The World’s 10 Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities To Live

You want to work abroad. You follow the steps, nail the interview and hear their salary offer.

Is it enough? How much is enough?

Sure, now you know how much you’re taking in. But how much will be going out? How much for a month’s rent, a loaf of bread, a gallon of gas?

For some cities, you’ll make more than enough to pay for a good life, plus sock away the rest in savings.

And for some cities, …well, you should have countered with a higher salary.

How should you have known? You could have known. Research.

For now, let me give you the 10 most expensive and the 10 cheapest cities. If your city isn’t one of them, read on.

Continue reading The World’s 10 Most Expensive & Cheapest Cities To Live

330+ Days Outside The US = No Income Tax

If you are a US citizen, living outside the US, then all your income may not be taxed. Yes, if you live as an expat, then at tax filing time, you can file the “Foreign Income Exclusion” form, number 2555.

But, there’s a catch. (Isn’t there always a catch?) The catch is, you must really be living outside the United States for 90% or more of the time (that works to be 330 days or more). It doesn’t mean just calling your expat home your “Primary residence.” It doesn’t mean come home again for “just” the summer months. Nope, for your income to be excluded from tax, you must stay clear of the US for 330 days or more.

This is on my mind because someone just wrote to me asking the same questions. She asked how (or if) they can visit the United States and how it affects their taxes. I answered her, but then I thought others may be wondering the same thing. So, here is my reply:

Yes, about spending 35 days in the US, it’s true, unfortunately. If
someone spends 35 days in the US, they are then ineligible for foreign
income exclusion. It’s part of the physical presence test and I agree
it stinks.

I think the actual IRS text reads that you must be outside the US for
330 days, but it’s the same. It’s more important to understand that
those 35 days are cumulative and not consecutive. Also, understand
that the 35 days is over *any* span of 12 months, not just calendar
So, as a detailed example, someone fails the physical presence test if
their vacations were:

  • July 2011 – 5 days
  • December 2011 – 20 days
  • May 2012 – 10 days
  • June 2012 – 5 days

—–that’s 40 days within 12 months, failing the test. My wife and I have been super careful in counting our days spent over the past 6-7 years outside the US. We never go over 33 (including the entry/exit days in travel). One flight delay could cost us thousands, as you

Of course, I have to add that I am not a financial expert. All the above comes from years of experience as an expat, but not as a financial planner, tax attorney or some other professionally licensed money guru.

Hope this can help at least someone else out there.

Lastly, here’s a flowchart graphic I stole from the IRS. At least it’s less confusing than the 7000 pages of tax code.




Expat Program Released: Gone in 1 Year

If you or someone you know wants to move overseas, I just launched a program guaranteeing success. Based on years of consulting, I created a step-by-step program: tools, guidance and ‘homework’ (consulting). By the end, you’re moving overseas, employed and secure, or money back, guaranteed.

Check out “Gone in 1 Year” here.

Dubai a Magnet for Thousands of Expatriates

Maybe you’ve seen them in action on YouTube? The window cleaners of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest man-made structure. The iconic Dubai skyscraper stands more than 2,700 feet tall and its estimated 24,000 windows spread over 206 storeys take around three months to clean using nothing more than good old fashioned soap and water. Incredible. Frightening.

Dubai is a modern city like no other, a metropolis fringed by deserts and the deep blue seas of the Persian Gulf. It’s a magnet for both the tourist and expatriate alike and little wonder. You want to shop in the largest mall in the world? You got it. Or shop 124 floors up in the Burj Khalifa’s At the Top boutique? You got that, too. Want a choice of the best of personal banking from multinationals you already know and trust? And be able to apply for a credit card, loan or open a current account? You’ve got all of that and more.

If you can’t go there in person, YouTube is also the place to see Dubai’s spectacular dancing fountain. The fountain, which literally basks in the shadow of the Burj Khalifa, is one of the most spectacular water displays to be seen anywhere. Covering a distance of more than 300 metres and combining water, light and sound, the fountain sprays 22,000 gallons of water into the air at any one moment. Some 6,600 lights and 25 colour projectors create the variety of heart-stopping patterns for which the fountain has now become so famous.

Looking out across the vast expanse of the city, it’s not surprising visitors find it hard to believe there was only desert sand to be seen a few short decades before. No Burj Khalifa. No modern gleaming steel, concrete and glass structures. No man-made islands. No highways. No businesses or banks. No HSBC credit card or cash machines. No tourists or first class hotels. No homes or people to live in them. Oil changed everything and propelled the United Arab Emirates (UAE) into the modern world. The UAE has never looked back since.

If big banking has made a home in Dubai, then so has international business, encouraged by a government fully aware the country’s vast oil wealth cannot last forever. So diversification has been the watchword for quite a number of years now. And with diversification has come the development of a taxation and regulatory regime which has encouraged thousands of international companies both large and small to set up in the country.

And why wouldn’t they given that there are no direct taxes levied on corporate profits or personal income and full foreign ownership is allowed. Other benefits include low or zero customs duties; 100% repatriation of capital and profits; and no foreign exchange controls, trade quotas or barriers. Visa regulations are relaxed enough to allow expatriate workers to be hired with relative ease.

Add to all of that high quality infrastructure, low levels of crime, a clean environment, excellent weather, and a friendly, tolerant and cosmopolitan population. Is it a wonder then Dubai is such a popular destination for the thousands of expatriates from around the world? Hardly. Click here to see the window cleaners of the Burj Khalifa in action. Only those with a strong stomach should watch!

