As regular readers will know, my dream is to leave the US for greener pastures. I’ve had this goal for several years now and I’ve been working hard to make it a reality. When I first got serious about doing this, I remember brining Canadian immigration forms to my parents to show them. At the time my destination was Vancouver. I looked all around Canada and that seemed like a great place. The landscape around the city looked beautiful as well.
After a while though I changed my mind about Canada. Harper got elected PM and the more I thought about it the more the similarities between the US and Canada started to bug me. What really stuck in my head was that I heard somewhere that Canada has a political lag time of about 10 years behind the US. So wherever the US was 10 years ago politically, that’s where Canada is now. That would put Canada square in Bush territory. I realize how stupid this sounds; they’re two different countries with different issues, but Harper’s pretty bad and Canada has been becoming less liberal as of late.
With Canada off my list, my next destination was The Netherlands. They have a lot of great things going for them and I’ve always admired the Dutch. I was a little hesitant about the language barrier, but they all speak four languages, English being one of them, so I figured of all the countries to try and learn a language in, at least there’s the safety net of English in Holland. For a time I was trying to teach myself Dutch. I was listening to Dutch media, and I even put sticky notes all around my apartment labeling things in Dutch. As time went on I eventually changed my mind about the Netherlands. My language learning attempts weren’t really going anywhere, but more importantly the EU started to collapse. I figured it would be near impossible for me to get into Europe and find a job as a non-EU citizen while the economy was collapsing. Things might still go under if Greece, Spain, or Italy folds and the whole point of me moving is to try and avoid disaster.
England was never on my list for reasons that will be clear in a bit.
Next on my list was Australia. This is where I’ve been for the past few months. I was attracted to Australia because they have a higher standard of living and a higher standard of just about everything else compared to the US. The big draw, however, was the working holiday visa scheme. Basically, I could get a visa to Australia that would let me live/work anywhere in the country for up to a year. I figured this would be perfect as I could sample the country before taking the plunge and attempting to get citizenship.
(Yes. I want to give up my American citizenship and become the citizen of some other place. No, this is not your cue tell me why I should keep it. This entire blog is a litany of reasons why I don’t want to be a part of the US anymore. But I digress)
I have a map of Australia on the wall over my bed. I decided to try and shoot for Melbourne as the climate looked better to me and from what I’ve read/heard I think I’d like the feel better than Sydney or anywhere else.
The problem now is that Australia’s starting to sour on me just like everywhere else has before. Why? Their treatment of Julian Assange, their cooperation with the US, and the security state the are trying to build. My eyes are starting to turn to New Zealand as another possibility, especially since I just found out that they too have a working holiday visa program. I know that NZ needs tech people, their landscape is amazing, and they have even better in standards of living than Australia! Unfortunately, they’re not perfect either. Abortion is illegal and they’ve got internet police problems too, which brings me to the point of this post:
No country is perfect.
The only thing I can do is try and weigh the pros and cons of each country and try to see which one scores the most points. Here are some of the things that are important to me when shopping for a country:
- Police/security state: This is by far the hardest. England is not on my list for this exact reason. Cameras everywhere. The US is building the biggest, scariest security state in history and is one of the main reasons why I want to leave. The more security state-ish a country is, the less I want to live there.
- Internet freedom: This goes hand in hand with the above point. I want to live in a place where the internet is free and unregulated. I don’t want things like SOPA/PIPA/ACTA, etc. I don’t want anyone monitoring my internet usage or restricting it.
- Human rights: I want to find a country that places a high value on human rights and dignity. This includes things like privacy and all the rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Especially important to me are things like reproductive rights like access to on demand abortion and contraceptive. I would also like to retain my right to own firearms.
- Emphasis on education and a healthy society: I would like to find a country where people put a high value on access to quality education and see to it that children are taught actual science and not stuff like creationism. I would also like for the the people in the society to have a low tolerance for things like corruption, abuse of power, and apathy to the well being of others. In Holland, for example, I heard of an American backpacker who didn’t have much money for a hotel and so he slept the night on a park bench. In the morning he was woken by police officers. He thought they might arrest him, tell him to move on, or at worst beat him like they’re liable to do in America. To his surprise they had food and hot coffee for him and asked if he needed any help.
- Lastly I’d like to find a country with a low level of religiosity. Generally, the lower the religiosity of a country, the higher the standards of living are.
No country that I know of meets all these criteria perfectly. Some are stronger in certain areas and weaker in others. At the end of the day it will come down to what I’m willing to make do with. I guess that’s all we can ever hope to do in life, make the best out of what’s available to us.