While we don’t have a choice over the country we’re born in, these days we often do have control over whether or not we choose to stay.
There are 195 countries in the world today, which presents endless possibilities for those wishing to live overseas. And when it comes to setting up your life in a new country, most nations are very welcoming!
People move abroad for many reasons; for business, study, wanderlust, or simply to seek better life opportunities. Either way, to experience life as part of a new culture and have the chance to discover an exotic new land is a romantic adventure quite a lot of people entertain.
If you’re considering moving abroad but haven’t yet figured out where you want to go, the following are the best countries to live in as an expat, as well as important things you need to know.
The Best Countries to Live in as an Expat
How to Choose a Destination
Choosing a destination to live as an expat is a much more complicated and important decision than merely selecting where you want to take your next holiday.
While short term travelers often focus on choosing destinations which offer a bunch of notable attractions and nice hotels, expats need to think about things like job availability, housing affordability, health care, and politics. You also must factor in the logistics and costs of relocating to a new country.
Sadly, it’s not as easy as selecting a country, packing a shipping container, and setting yourself up in a new foreign home, and in many countries the process of becoming an expat can be expensive, difficult, and long. So it’s important to do your research before ultimately deciding to relocate to another country.
Becoming an expatriate will completely transform your life, and choosing a destination that offers you the lifestyle you desire is vital to enjoying your time.
While individual tastes and needs will ultimately play a major role in deciding which country you choose to move to, there are a number of countries that consistently rank as the best nations for expats to live.
Whether you’re curious about how to become an expat, or are desperately searching for a new place to call home, give these great countries a thought.
Why just cruise around New Zealand when you can move there!
Becoming a Kiwi means you’ll get to enjoy stunning forests, fjords, and waterfalls anytime you wish to. New Zealand is extremely welcoming towards expats and migrants, and you’ll find a melting pot of cultures from over 145 countries.
While the indigenous language may be Maori, nearly everyone speaks English here. It is a family-friendly nation that offers low crime rates and clean cities, where you’ll enjoy a healthy work-life balance that focuses on delivery a higher quality of life.
It also ranks as one of the top nations in the world when it comes to gender equality and is one of the most liberal when it comes to LGBT rights, having been one of the first 15 countries in the world where same-sex marriage is legal.
Residents and even certain visa holders can benefit from a great public health system and affordable education. If you are between the ages of 18 and 30, there are working holiday options that can allow you to live and work in the country for up to 23 months in some cases.
NZ is perfect for those seeking less crowded cities and less congestion on roadways, as the entire country’s population is under 5 million. A simpler way of life in the country can be achieved by focusing on the South Island, while those wanting a more urban atmosphere may want to look at settling in or near Auckland on the North Island.
Those wanting to dive into Asian culture without too much culture shock should look at Singapore. Consistently ranked as the top country for expats, Singapore is especially perfect for those who are career-driven.
Singaporeans are workaholics and it’s a great nation if you’re looking to advance your career. That being said, it also is perfect for families with children as it’s clean, safe, and provides incredible childcare and education.
The country makes a great base for exploring the rest of Asia, and although it is a much more expensive country to live than places such as Thailand or Cambodia, you have much higher paying jobs to offset this.
It has also proven to be one of the easier Asian destinations when it comes to obtaining work permits and securing accommodation.
Embrace Chinese, Malaysian, Eurasian, and Indian cultures, with the benefit of English being widely spoken. The country offers incredible public transportation and you’ll find just about everything you could ever need in the city.
Endless nightlife and attractions will keep you entertained and lush jungles filled with exotic wildlife surround the city. Those who like it hot will fall in love with Singapore due to the fact it lies pretty much directly on the equator.
Australia offers a giant nation filled with areas of pristine wilderness and some of the world’s best beaches. Cities like Melbourne and Sydney consistently rank as some of the best in the world to live in.
Cost of living may be high and housing rather unaffordable, but the currency conversion rate works well in your favor if relocating from the United States, United Kingdom, or Europe. When compared to the U.S., salaries are much higher in Australia with many more benefits such as annual paid leave, numerous paid public holidays, and maternity leave.
The country offers one of the lowest population densities in the world which becomes even more apparent outside of the major cities. This equates to many expats experiencing a better quality of life.
Australia is a multicultural society that offers universal healthcare, great education, low crime, and low unemployment. Younger individual can take advantage of working holiday visas to become an expat, but relocating to the Land Down Under permanently can be an extremely difficult and lengthy process.
Most expats who move to Australia say they enjoy a healthier lifestyle, due in part to a beautiful year-round climate. From the beautiful beaches and rainforests of Queensland to the pristine wilderness and fresh produce of Tasmania, Australia offers incredible landscapes that are easy to fall in love with.
If you don’t enjoy working your tail off, Germany may be a great option for you as they report some of the lowest average working hours in the world. Skip the 40-hour workweek for just 25-30 hours instead!
That being said, good career prospects with high salaries are what drive many expats to the nation. It is also one of the cheaper European countries to live.
Most expats will end up settling in cities like Berlin, Frankfurt, and Munich. These cities offer a wealth of opportunities and cultural attractions for expats to enjoy.
The same German culture that is intriguing for tourists can make things a bit more difficult for expats when it comes to long term integrating. Expats often say they feel out of place due to the language barrier and cultural differences. That said, the government encourages expats to look into subsidized integration courses to help make their transition easier.
Those looking to explore the rest of Europe will benefit from the fact Germany lies right in the heart of the region. Enjoy quick cheap flights to cities like Paris, Amsterdam, or Venice.
Those looking to raise a family can benefit from extremely generous maternity leave laws that see mothers get 14 weeks of full pay leave and a healthy percentage of their wage in leave until their child reaches one year of age.
Canada is popular with expats who are of working age due to the fact it offers great employment opportunities. It’s especially enticing to Americans as it offers a very similar way of life in terms of culture, with the added benefit of universal healthcare.
Expats find it easy to integrate into Canadian society since the nation is one of the most tolerant in the world when it comes to welcoming people of different backgrounds, sexual orientations, and faiths.
Canada aims to attract roughly a million people from around the world to live and work in the country by 2020, so this may be the perfect time to get your visa application in.
Getting used to frigid and snowy winters can be difficult, but the country’s expansive wilderness and wildlife make it an enticing place to live.
Expats should look to cities like Calgary, Toronto, and Vancouver to settle in first, as they have been proven to offer the best opportunities for newcomers.
THESE BOOKS WILL INSPIRE YOU TO LIVE ABROAD! ↓
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Disclosure: This post is sponsored by Western Union, who recently featured us in their ‘How to become an expat’ interview series.