Moving Abroad? But Where to?

FreeImages.com/Krzysztof (Kriss) Szkurlatowski
FreeImages.com/Krzysztof (Kriss) Szkurlatowski

Have you ever considered moving abroad?

If not, prepare yourself for a lot of deliberations (in case you will someday). If you already have, you probably ‘know the pain’… Indeed, relocating abroad, either permanently or temporarily, is a big decision in one’s life and there is a ton of details one needs to consider and decide upon. Naturally, when going abroad on an international assignment, many factors are usually predefined, such as the country you are going to, the length of stay, housing opportunities etc. However, company-initiated expatriation is just one of many reasons why people cross borders. According to the recent Expat Insider report, which surveyed more than 14,000 respondents representing 174 nationalities and 191 countries or territories, people are often self-initiating their expatriation, be it for studies, a new job, entrepreneurship, family well-being, better quality of life, adventure or love. Deciding on why to relocate is already a great deal, but the next question is even tougher: ‘Where to?’

The Expat Insider report is a great source of help here.

First of all, you can just pick the country with the highest overall ranking, which is the combined ranking of the following indicators: quality of life, ease of settling in, personal finance, working abroad and family life. The winner in the overall rating would be Taiwan then. When choosing Taiwan, you should presumably not be disappointed on any of the previously mentioned indicators, as Taiwan ranks within the top 10 in all of them. Moreover, you will probably be positively surprised about the quality of living (incl. affordable healthcare), and your general financial situation, as Taiwan ranks first in these two indicators as well. In case this small Asian island is not attractive to you, these are the runner-ups: Malta (2nd), Ecuador (3rd), Mexico (4th) and New Zealand (5th).

You can get much more specific though.

Looking for great climate and a multitude of leisure opportunities? Go to either Malta, Costa Rica, or Spain (3rd). Looking for fresh air, clean water and great environment? Then pick among Austria, Taiwan, Finland, Japan or Israel. If security is your top priority, then Israel would be naturally a bad decision, as it scores 57th out of 67 countries on this dimension. Also, Austria is out of the top 10 on safety and security (it scores 14th), whereas the safest destinations seem to be Luxemburg, Singapore, Japan, Canada and Malta.

If you are travelling with children, or worry about your social adjustment process, you would be better off going to more ‘friendly’ places, where it is easier to settle in. Here, the top 5 places go to Mexico, Costa Rica, Uganda, Malta and New Zealand. Interestingly, Scandinavian countries, which may be appealing from a perspective of standard of living, are rather reserved hosts: Finland is 59th, Sweden 62nd, Norway 63rd and Denmark scores 65th. Basically only Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are more difficult destinations in terms of settling in. At the same time, Denmark (2nd) and Norway (4th) score high in terms of work-life balance, which means that even though you might have problems in making new friends there, you are quite likely to have enough time to deal with it – or simply invest more time in your family. Work-life balance is rated highly also in New Zealand, Luxemburg and Taiwan. Moreover, in countries such as Finland, Czech Republic, Israel, Austria or Sweden, you are most likely to be happy with the availability and costs of childcare and education. In short, relocating with a family entails quite a few challenges to prioritize.

Finally, if it is not about accommodating for comfortable family life, but rather your ambition of building a career, the best countries to go to are Luxembourg, Taiwan, Germany, New Zealand and Malta. Once again, Malta is also a sunny destination, yet it ranks only 30th on the work-life balance measure, hence its message to career-oriented people might be something like: ‘come, you can work real hard here, but try not be bothered by the nice weather, as you won’t have much time to enjoy it anyway’J. On the contrary, Luxemburg, New Zealand and Taiwan score high on both dimensions, making it possible to build a career, while also keeping the balance.

All in all, it seems like a big puzzle to solve, and you probably ‘can’t have it all’. Yet, setting the priorities and gathering important information, through different rankings and polls, might be definitely of help here.

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