An expat’s perspective on health care and immigration

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BNH, the hospital in central Bangkok where I have received annual check-ups.

Technically, I am not an immigrant, though I make my home in Cambodia.  I have only a mailing address in the United States.

What I am is a retired expat whose year-to-year visa allows him to reside in Phnom Penh, where my savings go far indeed.  It is a good life, but it is one without a citizen’s rights (such as they are in Cambodia) and without dependable medical care.

Fortunately, I am an expat in excellent health now into his 70s.  Should I develop problems, the quality of my medical care here generally is suspect and its cost would be prohibitive for anything serious.

You see, I am uninsured outside the United States.  Even if coverage were obtainable from a reputable firm at my age Continue reading

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Weekly Roundup: Brooklyn, inventory, bidding strategy, prices, Airbnb, interest rates, owning vs. renting, inspired renovating and much more

Brooklyn’s fast-climbing home prices make it nearly as expensive as Manhattan

Transaction volume strongest in years, even with diminished supply

Graphic demonstrates depth of Manhattan inventory

Bicycles becoming new amenity in some buildings

Permits for new residential buildings skyrocket in first quarter

In this seller’s market, every minute counts

So does the right strategy in a bidding war

‘Hybrid’ home-seekers on the hunt

Prices in the Hamptons Continue reading

The Census Bureau confirms recession’s effects

A smaller share of Americans married, drove to work alone, owned their own home or moved to a new residence last year than the year before, reports the New York Times.

More lived in overcrowded housing. Property values declined. And fewer immigrants arrived, which meant that for the first time since the beginning of the decade, the total number of foreign-born people in the country did not grow.

Those were among the findings released  in the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, a wealth of data comparing the nation’s profile in 2008 with that of 2007.

For example, after rising steadily since 2000, median home values dropped in 2008, and the homeownership rate fell half a point, to 66.6 percent, the lowest since 2002. Among blacks, who have been disproportionately affected by foreclosures, home ownership fell a full point, to 45.6 percent.

Furthermore, in a country where people typically move to take advantage of better job opportunities, those who changed residences fell to 15 percent in 2008, from a recent peak of 16 percent in 2006.

Earlier private and government surveys suggested that immigration was slowing, but these were the first annual census figures showing it to be stagnant. Continue reading

Harvard housing report sees ‘eventual’ recovery

A sustained recovery for housing still faces an uphill climb, says Harvard’s Joint Center for Housing Studies in its annual report released yesterday.  To compare Harvard’s analysis with a variety of others, check out my forthcoming newsletter Friday afternoon.
“Although there are some signs of improvement or at least steadiness in new construction and sales, housing starts stand near 60-plus year lows, and any life in home sales is coming from distressed foreclosure sales, temporary first-time buyer tax credits and low interest rates that moved higher in recent weeks.” notes Center Director Nicolas P. Retsinas.  Adds Executive Director Eric S. Belsky: “The best that can be said of the market is that house price corrections and steep cuts in housing production are creating the conditions that will lead to an eventual recovery.  For now, markets remain under considerable stress.”
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The Harvard University campus.

Meanwhile, the number and share of households spending more than half their incomes on housing continues to remain at elevated levels. Continue reading