If you have already decided you are going to make the move and live abroad but are still undecided as to where you go you are not alone.
We receive many questions in our email inboxes but by far the most frequently asked is “where is the best place to live abroad”?
There is no “one size fits all” answer to this as much depends on you, your needs, your lifestyle and your individual circumstances.
Susan Beverley, Jamie Douglas and Julie R Butler are writers, world travelers, nomadic retirees and expats and they each share their own experience which they hope will guide you towards finding the best place in the world for you to live.
My own search to find the best place to live abroad was a little haphazard to start with. I was fortunate enough to be able to travel to many different countries and I have to say I liked nearly all of them at first, but after a few weeks, sometimes less, I began to have doubts that I could actually live in the country full time. Quite often it was a relatively trivial thing that put me off but it was enough to make me scratch a particular country off my list of possible relocation destinations.
After several years of getting nowhere with the trial and error method I sat down and really thought about what I wanted and needed from my new home nation. After all, you can’t get what you want unless you know what it is. I realized that there is no “perfect place” and that there would be some compromising.
This is what I did. I compiled a list of 3 criteria that were absolutely essential qualities that I needed to have and based my ongoing search around those. I also identified 3 highly desirable but not essential things my new home would ideally have.
My “must have three things” were:
- Access to good public education or affordable private education. I was relocating with two young children so this was very important.
- Access to good healthcare facilities at reasonable cost or affordable healthcare insurance which offered good coverage. Not only did I have my children in mind but I was also relocating with my parents who were in their mid sixties, my father being a diabetic, and they were going to need medical care.
- The weather! Yes, this was important. Originating from the UK where there are grey skies and rain for 95% of the time I needed the sun, lots of it. But not humidity, I can’t stand hot sticky humid days and nights and as much as people tried to tell me that you “get used to it” I was never convinced. Extreme temperatures (hot or cold) would not do either. So a temperate climate with seasons was what I was looking for.
In case you are wondering, my highly desirable list was:
- Lower cost of living. Economics is not a good sole reason for moving to another country. Sure things might be cheaper in a lot of places but if your fundamental needs are not there you will be better off financially but miserable and homesick pretty soon.
- Good infrastructure. Nice to have the electricity, internet and plumbing all working all of the time but in reality in a lot of places where you might be considering this isn’t going to happen. If the electric going off intermittently or the internet going down from time to time, or is not as fast as you are accustomed to, and this is going to drive you nuts then put “100% reliable infrastructure” in your must have list and then you can rule out 99% of countries you are probably considering.
- Low rates of serious/violent crime. This almost made it in to the 3 essential list – in place of the weather but I figured that I would be happier at risk of being mugged in the sun than at a lesser risk of being mugged while hot, sticky and very irritable. Although not so good for the mugger if I was irritable when they struck.
Bearing these three things in mind I was able to cross through many countries without doing extensive research or travelling to them and eventually found somewhere that checked all the boxes, essential and highly desirable. I have been here for over six years now and still very happy and content and glad I took the time to find the best place for me and my family.
If you sit down and think about your needs they will most likely be very different to mine and lead you to a different place. The best place for you.
Every year countless publications devote their resources to come up with a “Best Places to Live” feature. Is there really an answer that covers all bases? In my personal opinion, the answer to this question is based on many factors, and it is not a one size fits all discussion.
If you are from Birmingham (take your pick which one), and Condé Nast traveler informs you that the first class lounge at the Harare Airport in Zimbabwe is a great place to live, hold your horses!
First and foremost are family considerations, then the quality of life, infrastructure, schools, if you have children, cost of living, communications, climate and of course the big one, will the people in that place tolerate you as an outsider, and embrace you as a new arrival, or as is more and more the case, your acceptance is limited by the new wave of xenophobia that is sweeping the globe.
Personally I would pick New Caledonia, a French territory in the South West Pacific, for its scenery, climate, beaches, mountains and offshore islands. Having spent considerable time there, I know that living there is out of the question, even with a Swiss passport. The distance and remoteness make it very difficult to visit your former haunts, or to have parents or other relatives come visit, unless they are in New Zealand or Australia.