If you have decided you would love to live abroad, but are still not quite sure what country you may move to, here are a few tips to help you choose the best country for a move overseas for your personal tastes and needs.
After all, while anyone can recommend you move to Thailand, Singapore, Spain, Guatemala or Australia, just because a particular country fits their lifestyle does not mean it will fit yours.
Narrow down the continent
The easiest way to choose the best country for a move overseas is to start with the continent.
Do Asian cultures interest you more than those in Europe? Would you like to live on a continent that is only a few hours away from your own country, or would an 18-hour flight from Asia back home not bother you?
What languages are you interested in learning? Do you think it would be cool to speak an African language that may only be spoken by a small percentage of the world’s population? Or would a European language be more useful?
Think about the world’s seven continents in relations to the one you currently live in. You may even decide you are happy enough on the same continent, just a different country on it.
Alternatively, you can also narrow down your choices for the best country for a move overseas by ignoring the continents and considering the languages spoken instead.
If you would like to be able to speak Spanish for instance, moving to China would not be much help.
If you would prefer to be able to speak German, you would be limited to the German-speaking countries of Austria, Germany and Liechtenstein, or to countries like Switzerland, Belgium and Luxembourg, where German is one of the official languages.
If you want to live in an English-speaking country, look at the United Kingdom, the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Irish Republic and the other 39 countries where English is one of the official languages.
Narrowing down the country
Once you have decided on a continent or a language, narrowing down your country choices is the next step when looking for the best country for a move overseas.
Can you move there?
The main way to decide on a new country is to choose one that is easy to move to.
If you want to be able to just pick up and go, countries like Thailand, Mexico, Paraguay, Ecuador, Belize, Panama and Costa Rica are a great choice.
Other countries can be easy as well if you are highly skilled or if you are eligible for the many visas they offer.
Check out the ease or complexity of moving to a specific country by looking on their embassy websites to see what they say about moving there and about visa availability.
Cost of living
One of the main reasons why people choose a particular country to move to is because of the cost of living. Especially if it is cheaper than where they currently live.
If you are looking for a cheaper place to live, consider countries like Panama, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal, Bolivia, Indonesia, Portugal and Spain .
If cost of living is not too much of a consideration for you, choose a country like the United Kingdom, Austria, Switzerland, Iceland, Norway or Bermuda.
If you are still of working age, a country with the best job opportunities is vitally important.
You can check out overseas job opportunities on websites like Global Jobs for work with NGOs and governmental organizations, on Monster for country-specific jobs, and IITJobs for jobs in the IT industry.
What are the transportation links like?
Does the country have good public transportation? (that would pretty much rule out most of the U.S.)
Would it be easy to travel back to your home country if you wanted to, or onto other countries in the area or even further away?
While a country may be a lovely place to visit, if it is going to take you a bus, a train and three planes to get anywhere you would like to go, you may want to think twice about moving there.
Look at locations with direct flights if possible, or two flights at the most, as this will make it much easier to visit family and friends — and to see other countries you may be interested in visiting.
Choosing a country to move to with a culture that interests you is usually a good idea.
I moved to Thailand 20 years ago because I was fascinated by the country’s Buddhist culture, and by their gorgeous temples, and interesting national holidays. I also loved their fascinating wildlife, beautiful beaches and incredibly friendly people.
Fourteen years later, I moved to Austria because I fell head over heels in love with Austrian Eurovision Song Contest winner Conchita Wurst.
Yes, she’s a drag queen. Yes, she counts when it comes to a country’s arts and ‘culture’.
While this is a huge generalization, generalizations are there for a reason — because, in many instances, they are correct.
That is why when choosing a country to move to, choosing one with the type of people that fit your personality is usually a good idea.
For instance, if you are outgoing, friendly and love to be around people who always seem happy, smiling and welcoming, head to Thailand, New Zealand, Canada, Portugal, Spain, Greece, Senegal, Kenya, Costa Rica, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan or Oman.
** NOTE: Of course, these are generalizations, as you may discover friendly people no matter where you go.
I have traveled and lived all over the world, however, and I have to admit my current country of residence — Austria — is populated with quite unfriendly people compared to every other country I have lived in, which is also what many surveys of expats living there conclude.
I will stress though, most Austrians are lovely when they get to know you but, boy, do they take a long time to warm up and, boy, can it be difficult to make Austrian friends. Just be aware of that then if you decide to move there, and plan accordingly.
Does a country’s food appeal to you?
Do you love Asian food? If so, Malaysia, Japan, Vietnam, China or Thailand could be a good spot to indulge your foodie tendencies.
If you are a basic meat and potatoes type of person, Austria, Germany, the United Kingdom, Russia and other eastern European countries can satisfy your food cravings.
Check out the type of food you can expect to eat on a daily basis before you move. Although do remember, you can buy just about anything in most supermarkets nowadays, no matter where you live.
Millions of cities and towns around the world also have many ethnic restaurants.
If you love living in a hot climate, countries like Malaysia, Thailand, Spain, Saudi Arabia, India, Mexico and American Samoa may suit you perfectly.
If a cold climate is more your thing, Iceland, Switzerland, Austria, Russia, Canada, Estonia, Mongolia, Norway or Sweden may fit you better.
If you love beaches, don’t move to Austria as the landlocked country doesn’t have any. You would, however, love Thailand, the United States in certain spots (Hawaii, Los Angeles, North Carolina), Australia, Malaysia, Greece, the Philippines, Italy and Spain.
If mountains float your boat, Austria would be perfect, as would Germany, Switzerland, Greece, Bhutan, Mongolia, Ecuador, or even many parts of Spain, China and Russia.
What is there to see and do?
Once you are in your new country and settled, you will want to go sightseeing and check out the different culture.
That is why choosing the best country for a move overseas should also include checking out the things there are to see and do.
Does the country have huge numbers of tourist spots to visit (most countries do)? Are they places that would interest you?
What is the history of the country like and are the historical spots in it easily accessible and interesting?
Does it have gorgeous beaches, beautiful mountain getaways, can you ski, cycle, hike or sail?
Are there quaint or interesting villages to visit on a day trip or a weekend visit?
What’s the shopping like? Is it cheap or expensive? Are there markets and night markets to visit?
Is it a fun place for kids, if you have them?
Finally, there is safety. Although, frankly, that is usually one of my least concerns as, in my experience, most countries are a lot safer than the news media would have you believe.
If safety is a major concern, however, look at some of the world’s safest countries like Japan, Thailand, New Zealand, Denmark, Sweden, Finland, Iceland, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Ireland and Canada.
Avoid countries like Sudan, Afghanistan, Syria, Pakistan and Iraq.
Choosing the best country for a move overseas
The easiest way to choose the best country for you is to make a checklist of things that are important to you.
You can then look at countries you are interested in, and mark on that list if they include the things most important to you.
By doing that, you will often discover there are only two or three countries that fit exactly what you are looking for in a new home.
It is then much easier to make your final decision.
Once you have chosen your new country, you can start following this moving abroad checklist so that you are all ready to leave when the time arrives.
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