In no particular order, this is what I am looking for in a new country:
Connected to the world
I have no problem with New Zealand other than when looking at a map of the world it’s located in this far right-hand corner. Yes, I know the world is a globe, but it is so remote. There are many reasons why Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), passes through the Old Royal Observatory in the London suburb of Greenwich. (It is the time measured on the Earth’s zero-degree line of longitude, or meridian. This runs from the North Pole to the South Pole, according to Professor Google).
Have you ever been to Greenwich? Its fun and trendy and buzzes! New Zealand is GMT +12. How do you speak with your granddaughter? She goes to bed and you are still waking up. It is hard to maintain relationships. Besides, how do you get to watch a soccer game or rugby match at a decent hour. Its difficult braaiing at 8am in the morning or cracking a beer.
For me it’s GMT +3 or -3 max!
I am happy to pay tax provided I get services in return. That’s fair don’t you think? Why is it that some countries with a good quality of life are able to provide the essential services as required for humans to thrive?
Corporate taxes vary widely from country to country. From typically 10% to 30-35%. Yet when you examine a country with low corporate taxes, they are still able to provide quality essential services: infrastructure, roads, public transport, healthcare etc. And if you are paying 10% to 20% in personal taxes, you do not spend half your day figuring out how to reduce your tax, particularly if you are getting essential services in return.
Ah… if you cannot eat well, what is the point of life? Stolid food like bangers and mash is for someone else. Variety they say is the spice of life. No, I want to enjoy all cuisines. No snakes or cockroaches, but mainline food – that excludes fast-food burgers, but includes chocolate milkshakes.
Quality of Life
It starts with peace of mind. Knowing that there is the rule of law, that personal rights are respected and enforced. Democracy is non-negotiable; that every four or five years you can vote politicians in or out, based on performance.
Knowing that there is infrastructure; potholes, garbage, and such like is attended to and that municipal billing is fair and correct.
Safety and security
I have a pistol. It saved my life once in a ‘home invasion’, the fashionable word for armed burglary. I do not want to carry it – I dislike guns. Yet if you just ride your bicycle you are in danger of being seriously hurt or killed for your shoes and a cellphone. Speeding and drunk driving are offences that need policing. Being stopped at the airport at 6am with the confusion caused by Covid-19 restrictions and no signage to direct one, and a Metro policeman who tickets you for treating a stop like a yield sign on an enormous speed bump that you crawl over is revenue collection, not policing.
Low walls, no armed response, kids playing in the streets – that is where I want to be.
Hobbies, culture, sport
Retirement is not for wimps. All this free time, what do you do with it? How often do you hear of ‘Piet’ who retired with good pension and no financial worries, dead in 18 months? You have to plan your retirement. When you are older you sleep four to six hours a day, and then what? There’s lots of time to fill. Be sure that where you are going to spend your golden years there is ample choice: activities and an environment where you can integrate and enjoy sports, your hobbies and take in a healthy dose of culture. For those relocating, sports and hobbies is the only route to get quickly involved with your community and create relationships. The more international your chosen country, the easier it is to integrate.
No sun, no smiles. It’s as simple as that for me. Ever notice in your travels that in your colder climes people hardly smile? Vancouver is not for me (GMT -7). Shovelling snow to get out the driveway, plugging in the car to heat it overnight, and avoiding the outside for months is a terrible thought. Give me sun and more sun.
The technology to enable us to live longer exists. They are right now experimenting with growing my new heart from the [stem] cells I provided. Seriously, this will be mainstream sooner than you think. Your medical aid will soon provide you with a chip to monitor your vital signs. That is way cheaper than treating you for a stroke. A country that can provide quality healthcare, basically free, is where I want to relocate to.
I am fortunate that my kids understood that the world of today requires more than just literacy. Do not get me wrong, there are great entrepreneurs with no formal education, but ever fewer opportunities exist as the techno-driven world presides. To succeed you need a foundation of education to understand the ways of the world and to spot the opportunities and commercialise them. A first world education in a first world environment is a must.
So, are you future ready? To relocate or retire to your heaven?