Starting a New Business — me

As of today (late last night), there’s a new page on this blog.  Look up and see “Getting You Abroad — Hire Me

That’s right, I’m going “pro” with this passion of mine.  I made the leap from motivating people about life overseas, to offering people straight talk on how to do it.  But I had quick doubts …am I qualified?  What should I offer?  And how?


When considering this consulting gig, I wondered “Am I qualified?”
I lived in or worked in about a dozen countries.  Vacationed or toured another 20.  Okay, I feel I’m qualified.

Am I qualified to motivate others about it?  After 3 years of this blog, and answering countless e-mails, yes, I feel ready to charge.

The Offer: Simple Consulting

An one hour chat between me and the person.  Will it answer all your questions?  Probably not, but 1 hour should answer a ton of questions.  More importantly, I believe 100% that ‘our little chat’ will do more to motivate and stir you to act than any other 1 hour could.

Plus, I thought about how more tailored our chat will be.  Much of my writing has a certain person in mind, but I know when talking to someone, the “helpfulness factor” skyrockets as the conversation moves along.  Further, I understand more of what that particular person needs.

Bottom Line: The core benefit is you save time, money and unnecessary mistakes along the way.  While do I believe mistakes are a valuable part of life, whenever I can share my experience and lessons to better your life —All the Better!

How much?

I am beginning at $100 for our hour long conversation.  Yes, $100 is not small money, but imagine yourself 6 months from now, at the very same spot you were 6 months ago.

Spending the $100 now won’t cause you pain in 6 months, but if we don’t talk, you may regret that more.  (just a hunch from what I’ve heard from others)

How to Be The One

It’s easy: visit here, and click the button.  We schedule the best time to talk on the phone or a Skype video call – however you’re most comfortable.

time to consult

Charging people for something I love was a big leap for me.  (Hell, it took me 3 years)  But in a way, I really feel that a person will be more serious, more likely to follow through on their dream when they’ve committed a bit of coin to it.

5 (Bad) Excuses Why People Don’t Move Abroad

My #1 goal on this blog is to share about becoming an expat. I feel that living abroad makes some significant, positive changes in a person. so I guess I feel living abroad is something pretty awesome. Unfortunately, it’s also something pretty scary for those interested. But scary is just an alternative to exciting, given the right mindset.

To date, I’ve helped a handful of people with their move abroad. The most popular help needed is deciding to “go for it.” In my experience, there are 5 big reasons why people don’t follow their dream of living in another country. After each, I tell you why each reason doesn’t really matter.

#1. Work

Number one reason is “I have a job.” People actually ask “How could I leave my career?”

To people who offer this excuse, I say you aren’t hurting your career, you’re helping it.

Continue reading 5 (Bad) Excuses Why People Don’t Move Abroad

Foreign Mortgages – Ours: Approved. Yea!

Today is a banner day. I just got word that our mortgage refinance application was approved. Oh, man, that rocks!

…so, now we only owe two and a half million. Thankfully, that’s not dollars, but in Czech crowns. In fact, I’m real thankful that’s not in dollars, since I’d be jumping out of a window if I owed anybody a million dollars, let alone two mill.

(Of course, a couple million crowns ain’t exactly peanuts either, which is why I have a mortgage.)

You may be asking “Why do you have a mortgage? Why refinance when you should just sell it? Aren’t you moving in like…10 days?”
Continue reading Foreign Mortgages – Ours: Approved. Yea!

How to Transfer Money Internationally, Part II

This is the 2nd post about wiring money overseas. In the first post, I talked about words we come across

And what great timing for this post! Today I need to wire just under $3,000 to rent a RV for a month out of Germany.

Let’s use my case as an example scenario…

Continue reading How to Transfer Money Internationally, Part II

How to Transfer Money Internationally, Part I

For almost anyone, the idea of transferring money can be stressful. If you’re like me, you’re triple-checking it “went through” even if transferring money between accounts of the same bank.

But this article is not about accounts in the same bank, nor about banks in the same country. This is about international money transfers.

I’m talking about doing it across the ocean,

    when source and/or destination doesn’t speak English,
      and you’re not a financial guru anyway. …yup, stressful.

    Well, stress no more.

    Continue reading How to Transfer Money Internationally, Part I

    Visa Process – Timelines

    In a prior post, I mentioned how most countries do not require a visa just to visit. But some do. Some examples include Bolivia, India, Russia (& most of the former Soviet Republics), Cambodia, Vietnam. This post will set your expectations about getting a tourist visa for those countries.
    Filling out Paperwork, Paperwork, Paperwork
    Needing a visa doesn’t mean someone does it for you. You’ll need to fill out a visa application.

    Yes, every country has its own visa application form. The form could be available online or you must visit the nearest embassy. Nothing is standard across all forms. And you’d better fill it out as it’s expected.

    What Does The Visa Application Ask?
    Just “name, rank & serial number” would be nice, but don’t count on it.

    Generalizing here, but as a minimum, you will provide:
    Name, nationality, birthday, passport number, address (both yours and where you’ll stay) and contact information like phone number/fax/e-mail (both yours and where you’ll stay), why and for how long you expect to stay

    You may also be asked your marital status, your occupation and employment history. Some countries even ask you to write a short, personal essay explaining why you want to see their country!

    After finishing the form, it is also common to provide:
    Bank statement or proof of financial support, a copy of HIV vaccinations, confirmation or invitation from a local hotel or friend (both cases sometimes called your “sponsor” and copies of your hotel confirmation & return flight.
    Tack on 1 or 2 passport photos and you’re all set!

    Continue reading Visa Process – Timelines