When Greg Swanson decided to move to Europe to get some real experience to go with his education in international business, he told himself he would stay for just two years.
But Swanson, who worked for Kodak at the time, found he was traveling frequently, learning a lot and enjoying it, so he stayed longer. Then he met his wife, a native of France. Eventually, they had two kids.
Swanson, 53, of Switzerland, has now lived overseas for 30 years. And as his life has changed, so have the tax rules he faces. Admittedly, living abroad as an American has always made for a complicated tax situation. That is because the United States is one of the only countries to tax based on citizenship, not residency.
Many others like Greg left America in hope of a better life.
A Redditor u/whizzythorne put up a question asking “Ex-Americans of Reddit, how has your life changed since moving out of the US?” on the r/AskReddit subreddit, giving us a better idea of everything that waits there on the other side of the world.
The answers are down below and they surely give a lot of food for thought.
When it comes to knowing how many Americans currently live outside of the US, and where they live, it seems no one has much of a clue. Even the American government is unsure.
According to the U.S. State Department, an estimated 9 million U.S. citizens living overseas, with 20,690,491 U.S. passports issued in the fiscal year 2019 — a 47 percent spike from five years earlier. Four years ago the figure was put at 8.7 million.
Where Do Expatriates Live?
For its 2019 Expat Insider Survey, InterNations, a global network with members in 420 cities, compiled answers from 20,259 respondents around the world. For The New York Times, the organization tabulated where the most expatriates in four individual demographic categories currently live.
Bored Panda reached out to Jessica Cutrufello, the creator of the blog A Wanderlust For Life, who is passionate about European food, travel, and expat life, to find out more about the ups and downs of moving to live abroad.
Jessica was born and raised in the mountains of Virginia, then moved to very flat Amsterdam in the summer of 2014 and never looked back.
She recounted the life-changing decision: “Confident [her husband] would get work quickly, we sold everything, packed a couple of bags, and moved to Amsterdam in temporary housing until we figured it all out.” It took some luck, planning, and desperation of wanting to stay and the couple now owns their first home in Amsterdam.
Jessica said that she truly misses her “local creamery’s milk and ice cream.” Also, she said she would like to be able “to pick up A1 steak sauce in the supermarket.” However, she appreciates social norms better in the Netherlands. “It’s a culture that’s direct, which is incredibly refreshing. There’s also more inherent trust all around.”
The travel blogger and expat life enthusiast has also said that “Even though our taxes are way higher, we feel safer, we feel more taken care of, and we are able to travel around Europe quickly and easily because we have an airport that’s a main hub and super close to our house.”
In comparison, it used to take the family 2 hours to drive to the airport when they lived in Virginia.
The biggest thing that Jessica she didn’t realize she was worrying about until the family moved to the Netherlands was the healthcare. “We don’t have to worry about it anymore.”
Jessica also revealed that she finds it very refreshing and time-saving that Dutch people are extremely direct. “Americans often see it as rude, which I totally understand, because many of us are taught to walk on eggshells, tell little white lies to make people not feel bad, and just dance around every possible issue,” the woman explained.