Thursday, July 15, 2010

Case Study: The Maltese Expat

By Simon Black

I'm presently writing this missive on the UK's Great Western Railway somewhere between Bath and London's Paddington station. I'm flying back to Copenhagen in a bit to meet up with my business partner, but I wanted to take a few minutes and tell you about an interesting woman that I've met.

"Emma" is a 70-year old British widow who originally hails from Bath.  Perhaps it's true what they say about Bath's mineral-rich waters, because Emma looks absolutely spectacular for her age, and her energy level would make a 40-year old envious.

For the last several decades, though, Emma has been living an expat lifestyle all over the world-- in Dubai, Scotland, Switzerland, and now finally in Malta.

Here's what's most intriguing about her, though... she's always worked. Even as a 70-year old widow in Malta, she still has a job.  In her own words Emma says, "I'm a war baby. My generation doesn't think that anyone owes us anything, doesn't think that it's other people's responsibility to take care of us."

I recognize that a lot of people are scared to expatriate simply out of financial anxiety; they don't know how they could find a job, make money, and pay the bills.  Even with three children to take care of, though, Emma never let that uncertainty stop her.

You see, Emma always had supreme confidence in her own abilities to add value everywhere she went; she's hard working, intelligent, and resourceful, and she knew that she would always be able to put those qualities to work for someone everywhere she went.

She was right. Even in male-dominant cultures like Dubai in the 1970s and 1980s, Emma was able to find work and thrive.  Moreover, she religiously saved her wages, believing in the old adage "waste not, want not."

For this reason, she says, she has been able to accumulate substantial retirement savings, even though she never held an extremely high paying job.

She also made the decision to denominate her savings in the Swiss franc many years ago; she set up a bank account in Switzerland when she was living there in the 1970s, and this is still the bank that she uses today. Even back then, she felt that the franc would be a better store of value than the dollar or pound.

Read the rest here.

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