Opportunities for a Citizen of the World (or at least the EU and US)
November 24, 2009 10:30 PM   Subscribe

Are there any occupations or financial opportunities that are made possible or made better for people with dual citizenship (specifically EU and US)?

For example, could someone with dual-citizenship more easily broker real-estate or other deals for ex-pats?

I know dual-citizenship isn't all that unique, but I was just curious if there were some opportunities of which I was not aware.
posted by verevi to Work & Money (5 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Import/Export, provided you know the particular market well-enough.

Drug mules.

Citizenship partners for desperate ex-pats.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 12:35 AM on November 25, 2009

Best answer: "For example, could someone with dual-citizenship more easily broker real-estate or other deals for ex-pats? "

Ok, first looking just at real-estate: I'm an American ex-pat in the UK, and speaking for myself, I can say I'm agnostic as to the nationality of whom is selling me a property. All I want is an introduction to the property and from that point on I don't need the broker until I've decided to consummate the deal.

But I'm speaking of low end residential property, costing only a couple of hundred thousand pounds or so; if you were looking at the top tier of the market, there may be a need for multilingual and globally mobile agents to help smooth a sale. However we'd be speaking of probably French or German language skills (in addition to English), along with any necessary qualifications (in the UK many agents are members of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors ). You'd probably need to target specific areas of the EU to be successful; for example, one gal I know brokers deals for British folks looking for vacation homes close to skiing destinations in France.

However I'd suspect those jobs, even in the best of times, are few and far between, with firms such as Savills servicing that (very small, but no doubt very, very lucrative) segment of the market. Note though the downturn in real estate has taken it's toll; my colleague noted above reportedly hasn't sold a single property this year.

Speaking solely from personal experience, being able to legally work in both the UK as well as the US while being globally mobile has markedly helped my banking career. I emphasize globally mobile as, while working in banking (I'm on sabbatical to take an MBA) I was frequently on the road, sometimes as much as three weeks out of each month. Many folks no doubt were better qualified to undertake the work I was doing, however the travel demands rendered such jobs unattractive for them.

There are lots of positions that openly state 100% travel required - look at any of the big consultancies or financial services firms for leads. Now 100% travel might be daunting on the surface, but most firms make it easy, unless you're on the ground in far flung places like Africa or Asia, to get home for the weekend. For example, in 2006 I was working for a firm that had me based at a client bank in Warsaw. Every Monday I'd head to the office, do my expenses from last week and then I was off to Heathrow for a late afternoon flight to Poland. Have dinner in the hotel that evening, work at the bank Tuesday to Friday, and early Friday evening was headed home. I'd generally arrive at my flat in London around 7PM.

Folks with lots of family obligations or active (but inflexible) social lives don't cope well with these types of roles. On the plus in addition to airmiles I'd guess I'd add that in these roles you'd spend very little of your own money during periods of heavy travel, as the employer picks up almost all your food, all your dry cleaning, mobile phone calls, etc. So these are worthwhile roles, if the lifestyle suits your sensibilities.

Another plus to dual US / EU citizenship: if you can legally work in multiple countries then your employer doesn't have to worry about unexpected tax liabilities should you cross some seemingly arbitrary threshold regarding days "in country"; in the UK at least you are considered resident for tax purposes if you spend more than 182 days in country in any single tax year, or 91 days per year for four consecutive years.
posted by Mutant at 5:57 AM on November 25, 2009 [3 favorites]

As an extension of what Mutant suggests, you could also get a job working with or helping families who travel between the EU and US frequently. Here in LA we hear all about Hollywood people who have homes in two countries. If they have children, how do they handle visa issues for nannies? Any kind of staff member for a travelling family would need visas.

Of course the disadvantage of being a dual citizen is that you have to keep paying tax in the US even if you don't live there.
posted by Joh at 11:56 AM on November 25, 2009

Of course the disadvantage of being a dual citizen is that you have to keep paying tax in the US even if you don't live there.

This is completely false for the EU and most countries. If you want more detail, have a look at the income tax treaties.
posted by bigmusic at 8:18 PM on November 25, 2009

"This is completely false for the EU and most countries."

Well, not completely false; you're correct in that we can almost always avoid double taxation on income, but American citizens earning more than $80K (or so) must pay US taxes on earnings above that threshold.

Note this applies to employment related earnings only. It is easily possible to be double taxed on passive income, e.g., revenue from dividends or real estate investments held by Americans domiciled for tax purposes in a foreign country. Depends on the specific assets, how they are viewed by the two countries and how revenue is or is not taxed in the foreign domicile.

For example, in England if one purchases forest land revenue realised by harvesting trees is tax free. Not so on the US side; you'll be taxed on that income. Investments in gold bullion is taxable upon purchase in the UK while in the United States you'd pay taxes on what one would hope to be a captial gain. This is clearly a very complex area.

Finally, even if one earns below the $80K threshold you still need to file taxes. Because the US and UK tax years don't precisely overlap (e.g, as this comment indicates the UK tax year starts on April 6th) filing my returns is such a PIA I need a professional to help. This runs about three thousand pounds a year for two sets of returns.
posted by Mutant at 3:44 AM on November 26, 2009

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