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Best country to work in
Thread poster: eva75

eva75
English
+ ...
Apr 24, 2006

As a freelancer, I am looking to live in a country with a high income tax threshold, as well as an excellent and good value for money state health service.

I have the choice to live in any of the following places:

Austria
Belgium
France
Germany
Ireland
Italy
Liechtenstein
Luxembourg
Monaco
Netherlands
Switzerland
United Kingdom

Where can I save the most and have access to a great health service at good prices?


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:25
English to French
+ ...
From my own experience Apr 25, 2006

From my own experience, I can tell you that Ireland is a good place to work because the taxes are not high. It's peanuts compared to here in France. But when it comes to health services it's another story...However I must say that it has improved a little compared to some years ago...In France freelancers pay a lot of of "heavy"taxes (social security, pension, family affairs...). The health services are relatively good and you may be aware that medical care is "free" (hence heavy taxes).
I don't know for the other countries.

Good luck!


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Aneta Lasota - Leang ou  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:25
French to Polish
+ ...
I agree Apr 25, 2006

I work in France as a freelancer and I am really satisfied even if I have to pay a lot of contributions (as Emanuelle said it) but I am sure to have a good FREE medical care.

I would not change it

Good luck to you


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Timothy Barton
Local time: 02:25
Member (2006)
French to English
+ ...
Monaco Apr 25, 2006

eva75 wrote:
Monaco


Working tax-free sounds like a perfect dream to me, but then you probably don't get free health care. Having said that, I haven't been to the doctor's for about 10 years, so I certainly don't get my money's worth with all the payments I make into the system.

[Edited at 2006-04-25 08:01]


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Orla Ryan  Identity Verified
Ireland
Local time: 00:25
depends... :) Apr 25, 2006

EmmanuelleAnn wrote:

From my own experience, I can tell you that Ireland is a good place to work because the taxes are not high. It's peanuts compared to here in France. But when it comes to health services it's another story...However I must say that it has improved a little compared to some years ago...In France freelancers pay a lot of of "heavy"taxes (social security, pension, family affairs...). The health services are relatively good and you may be aware that medical care is "free" (hence heavy taxes).
I don't know for the other countries.

Good luck!



Depends on where in Ireland you want to go of course. Dublin is very expensive by any international standards. But if you want to live outside of Dublin (midlands, west, south, north-west), then your money will go a LOT further. If you are considering Ireland, please check the irish translation association's website and www.revenue.ie, www.oasis.gov.ie for tax/finance etc information.

Orla


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xxxEmmanuelleAn  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:25
English to French
+ ...
I agree with Orla Apr 25, 2006

Orla is right. Dublin is very expensive and you may be better off in places like Galway or in Kerry for instance. It is such a beautiful place! I was in Dublin for 3 years and to be honest it's not the most pleasant place in Ireland!
Now I'm back in France. Despite the "heavy" taxes, I do enjoy working there, especially in Bordeaux where the "art de vivre" is really awesome.


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Williamson  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 00:25
Flemish to English
+ ...
An attempt to answer. Apr 25, 2006

Austria : No idea
Ireland : see Orla's Answer
Liechtenstein : How easy is it to get in and live there.
Luxembourg : Fiscally friendly country. Good health services, high real-estate prices.
Switzerland : Not a E.U.-Member. You will need a visa and a work-permit.
United Kingdom : Highest VAT-treshold in Europe, businesslike attitude, doesn't put a lot of obstacles in the way of a freelancer (wanting to work as a ltd for example) and tax-heaven for the rich. Bad health-service, but you can always take a private insurance, which amounts to about the same as you pay to the public insurance bodies in the high-taxed countries of Europe.
Don't forget the Channel Islands.

