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Old 12-09-2010, 01:40 AM   #1
Green Grinder
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Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

I think similar topics have been done before, but I would really like something that rates specific criteria in a clear and concise way. I'm thinking about five separate aspects of what I would want and I think they cover what most people would be concerned with. The rating would just be on a score from 1 to 10, with 10 being the best. I will explain the criteria and then give an example. If anyone else could add to it using the same format that I do, I think this could be a valuable thread with lots of useful info. Also, please indicate whether you have firsthand experience living there, or if your data is based off of internet research/things you've heard/etc.

The Five Criteria:

Cost of Living - How far does your money go? In terms of food, housing, clothing, electronics, utilities, internet, transportation, etc...

Recreation - How fun is it living there? How is the night life? Is there beautiful scenery/hiking nearby?

How Scary? - How scary is it living there? Do many people speak English? Are the police corrupt? Are you afraid of being shived by a local for his girlfriend smiling at you? Are there groups that hate foreigners? Will people try to rip you off and get angry when you call them on it?

Poker Playing - How is the B&M poker scene? Or is gambling even legal there? Do you have to do stuff to try and evade detection for playing online in secret?

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - Are you welcomed with open arms at the border? Is it easy to stay there indefinitely/cheaply with tourist visas? Do you need to leave the country and come back periodically? Is there a maximum amount of time you can stay without becoming a permanent resident? If becoming a permanent resident is necessary to stay long term, how easy is this to accomplish? Or do you basically have to marry someone or be offered a job to get in?


Here is an example...I will use a country I have zero real experience with, and I want people to be encouraged to do the same if they so choose. While real experience is preferable, there could still be valuable information from others. Plus, I want the people that DO have real experience to be encouraged to write more accurate reviews when they perceive a flaw in another. Please feel free to write reviews on already reviewed countries. The more reviews, the better overall picture we can discern of that country.

----------------------------------------------------------

Country - Thailand
Firsthand Experience? - No

Cost of Living - 9 - From everything I've heard, you can live very well here for not a lot of spending. I read the average Thai makes around 7000 baht a month and lives okay off that. Making enough from poker and decently supporting yourself in a first world country would appear to provide you the money to be an ultra clubbing baller here, if you so desired.

Recreation - 9 - Beautiful beaches, cultural landmarks, not good for surfing though. Lots of venues for crazy partying, all the casual sex you want...if you don't mind paying for it. Watch out for transgenders...unless that's your thing.

How Scary - 5 - I have heard the police are corrupt, and that driving anywhere holds a higher chance of lethality than most other places. Don't be a hardass and start something with a local or you will pay for it one way or another. But I hear that if you are friendly/go with the flow and there to have fun, you will be just fine.

Poker Playing - 2? - I hear gambling is illegal? Seems like people have to do crazy loopholes to be able to play online and do so in secret. I really don't know much about it though so by no means take my word for any of this.

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 8 - Don't know much about this either. I've been hearing people get 90 day tourist visas for pretty cheap and are able to leave the border for a day and come back for another 90 days indefinitely.

--------------------------------------------

That's the gist of what I'd like to see. If people follow this format, I think this thread could be a great resource for people like me. Some countries I'd love to hear about personally are: Malta, Brazil, Thailand.
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Old 12-09-2010, 01:57 AM   #2
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

This is a good idea. 2+2 is massive forum and there are people who have lived all over the place.

Anyways:

Country: Brazil (specifically, Rio de Janiero)
Firsthand experience?- Yes- 2 weeks. (I know there is a travel forum poster '40s' who is a Rio native, he can definitely correct me if I'm wrong in any of my statements).

Cost of Living- In terms of some of the other countries in South America, Brazil is one of the most expensive. In relation to the cost of living in, say, America (or UK), it's probably a little cheaper.

Other comparisons for expats such as Argentina, Thailand, Malta, etc, I'd imagine Rio is probably on the higher end.

Some girls at my hostel were staying for a few months in Rio for a school project. They got a 2 BR place for like $750 a month (together) in one of the nicer areas of the city (ipanema). You can get even cheaper ones in the more ghetto areas.

Recreation-Top notch. I had a fantastic time in Rio. The girls are beautiful, the beaches are excellent, the food is good. In my two weeks in Rio I climbed a mountain, hang glided, went to a soccer/football game, played on the beach, went to the club districts (Lapa) and biked through the city.

Really, Rio offered everything. I know that if I were to stay there, I'd set a list of things to do: learn Portuguese, learn to surf, practice BJJ, scuba dive, continue rock climbing, etc.

