The pandemic has made many of us rethink our priorities and the way we live our lives. Many people are even considering relocating to a new country once the pandemic is under control and international borders open up more broadly across the world.
If you’re thinking of possibly moving overseas for work, school, or to simply to enjoy a bit of new culture and surroundings, here are some of the top countries that consistently rank the highest by expats in terms of opportunities and quality of life.
When choosing a new country, there are many factors to consider, like cost of living, employment, economic stability, personal freedoms, etc. Though where you choose will also largely depend on where you’re moving from and the availability of visas.
Whether you’re looking for a country that offers a lower cost of living, more fun and adventure, better careers, or simply more ideal weather and a better work-life balance, here are some of the top countries you should consider.
Best Countries to Relocate to as an Expat
What to Research Before Moving Abroad
Before I get into the top countries to relocate to, let’s first cover a few important points. Just because you may wish to move to a specific country to work and live doesn’t necessarily mean it will be easy or even possible.
There are often specific visas that are required to live for an extended period of time and be allowed employment or schooling privileges in various countries. And you then need to consider what impacts a move will have on you and your family.
You’ll want to research exactly what you can expect in terms of salary, cost of living, paying taxes, health care, social issues, and overall safety.
Another thing to consider in the current climate is choosing a Covid-safe country with high vaccination rates and quality hospitals that are not being overrun.
You’ll also want to research what your options are in terms of receiving healthcare abroad. For instance, will you be covered under a country’s universal health care system as an expat or temporary resident?
Despite needing to do a bit of research and maybe jumping through a few hoops, moving abroad is possible for many and can prove to be a very positive life-changing experience.
Just looking at Americans, some figures show that there are around nine million of them living as expats abroad.
Best Countries to Live and Work as an Expat
Spain has become the place of choice for British retirees, many likely lured by the promise of more sunshine in a year than they’ve seen during their entire lifetime back in England!!
It’s rather easy to get visas to live and work in Spain and it’s known for offering one of Western Europe’s lowest costs of living.
Housing in Spain is quite affordable by European standards, but you will want to read up on the capital gains tax Spain imposes on both residents and non residents if you will be buying and selling properties as an expat.
As an expat, you’ll want to look to experts in Spanish real estate, tax, and immigration law such as My Spain Visa which caters to international clients to ensure they enjoy a smooth transition when relocating to Spain.
In addition to Spain being a place of choice for retires, the country also attracts younger people such as digital nomads due to its offering of various self-employment visas.
Younger individuals are often lured to lively cities like Madrid and Barcelona, or escape to an island lifestyle by becoming an expat in the Canary Islands or one of the Balearic Islands such as Mallorca or Ibiza.
A few more points that entice foreigners to take up residence in Spain include its offering of world-class museums, unique architecture, and popular annual festivals such as Semana Santa, and of course the Tomatina Tomato Fight.
Spain offers a much better work-life balance than many nations, with welcoming communities, a relaxed vibe, and great place to raise children. Cities like Barcelona have also been regarded as one of the best cities in the world for foreigners to find work.
Costa Rica has long been a favorite expat destination for Americans, especially when it comes to retirees. Many come because of the affordable housing whether they’re looking to rent or buy, and benefit from low property taxes.
It’s easy for Americans to fit in, since there are countless expat communities, the nation is democratic, and English is widely spoken. It is a rather safe nation, with the little crime that does take place largely confined to San José.
You can take advantage of both the Pacific and Caribbean coastlines, with abundant beautiful beaches and great dive sites. This eco-tourism destination also offers some exciting and rewarding career paths.
Another reason why Costa Rica is popular with Americans looking to relocate internationally is that it’s still close to the U.S. and accessible by quick direct flights, which makes visiting family back home easy.
The country also offers an easy path to become a resident and offers low cost medical care including dental and cosmetic surgery.
Another popular expat destination for Americans is Canada, mostly due to its close proximity to the U.S. but also because of the overall quality of life its neighbor to the north provides. Stats show that upwards of 10,000 Americans made the move across the border in 2019 alone.
Canada also attracts people from around the world who are looking for work, the country accepting of all faiths, races, and sexual orientations. Canada does after all consistently rank as one of the friendliest and most polite nations on earth.
Expats can also expect rather high wages and of course take advantage of universal healthcare, something America lacks. Canada also offers up affordable education which attracts students from around the world, with around a third of current Canadian students being expats from abroad.