Belgium
Netherlands
France high taxes, high social-security contributions,
Germany not very entrepreneurial-minded. A lot of rules.
Italy

Monaco: Tax-paradise for the rich, like some Belgian sportspeople, f.e. Justine Henin (ex-number 1 in the WTA-rankings), Axel Merckx (cyclist), e.a. You need to have a fortune to live there.
---

In general, where business-conditions are good, real-estate prices and rent are high, because people flock to these places. You could always set up shop in the United Arab Emirates. They have a free zone (Jebel-Ali) for starting companies. No taxes to be paid for three years.
Or you can incorporate somewhere, but actually live outside the E.U. In that case, no taxes are to be paid, because you are an expat. If you are young, it is wise to make a lot of money first and then insure yourself well when you reach 40.


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:25
German to English
Germany's not quite so bad Apr 25, 2006

Williamson wrote:
Germany not very entrepreneurial-minded. A lot of rules.


Not for translators at any rate, unless you also employ people. Provided you're an EU citizen, you can set up anywhere in Germany as a freelance translator. All you need to do is register your residence with the local authorities (which will be automatic), you don't even need a foreigner's residence permit any more. The only other registration you'll need is with the tax people. The VAT threshold is relatively low, but anybody with any sense will want to be VAT-registered in any case. I think most translators get away with quarterly VAT returns.

Income tax isn't as bad as it's sometimes portrayed, and I doubt that most translators pay more than a composite 35% or so, often substantially less. Freelance translators don't have to pay any form of social security contributions (and consequently get nothing in return), which is a good thing as German social security contributions (i.e. tax) are extremely high.

Private health insurance and pension provision are the only sensible options for freelance translators, especially if they're young, and though the current government doesn't really like that, there's unlikely to be any radical changes, despite the rhetoric. Private health insurance is generally cheaper than the state system, and you get more benefits.

Otherwise, the cost of living in Germany is relatively low, the infrastructure is still pretty good (except in parts of eastern Germany). And the translation market is extremely buoyant, which is surely another positive factor.

Don't be put off by the pandemic navel-gazing that seems to be a national affliction in Germany - the "Sein" is substantially brighter than the "Schein".

Robin


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Astrid Elke Witte  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:25
Member (2002)
German to English
+ ...
Living in Germany Apr 25, 2006

I don't know about the state that Robin lives in (I think the various states of Germany differ in a lot of ways), but here in Bavaria you need a residence permit, and from time to time you have to go on a long journey (day trip) to get it renewed.

Although it is true - also in Bavaria - that you only have to be pay income tax (and not all the other various taxes that employed people have to pay), health care is very expensive in Germany. My state health insurance automatically came to an end when I became self-employed, and I had to take out private health insurance. A healthy, relatively young person should arrange to pay the lowest monthly amount possible, so I am paying the very cheapest one, but it means that, if I do visit a dentist or a doctor, I usually get a bill for several hundred Euros, for the smallest thing, since the insurance company does not pay anything at all towards it (however, there is a law stating that it is compulsory to have health insurance). As I needed to visit both a dentist and a doctor in the past month, it seems to be becoming very expensive. They will definitely invoice me at least EUR 300 each - for doing not very much (attending to one tooth and one ear).

As for VAT returns in Bavaria, nearly everyone has to fill them in every month - except for very large firms.

One thing is nice here, namely the scenery, i.e. the Alps nearby. However, there must definitely be places in Europe where life is less expensive.

Astrid

[Edited at 2006-04-25 11:49]


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:25
German to English
Germany, part 2 Apr 25, 2006

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:
I don't know about the state that Robin lives in (I think the various states of Germany differ in a lot of ways), but here in Bavaria you need a residence permit, and from time to time you have to go on a long journey (day trip) to get it renewed.


Rheinland-Pfalz, as it happens, but that's irrelevant. The (national) law changed last year. Separate residence permits aren't issued any longer, and existing ones don't need to be renewed (EU citizens only). A note is simply made in your file if and when you (re-)register your residence (i.e. if you move).

Although it is true - also in Bavaria - that you only have to be pay income tax (and not all the other various taxes that employed people have to pay), health care is very expensive in Germany.


It pays to shop around. Unless you go for a really top-of-the-range package, private health insurance will generally be cheaper than one of the statutory funds.

