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Old 24-12-2006, 17:59   #1
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Living Aboard in the EU

My Irish (and hence, EU) citizenship is finishing up right now, so my wife and I are poking around, exploring ideas for living aboard and working in the EU. Does anyone on the board know about the relative ease or difficulty and expense of living aboard in places such as:


UK
France
Espana
Italia
Monaco

Any other spots that would make a good liveaboard area?

Thanks,

Sean
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Old 24-12-2006, 18:22   #2
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How did you pull off Irish citizenship?
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Old 24-12-2006, 18:24   #3
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Through birthrights. It's a tough process, but doable.
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Old 24-12-2006, 18:39   #4
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Is that equated to,, my great, great grandfather was born there?
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Old 25-12-2006, 02:05   #5
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Living aboard in the UK is something I've been looking into and, on paper at any rate, long term legitimate residential moorings are few and far between.

The bulk of residential moorings are within commuting distance of London and rarely come up on the market (due the extortionate cost of housing in the UK, relative to wages, there's a lot of demand for residential moorings)

The grey area, which isn't easy to ascertain any solid info on, is what individual marinas attitudes would be to somebody wanting to hang around for a few months, pick up some short term work and then move on.

We've come to the conclusion that it's almost certainly going to be cheaper to rent a flat and keep the boat on a cheap(er) swinging mooring until we're ready to head off into the sunset because even if we can find a residential mooring the cost is going to be prohibitive

As far as work is concerned, as an EU citizen you can work anywhere within the EU. Finding work isn't necessarily so easy though. Due to the influx of cheap labour from the new member states such as Poland, Lituania, etc. unskilled and semi-skilled jobs are hard to come by in the UK.

There are, on the face of it at any rate, shortages in skilled trades such as IT, medicine etc. but qualifications are a must (and in IT there is a definite age ceiling - over 40? forget it!).
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Old 25-12-2006, 04:40   #6
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Sean, answering your Q is more complex than it might seem. First, because the EU is not a federal system, you may or may not have a right to work in a given country. (In May of 2004 10 new countries, most of them poorer E European member states joined the EU, which precipitated a further inrush of cheap labor to relatively wealthy W Europe. Two more are set to join in the next 2 years. Consequently, many countries and local communities in W Europe - all the places you mention - have restrictions to protect their own workers. (Also, keep in mind that as an Irish citizen, you are not a citizen of the Schengen countries and that may require you to seek a visa when living in any of the countries you mention).

Second, you will need to look closely at the tax implications of being a citizen of Ireland while working in e.g. Spain. British cruising sailors worry greatly about where they spend their off-seasons while in the Med because it might expose them to double taxation. E.g. English friends chose to winter in Portugal (which has a Wealth Tax) rather than Spain, as the latter has both a Wealth Tax and imposes a further tax on all assets for everyone who lives in Spain longer than 180 days. It's possible to fly under the radar to some extent, but the Customs boys know how to visit the marinas twice a year. Meanwhile, your 'home country' is also entitled to tax you on all assets you have declared to them. My advice would be to talk with some expat Brits who are doing what you are thinking about doing and, if it still looks viable to you, talk with a chartered accountant.

Third, you will have to plan ahead for how you intend to deal with the boat, assuming you keep it. If USA registered (and not CE/RCD certified), you will probably want to retain that registration to avoid both VAT and subsequent RCD certification which is quite costly (more so for bigger/more systems intensive systems). However, retaining USA registeration places you in the position of occasionally needing to move the boat outside the EU to avoid VAT, as we've discussed here before.

None of these issues are insurmountable but they are each complex and don't offer any simple answers. And to them you need to add the additional issue of finding employment and berthing the boat. In our limited experience (4 years in N Europe & now the Med), we've found most communities to be fairly insular and provincial. I think it would be difficult to locate work unless it was with a N American-related employer. E.g. berthing in or near Rota, Spain with hopes of being employed at the large U.S. naval station there. The exception might be selected places in England where berthing is not impossible to arrange, language is not a problem, and where (my apologies to those who I offend...) getting good workers proves difficult. We lived aboard only one block from Tower Bridge for two 8 month periods and a Kiwi couple had been living in the same marina while earning cruising funds for 3 years, so it's definitely possible. An Aussie/Taiwanese couple who we know have been living aboard for 3 years in Falmouth while she attends University there, and he could have arranged for work if he'd chosen to...tho' with difficulty and of course significant tax liabilities.

