Where to Expatriate?
November 3, 2004 6:15 AM   Subscribe

Of Canada, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Ireland, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and the U.K.:

Who hates Americans least?
Who is the least conservative?
Whose language is easiest to learn?
posted by pissfactory to Travel & Transportation (41 answers total)
Speaking as a Canadian: Canadians don't hate Americans, per se, but there is some resentment and scorn lurking about up there. I have never ever seen this translate into someone mistreating an American, however. If you moved to Canada, you'd fit in fine and while people might be pissy about your govt., they wouldn't take it out on you.

Canada isn't super-conservative, but there are pockets of it, and it seems to be on the rise. Alberta is like Little Texas in some ways, and the Maritimes (where I'm from) are conservative, but not zealot conservative, generally. It's more of an old-fashioned point of view than bug-eyed, religious silliness.

Unless you live in Quebec or Newfoundland, you'll be fine regarding the language.
posted by picea at 6:32 AM on November 3, 2004

1. Canada
2. Netherlands
3. Canada

Come on up here. There's room to spare. The nice thing about Canada is that while we have our share of religious crazies and neocon wingnuts, they tend to be polite and less likely to force their views on others.
posted by sid at 6:48 AM on November 3, 2004

Future Canadian chiming in to say: Scandinavian languages are pretty easy to learn too, but no sunshine during the winter, so you have to balance it out.

British Columbia is looking gorgeous from my perspective in the Midwest.....
posted by annathea at 6:52 AM on November 3, 2004

The UK doesn't hate Americans. I think we just tend to think of a lot of Americans as being too loud, brash and unthinking. Mind, we also think of you all as being fat, carrying ten cameras, wondering why we don't accept dollars, having a fascination for trying to buy our bridges and not having a clue what happens past that wet bit at the edge of yoiur country.

All in all, stereotypically you'll not find anyone who likes you emensely as a nation, but as individuals you'll normally be accepted quite well.

For what it's worth, the handful of Americans I know are nice people. Only of of them is annoying and they all understand sarcasm. Maybe they were Canadians in disguise... ;)

Any visitor must appriciate that he'll be refered to as a 'Yank' or a 'Septic', regardless of his origins.
posted by twine42 at 6:54 AM on November 3, 2004

thank you for asking the question that's been in the back of my mind for years, and is now a priority.
posted by GeekAnimator at 6:56 AM on November 3, 2004

We (Canada) kid because we love.
posted by boost ventilator at 6:59 AM on November 3, 2004

I've never had a problem from a French person because I'm American. In fact, the only time I was ever hassled because of my nationality, it was by some visiting Canadians!

Come on over to France. It's great here. I'm sitting in my office in Paris today, the only American here, and ALL of my French colleagues are commiserating right along with me on this election, rather than singling me out in any kind of negative way.

France is very liberal. Just to add a couple of things to the kind of statements I'm sure you've already heard - at my last company, we had beer in the breakroom vending machine. And this is the only place in the world where I've seen pedestrians walking down the street with their noses in books. Not too safe, sure, but you have to respect the love for reading.

One problem. French is a bitch to learn. Reading it is pretty easy, but pronunciation is crazy difficult.
posted by hazyjane at 7:09 AM on November 3, 2004

Right. I'm looking to expatriate now too.
posted by Shane at 7:11 AM on November 3, 2004

I expatriated in December 2000 and have never regretted it.

To add to the language issue, I remember reading in the Cambridge Encylopedia of Language (not online, sorry) that the easiest languages for an anglophone to learn, in order, are Italian, Spanish, German, and French. I don't have the book with me at the moment, so I'm not sure why Portugese wasn't listed. I'd imagine it would come either before or after Spanish.
posted by hazyjane at 7:17 AM on November 3, 2004

I'd imagine it would come either before or after Spanish.

Vacuously true.

My amendment to the question: which of pissfactory's nations has the best university system? I can think of quite a few fantastic Universities in the group of them, but I'm interested in a place I can move, work for another year or two, and go to grad school.
posted by Eamon at 7:26 AM on November 3, 2004

Eamon: I know several USAians who have moved up here to Canada to study and work since Bush took office four years ago. If you're looking to go to school, Canada's a good place to do it.
posted by Jairus at 7:38 AM on November 3, 2004

Vacuously true.

