Where in the world?


Brian Mickelthwait had this piece on Samizdata a while ago, asking which country Brits would be best off emigrating to. It’s an interesting question – if you believe in free markets and limited government, and you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I’m not sure Brian is right to suggest Ireland. They are in serious economic trouble and although it has an enviably low corporation tax rate, I’m not sure Ireland is quite the free-market nirvana it is cracked up to be. If you moved there expecting a big change, I suspect you would be disappointed. Oh, and it never stops raining.

Many suggest Switzerland instead, which seems like a good choice – clean and efficient, beautiful scenery, a high quality of life and low taxes. On the downside, if you can’t speak French and/or German it may be impractical in the short term.

What about the USA? After all, that’s where people used to flee to when they feared for their liberty. Today, however, I’m not so sure. Let’s assume that you could actually move to America and work legally (not nearly as easy as it used to be): once you have added up federal income tax, state income tax, and the various payroll taxes, you wouldn’t get to keep a lot more of your pay-packet than you do in Britain. Sales taxes are lower, but property taxes are considerably higher. And with Obama set to move the US leftwards, you may end up severely disappointed.

Hong Kong is certainly attractive on the tax front: they have a high personal allowance, a flat tax of 15 percent and social insurance contributions of 5 percent. Property taxes are high at 16 percent of assessed rental value, but not cripplingly so. Plus, Hong Kong always comes top of the Economic Freedom of the World report, so it can’t be bad.

Personally though, I’d be looking for somewhere a little calmer and more laid back. Australia? Taxes aren’t that low, but they certainly compare favourably with Britain’s. You get a 30 percent rebate on private health insurance, and their personalized pension system seems excellent. Cities like Sydney and Melbourne always rank high on ‘liveability’ and there are plenty of good golf courses (essential, as far as I’m concerned).

Thoughts, anyone?