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Gay Expat | Expat Gay
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by CW

Oh the places you won’t go as an LGBT Expat!

February 1, 2012 in Countries, Expat, Gay, Gay Rights Watch, LGBT by CW

The prospect of becoming an expat is both exciting and daunting. Yet one of the most critical decisions is where to go. Choose correctly and you can enjoy a country that recognizes gay marriage or at a minimum where homosexuality is legal. Choose incorrectly and you could find yourself living in a country where homosexuality is illegal and at worst punishable by death.

We’ve assembled the following list of countries where calling it home may not be the best decision because homosexuality or male-to-male relationships are illegal.

Most Hated Nation Status.
The following countries have laws where not only is homosexuality illegal, it is punishable by death. As a result, Expatgay.com does not recommend you set up home sweet home there.

These countries include:

  • Sudan
  • Mauritania
  • Somaliland
  • Saudi Arabia
  • United Arab Emirates
  • Yemen
  • Iran

In the following countries homosexuality is considered illegal:

  • Afghanistan
  • Algeria
  • Angola
  • Antigua and Barbuda
  • Bangladesh
  • Barbados
  • Belize
  • Bhutan
  • Botswana
  • Brunei
  • Burma
  • Burundi
  • Cameroon
  • Comiroa
  • Cook Islands
  • Dominica
  • Egypt
  • Eritrea
  • Ethiopia
  • Gambia
  • Ghana
  • Greneda
  • Guinea
  • Guyana
  • Jamaica
  • Kenya
  • Kiribati
  • Kuwait
  • Lebanon
  • Lesotho
  • Liberia
  • Libya
  • Malawi
  • Malaysia
  • Maldives
  • Mauritius
  • Morocco
  • Namibia
  • Nauru
  • Nigeria
  • Oman
  • Pakistan
  • Palau
  • Palestinian territories (Gaza)
  • Papua New Guinea
  • Qatar
  • Samoa
  • Sao Tome and Principe
  • Senegal
  • Seychelles
  • Sierra Leone
  • Singapore
  • Solomon Islands
  • Somolia
  • South Sudan
  • Sri Lanka
  • St. Kitt and Nevis
  • St. Lucia
  • St. Vincent and the Grenadines
  • Swaziland
  • Tanzania
  • Togo
  • Tonga
  • Trinidad and Tobago
  • Tunisia
  • Turkish part of Cyprus
  • Turkmenistan
  • Tuvalu
  • Uganda
  • Uzbekistan
  • Western Sahara
  • Zambia
  • Zimbabwe
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by CW

Happy Chinese New Year!

January 24, 2012 in China, Countries, Expat, Gay, LGBT, LGBT Retirement Abroad by CW

The year of the Dragon in Chinese astrology is very special. The dragon being the only character that does not really exist but is most revered. The Dragon is seen as a symbol of power, superiority and rule. Check out more about the Dragon in Chinese culture.

Happy new year to all of our expats in China!

We are still working on gathering information on China but do have a little. Check it out!

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by JK

5 financial things you need to do before you become an expat

January 23, 2012 in Can I do it?, Expat, Financial, Gay, LGBT, LGBT Retirement Abroad by JK

Before embarking on life as an expat it’s important to get yourself in the best financial shape possible as you begin your journey. The following five tips will help you make sure that you worry less about finances and more about fun!

1.  Cut all your current expenses
Before embarking on the expat journey, you need to reduce or eliminate superfluous expenses.  Your current spending has a significant impact on your future spending. Cutting out things that are not core expenses will help you get your financial house in order.  For example, stop buying $5 coffees from Starbucks, eliminate monthly expenses like gym memberships and reduce your over all spending.

Action: Take a look at all your expenses and see where you might be able to eliminate costs. For example, can you reduce your car insurance costs, gym membership or cell phone costs by moving to a new plan? Small steps like bringing your lunch to work to avoid eating out can pay big dividends in the long run.

2. . Become debt free.
Now that you’ve reduced or eliminated frivolous expenses it’s time to allocate those extra savings towards eliminating debt.  Becoming an expat and having to worry about how the credit card bills or mortgage are going to get paid is simply not a long term solution. If you are lounging on a beach in Ecuador or sipping yak butter tea in the foothills of the Himalayas, the last thing you want to think about is how your bills are going to be paid.

Action:  Eliminate all sources of debt. Allocate the money you’re saving to pay off all credit cards. If you own a home sell it or better yet, rent it out. But only rent it if you can make more money than the monthly mortgage payment. Otherwise you’re simply subsidizing someone else’s rent.

3. Develop a safety cushion
Put money away for a rainy day. Becoming an expat means that you will have opportunities to explore the world. But should the unexpected happen and you need to return home or you need some quick cash, the last thing you want to do is start running up those credits cards.

Action: Once you’ve reduced your spending and eliminated your debts, it’s time to start funneling money into a savings account that will allow you to tap into it should you need it.

4. Determine where your income will come from.
For some people this may mean tapping stocks or other investments. For others, it may mean earning an income while being an expat. One of the easiest ways to do this is to teach English part time.