How Scary?-Unfortunately, Rio is probably going to be on the higher end of 'scarier' places to be at in terms of other options. I never had a problem nor did I ever really feel in danger. That said, I'm not white (I blended in right with them) and I stayed in a nicer area.

I heard of a few different instances where some friends from the hostel were mugged at night. I guess just don't be an idiot, travel smart (don't carry all your **** with you), etc.

Poker Playing-No idea. Didn't even think about playing. The internet is good there I guess...40s would be a better source on casinos.

How Easy to Get There and Stay there? -Kindve a *****...at least for US citizens. A VISA is required. For non-US people, it's okay though (I think?). Rio's airport is quite big though and there are other ways to get around (long bus rides).

Any Rio residents/travelers feel free to correct me on any of my statements.
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:22 AM   #3
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

I don't see how police corruption is a bad thing unless they're constantly shaking down foreigners. Do you want a guaranteed trip to jail if you're caught smoking a joint or do you want to pay a small bribe at the scene and walk away?

I'll write one up for Laos later.
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Old 12-09-2010, 05:34 AM   #4
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Quote:
Originally Posted by Green Grinder View Post
Some countries I'd love to hear about personally are: Malta, Brazil, Thailand.
I forgot one; I'd also love to read reviews on the Philippines!
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Old 12-09-2010, 06:17 AM   #5
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Great idea for a thread

But, I hope people realise that the OP hasnt been to thailand and should wait for a proper review of Thailand from one of the guys who has stayed for an extended period.

Do the right thing in Thailand/be smart and u can give all categories a 9/10 imo.

Internet quality is a HUGE factor, I would add this to the list.
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Old 12-09-2010, 09:52 AM   #6
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Quote:
Originally Posted by orange View Post
This is a good idea. 2+2 is massive forum and there are people who have lived all over the place.

Anyways:

Country: Brazil (specifically, Rio de Janiero)
Firsthand experience?- Yes- 2 weeks. (I know there is a travel forum poster '40s' who is a Rio native, he can definitely correct me if I'm wrong in any of my statements).

Cost of Living- In terms of some of the other countries in South America, Brazil is one of the most expensive. In relation to the cost of living in, say, America (or UK), it's probably a little cheaper.

Other comparisons for expats such as Argentina, Thailand, Malta, etc, I'd imagine Rio is probably on the higher end.

Some girls at my hostel were staying for a few months in Rio for a school project. They got a 2 BR place for like $750 a month (together) in one of the nicer areas of the city (ipanema). You can get even cheaper ones in the more ghetto areas.

Recreation-Top notch. I had a fantastic time in Rio. The girls are beautiful, the beaches are excellent, the food is good. In my two weeks in Rio I climbed a mountain, hang glided, went to a soccer/football game, played on the beach, went to the club districts (Lapa) and biked through the city.

Really, Rio offered everything. I know that if I were to stay there, I'd set a list of things to do: learn Portuguese, learn to surf, practice BJJ, scuba dive, continue rock climbing, etc.

How Scary?-Unfortunately, Rio is probably going to be on the higher end of 'scarier' places to be at in terms of other options. I never had a problem nor did I ever really feel in danger. That said, I'm not white (I blended in right with them) and I stayed in a nicer area.

I heard of a few different instances where some friends from the hostel were mugged at night. I guess just don't be an idiot, travel smart (don't carry all your **** with you), etc.

Poker Playing-No idea. Didn't even think about playing. The internet is good there I guess...40s would be a better source on casinos.

How Easy to Get There and Stay there? -Kindve a *****...at least for US citizens. A VISA is required. For non-US people, it's okay though (I think?). Rio's airport is quite big though and there are other ways to get around (long bus rides).

Any Rio residents/travelers feel free to correct me on any of my statements.
About "Poker Playing": Casinos are not allowed in brazil, but there are some poker clubs, where u can play tourneys and cash games - from 1/2 to 10/20 afaik - (currency = reais)
internet is good!
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Old 12-09-2010, 10:15 AM   #7
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Country - Barcelona , Spain
Firsthand Experience? - Yes

Cost of Living - 2 - One of the most expensive cities in the world. Rents are high. We are paying €830 for an old and small two bedroom apartment in the nicer part of the city. Average cost for a lunch is €10 - €15. A drink at a club is around €10 - €13.

Recreation - 10 - The limit is your imagination. All kinds of places , people , events etc etc You have the beach , you have the mountains , you have the culture , you have the history..

How Scary - 7 - It really depends on where you are. In the center of the city , it can get scary at nights. But it can get as scary as any tourist attraction city gets.

