the UK Chancellor George Osborne announced the UK economy to be very much back on track.

We consider the reforms that he has announced to UK pension annuity rules to be seismic changes.

Despite the changes on pensions, in 2014 the average UK taxpayers will say that they are not feeling the benefits of the UK recovery. With a General Election already fixed for 2015, it was perhaps important for the Government to look after key voters. Some critics argue that they targeted pensioners in this Budget, who are more likely to vote than the under 30’s. We do not wish to be drawn into any political discussion here. Tax facts only!

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Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Expat Experience - Kim, Near Chateaubriant (Loire Atlantique), France

Kim
Who are you?

Hello! I'm Kim, an American from Massachusetts currently living and working in France with my boyfriend and our smiley dog Jojo.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to France one year ago to be with my boyfriend after several years of long distance. We both work for a French engineering firm based in Chateaubriant, not far from his home town. I'm a commercial export assistant, which has become a crash course in French business culture.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Moving was a whirlwind of emotion and packing. I found someone to sublet my apartment, sold my car and appliances, and stored or gave away anything that didn't fit into three suitcases. It was challenging to consider necessities, like clothing and paperwork, in addition to personal items such as family pictures. Unpacking was a bizarre experience - I managed to bring along a casserole dish and a pineapple plant, but forgot office-appropriate shoes...

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School In Canada - Small Differences, Big Impact

Aisha Isabel Ashraf
by Aisha Isabel Ashraf

Trawling online recently I came across an article about a UK school defending its decision to suspend a pupil over a wrestling logo shaved into his hair; and before that, another story about another school apologizing for insisting a parent supply a photograph of their chickenpox-stricken child for absence monitoring.

Taken together they were a startling reminder of the differences in education and social attitudes between Britain and Ontario, Canada, where we‘ve lived now for nearly four years; almost long enough to forget all the small ways life overseas can be strikingly different even in countries broadly similar.

Held Hostage By The System

Every summer in the UK the same old debate rages over the stranglehold parents endure from inflated holiday airfares and restrictions on removing children from school during term time. The ages of compulsory attendance in the UK are 5-16 and those who fall foul of the law can end up facing heavy fines, as Natasha and Stewart Sutherland discovered when they booked a week long autumn trip to Greece a year in advance...

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Learning To Communicate With The Locals In Italy - Some Tips For Expats

When travelling or staying abroad, striking up a conversation with locals can sometimes be quite challenging. You may find yourself feeling frustrated or anxious when attempting to communicate the simplest things. Many tourists and expats – and locals alike – are known to lose their temper once in a while on account of the communication gap.

In Italy, it is quite easy to get by without speaking much Italian, especially in the major cities like Rome, Milan and Venice. The staff at most hotels, restaurants, transportation services, and shops are proficient in English. But communication difficulties may occur when travelling to the rural regions or the smaller cities of the country.

It is always a big advantage (besides being quite rewarding) to be able to communicate effectively with the locals, even if it’s with just a few words and phrases. Here are some tips to help you sharpen your communication skills when in Italy...

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Visitors From Afar

Lindsay de Feliz
by Lindsay de Feliz

As an expat, one of the highlights of life is having visitors from overseas. Friends and family from your home country, or, in my case, visits from new friends you have made on line. Someone to remind you of where you came from.

I think that visitors are so much more meaningful when you live overseas than when you live at home. For me it means I have the chance to speak my own language, which I rarely do here, communicate with someone from the same culture, and, best of all, someone to bring me all those things I have been missing so much, like Cadbury chocolate, suet to make dumplings, Bisto for gravy, Bird’s custard powder and many more unobtainable items here. Someone once tried to bring me parsnips but the nasty man at customs took them away!

But it isn’t easy having visitors. For a start, the whole house has to be cleaned, and not just cleaned in the usual way, I also have to get rid of all those nasty bugs which I am quite used to, but I know will cause most visitors to freak out. I now laugh when I see a tarantula in the bathroom, but I am pretty sure that would not be the universal reaction. Dominicans are always so excited to have visitors from overseas that they go into overdrive and the house has to be painted, garden totally manicured, streets swept – they really do put out the red carpet, wanting everything to be perfect...

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Expat Experience - Richard Nahem, Paris, France

Richard Nahem, Paris
Who are you?

Richard Nahem, born and raised in New York City. I was a chef and caterer in New York for 21 years before I moved to Paris. I now have a successful private tour business www.eyepreferparistours.com where I show clients the insiders Paris they never usually see on their own and I also write a popular blog since 2006 www.ipreferparis.net, an insiders guide to Paris with posts about culture, art, food, shopping, and history.

Where, when and why did you move abroad?

I moved to Paris in August 2005 from New York. I had always dreamed of living in Paris since I first visited in the late 1970s and finally made my dream come true.

What challenges did you face during the move?

Shipping all my stuff over from NYC and getting my identity card.

How did you find somewhere to live?

I was very lucky, I found my dream apartment within two weeks through a storefront real estate agency I stumbled upon and the process was not that hard. A week later I moved in, The only thing one has to watch out for in Paris, is even thought it’s technically illegal, many landlords ask foreign renters for six months or one year additional rent held in escrow. Ours only asked for three months but when we signed the lease they forgot to include it, so I just had to pay the standard one-month’s rent, one-month security...

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Monday, March 10, 2014

If I Knew Then What I Know Now. . . What Would I Do Differently?

Susanna Perkinsby Susanna Perkins

In one month, we’ll celebrate our second anniversary as expats.

Two years. . . sometimes it feels like a very short time. Sometimes I feel as though I’ve been here forever. As I round off the second year of our living overseas, I find myself asking, “if I knew then what I know now, what would I have done differently?” I’m not talking about “if circumstances were different” types of pondering. But if I were moving to Panama today, with a full understanding of the life I’d lead here, what would I do differently?

I came up with three things, of very unequal importance.

Bring fewer clothes

I packed way too much.

Before we left the US, I donated massively to Goodwill. I emptied my closet (I thought) of all but the most essential clothing. I must have given away 20 or more large garbage bags filled with used clothing -- some of it very lightly used.

Still, I brought too much. Somehow I was laboring under the mistaken idea that I would wear long sleeves here, ever. Or jeans. Or dresses. Or shoes. . .

Wrong...

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