Ouch. Maybe it's necessary to spell it out - if you act like a jerk, people will dislike you wherever you go.
posted by hazyjane at 7:42 AM on November 3, 2004

You won't get many responses from Luxembourg, so I might as well comment.

I don't think anyone here hates America - well, except those people who need to hate something, or their life isn't complete; and to those the US are as good a target as anything else. However, some people might hate Bush; and I would guess the majority would very much prefer to see a different US president. Politics aside, Luxembourg is probably the European country with the largest percentage of non-natives (more than a third), so we're used to dealing with many different nationalities on a daily basis, and I guess that would make us more open towards foreign countries.

As for being conservative, that depends on your point of view... Some things around here are fairly conservative, others are probably more progressive than larger neighboring countries. I guess this also largely depends if your question is of political nature, or social.

Luxembourgish is hard to learn, I'm told; mostly because native speakers will inevitably try to "help out" strangers and address them in their foreign language (be that French, German or English, all of which we speak fluently), therefore making it much harder for people to "learn by doing". However, it's very easy to get by in French, and quite easy to get by in English; so there's no real need to learn anything else unless one were to stay here long-term.
posted by ckemp at 7:48 AM on November 3, 2004

Eamon, depends what you want to study. E.g. If its business the Financial Times (and others) do international quality comparisons for MBA/PhDs.
posted by biffa at 7:49 AM on November 3, 2004

Why only European countries?

South/Central America tends to love Americans, and your dollar will go very far there...
posted by eas98 at 8:04 AM on November 3, 2004

You forgot Poland.

And Australia.
posted by mmoncur at 8:18 AM on November 3, 2004

I can speak to the Canadian university question, having been an inhabitant for more than a decade (on both sides of the overhead).

Canada doesn't have the very best universities in the world. There really isn't a Canadian MIT or London School of Economics. On the other hand, Canada undergrad programs can get you into any graduate program anywhere (including the Oxfords and Berkelys) and Canadian PhDs are well regarded internationally.

Furthermore, as an American coming to Canada, expect to find undergraduate or graduate work challenging. Americans often have a very uneven academic backgrounds. Many are excellent, but it's not uncommon for new undergrads to have to take pre-first year courses ("Q-year") or new graduate students to take fourth- or even third-year undergraduate courses. You will have to write one of the big tests (SATS/GRE/LSAT etc...) before applying also.

Canada, Australia and the UK are all great choices for an American anglophone looking to study abroad. It won't be cheap---foreign student fees can be ruinous, but it'll be the experience of a lifetime.
posted by bonehead at 8:20 AM on November 3, 2004

Scandinavian languages are pretty easy to learn too, but no sunshine during the winter, so you have to balance it out.

British Columbia is looking gorgeous from my perspective in the Midwest.....

Don't come to Vancouver if you require winter sunshine. We get the fewest hours of any major Canadian city.
posted by timeistight at 8:52 AM on November 3, 2004

hazyjane - How hard was it to find work in France? How difficult was immigration?
posted by bshort at 9:01 AM on November 3, 2004

I know that this has nothing to do with the actual posted question, but I have to say it anyway. Please don't go. Please don't bail on the rest of us. We need all the not-scared-and-ignorant people we can get. Don't leave. Help make it right again. Please.
posted by majcher at 9:32 AM on November 3, 2004

As an American living in British Columbia, Canada, I highly recommend it. BC is simply gorgeous with lots of stuff to do. Although, as timeistight said, there isn't much sun in the winter, but they're mild winters - not a lot of snow in the Lower Mainland (greater Vancouver area).

Canadians don't hate Americans, they hate Bush. (If they do hate Americans, they'd never say it to your face. They're way too polite for that.) And not all of them hate Bush. There is a fairly large conservative contingent, but they're mostly relegated to rural areas (in BC anyway).

For those really serious about permanently relocating - your options are to marry a Canadian or work in a preferred industry. The place to start your research is Citizenship and Immigration Canada.

I had no thought to becoming a Canadian citizen before yesterday. Let's just say I'm rethinking my options.
posted by deborah at 9:47 AM on November 3, 2004

< ne me blâmez pas. j'ai voté pour kerry>>

A survival phrase in French, if you ever need it. I'll need it in a few weeks.

I never seriously thought about leaving the country. I don't really entertain the thought now...we're so big and a pain in the ass that we make our problems into everybody's problems, and I've got to try and do something from inside.