Determine where the income will come to fund your expat lifestyle. Will it be from savings? Will you need to start a business? Or will you teach English?

5. Develop discipline
It’s easy to make plans. After all, how many of us make new year’s resolutions that are forgotten by the time Valentine’s day rolls around. Staying on track means staying focused on your long term goal of making early retirement a reality.

Action: Determine things you need to do to impose self discipline in your plan. Perhaps that means setting up automatic payments into savings accounts or meeting regularly with a friend who will force you to stay on track.

Reducing expenses, eliminating debt and developing a financial safety cushion are the first steps toward making your expat dreams a reality. Then you can determine where your income will come from and you are well on your way toward making your expat dreams a reality!!

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by CG

Time Unlimited – If you had unlimited time to travel the world where would you go?

January 10, 2012 in Argentina, Belgium, Can I do it?, Colombia, Costa Rica, Countries, Denmark, Ecuador, Expat, France, Gay, Germany, Great Britain, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Leaving the US, LGBT, Mexico, Netherlands, Nicaragua, Panama, Portugal, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Uruguay, Video by CG

It is no secret that the expat community is a mobile one.  Expats tend to have a greater sense of adventure and are typically more prone to move from country to country.  It is hard to imagine someone who doesn’t have some degree of wanderlust taking the leap to life in a foreign country.  For most of us who dream of living abroad or travel constantly, there are certain experiences or events that triggered our wanderlust.

I always dreamed of standing at the Pyramids growing up or experiencing Carnival in Rio (both accomplished!).  As I start planning for life abroad and thinking about the experiences to come, I can’t help but be overwhelmed by the incredible array of experiences waiting for me.  Visiting the ruins in Petra, Jordan or Machu Picchu, Peru or simply relaxing in a beach bar in Phuket, Thailand both motivate me every day to pursue my goal of living abroad.  The world really is your oyster when you shake off conventional thinking and pursue the path less traveled.

What events shaped your desire to see the world?
What experiences are you most looking forward to?

The answers to these questions may provide the beginning of a road map to your life as an expat. You might find inspiration in the video I found.

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by CG

Same-sex couples penalized on taxes in the United States

January 9, 2012 in Expat, Financial, Gay, Leaving the US, LGBT, Taxes by CG

In what will be absolutely no surprise to any gay couples living in the US, CNNMoney has determined that same-sex couples are paying as much as $6000 each year in additional taxes because of the federal government’s inability to recognize same-sex marriages.  It is this inequity in the marriage laws that is driving many American gays to contemplate and pursue a life abroad as a gay expat.  The tax inequality affecting gay couples who have legally married in their home state or home country is often neglected in the national discussion over federal recognition of gay marriage but it is nonetheless an important reminder that the fight for marriage equality is not just a cultural battle but one that has many practical and immediate implications on all same-sex couples.  Thanks to the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) the federal government cannot recognize the marriages of same sex couples despite the fact that such marriages are legal in over 12 states and despite the fact that a majority of Americans now favor gay marriage.  As a result, even though more and more same-sex couples can file their taxes jointly at the state level they still have to file as single when filing federal taxes.  Practically this means that they can’t combine their income and deductions to take advantage of lower tax rates or qualify for some tax breaks available to other married couples.  Additionally, same-sex couples don’t qualify for the same marital exemptions for inheritance and gift taxes and could even lose out on capital gains exclusions on the sale of a home.  Finally, the two-tier system where the same-sex marriage is recognized by the state but not by the federal government leads to a paperwork and compliance nightmare.  Same-sex couples in these states may have to file up to four separate tax returns, including mock federal returns, for their state and federal taxes.  CNNMoney breaks down the tax difference between two couples (one same-sex and one heterosexual) earning $100,000 a year.  Their analysis and the results are eye-opening.  Head over to the link to see their break down.

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by CG

News from around the world

January 6, 2012 in Countries, Ecuador, Expat, Gay, Israel, Leaving the US, LGBT, Spain, Weekly News by CG

Below is this week’s collection of relevant articles and news from the gay expat world that are worth a look:


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by CG

Where Do American Expats Live?

December 20, 2011 in Countries, Expat, Leaving the US by CG

According to U.S. State Department 2011 estimates it seems like most Americans like to stay close to home when living abroad with the majority of American expats living in the Western Hemisphere (2,591,000).  Also strongly represented are Europe (1,612,000), the Near East (870,000) and East Asia & Pacific (864,000).  South Central Asia (212,000), Africa (171,000) and Russia (30,000) bring up the rear in numbers of Americans living there.  The report also breaks down the countries that have more than 100,000 Americans living there.  These countries include Australia, Canada, China, the Dominican Republic, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, Israel & West Bank, Greece, Mexico, Italy, Spain and the Philippines.  While a high concentration of Americans does not necessarily guarantee that it is a place where you would want to live, it is interesting nonetheless as another possible factor in your search for the perfect home abroad if being surrounded by American expats is important to you.     Check out the cool info graphic at the link for another look at the data.