(however, there is a law stating that it is compulsory to have health insurance)
.

Not so. The present government is proposing to introduce such an arrangement, but there is no compulsion at present to take out health insurance if you're self-employed (irrespective of what some staff at Einwohnermeldeämter claim). Though of course it does make sense to take out private health insurance if you're self-employed, especially as quite a large percentage of the premiums is allowable for tax purposes.

However, there must definitely be places in Europe where life is less expensive.


Of course there are. But such locations don't generally offer a level of infrastructure, security, personal freedom and standard of living comparable to Germany.

Robin


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eva75
English
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
France better healthwise Apr 25, 2006

Hi Robin, Astrid,

Healthwise Germany doesn't seem to offer as many advantages as France for a freelancer.

Are there private health insurance schemes that refund the full cost of dentist fees?

French people,

Do freelancers in France take state or private insurance mostly, or a combination of both? What are the best options?


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RobinB  Identity Verified
Germany
Local time: 01:25
German to English
More important considerations Apr 25, 2006

Eva,

I think you'll find that comprehensive state healthcare goes hand-in-hand with high taxation, so it'll be difficult to identify a country where you can get it for a lower tax or contributions burden. And of course there are full-refund private health plans in Germany, but not unnaturally they're more expensive.

But I'm rather curious as to your emphasis on healthcare and tax. To be perfectly honest, I think that there are more important considerations about where to establish yourself as a freelance translator, in particular finding a location where you feel comfortable and free, i.e. somewhere you're happy to call "home". Plus, of course, a working life that isn't overburdened by bureaucratic insanity, the ability to interact with colleagues regularly, an excellent range of leisure opportunities, a high level of personal safety, excellent telecommunication and transport infrastructures, affordable housing, and so on.

Robin


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xxxPRen  Identity Verified
Local time: 19:25
French to English
+ ...
What about..... Apr 25, 2006

Canada?

Your profile says your language combination is French to English. The Canadian government is a huge client for FR-EN and EN-FR translation. As for the tax/healthcare requirement, as other posters have pointed out, generally universal subsidized healthcare will entail higher taxes, but I think you'd find Canada to be a "good deal." Check it out. (Unless, of course, that's where you already live and you're looking for an even better deal!)


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xxxMarc P  Identity Verified
Local time: 01:25
German to English
+ ...
Advertisement for Germany! Apr 25, 2006

Astrid Elke Johnson wrote:

I don't know about the state that Robin lives in (I think the various states of Germany differ in a lot of ways)


As I understand it, the situation for EU citizens (including citizens of some non-EU countries like Switzerland, but excluding citizens of the new EU member states like Hungary) who are employed or self-employed is that they no longer require a residence permit (Aufenthaltsgenehmigung), but need a Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung (freedom of movement permit?) instead. The chief difference is that the Freizügigkeitsbescheinigung does not need to be renewed (although I suspect that you may have to apply for one again if you cease to be resident in Germany, then return later).

The situation for non-EU nationals is different, of course - they still require residence permits. (Perhaps we could start taking bets on eva75's nationality: my money's on American or Canadian. )

Although it is true - also in Bavaria - that you only have to be pay income tax (and not all the other various taxes that employed people have to pay)


If I'm not mistaken, employees only pay two taxes which are not paid by non-employed people, i.e. income tax and the "solidarity surcharge". Self-employed people pay both, just like employees do. The solidarity surcharge needs to be factored in when considering income tax as it adds quite a bit to the tax burden, though even then I don't think that Germany's tax burden is all that heavy by European standards.

As Robin explained, self-employed people don't pay social charges like compulsory pension contributions, but these are not "taxes"; they entitle those who pay them to benefits, a factor that is conspicuously absent from many new freelancers' business plans.

health care is very expensive in Germany


Good health care is expensive everywhere; if you go to a country like Finland, it may be free, but it is then paid for through high taxes. The basic health care provision in the UK looks cheap until you actually try to get treatment, after which it looks surprisingly expensive for what you get.

