Long gone are the days of taking a job straight out of school, putting in 40 years before retiring and spending endless hours tinkering with hobbies and playing with the grandkids.
As travel and language barriers melt away and countries open up to foreign business, many people are looking to spend a few years in another country and experience its culture, meet its people, see the sights, learn the language, and enjoy the food.
While there are plenty of lists of the best countries and cities to live, like the 2014 list from HSBC, it’s a personal choice that only you can make.
- Are you single and comfortable living in a 100 square meter apartment?
- Do you need good schools for your children or will you home school them?
- Will you live like a local or do you need access to American foods and goods?
- Are you trying to pay off debt?
- Do you need a job or are you a freelancer?
Each of these questions deserves some serious consideration and you’ll need to do more research on your desired location before making a final decision.
Below are some of the countries that are very attractive based on language, culture and cost of living.
1. New Zealand
If you can get past the long flight to get there, the high prices and slow internet ;speeds, New Zealand ranks highly in terms of a good work-life balance, friendly locals, and safe environment to raise a family.
Wake up to picturesque views before jumping into the days work in this small developing country. Retirees and tourists flock to this affordable island where it’s possible to live on $1,500 a month. The US dollar is accepted as currency in most businesses and, as a former British colony, the people speak English.
3. United Kingdom
Even if your can’t find a job before leaving, there’s a good chance that you can find a job once you arrive in the UK as many employers and staffing services like to hire foreigners because of their skill sets and excellent work ethic. The cost of living is high in London, but your proximity to the rest of Europe makes it a great choice if you want to explore other countries on the weekend.
For adventure seekers
Prime skiing locations and a relaxed lifestyle make Switzerland an attractive choice, especially for higher earners from the United Kingdom. A drawback that takes some getting used to is that shops close for two hours at lunchtime, but you have access to excellent schools and health care.
Experienced teachers are in high demand in most large cities and, eager to draw in the best talent, schools offer enticing benefit packages including rent, utilities, and travel reimbursement.
Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou have many foreign companies that hire from their own countries, and according to a CNN report, roughly one-fourth of expats in China earn $300,000 or more, so there are plenty of non-teaching jobs to be had as well.
The low cost of living — cheap food, inexpensive household goods — make it easy to pay down debt or save for the future. The biggest downside: air pollution in industrial cities makes China a poor choice for raising children.
6. Hong Kong
Expensive? Yes. Exciting? Yes!
Before you pack up and decide to move to Hong Kong, know that it’s far more expensive than the Chinese mainland but minimalists will appreciate the small apartments. The best way to thrive financially is to have a well-paying job and negotiate a stellar compensation package. As a bonus, most people in Hong Kong speak English, hiring a housekeeper is affordable and, if you get a Chinese visa, you can go to China to stock up on lower-priced essentials on the weekends.
The world’s second most populous country ranked in the top 10 of the best places to live, earning high scores in the areas of entertainment, social life, making friends, and diet. A Wall Street Journal report says that most expats in India are quite happy with their life despite the dirt and heat. Childcare and education is affordable but integrating into the culture and cultivating friendships with the locals can be challenging.
For freelancers and business owners
If a laptop and a WiFi connection the only tools you need to earn a living, the world is your oyster, including the following top picks.
Speaking some Spanish will help you live like locals and ensure you get great prices on food and rent in Ecuador. A top location for retirees who want spring-like weather year-round and to live well on a budget, as long as you only rely on an internet connection to earn your living, there’s no reason to wait to head to South America until you’re ready to collect Social Security. Health-care is inexpensive and there’s a large expat crowd that finds it easy to live on about $1,000 a month.
Whether you choose to live in a metro area or a more rural area, living in Thailand has a low cost of living, access to stunning scenery, and a diverse array of foods. You can get to know the people better with one of the many part-time English teaching jobs or volunteer opportunities.
A trading hub for Asia and Australia, this county is home to many international companies, but new regulations are in place to make it a bit more difficult for companies to hire foreigners, but it’s still a great place to live if you work from home. Space is at a premium so rent is high, but food and transportation are at the other end of the spectrum. It’s centrally located, making it easy to travel to other Asian countries when you have vacation time.