But let's say I did want to leave...could I take my kid? How hard would it be to leave when her mom doesn't want me to?
posted by taumeson at 10:22 AM on November 3, 2004


It would be very hard to export a kid you don't have sole custody of, or a clear agreement allowing you to take the kid to ForeignLand. The border folks on one side or the other are supposed to be checking for stuff like that. And even if you succeeded in doing so against the wishes of the kid's mom, it might well be considered kidnapping.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:07 AM on November 3, 2004

deborah: why wouldn't you have wanted to take Canadian citizenship before this? The application fees aren't that high and the US doesn't care if you have Canadian citizenship too. Nothing to lose except for the application fee, and you get to vote in Canada and you won't have to go through all the immigration rigamarole again if you leave Canada for a few years, lose PR status, and then want to come back.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:13 AM on November 3, 2004

Dutch is very easy to learn. Many of the words have similar roots to English (Old English and modern Dutch are almost the same), grammar is simple, and things are pretty easy to pronounce.

Think Smurfs.
posted by swift at 11:19 AM on November 3, 2004

Also, most Dutch people speak English and a third language, not to mention their local dialect. I think it's due to some crazy idea about spending lots of money on education, but I'm not sure.
posted by swift at 11:23 AM on November 3, 2004

Go to Finland, where instead of evil twins, people have happy twins.
posted by kenko at 12:25 PM on November 3, 2004

I have travelled alot and I am going to list the countries in order that match all three criteria the best, IMO.


I've never been to Luxembourg. I gave equal weight to all questions, and used "English is so widely spoken" as a substitute for learning the language.
posted by cell divide at 4:06 PM on November 3, 2004

Norway is very, very cool, too. Lots of English-language speakers, a great main city, lots of high-tech, great transport system, friendly, friendly people.

If it weren't for its winters, I could live there.
posted by five fresh fish at 4:59 PM on November 3, 2004

five fresh: Or the prices!
posted by wackybrit at 6:54 PM on November 3, 2004

"I know that this has nothing to do with the actual posted question, but I have to say it anyway. Please don't go. Please don't bail on the rest of us. We need all the not-scared-and-ignorant people we can get. Don't leave. Help make it right again. Please."
...said the guy on the Titanic to the other guy getting into the lifeboat.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 8:53 PM on November 3, 2004

Thanks, cell divide! In general I'd love to travel through Europe but now I'm seriously thinking about studying there. If anybody else has more info on universities, that would be a wonderful help.
posted by somethingotherthan at 10:15 PM on November 3, 2004

I can speak only to the Canadian and somewhat to the British system

Canadian universities are brilliant - they may not be as famous as some American, but they are just as good. That said, for graduate work, the funding will never match what private American universities can offer (which is one of the main reasons I am at an Ivy League University - incidently, after a BA from a middle-tier Canadian school). It is as good as what American state schools will offer.

Americans will pay international fees $12,000 CDN /y at my schol), which are higher than most American state schools, but lower than most private. There is not much financial aid (I averaged about $1000-3000/year, and was doing extremely well). Quebec may offer lower fees to international students (at one point, they paid less than out-of-province). If your choice is an out of state school or a private school without a lot of financial aid, or transferrable awards, a Canadian university may be a good deal.

Britain has some good universities (I can't remember the names, something like Camford or Oxbridge? Oh, yeah, and the University of East Anglia in Norfolk - that one's good. University of York isn't bad, but not a patch on York University).

Biggest thing is that they have a very different curriculum there for undergrad and grad - both are much more specialised. The BA is 3 years, so is the Ph.D., though most universities now require a Masters to go into the Ph.D. It is a very different educational experience, in that sense, though the pubbing is probably quite similar, if more intense.

Funding for university in Britain is also a problem - Overseas fees are higher (7000- 10,000 /y pounds is what I looked at for a masters), as are living costs (7000 pounds per year, in subsidized student housing). EU residents pay the same fees as British residents, though British citizens who have not been resident will pay overseas fees.

For grad work there are some awards like the Overseas Research award, which reduces your fees to the European level. Funding applications for grad or undergrad should be done at least 12 months before you want to go - that is, sent off 12 months earlier; the academic year generally begins in October. Applications for admission alone are submitted later.

I say all this on the experience of having been an undergrad in Canada and a graduate student in the US. I have applied to graduate schools in Britain, and have a fiance who is currently a graduate student in Britain. I also know professors who have taught in the different systems (sometimes 2 of the 3). Feel free to email questions.


