Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Love/Hate Tuesday- Taxes and Walking

Love:

WALKING!!! I love that I don't have to get in my car, at all, if I don't really want to. In fact, I have been getting in my car about once a week. I have only filled my gas (or petrol, as they say here) tank one time since I've been here. DH may have filled it once or twice too, but having been here almost 4 months now, that's pretty phenomenal if you ask me. I realize this is probably peculiar to the area of town we chose to live in and not everyone in Dublin is having the same respite from driving that I have. But, that said, there is a part of town (many parts of the town really) that one can choose to live in and render their car optional.

I realized how profound this is for me the other day when I was checking out swimming lesson options for my kids. There are three(!) swimming pools within walking distance that offer lessons. None of the lessons were at my preferred time, so I decided to look at another pool that someone suggested and when I discovered that it would be a 10 minute drive, I vetoed that pool. That would add another once a week car trip to my life. No thank you to that!

Hate:

TAXES!!! Seeing as its tax day back in the US, I figured I would try and make you all feel better about how much you have (or don't have) to pay, by griping about the taxes here. We knew what we were coming to, but it still smarts when you are living it. Income tax is as follows:

-single person income up to 32,800 at 21%, remainder of income at 41%
-married couple/civil partners on one income up to 41,800 at 21%, remainder of income at 41%
-married couple/civil partners on two incomes up to 65,600 at 21%, remainder of income at 41%
-one parent family up to 36,800 at 21%, remainder of income at 41%

But that is not the extent of it (otherwise, I wouldn't think that is too bad actually) Its the 23% sales tax (called VAT) that you pay on almost everything, goods AND services, that smarts. Its not just on things you buy, but also on activities that you do, etc... There is even an additional tax, above VAT, on alcohol. There is certainly no such thing as "2 buck chuck" in Ireland. The cheapo gross wine is 10 bucks! There are a few things that are exempt or zero rate (like children's clothing and footwear) but for the most part, prices for everything are high because there is 23% tax tacked on.

On top of that, there are other random taxes that just crop up here and there and everywhere. For instance, there is a  160 per year TV license. If you own anything with a tuner in it, you are required to buy a license each year. A guy knocked on my door yesterday, checking to see if we had paid our tv license. He seemed a bit surprised when I told him we don't have a tv, but I guess they do check. Also, the other day I was checking my credit card statement online and there was a random  30 charge. When I looked into it, I found it was the yearly "tax" for having a credit card!!! WTF?!?!? I am really glad I am saving so much money on gas/petrol by walking everywhere, because all the random taxes make living here pretty tight.

One thing I have to note however, is that the US is the only country that I know of, that taxes its non-resident citizens on income they earn while living somewhere else. So, if you earn over a certain amount while living abroad, you pay taxes in both places. What’s more, the term “citizen" includes former citizens whose loss of citizenship had as one of its principal purposes the avoidance of tax, ( but only for a period of 10 years following such loss.) I think that's pretty darn lame, if you ask me!

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Small space design on a budget- kids room

As I've mentioned in other posts, part of moving to Ireland encompassed a choice to downsize. I have been happily embracing this choice and have been enjoying the process of maximizing the use of our 700 square feet, making it a space that I enjoy visually (very important to me) while doing so on a strict budget.

I am finally starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel (of boxes.) Our little home is starting to come together.

The first room that I chose to tackle, was probably the most challenging- the kids room. My kids each had a room of their own in L.A. and they had WAYYYYY too many toys. Not only were each of their (pretty big) rooms full of toys, but they had toys scattered all over the rest of the house too. We had storage ottomans in the living and family rooms dedicated to coralling toys, and that was not the full extent of it. It was obscene! Very happily, we whittled the toys down to what seemed like a minimum, in order to undertake this move.

That said, they are now sharing a very small room. Not a box room, but close. Also, a room in a home that we rent, so there is not a lot we can do to the space. They still have too many toys as far as I am concerned, but thanks to Ikea, we are trying to give them all a home in their new, teeny, tiny space.

This is what design-on-a-dime for a small space is looking like for our kids' room:










I like this room so much, that sometimes I just come and hang out in here!