(Pat, the UK recently tightened down on the process whereby non-UK citizens could seek citizenship via familial history. When we were in London, the Home Office explained to me that the option of filing for citizenship because a grandparent was British was expiring, and thereafter one had to have a father or mother with UK citizenship in order to apply. Ireland of course would have its own rules in this regard).

Jack
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Old 25-12-2006, 06:10   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ssullivan
My Irish (and hence, EU) citizenship is finishing up right now, so my wife and I are poking around, exploring ideas for living aboard and working in the EU. Does anyone on the board know about the relative ease or difficulty and expense of living aboard in places such as:


UK
France
Espana
Italia
Monaco

Any other spots that would make a good liveaboard area?

Thanks,

Sean
Monaco?? you are aiming high!
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Old 25-12-2006, 06:22   #8
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Bru and Jack: Thank you very much for pointing out several of the pitfalls I was hoping to uncover early in the process. It is sounding like living aboard (which is complicated and expensive anywhere) is even more so in the EU as a dual citizen. As much as I complain about the States, I think that's where I have to give my native country a pat on the back. A little less "red tape" on matters like this one.

Based on all of these complexities, I think we'll go about it as "land people" for a year or two, putting our boat on the hard and renting a flat instead. I was looking into the visa/labor/residency laws last night. Apparently, I have it slightly easier with the work laws since I'm a citizen of the EU15, rather than one of the last ones in the door. For instance, in Switzerland, I simply must have a job that pays 40,000USD (50,000CHF) before I can be granted a residency permit. Being that I am currently working doing Java/Oracle projects for financial institutions and am under 40 (35), and that I have been in IT my entire adult life (except when I took off to do captaining and chartering), I assume I could get a job?

I am just trying to decide which secondary language to bone up on. I speak moderate Espanol, but I'm thinking that French or German would be better choices for business since they are larger economies. Any input on that from the other side of the pond? Which is the best secondary language?
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Old 25-12-2006, 16:33   #9
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Jack has raised an important point which I'd overlooked - namely the dreaded Recreational Craft Directive and VAT if you bring a boat over from the USA and base yourself in the EU

I'm no expert on this and I'd urge getting advice from relevant professionals and/or people who've actually done it but as far as I can tell you'd have somewhere between 6 months and 18 months (God knows which!) as a temporary import exempt from VAT and RCD compliance after which you'd have to ...

A. Pay VAT on the assessed value of the boat (and equipment). The UK VAT rate is 17.5%, some other countries in the EU are cheaper whilst others are more expensive

B. Unless the boat design has been through the RCD process and the relevant paperwork is already available, you'd have to get an approved body to go through various nefarious hoops to do all the assessments and determine what (if any!) RCD category the yacht falls into and supply you with the paperwork. I believe (from what I've heard) that this process can cost an arm and a leg (5k to 10k)

Apparently, there are a significant number of boats kicking around the Med which ought to have VAT paid on them and haven't but then the Italians, Spanish etc. have always been a bit more casual about this sh*t. Unfortunately, the UK isn't and our Customs and Excise are pretty hot.

I won't comment on the tax issues regarding working - it's a nightmare! As far as availability of work is concerned in the UK it really is very dependant on what professional qualifacations you have. Things have changed dramatically over the last year or two with the expansion of the EU and unskilled / semi skilled work is now very hard to find due to the influx of "cheap" labour from the former Eastern Block countries

However, in certain areas there is a serious shortage of skilled people particularly in the medical professions (if you're a qualified dentist you'd have no problem getting work with the NHS!)

All of these things (with the possible exception of RCD) can be overcome to some extent at least with determination. Given the tax and regulations associated with importing a yacht from the USA if you're plan is to stay in the EU for any length of time it would certainly be easier (and possibly cheaper) to sell you're present boat (if any?) in the US and buy something within the EU.

Oh and citizens of Eire have always enjoyed a special status as far as working in the UK is concerned even before the EU grew into the monster it is now.