Just want to point out, as its been mentioned in a couple of threads - most of Canada is not colder than the northern US. Toronto is the same temperature as New York or Chicago - and a damn sight warmer than Minnisota. (I won't speak for Winnipeg).
posted by jb at 10:56 PM on November 3, 2004

Sorry for the late response, bshort, but I just saw your question.

It isn't easy to move to France with the legitimate papers, but it can be done. If you can find a job here, your employer will sponsor you to get a residence card. The trick is in finding an employer who is willing to go through the trouble. There are some professions where native English-speakers are in high demand. Obviously, English teaching, but also technical writing and, to a lesser extent, technical consulting spring to mind.

One company that does sponsor residence permits for Americans is Wall Street Institute. I've heard it's a terrible place to work, but it could be a good way to get started and get over here, and then you'd be able to look for something better.

I found my first job in France on monster.com, but the economy was a lot different then.
posted by hazyjane at 1:17 AM on November 4, 2004

Britain has some good universities (I can't remember the names, something like Camford or Oxbridge? Oh, yeah, and the University of East Anglia in Norfolk - that one's good. University of York isn't bad, but not a patch on York University).

UEA aren't particularly good (though they do have some good specialist departments). The others mentioned are a lot better.

There's a guide to UK Universities here.
posted by biffa at 4:07 AM on November 4, 2004

I like UEA - one of my favorite historians works there. Of course, that is the reason I've heard of it.

I never diss universities with less than stellar reputations - reputations are just that - reputation, based on rumour, impression and measures invented by newspapers and magazines hoping to seel more copies of their newspaper/magazine. They rarely reflect the actual experience of being a student, graduate or undergraduate. (Graduate school really depends on who you work with, undergraduate on the teaching style/philosophy of the university.) Mediocre research universities can be excellent teaching universities, and vice versa.
posted by jb at 6:56 PM on November 4, 2004

Make that *sell - my spelling really isn't working to make me look edumacated. But unfortunately, the spell check crashes my browser.
posted by jb at 6:57 PM on November 4, 2004

ROU_Xenophobe: I haven't really done any research on it as yet (I won't be eligible until 2008 or 2009). I don't (didn't?) want to give up my US citizenship and didn't know if Canada or the US would require me to do so. Another thing that concerns me is losing my Social Security income, but hey, who knows if that's going to be there when the time comes.

Closer to the time when I do become eligible, I'll do some research and find out if there are any consequences to becoming a Canadian citizen.

Just as an aside, it gives me a kinda weird feeling to think that I might be the first one in my family (in 300 years or so) to become a citizen of another country.
posted by deborah at 10:09 PM on November 4, 2004

deborah - as far as I know, there aren't any consequences. I have a couple of friends who are dual citizens, US and Canada, and UK and Canada. If you live in B.C., you presumably already pay income taxes. I was also told by Revenue Canada that they do have arrangements with the U.S. government so that if you move back to the U.S. you may not have to pay on worldwide income to both countries. You would retain you U.S. citizenship, and gain Canadian, including the ability to vote - I would get American citizenship if I could, because another passport is a benefit, and gives you more freedom to move and work where you like.
posted by jb at 3:44 AM on November 5, 2004

jb: universities here are regularly ranked based on teaching, research quality and output, with vast multiples of staff input, assessor input and student input (oh that this wasn't the case). Frankly, some are better than others. I agree mediocre research establishments can be excellent teaching establishments, though there appears to be a correlation between teaching and research establishments in the UK. As I already said, the ability for a university in the UK to be excellent in a specialist area means it is wise to address departments individually when choosing a course. UEA, for example, has excellent environmental practitioners and a renowned creative writing course.
posted by biffa at 4:30 PM on November 5, 2004

biffa - I do realise that, and the UK also has a better ranking system than Canada or the US, which have rankings run by magasines. However, I went to a middle ranked undergraduate university, and am now a graduate student at an Ivy League university, but, funding aside, I do not see a gulf in quality between them in teaching and the experience of the student (libraries, money - these are all very different). This fuels my skepticism on all ranking systems. But I actually know nothing about UEA, except that one of the better social historians writing today works there, and I was looking for a university unlikely to have been heard of, to make a joke :)
posted by jb at 8:24 PM on November 7, 2004

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