My state health insurance automatically came to an end when I became self-employed, and I had to take out private health insurance.


There may have been special circumstances in Astrid's case, but normally if you move from employment to self-employment, you can remain with the same health insurer if you wish. The reason most people don't is that they then have to foot the employer's half of the premium as well as the employee's half. Private insurance then becomes a more attractive alternative.

A healthy, relatively young person should arrange to pay the lowest monthly amount possible, so I am paying the very cheapest one, but it means that, if I do visit a dentist or a doctor, I usually get a bill for several hundred Euros, for the smallest thing, since the insurance company does not pay anything at all towards it


This is simply the natural consequence of opting for the lowest possible cover. For instance, you can reduce the premium by opting for a high excess, "high" being several thousand euros per year. Subsequently finding that you need quite a lot of medical care is a risk you take.

however, there is a law stating that it is compulsory to have health insurance


There is no law stating that self-employed people must have health insurance; in fact, a small proportion of self-employed Germans are actually unable to obtain health insurance because none of the insurance companies will take them. (This only applies to the self-employed, though: health insurance is compulsory for employees, the unemployed are automatically insured, etc.)

The view that the exemption for the self-employed does not apply to non-Germans is widespread, though I suspect that Robin is right; it would be strange for it to be a requirement for EU nationals, who are normally subject to the same legislation as German citizens. The situation may be different of course for non-EU nationals.

Compulsory or not, it is not advisable to go without health insurance; a broken leg would probably bankrupt most people.

As for VAT returns in Bavaria, nearly everyone has to fill them in every month - except for very large firms.


I presume Astrid meant to say "every quarter", otherwise I don't think this would make sense (does anyone file VAT returns *more* often than once a month)? The turnover threshold between quarterly and monthly returns is around 40,000 euros per year, i.e. if your revenues are over that, you must file monthly.

One thing is nice here, namely the scenery, i.e. the Alps nearby. However, there must definitely be places in Europe where life is less expensive.


It's possible to live surprisingly cheaply in Germany, if for example you have the choice of location; the cost of accommodation varies very widely, but is still not particularly high compared to some other areas of the EU, such as the English Home Counties or (I suspect) the metropolitan areas of north-western Italy.

eva75 wrote:
Are there private health insurance schemes that refund the full cost of dentist fees?


I doubt that any insurance scheme anywhere in the world will refund absolutely all dental charges; the sky's the limit when it comes to dental charges, or any other medical charges for that matter. Last year though, I had three fillings for about 583 euros (...each...), and my health insurance policy covered the whole amount.

And thus ends my advertisement for Germany... the biggest arguments against Germany are the inclement weather (who wouldn't rather live on the Italian Riviera?), at least in some regions, and the prevailing doom-and-gloom atmosphere. In reality, things are much better here than many people, here and elsewhere, would have you believe. You have to remember that the Germans have very high standards; if something in Germany is only "average" by international comparison, it's a national disaster.

Marc


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Patricia Lane  Identity Verified
France
Local time: 01:25
French to English
+ ...
often both Apr 25, 2006

eva75 wrote:

Hi Robin, Astrid,

Healthwise Germany doesn't seem to offer as many advantages as France for a freelancer.

Are there private health insurance schemes that refund the full cost of dentist fees?

French people,

Do freelancers in France take state or private insurance mostly, or a combination of both? What are the best options?


When you work in France, you HAVE to pay into the health system. This provides you (generally speaking) with 70 percent reimbursement of doctor visits per the reference rate (ie, I believe 21 euros for a generalist and 23 euros for a specialist). If you live in Paris, most doctors charge more than that (they are " conventionné secteur II -- they can set their rates and patients get reimbursed on the official rate). If you don't have another insurance (called mutuelle complémentaire), the difference is for you to pay. If you have another insurance, they will pay the difference, again up to a certain amount depending on the company, your coverage and options.

Hope this helps (some)

Patricia


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