All of the above comes with the rider that it's by no means guaranteed that I've got it right! I'd definitely be looking for qualified advice on the important issues

HTH
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Old 25-12-2006, 19:32   #10
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Whew. Again, than you so much for such an insightful post. The more I look at it, the more it makes sense to just come over for an extended working holiday (for a couple years) and leave the boat back in the States. We are seriously considering a permanent move (we have our own issues on this side of the pond) to see if we like livinging and working there. I suppose we can always come back to the States to go on a sailing holiday from time to time.

Only time will tell. It depends greatly on how we like "real life" in Europe as opposed to going on holiday, which is all we have done. It also depends greatly on the path the States takes in general. We have some cultural disconnects with people and policy here, but usually get along great with Europeans in general. Go figure.
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Old 26-12-2006, 02:28   #11
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Hi Sean,
Why not subscribe to a few EU newspapers and maybe Computer Weekly and find the job whilst you are still in the USA? I suspect a contract role in any of the countries you've listed can be sourced and organised before you leave.
I think your decision to be land based will widen your options so sensble to start with, and when you're ready sort out the yacht.
Your initial question on cost rankings for moorings is impossible to answer until the area of each country you are thinking of is identified. Monaco sounds like it should be expensive - but is actually not much more that some berths on the south coast UK!
Good luck with the plans - if we can help in any way being UK based in this winter - give us a shout on john.allison@erauk.net.
JOHN
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Old 26-12-2006, 04:28   #12
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Sean, if I were you I'd place a great deal of emphasis on two criteria: where I wanted to live (economy, culture, nearby access to other areas of interest, language, etc.) and where my employment options might be best. If those criteria were of most concern to me, then:
1. I'd look for initial employment in the UK, Ireland (both of those countries speak a foreign tongue to our N American ear...but it's close to English <g>), in areas like Brussels where there is a tendency to conduct biz in English, and in areas where the USA has a lingering presence (e.g. S Germany near the military facilities and Rota, Spain near the large U.S. Naval Station). And if it were up to Patricia & I, we'd start by looking in the London area, a region that it's fair to say most Brits hate (hectic lifestyle, concrete vs. green fields, etc.) but which we found in two extended visits is by far the most interesting, diverse and fascinating of locations - plus, massive public transport options which eliminates the need for a car. You would find many employment options in Greater London, I believe. I could tell you some fascinating stories stemming from non-British friends who started working there and kept getting bonuses and promotions because they had a work ethic that meant they actually came to work on time and did their jobs.
2. You are considering a major life change and it will have significant financial consequences. To make that change without personally visiting first, touring an area of interest, talking with employers, makes no sense to me. It's the equivalent of someone falling love with the idea of cruising and buying a boat with no experience on the water. Take 3 weeks off and spend it in N Europe in one of the regions you find most appealing. Have a loose sked and, if region 1 doesn't 'fit', you'll find it easy to shift to region 2. Ryan Air and similar airlines make big hops easy and cheap; trains go everywhere; ferries cross any body of water. Spend some money, take some time, and really test the plans you are fantasizing about.

Jack
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Old 26-12-2006, 04:38   #13
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My tuppence worth.

As you seem to be wanting to move to the EU for at least a couple of years, if not more - and also want to be working at a job that is more than a way of topping up the cruising funds as you float around the Med (nothing wrong with that of course!), I would............Get yer job and your shore life sorted and then work out how to fit the boat in. When you have good money coming in and have built up contacts and know what options are feasible then fitting a boat into your life will be easier - you may find that living on a boat in Dublin or the UK in Dec and Jan is not quite so attractive as doing the same in the Caribbean . Whether this be 6 months or a year later is down to you.

A second language? not an easy one - basically in the EU their is no "2nd language" that works widely. You need to know the language of each country you are working in.......and I think we may be up to 27 of these now Of course English is THE very very useful 2nd Language, especially if your job takes in cross border / international work - but you still need to be able to speak with your co-workers locally! (When I say "need to know", I don't of course mean that it is not possible to work and live without these language skills - but to get a decent paying job you need to read, write and speak the local Lingo. Same as back in the USA I guess).