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by CG

Best Countries for Gay Expats in Europe

December 8, 2011 in Belgium, Countries, Denmark, Expat, Gay, Germany, Great Britain, LGBT, Netherlands, Portugal, Scandinavia, Spain, Switzerland by CG

I, like many others, have spent a lot of time researching the best places to live abroad.  As a quick Google search shows, there is no lack of opinions on this topic, to the point that weeding through the available information can be downright overwhelming.  However, when I try to find information on a more specific subset of this question, namely finding the best places to live abroad that are gay-friendly, the search gets much more difficult.  There seems to be precious little data on expat gays and their experiences abroad.  Outside of some personal blogs and small sections in otherwise general expat blogs information on gay life for retirees abroad seems scarce.  However, there is much more information for gay travelers vacationing abroad generally and while these articles do not dig into the specific concerns and challenges for gays who choose to live abroad, they are useful to at least get a sense of a place’s overall attitude and acceptance towards gays.  Over on Rick Steve’s popular traveler website he has posted a handy article for gay travelers in Europe which, again, while not providing an in-depth look at living in Europe does help weed out those places in Europe that are more welcoming of gays and therefore should be on your shortlist of living abroad options.

According to Rick,  the best countries for gay rights — and for gay travelers — are the Netherlands, Belgium, Scandinavia (especially Denmark), and Great Britain (particularly London), as well as Germany, Switzerland, and cities in Spain and Portugal.    In other countries, such as Austria, Ireland, Paris, Italy, Slovenia and Croatia the record is mixed, with fewer legal rights. However, the farther east you venture in the former Soviet Bloc, the less progressive things become. Particularly in rural areas of Eastern Europe.

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by CG

Should Gay Expats Give Up Their Citizenship?

December 7, 2011 in Citizenship, Expat, Leaving the US by CG

A recurring concern for American expats living abroad on a permanent or semi-permanent basis is the unfair tax and financial burden on expats and how to address such inequality.  The New York Times addresses one of the more controversial options increasingly being taken by expats who are renouncing their citizenship to avoid double taxation and also takes a look at the special circumstances that may lead same-sex couples to do the same.  The Federal Register estimates that 502 expats gave up their citizenship in the last quarter of 2009 out of the 5.2 million Americans estimated by the State Department to be living abroad.  While still a small number, it is the largest quarterly figure in years and seems to be growing.  Anecdotally, concerns over tax and banking issues appears to be driving the growth, especially complaints that the US is the only industrialized country to tax citizens on income earned abroad, even when they are taxed in their country of residence (though expats are allowed to exclude their first $91,400 in foreign-earned income).   Additionally, stringent new banking regulations have inadvertently made it harder for some expats to keep bank accounts in the US and in some cases abroad. Some US banks have closed expats’ accounts due to difficulty in verifying a US address.  It is this potential concern for double taxation and banking issues that can drive expats to renounce their citizenship.

For gay expats there is an additional motivation that can make living abroad and renouncing one’s citizenship an attractive option.  Aside from the same double taxation and banking issues faced by other expats, many same-sex couples who leave the US head for countries that recognize their unions or due to immigration obstacles here in the US for foreign-born partners.  Couples may head to more tolerant places such as Canada where it’s easier to gain permanent resident status for couples since only one partner has to qualify and gay marriage is recognized there.

Relinquishing citizenship is pretty straightforward. The person must appear before a U.S. consular or diplomatic official in a foreign country and sign a renunciation oath. This, however, does not allow a person to escape old tax bills or military obligations. Read more…

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by CG

8 Cheap Places to Live Abroad

December 3, 2011 in Argentina, Costa Rica, Countries, Ecuador, Expat, France, Italy, Mexico, Panama, Uruguay by CG

Best and/or cheapest places to retire abroad lists are a dime a dozen but CBS Money Watch has published a concise list that provides some useful information and links to further reading for those that want a deeper dive into this ever-popular subject.  According to CBS, based on information compiled from the most prominent lists around the web (including International Living, AARP, Forbes, Kiplinger’s and others), the following eight countries were the most recommended:

Most Recommended Countries

Panama -
: currency tied to the dollar, retiree discounts, favorable tax treatment;
Cons: some corruption and infrastructure issues, rural and quiet in many spots

Ecuador –
: currency tied to the dollar, super cheap;
: limited health care outside major cities, political instability, some crime pockets

Uruguay -
Pros: beaches, recognized for its high quality of life;
: medical care, may be too quiet for urbanites

Mexico –
: easy access to US, lots of expats, good health care in big cities;
: drug cartels in border towns, petty crime and corruption

Costa Rica -
Pros: good economy, untaxed retirement income and real estate profits;
:  more expensive than some other countries on list, straining infrastructure

France –
: food and culture, great health care;
:  high taxes, maddening bureaucracy

Argentina -
Pros: European vibe, low housing prices, English spoken;
Cons: getting pricier, cold in the south

Italy -
Pros: food and culture, weather, bargains mainly in south;
: labor strikes, hot summers, some regions aren’t cheap

Check out the full article for some tips from expats as well as useful links to many of the publications CBS reviewed to compile their list.  It’s a useful jumping off place for cheap retirement options abroad.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net