Canada is blessed with plenty of space, being the world’s second largest in terms of area. With a population that numbers under 40 million, that leaves plenty of pristine wilderness to enjoy plenty of social distancing.
You can opt for one of the many large modern cities with plenty of opportunities such as Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, and Montreal or get a European feel in Quebec which is predominately French speaking.
Singapore offers one of Asia’s highest qualities of life and longest life expectancies. Yes, it may be expensive to live here, but you’ll find plenty of job opportunities and affordable high-quality education. It also offers attractive tax rates.
Over 90% of residents own a home, and Singapore’s healthcare system is among the best in the world so long as you are at least a permanent resident. There is very little crime and almost no drug use, making it safe for families.
Singapore is the perfect destination for those looking to embrace a vast array of cultures in a small space, with their being four official languages spoken in the country, one of which is English.
Singapore attracts business people from around the world, with great job security and wage growth potential. Add to this one of the world’s finest public transport systems that can take you just about anywhere in short time. It’s also connected to many of the world’s major cities by direct flights, allowing you to travel around the world with ease.
Singapore offers activities and attractions for all ages and interests. Foodies will be blown away by the sheer number of exotic flavors and shopping is endless. You’ll also enjoy super fast internet speeds.
Singapore also makes becoming a citizen rather quick and easy, with permanent residents aged 21 and older being eligible for citizenship after living as a PR in Singapore for two years. This also allows you to make your spouse and children citizens as well.
Many of Australia’s capital cities consistently rank in the top ten most liveable cities. This includes Adelaide, Perth, Melbourne, and Brisbane, with Sydney also ranking quite high on the list.
It is said that 30% of Australia’s population was born overseas. The culturally diverse nation is said to have migrants from just about every country in the world, with the British especially loving to relocate Down Under.
Australia offers free, high quality healthcare along with free or subsidized primary, secondary, and tertiary education. The rapid economic growth of Australia has led to all kinds of career opportunities, while managing to encourage a healthy work-life balance.
The country abounds with natural wonders and the bush is never too far away, even when living in the major cities. Add in a mild climate and endless beautiful beaches, and you can see why so many people want to live here.
There are a number of visas available for those looking to work and live in Australia, and while it may be a somewhat long, expensive, and difficult process to become a permanent resident and citizen, there is at least a path to doing so.
Australia’s neighbor to the east is equally as appealing to expats and a great option for those wanting a bit cooler weather than Australia. A few New Zealand cities also manage to consistently rank in the world’s top ten most liveable cities and include Auckland and Wellington.
New Zealand encourages an active healthy lifestyle with all kinds of outdoor recreation available including surfing, bungee jumping, zip-lining, whitewater rafting, and winter skiing. There’s no shortage of beautiful natural landscapes to get lost in and you’ll be breathing some of the freshest and cleanest air in the world.
New Zealand is modern but also embraces a lifestyle long forgotten in most countries, where things are simpler and less stressful. It is the perfect place to relocate if you are in need of a physical and mental well-being overhaul.
Local Kiwis also display a very positive attitude towards immigrants. Much like Australia, the Brits also love to move to New Zealand, especially retirees who can take advantage of the fact they can transfer their UK pensions and NZ doesn’t impose death or retirement benefits taxes.
Switzerland is another country that welcomes foreigners, with resident and temporary foreign workers accounting for over 20% of the population. It can be difficult to land work if you don’t speak German or French, but if you can land a job in Geneva or Zurich you’ll likely enjoy one of the highest average salaries in the world.
Switzerland is definitely more appealing towards families looking to relocate abroad as opposed to single expats looking for party atmosphere with endless nightlife and non-stop action. Switzerland offers up one of the world’s top educational systems and consistently ranks as one of Europe’s safest nations.
Despite Switzerland’s being one of the world’s highest cost of living nations, most expats claim they enjoy more disposable income than they had in their home country due to large Swiss salaries. Expats working in Switzerland can expect to be paid wages that are about a third higher than the global average.
Switzerland also attracts expats due to the cleanliness of its cities and towns, while also offering plenty of natural beauty. Another bonus is Switzerland’s central European location which makes exploring other European nations quick, easy, and affordable.
These are just a sampling of the many nations that embrace expats and can completely transform your life.
Of course what is appealing to one person can be a different story to another, so be sure to do your own thorough research before packing up your belongings and relocating to a new country.
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