No country is perfect

3 Oct

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.

4 Responses to “No country is perfect”

  1. onefuriousllama October 4, 2012 at 12:26 am #

    As a recent immigrant to New Zealand I highly recommend it as a place to live. There are many reasons Auckland is consistently in the top 10 liveable cities in the world.

    Abortion isn’t completely illegal – there are legal grounds to have an abortion – but elective abortion is. There’s religionuts around but fewer than a lot of other places. There are social issues, but much less than most places.

    New Zealand isn’t without problems but there’s nowhere else I’d rather live. I’m in tech and life is good. One of my staff is an American and the last thing she wants to do is go back to America.

    Every country has problems, fact. Some have fewer problems than others. Some are freaking awesome. Kiwiland for the win!

    • Ness October 4, 2012 at 12:58 am #

      As another South African who moved to NZ this year, I share the sentiment! I guess it always depends on what matters most to you, to me, the security (and therefore quality of life) here makes things I don’t like so much, bearable.

    • godlesspaladin October 4, 2012 at 7:22 am #

      What was the immigration process like for you? Was it hard to find work? What do you do in tech? I’ve been trying to develop my tech skills and hoping that will be an in/marketable skill. Right now I’m mostly doing just break/fix work, but I’m taking CS classes and trying to learn python.

      Any skills that are in particularly high demand?

      • onefuriousllama October 4, 2012 at 11:46 pm #

        The immigration process was pretty smooth – we used a really good but expensive consultant. It is pretty straightforward though and if you arrange the work visa from there it will be pretty simple.

        I had little trouble finding a really good job. Got my work permit in 4 days and my permanent residency in 3 months.

        I’m in the software development game here. If you’re a good Java developer you’ll always have work and make a ton of money. Otherwise there’s a bunch of PHP work around, some Ruby.

        Python is picking up nicely too. I am busy converting all of our web properties over to Python at the moment (Python/Django). The Python scene is getting bigger too – there’s an annual conference, meetups etc. so I’d suggest you keep learning 🙂

        Project managers, business analysts, web designer/developers, iOS developers and testers all do very well here.

        I went skiing last weekend (4 hour drive); I live 200m from the beach, I have a view of a volcanic island and the sea from my living room, it’s 30 minutes drive to a surfing beach, it’s 30 minutes drive to an awesome scenic reserve for hiking. Australia is 2 hours away, wine country is a couple hours past the ski fields. The scenery in this country is epic and second to none.

        Kiwiland wins everything 😉

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