Poker Playing - 7 - There is the casino where EPT is held. There are some home games etc etc

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 8 - 3 months for americans , visa requierements for some other countries. Europeans can stay as much as they want obv.
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Old 12-09-2010, 11:03 AM   #8
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

also, this thread should be about cities.. its ridicilous how different cities are inside the same country
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Old 12-09-2010, 12:48 PM   #9
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Country - Vienna, Austria
Firsthand Experience? - Yes

Cost of Living - 5 - One of the cheaper capitals in western Europe. Prizes depend obviously where you live and which size you want. Flats are bigger than in other European cities, especially in old built houses. Rents in Ok places start around 550 Euro (unfurnished and cold). Public Transport is excellent and very cheap.

Recreation - 10 - Not the biggest party capital but you can do so many things in Vienna. Many events are taking place in Vienna and there is huge cultural treasure in the city. Twice time in a row Vienna was rated as the most livable city of the world http://www.mercer.com/press-releases...Ranking_Tables.

How Scary - 10 - One of the savest capitals in the World, maybe even THE savest capital in the world. Also Austria in general is super save.

Poker Playing - 8 - Biggest poker scene in Europe. Many cardrooms and live poker is taxfree and legal. Online poker is a grey zone but i have never heard of somebody who got punished playing online poker. Next year 1 EPT and 1 WPT will be held in Vienna + the EPT Snowfest in Saalbach which is also not so far away.

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 8 - 3 months for americans , visa requierements for some other countries. Europeans can stay as much as they want obv. So same accurs than in every other european city. Two aiports are not far away from Vienna. The Vienna Aiport and the Bratislava Airport.
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Old 12-09-2010, 02:34 PM   #10
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Central and South America - Scary and very overpriced for what you get.

Asia - Very safe and aside from Korea, Taiwan, and Japan and big cities it is cheap.

Africa - Scary and expensive. Exception is S. Africa and some of the Arab Africa like Morocco.

***

You can play internet poker everywhere via proxy.

You can travel everywhere for $1000-1500 max.

Recreation depends on the person. Everywhere is fun for a little while except for Muslim countries if your only source of fun is drinking and picking up girls.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:20 AM   #11
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Country - Thailand
Firsthand Experience? - Yes

Cost of Living - 7 - The currency has gotten stronger, used to be maybe 8.5. Many things are as expensive or more expensive than the USA though. Some examples: cars (far more expensive), electronics (more expensive), Western food (the same or more expensive - western groceries are far more expensive). Many things are of course very inexpensive.

Recreation - 10 - Depends what you are into I guess but great nightlife, great beaches and islands, outdoors stuff for people who are into that, very cheap hookers (recreation imo) and on and on.

How Scary - 8 - Probably one of the safest countries in the world, at least for westerners. Only does not get a 10 because of the dangerous traffic/motorbikes. As mentioned, I consider the corrupt police a good thing.

Poker Playing - Online, 8, Live 1. Technically illegal to play online but they have made no efforts to crack down on foreigners playing and imo they wont. As far as live goes, not only are there no casinos but they regularly bust home games/mini casinos.

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 4 - If you are just coming for a few weeks on vacation this is a 10, if you want to live here it sucks and can be expensive, time consuming and inconvenient - but is doable at least. Some places you flat can't stay without getting a job.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:28 AM   #12
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Country - Holland
Firsthand Experience? - Yes

Cost of Living - 2 - Extremely expensive to live in Amsterdam, not sure about smaller cities.

Recreation - 10 - Whatever you can't find in Holland you can surely find in any of the amazing neighboring countries.

How Scary - 4 - Central Amsterdam is generally safe but there are a lot of thugs about and I had a guy threaten me with a knife and demand 5 Euros one time so I'm probably jaded. I would imagine other parts of Hollard are much safer.

Poker Playing - 8 - They have casinos where you can play poker and playing online is not illegal, but they do tax there citizens on winnings and you'd probably legally owe taxes if you lived there and played for a living.

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 1 - The first 90 days are a 10, after that it immediately drops to a 1. It is basically impossible to stay longer unless you get a job.
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Old 12-10-2010, 04:31 AM   #13
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

You should have included something about how hot the girls are and how easy it is to bang locals imo - this is a poker forum after all...
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Old 12-10-2010, 01:52 PM   #14
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Country - Argentina (Buenos Aires)
Firsthand Experience? - Yes

Cost of Living - 7 - Basic items such as food and rent are cheap, especially in comparison to other cities of similar size. Public transportation is highly efficient and practically free. Electronics are expensive. Inflation has been chipping away steadily at cost of living benefits.

