Monday, December 21, 2009

Musing on the Dutch Antilles

I was reading two articles today that got me thinking about the Caribbean.  One was Expatica’s accounts of the winter snows and freezing temperatures across the Netherlands, the facts behind the photos from Maastricht and stories from friends.  The other continuing story of Laura Dekker, the 14-year old sailor who fled to St Maarten last week.

The Netherlands Antilles comprise five islands, three north (including St Maarten) and two south.   They were colonized for the Dutch East India Company in the early 1600’s, and were joined together in 1845.  They became semi-autonomous in 1945, but are in the process of dismantling the confederation to become regular Dutch States or Special Municipalities.   North Holland has offered to adopt the Municipalities as part of their province.  The process is due to be completed on October 10, 2010.

Thus, the islands become a little bit of Europe in the Caribbean.  The residents are citizens of the EU and will vote in Dutch and EU elections.  The islands will share judicial and diplomatic functions with the Netherlands, governed by the Dutch constitution. However, as Overseas Country or Territory administered by the Netherlands, they are not fully part of the EU:  they will retain their local currency and some may have their status reviewed to become Outermost Territories after 2014. 

It raises some interesting questions about the status of my residency / work permit: I suspect that I could relocate the company or myself if I wanted to. 

Years ago, I took a 7-day Royal Caribbean cruise around the Lesser Antilles, sailing from San Juan through the northern, Leewar Islands down to Barbados, then back north through the Windward Islands.  The ship is a mobile hotel opening onto a new venue each morning, warm waters, beautiful sunsets, each island with it’s own personality to discover.  Sint Maarten was a particular favorite: I crewed on an America’s Cup boat (12-meter challenge) and enjoyed their Guavaberry liqueur in all its forms.

The memory came back while I was in Switzerland for a checkup last October.  My surgeon suggested time in the islands: salt water, sand to walk in, physical activity and relaxation for my foot.  He offered to write a prescription for a month in Philipsburg (but how to get Blue Cross to cover it?)


Textual Healer said...

Relocation feels increasingly attractive in these dark and cold days. I see now that you have three residence permits - will be running your business in three currencies and having to deal with three sets of tax authorities. Man I don't envy the complexity of your life.

Dave Hampton said...

Two plus my US passport, but I take the point. On the business side, the accountants tell me to just choose one principal place of business and stick with it. The Netherlands will be it, and if I funnel income through the Dutch corporation, I shouldn't end up paying business and personal taxes all over the place. Still, I need to confirm that: most of the currency transactions will ultimately be Euro-denominated too.

The larger challenge is living arrangements. There is the potential to have homes in three places, with enormous rental and travel burdens. The current work-driven split looks roughly 25% US, 25% UK, 50% NL: I've got to make some choices and move that to an 80-10-10 in favor of somewhere and get a stable life going. 'top of my new years resolutions, absolutely!

Thanks for the comment, you are exactly right.