EXPAT: MY EXPERIENCE AND MY 3 TIPS TO LEAVE

 

It was exactly the end of April 2019, and until a few months before I knew very little about the meaning of the word EXPAT, and I had never thought about the possibility that I could become one myself. But as I said in the first article, never say never in life …

Yes, because when I think about it, two years have already passed since we made the first transfer from Florence (Italy) to Hong Kong (China).

 

Expat: my experience and my advice. Here in Hong Kong's Victoria Park, Causeway Bay

What does it mean to be EXPAT?

It is very simple: it means being “resident abroad; expatriate ”and to expatriate each nation has its own rules.

If you have in mind or are considering expatriating, here are my tips for doing so (the ones I would have liked to receive before leaving for Hong Kong and expatriating for the first time):

1. The first piece of advice once you have decided to expatriate is to check all the necessary information on the national website, if you are Italian, http://www.viaggiaresicuri.it and then on the relevant website of the embassy of the country in question, (either by email or by phone). Each nation is different and above all the rules, in this historical period of pandemic in particular, are constantly changing. 

Then it is essential to immediately check if you need a visa to expatriate in that country, and if you need it, which are the conditions / times to apply for it. And even in this case each country is different. But the sites mentioned above will help you find all the information.

2. The second tip is to clarify in detail not taking anything for granted, if you are leaving for work for an Italian company or to go to work in a local company, all the details of the contract, but also those relating to your stay .

 

Cosa include il contratto? Non lasciare nulla al caso! L’alloggio è incluso o no? Ti danno un rimborso? In che termini?  Sono inclusi dei viaggi di rientro, quanti? Avrai un premio? Avrai immagino, uno stipendio più alto, perché sei all’estero. Ma di quanto? L’assicurazione sanitaria sarà inclusa (all’estero è fondamentale)? Se stai partendo con il/la tuo/tua compagno/a, marito / moglie, famiglia, figli, cosa ti viene offerto nel pacchetto per loro? Valuta tutto considerando il paese dove andrai a vivere, e non l’Italia, perché per esempio, potrebbe succedere che, anche se l’offerta sia molto più alta rispetto a quello che prendevi prima in Italia, poi si dimostri a dir poco decente/sufficiente nel nuovo paese. E non è quello che vorresti, te lo assicuro. E ricorda: rispetto alla prima offerta che ricevi, fai sempre una contro proposta al rialzo.

 

Expat picnic in Bloesempark, in the Amsterdam Bos forest, in Amsterdam
3. The third advice, if you are Italian, is to register immediately with the AIRE  – the registry of Italians residing abroad.
 

This will allow you, respecting the rule of at least 183 days abroad (outside Italy) to pay taxes only in the new country where you are resident, and not also in Italy, paying double (and nobody would like to do it).

Weekend in Thailand, for my birthday 2019, on the island of Krabi. When as Expat from Hong Kong we only needed 3 hours of flight.

But how do you live as EXPAT?

Life as expat has its pros and cons, of course, and depending on where you go, the pros or cons will be more…

PROS:

– Living abroad will enrich you, and not only in economic terms (perhaps also but not only). It will allow you to discover a (or more) new culture (s) by socializing with people from different countries, and often expats as well, who could become your friends for life. It will open your mind, allowing you to see the world from a completely different perspective, which you have never considered.

– Often once you are expatriated, you will have the opportunity to receive better job opportunities and to choose. Life is one and must be lived to the fullest, evaluate well withoutng for it!

– If you love to travel, expat life will give you more chances to travel based on where you move. In our case, Hong Kong, with its central location in Asia, allowed us to explore it with low cost flights. In fact, Pre-Covid, we were able to spend long weekends in Japan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, China, and Taiwan.
Long weekend in December 2019 in Japan, Kioto, Arashiyama, for autumn and its typical red colors, thanks to the palmate maple, or momiji.
Summer Holiday 2019 in Vietnam - Hoian
Summer Holiday 2019 in Cambodiaa - Siem Reap. This is the sunrise in Angkor Wat.
Shanghai weekend 2019 . This is the view from the Bund.

 And Amsterdam, where we are now, will allow us to travel just as easily, when we can, being a huge European HUB.

– Often the quality of life as an Expat will be higher than what you had. It is inevitable. And there are also cases where expats are so well liked that they receive special treatment, as in the case of Holland, where if a local company hires an EXPAT while still in another country, it has the possibility of receiving a temporary special treatment for the payment of taxes: I am referring to 30% RULING.

– Life as an Expat will allow you to get to know new flavors too, and often from all over the world. So you may discover that you love Lebanese or Ethiopian cuisine, which you didn’t even know existed in your country.

– You will understand how simple bureaucracy is abroad, or at least in both of our cases, Hong Kong and Amsterdam, we found this: simplicity, speed, clarity and above all efficiency. And forgive me if I can’t say the same about Italy.

– You will improve your English! What better way than to move abroad by immersing yourself 100% in another culture? And even if English will not be the mother tongue, the positive aspect is that in many places, English is enough for you to live in that country, as in the case of Hong Kong and Amsterdam (at least for now, then I’m sure I will take a Dutch course).

Canals of Amsterdam
Ponte Vecchio in Florence (IT) sunset.

CONS:

Of course, life as an Expat has its cons, I’d be lying if I told you it only has pros. For example?

– You will be far from home and your seats. You will miss them. And depending on where you want to move and the distance, it is not certain that you will be able to return often to your home country to meet your family and friends (covid aside). In our case, for example, from Hong Kong, even all the people I met, if they returned and returned home twice a year, it was / is a lot. The flight is long and has a considerable cost, in addition to the time zone change. Whereas Amsterdam is different, which is only about an hour’s flight from Italy … and it is in fact one of the reasons why we then chose it.

Taipei Weekend 2019. This is the view from the skyscraper "Taipei 101"
Hong Kong photo Shooting.

– You will have to “make do” to hear from your loved ones, by phone. So if you are used to often seeing your family, your friends, you will have to start using your smartphone to call them or video call them (but at least think of the ease with which today you can make a video call with facetime, whatsapp, zoom, meet, or any other app and at any time, for free).

– Life will inevitably be more expensive (if we even think about the price of a coffee that often starts at € 3 abroad) but … it will often be proportionate to your salary.

– As mentioned above, health care abroad is not as public as in Italy, and for this you will absolutely have to get private health insurance (and my advice is to check that it also covers travel abroad). Check what it offers you and choose the most suitable for you. Is critical. In my case, for example, I didn’t need it much luckily, but I used it in Cambodia, when I felt bad, and after 3 days of high fever and nausea, I went to a private clinic. Result? Gastronteritis, antibiotics to take but above all a bill of more than € 500 … Do you understand what private health insurance is for now ?!

– Maybe it won’t be so easy to meet new people with the same interests as you. But my advice in this case is to subscribe to private Facebook groups in your city. And you will discover a world you did not know. I have met many people, friends, and professionals in this way.

And now tell me, are you already an Expat and have any other tips to add, which I haven’t mentioned? Or are you thinking of leaving (what are you waiting for? Carpe Diem!), And have other doubts? Write me below, so I can answer you.

In the meantime I think I have told you everything, but obviously based only and only on my personal experience.

Here you soon, and I hope I have been of help.

Best,Veronica

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