Recreation - 9 - Nightlife is abundant and cheap. There are many parks and museums. Beaches and skiing and natural beauty are all accessible.

How Scary - 6 - Most of the city is safe during the day, and the nice areas are generally safe at night. Nonetheless, muggings occur frequently and can happen in nice areas as well. Criminals seem to have some common sense and do not resort to violence unless the stakes are high. Foreigners are treated the same as anyone else.

Poker Playing - 7 - There is live poker but with uncapped rake. The government doesn't care at all about online gambling. The banking system is a mess, so you're not going to get any help with cashing out.

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 9 - Flying to Argentina is annoyingly expensive but staying is as simple as renewing your visa every 3 months with a day trip to Uruguay or a visit to the office downtown.
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Old 12-10-2010, 06:08 PM   #15
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Helsinki, Finland

Cost of Living - 4 Helsinki is neither cheap nor expensive. Cheaper than London, Berlin etc large cities, same as Stockholm etc., more expensive than most.

Recreation - 9 You can pretty much do anything you want here. There are also excellent outdoors options since Finland is 3 times larger than Japan but has only 5.5 million inhabitants. We have plenty of snow during winters.

How Scary? - 10 No question, one of the safest countries in the world.

Poker Playing - 9 1 Casino in Finland, in Helsinki. Poker playing online is legal, depending where you play it is taxable.

[b][u]How Easy to Get There and Stay There? -6-10

If you are EU citizen, you can just move here and do whaever you want for however long you want.
If you are not an EU citizen, you might need to work/study at least from time to time. It takes couple of years to get Finnish nationality. Visa covers 3 month. You can also apply for residancy permit that is year, you can apply as Self-Employed but I don't know if poker is covered in that.
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Old 12-11-2010, 01:07 AM   #16
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Country - Dominican Republic, Coste Norte (Puerto Plata, Cabarete, Costumbar)
Firsthand Experience? - Yes

Cost of Living - 5 - Probably a 20-25% discount on average cost of living in US. If you load on up on local products and live between cities you could save more.

Recreation - 8 - Good beaches, good nightlife if you don't mind friendly non-pushy working girls. (10 if you like working girls)

How Scary - 5 - Depends on the area but generally not that scary, Dominicans are a friendly people. Hell's Angels are around but they have been put on notice, if you got into trouble they are probably as like to help as anyone else.

Poker Playing - 5 - Good games but not 24-7 and games bigger than 3-6NL don't go everyday.

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 10 - ~$20/month to overstay with no blacklisting or any possibility of jail/deportation. Shouldn't drive while you are on an overstay but most expats don't drive anyway. You can get legal permanent residence thru a lawyer for around $1K or do it yourself for much less but probably not worth the hastle. Large German and Canadian expat enclaves.

Spanish is the key here, can get private lessons for $20/hr or go to school for cheaper, you probably won't last long without it. Education is not great here so you will probably find less people fluent in English than in the other Spanish cities listed ITT.
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Old 12-11-2010, 05:28 AM   #17
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Philippines

Cost of Living - 7 - Probably similar to Thailand, although I think rent in a good location might be slightly more, and electricity is more. Many things are even cheaper though.

Recreation - 8 - Again similar to Thailand. However, here you have the added plus that virtually everyone speaks English here.

How Scary - 6 1/2 - If I do expat things and go to expat places I'm not that worried about violence. A few of my friends have been shaken down by the police though, although except in one case they were at fault. I'm pretty scared of dying in a Taxi due to driving conditions and Taxi standards.

Poker Playing - 9 - Online poker is legal, and live poker exists up to $2/4 deep semi-regularly. Some lawmaker has been trying to make online gambling illegal for several years but without success.

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? - 9 - You can pretty much pay $50/month, leave every 1 1/2 years, and come back a few days later. Only thing preventing it from being a 10 is that you either have to go to a non-aircon immigration office and it takes quite a while in waiting time, or you have to go to a nicer air conditioned office that is far from where you want to be living.

Girls - 7 - It's really easy to find a non-upper class girl, and from what I understand they're a lot less mercenary here than in BKK. However similar to Isaan and Hi-so girls in Thailand, the rich girls 'look' different due to having more Spanish and Chinese blood. Like Thailand, it's also difficult with them, but probably easier than Thailand. I think on average the Thai women are better looking but the really good looking ones here have a Eurasian look which is hard to beat.