So I guess what I would suggest is you starting off in a country where English is the native language so you can compete on an even keel.

My understanding is the same as yours, in that you being a Irish Citizen means you can live and work anywhere in the EU, of course not to say that some countries won't have their own regualations and taxes etc that make jobs more / less attractive than in other countries - but the basic idea is that you are on the same level playing field as the locals. In theory (of course the new EU members do have restrictions on their citizens coming to some of the richer EU Countries for the next 5 / 7 years - but my understanding is that these restrictions do not apply in the reverse - so if you do fancy Romania........... )

I am not a IT expert , but from my vague understanding you don't sound like merely an Opertator or in IT support - even if perhaps not "top tier" (no offence meant!) and together with experiance of working in Financial Institutions may well mean that Dublin is not a bad place to start - especially you being a "local" . My understanding (but not personal experiance) is that the economy is pretty bouyant over there. You could also of course have a look at one of the Offshore Finance centres - and the Isle of Man is nearby to Dublin, so not a million miles to travel to give it the once over. Gibraltar is also in this category and would have it's own attractions from a boat perspective........although not so well developed as somewhere like Jersey!, but then again the IT market is not what it once was down here..........although basically due to skilled labour shortages it would be fairly easy to get some sort of Finance job here (read or write - one or the other , will put you in line for "Employee of the Month" at more than a few Banks / Financial Institutions I have worked at ).
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Old 26-12-2006, 04:42   #14
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I could tell you some fascinating stories stemming from non-British friends who started working there and kept getting bonuses and promotions because they had a work ethic that meant they actually came to work on time and did their jobs.

ROTFLMAO

So true, so very sadly true

But as the saying goes "In the land of the Blind, the one eyed man is King"........
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Old 26-12-2006, 06:25   #15
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Fantastic advice. Of course this thread is ever so loosely tied to Cruising, but the advice should be valuable for someone considering a move to the EU and moving their boat.

Thank you again for all of the advice and kind offers. This is a long term plan for us. We will be in Maine for 2007, then look to line up this move for 2008. Of course we will certainly line up a position from the States before the move. I used to be in international sales (an odd position where I would go to the prospect's site to help them write code) and Europe and the Middle East were my territories. So, I have spent a great deal of time there working. I reacall I did have some trouble adjusting to the Spanish and Italian work days. Lots of time off in the middle of the day, only to stay at work very late into the evening. By the time you had your 2 hour lunch, you were bushed for the afternoon/evening segment of the day.

I have worked (as a visiting American) in Sweden, Spain, France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany. I have only visited London. Your inputs echo my thoughts exactly on the transition. My idea is to work for a UK or Eire based tech consulting company. This is what I am doing right now in the States. I am doing projects on a consulting/staffing basis where I do Oracle/Java/JDBC/Stored Procedures, etc... etc... mostly for financial institutions since I'm located next to all of them. Speaking to resume experience, I have been programming since I was a child in 1982 (first program). I majored in Physics, with a concentration in computer science, developed software for several NASA missions while working for them (ACE, CLUSTER, FAST), and traveled to Bern, Switzerland to do a joint NASA/ESA project. From there, I have done a lot of software development... tons. Until the US market died in 2001 or so. Then, I was off doing the boats in the Caribbean and of course then chartering on this boat. Now, we need a cruising kitty, so it's back to programming since the market is returning. With that experience, I would imagine I could land a job for a London or EU based consulting company that sends consultants into various countries in the EU for Oracle projects (they last 3-12 mos usually).

This is the basic plan. As to the boat, we will pull her out and put her on the hard in Maine while spending those two years evaluating life in the EU vs life here. During that time, we'll save up our cruising kitty and see what to do. My thought is that we can always keep the boat back here in the States and take a couple years to do the Caribbean. We will have a much more valuable cruising kitty, assuming equal income in the EU vs the States, owing to the strong Euro.

(The dollar has nowhere to go but down.)

Anyway, after reading all of your helpful responses, the above is the plan. I wish it was sooner, but we plan to take it slowly and carefully evaluate the move and all of the tax implications, etc... It's a 2008 plan.

Thank you again for all of the thoughtful posts. I knew I could count on you guys to help me figure this out.

S
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