[ExI] More mailing lists of this calibre?

efc at swisscows.email efc at swisscows.email
Sat Apr 8 13:14:30 UTC 2023

On Fri, 7 Apr 2023, Gadersd via extropy-chat wrote:

> Thank you for sharing your fascinating story! I found it very insightful.

You're welcome! Glad you found some value in it. =)

> I plan on traveling around the world eventually and possibly moving permanently. What did you think of the culture, atmosphere, way of life, etc. of the countries you have lived in? They say the grass isn’t necessarily greener on the other side, but surely the place one is born in is statistically unlikely to be the best fit ignoring variables such as proximity to family.

So, let me say a few words about my travels. If there's one thing I've
learned, it's that there is no perfect place, and the "perfect" place
varies with your age, family situation, goals in life and so on. I also
think that voting with your feet is a much better way of getting the
life you want to live than voting with a piece of paper.

So, when it comes to culture, atmosphere, way of life etc. I'll give you
a brief summary now and where I was in my life at the time and what I
was looking for.

Germany: I was very young, and moved because my fathers company decided
that he should become the sales manager of the region. I had nothing to
say about it and had no specific goals. I'm swedish originally, so what
I found when moving to germany was that they were (according to my taste
then, and I still think the same) way too rules oriented and too much
focus on discipline and there was a lack of common sense, in which you
ignore, bend or break rules that do more harm than good. When it comes
to society, I'd say that there wasn't a big change from sweden, the same
socialism as in sweden, and I would say equivalent quality of public
service for your tax money at that time. But high taxes, rigid society
and not a place I would go to for business.

Sweden: This is where I've spent the most part of my life, and sweden
has become increasingly worse the past couple of decades. As germany,
very socialist, you pay 60-70% of your income in various taxes, and in
return you get at best average public services in return. But here there
is a problem of comparison, because in many countries with low taxes,the
quality of government services is so low, that what I would find
"average" by swedish standards could very well be considered "good" by
someone from the US or eastern europe for instance. The culture is very
reserved, it will take you 2-3 years to make local friends. Sweden is
also a very consensus oriented society where people are afraid of open
conflict. Sweden has and likes rules, but is more common sense about
them than germany. So perhaps a "soft" version of germany. Taxes are
amongst the highest in the world, so I would not go to sweden for work.
If you enjoy life and not working, swedish work culture is among the
most lax in the world, 6 weeks of holidays is standards, around 12
public holidays on top of that. So in return for high taxes you get time

Norway: Very similar to sweden, but quality of public services is way
better and taxes somewhat lower. Norway is probablythe laziest culture
on the planet, and you have to work even less than in sweden. If I was
extremely family oriented, a big fan of nature trips, and would be happy
in a 9 to 16 job, I would proably choose norway. If you don't enjoy work
and earning money, but put your focus into your family and free time I
think norway would be a good fit and you would be quite happy there.
Wonderful nature as well. As a swede living in norway is a breeze since
I understand the language without any problems and culturally, although
there are some differences, it's pretty close.

USA: I spent about a year in the US as a student and working at the same
time, and this was a fascinating experience. On the surface, things
couldn't be simpler. English everywhere, culturally, all movies, tv
shows etc. in the western world originate from the US. But digging
deeper, there are some differences. It was very difficult to get to know
people on a deeper level in the US. There was a lot of "how are you,
good n' you" everywhere which is very uncommon (or was at least) in
sweden, and felt quite superficial. On the other hand, most people were
extremely social and it was easy for me as a foreigner (and especially
as a swede in chicago) to strike up a conversation with a stranger in a
bar and have a nice evening on a shallow level. If I would do that in
sweden, people would think that I'm crazy and politely move on.

Business and taxwise I loved it. Very simple to do business, people
seemed to enjoy helping foreigners who do business and would happily
connect you to new customers. Taxwise a lot better than scandinavia.

I've also spent some months in the US on various business trips over the
years, and my feelings didn't change. So for me, as a european, if I
would be in the stage of my life where I would like to earn as much
money as possible, I would go to the US (keep in mind that I'm in the
technology/IT business). Ideally I'd go to some established startup, or
if we rewind a couple of years, to some FAANG company, or even one of
the boring global IT giants where I think I'd be able to get 200-250k
USD if I had the same responsibilities and type of job as I had in

Going there to study for a year was also one of the best things I did. I
recommend every young people I meet today to study at least a year in
another country. I felt very welcome in the US although a bit lonely on
a deeper level.

Switzerland: I went to switzerland to earn money, since and it was
fairly early in my career. The taxes are amongst the lowest in europe,
and even though the figures are old, just to give you an example, I
doubled my after tax income compared with my swedish salary.

So in europe, if you are at the stage of your life where you want to
earn money, switzerland is among the top places to go. The quality of
public services were absolutely amazing, and nature was stunning.

The negatives were that swiss are extremely formal and rigid, yet at the
same time, very open to discuss democratically. But once the discussion
is done, there is no more discussion. In terms of formal, the country
manager at my job was shocked that I spoke with him once. He preferred
to have his managers handle employees. Very strange from a swedish
perspective where the manager if your friend and where there is very
little discipline.

What made me leave switzerland after about 2 years was that it was plain
boring. Swiss are as difficult to get to know as swedish people, so
after 2 years I had no one to socialize with. Since I'd saved quite a
nice amount of money I moved back to sweden.

But switzerland, apart from the social side, is one of my favourite
countries in europe to live. I think that perhaps to fix the social
problem, you could move to the italian part which seems to me more
social. Same low taxes and you would be very close to Milano for nice
weekend trips. I've thought about to retire there, but we'll see. Many
years left before that becomes a question. ;)

Lithuania: I moved to lithuania in stages. After deciding to start my
own businesses and after deciding that I did not feel like paying the
ridicuously high swedish taxes I did some research to find a country
fairly close to sweden, where my customers are, with low taxes, low cost
of living, and preferably a small airport and small city (I don't enjoy
megacities, I like to walk if I need to go somewhere). So basically all
of the baltics fit and at that point in time lithuania won the weighted
evaluation of my criterias. I've been happily living here now for more
than 4 years.

So culturally it is probably the most different country. You feel a lot
of the old soviet occupation in the 50+ people. English is not commonly
spoken, and the bureaucracy can be very bad with visits to notaries,
forms and so on. But in terms of starting a company and opening a bank
account, that's only done once, or you can hire a lawyer to do it for
you, so not a big problem in the end.

Quality of public services is absolutely horrible, and the city where I
live very eclectic. You have such a mix of houses from the most horrible
soviest concrete blocks, to modern glass high rises, to 19th century
houses in various states of decay. Coming from sweden, where cities are
more unified and quality of houses much higher, it does not feel very

But people, once you do understand each other, are quite social and
friendly. Society is way less socialist (for natural and obvious
reasons) and more conservative when it comes to values, which actually
fits me pretty well.

So if I were to start a business in northern europe, or if I was an IT
worker who could work 100% remotely, I would definitely recommend any of
the baltic countries. In fact, I am amazed that so few entrepreneurs
from western europe don't base their companies in eastern europe. For
me, the tax advantage and low cost of living gives me a huge advantage
compared with my swedish competitors.

So there you have it. A few notes and reflections from the places where
I've lived at least a year.

Just ask if you want to zoom in on anything. =)

Best regards, 

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