Extra: BKK and Manila feel similar, except that BKK feels like a slightly more advanced/better run/better infrastructure third world city. The upside here is that it's English speaking, and particularly virtually all written material is in English.
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Old 12-11-2010, 06:04 AM   #18
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

alex23 think you are generalizing a little without mentioning specific area's, obv you could add or minus a few points in each category depending on what area in phils you are at. Another thing about immigration is you can just pay someone to take your documents in for you, here in cebu I paid a extra 500 php to a travel agency every two months for over a year with little problems (tourist visa) and didn't have to physically go into the office until I decided to convert my visa.

Oh and btw I will agree with you that it can't be a 10 due to the ****ing incompetency of the immigration staff and government officials in general here, still very possible just a lot of unnecessary head aches when I transferred my visa.

I guess ill do a write up
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Old 12-12-2010, 05:19 AM   #19
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Guangzhou, China

Cost of Living - 6 Although prices are going up it is still pretty "cheap". The rents are still not too expensive and food is really cheap. Going out at night and drinking is the most expensive but this is quite common in Asia

Recreation - 8 Tons of discos, KTV, massage centers. Quite alot of life on the streets. Its quite complicated to be bored

How Scary? - 9 Safest city/country I have found myself in. There are hundreds of cameras along the streets and usually alot of security staff at each building entrance

Poker Playing -
2: Online, quite hard to play and internet is not too good
7: live... Macau is 2.5-3h away in bus, when train opens it will be 50mins

How Easy to Get There and Stay There? 5

Visa is a pain in the neck and you will probably need residence permit for long period, anyway Hong Kong is 2h away in train to renew visa

Girls - 9 I prefer chinese girls than thai or filipino, lighter skin, slimmer bodies, perfect asses... and they are mostly "normal" girls, also easy to hook up with them because there are not so many foreigners around, they find u terribly exotic

Last edited by GZPower; 12-12-2010 at 05:28 AM.
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Old 12-12-2010, 02:45 PM   #20
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

GZ,
how easy is it to get around if you don't know a lick of chinese?

also, can you elaborate on the outdoor activities available there?
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:34 PM   #21
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

And I can link you to stats which show them to be of a much lower incidence than they are in Thailand. What I'm saying is that the higher crime rate is not just confined to people who get pissed and then try to punch on with Thai bouncers. It affects people who are minding their own business just as much.

Obviously if you never go anywhere except to your apartment, beer bars and 7-11 then you are unlikely to be a victim of crime because there are too many witnesses. But going alone to a beach or somewhere like that at night in Thailand is definitely more dangerous that it is in somewhere like Australia or the UK.
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Old 12-12-2010, 11:12 PM   #22
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

There needs to be a "Job opportunities" category.
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Old 12-13-2010, 03:04 AM   #23
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Quote:
Originally Posted by PokerSpiv View Post
I still disagree. The reason for the difference is the lack of rule of law, the same reason for the high murder rates in places like S Africa or Columbia.
I don't know anything about South Africa but the reason for the high murder rate in Colombia is the drug trade and the ongoing fight (war) between drug traffickers and the police/military. Most tourists aren't actively fighting against the armed forces so their mortality rate is going to be significantly better than the national average. A Colombian I talked to recently told me that the ordinary people there take it upon themselves to protect the tourists, and this is consistent with everything I've heard from people who have been there.

Using generalized statistics for an entire country to make proclamations of the safety of tourism in very specific areas is pretty terrible, except in cases of saying that the entire country is safe. There's a reason why some very violent countries have thriving tourism industries while others have absolutely none.
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Old 12-13-2010, 04:49 AM   #24
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

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There needs to be a "Job opportunities" category.
+1. This would be nice, though I suspect the only jobs for foreigners that are remotely worthwhile in most countries involve teaching English...
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Old 12-13-2010, 01:44 PM   #25
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Re: Index - Best Countries to Expatriate to

Quote:
Originally Posted by soah View Post
I don't know anything about South Africa but the reason for the high murder rate in Colombia is the drug trade and the ongoing fight (war) between drug traffickers and the police/military. Most tourists aren't actively fighting against the armed forces so their mortality rate is going to be significantly better than the national average. A Colombian I talked to recently told me that the ordinary people there take it upon themselves to protect the tourists, and this is consistent with everything I've heard from people who have been there.

Using generalized statistics for an entire country to make proclamations of the safety of tourism in very specific areas is pretty terrible, except in cases of saying that the entire country is safe. There's a reason why some very violent countries have thriving tourism industries while others have absolutely none.
Ross Kemp's documentary about gangs .. ep. from Medellin, Colombia, part 1/5
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k4SuXmEre70
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