Wondering how to choose a country to live in? If you’re a digital nomad or (future) expat, this is no easy decision. But we’ll help shed some light on the topic.
As the digital age continues to reshape our world, more and more people are trading in their 9-to-5 office jobs for a laptop and a Wi-Fi connection. The rise of digital nomadism and expat living has allowed individuals to untether from traditional expectations, and build their careers and lives in the places that inspire them most.
With a passport in one hand and a laptop in the other, digital nomads and expats have the liberty to call any place their home. However, this freedom also poses a unique challenge: with the entire world to choose from, how do you decide where to live?
This post is designed to guide you through that process. We will explore a variety of factors to consider when choosing your next destination, including lifestyle preferences, cost of living, connectivity, community, and more. So buckle up, and let’s set course on your next adventure.
Understanding Your Preferences and Priorities
It all begins with you. Before you spin the globe and pick a random spot, it’s crucial to introspect and understand what matters most to you. This might include:
- Climate Considerations: The climate of a particular location can greatly affect your experience as a flâneur. Are you a fan of warm weather, or do you prefer cooler temperatures? Are you willing to deal with humidity or snow? Make sure to research the climate of any potential locations before deciding where to live. Your preference can significantly influence your choice of country.
- Culture and Language: Are you intrigued by specific cultures? Do you wish to immerse yourself in a place where you can learn a new language? Or perhaps you’d prefer a destination where English is widely spoken?
- Urban vs. Rural: Do you thrive in the hustle and bustle of city life, or does your heart long for the tranquillity of countryside living?
- Lifestyle Aspects: Are you looking for a place with a vibrant nightlife? Or perhaps a destination known for its arts and culture scene, outdoor activities, or culinary delights?
- Personal Interests: Another factor to consider is your personal interests. Do you love the beach? The mountains? The city? Consider what type of environment you thrive in and what activities you enjoy.
- Modernity: Depending on your lifestyle and work, you may need access to modern amenities and infrastructure. Make sure to research the internet connectivity, availability of co-working spaces, and other factors that may be important to your lifestyle and work.
- Monthly Budgeting: Based on your monthly expenses, it is important to create a budget to ensure you have a comfortable standard of living, and sufficient funds to meet any unforeseen expenses. Research typical monthly expenses such as rent, groceries, transportation and entertainment in your desired location, and use these to create a budget that you can stick to.
This first step is all about painting a picture of your ideal living scenario. The clearer this picture, the easier it will be to find a country that aligns with your lifestyle aspirations.
Considering the Cost of Living
One of the most important factors to consider when choosing a location is the cost of living. This includes everything from housing to food to transportation. Depending on your income and lifestyle, you may want to live in a place with a lower cost of living to save money, or you may be willing to spend more for a higher quality of life.
Enter the Financial Comfort Quotient — a simple rule of thumb I like to use when determining where I can get the most bang for my buck.
Financial Comfort Quotient
If you’re looking to become a global flâneur, here’s a good rule of thumb for finding your next location:
Seek a new “home” that has high compatibility with your interests, and fits the Financial Comfort Quotient.
Financial Comfort Quotient: Determines the salary you should be making in order to get access to the very best the location has to offer in terms of services, convenience and optimized living.
If you abide by the Financial Comfort Quotient, you’ll experience what many describe as “financial freedom” in this location, with access to the best resources the place has to offer. To calculate the Financial Comfort Quotient, find the average monthly salary in the location and multiply by 4. This is your target.
Financial Comfort Quotient = [Annual local professional salary] x 4
Examples (number are approximates):
The Beginner’s Circuit
- Average salary: $8,200
- Target salary: $30,000
- Average salary: $7000
- Target salary: $30,000
- Average salary: $6500
- Target salary: $30,000
- Average salary: $6500
- Target salary: $30,000
The Middle Path
- Average salary: $9000
- Target salary: $40,000
- Average salary: $12,000
- Target salary: $50,000
- Average salary: $32,000
- Target salary: $120,000
- Average salary: $30,000
- Target salary: $120,000
- Average salary: $24,000
- Target salary: $100,000
The Luxe Tour
- Average salary: $50,000
- Target salary: $200,000
- Average salary: $42,000
- Target salary: $170,000
- Average salary: $40,000
- Target salary: $160,000
- Average salary: $38,000
- Target salary: $150,000
To read more on potential digital nomad locations, see this article.
Evaluating the Digital Infrastructure
As a digital nomad or expat, a solid digital infrastructure is vital. Here are some key aspects to consider:
- Internet Accessibility: Whether you’re a freelance writer, a remote corporate professional, or an online entrepreneur, your job depends on reliable internet. Look at the internet speed and reliability in your potential destinations. Websites like Speedtest Global Index can provide valuable data.
- Co-working Spaces: These can be crucial, especially for long-term stays. Co-working spaces offer reliable internet and a workspace with fewer distractions than a cafe or your accommodation might have. Plus, they’re an excellent place to network with other digital nomads.
- Tech Support Availability: It can be easy to overlook this, but in case of a digital emergency, you want to ensure you have access to tech support services.
Remember, your livelihood as a digital nomad depends on staying connected and maintaining your productivity, so don’t compromise on these aspects.
Analyzing Legal Considerations
When choosing a country to live in as a digital nomad or expat, it’s crucial to understand the legal landscape. Here are some considerations:
- Visa Regulations: Every country has different visa regulations for foreigners planning to live or work there. Research the visa requirements for your chosen destination. Some countries offer specific digital nomad visas that allow foreigners to live and work remotely in the country. Always ensure you are abiding by the visa conditions to avoid legal complications.
- Ease of Doing Business: If you’re planning to start a business in your new country, understand the country’s business laws. Websites such as the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Index can provide some insights.
- Tax Obligations: Living in a new country might affect your tax situation. Consult with a tax professional to understand your tax obligations in both your home country and your new residence.
- Healthcare and Insurance: Understand the healthcare system in the country. If it’s public, can foreigners access it? If it’s private, what are the costs? Don’t forget to consider health insurance that covers you in your new home.
- Driving and Other Licenses: Check whether your driver’s license is valid in the new country or if you will need to obtain a local one. Also consider other licenses you may need, like permits for drones, which are popular among many digital nomads.
Legalities can be complex, so it’s often worth consulting with a legal professional or an expat community to ensure you have covered all your bases.
Reviewing Safety and Quality of Life
To fully enjoy your digital nomad or expat lifestyle, considering the safety and quality of life of your potential destinations is vital. This includes:
- Crime Rates and Political Stability: Understand the overall safety and stability of the country. Research factors such as the crime rate, political climate, and any recent or ongoing conflicts. Resources like the Global Peace Index and various travel advisories can provide valuable insights.
- Healthcare Quality: Ensure that the healthcare system of your potential new home is reliable. Consider the quality of medical care available, the cost of healthcare, and how easy it is for expats to access these services. The World Health Organization’s ranking of healthcare systems can be a good starting point.
- Environmental Factors: Consider the overall cleanliness, air quality, and access to nature. Some people might thrive in a bustling city, while others prefer the tranquility of rural areas or the beauty of coastal towns.
- Cost of Living: Analyze the cost of living in the new country, including costs of housing, food, transportation, and leisure activities. Numbeo is a useful tool for this purpose.
- Social Integration: Think about the societal and cultural aspects of the country. Are locals known to be friendly and welcoming to foreigners? What is the local language, and will there be a language barrier? Is there an existing expat community?
This step is all about ensuring that your new home aligns with your lifestyle and that you will feel comfortable, safe, and happy living there.
Seeking Experiences and Insights from Fellow Nomads or Expats
Drawing from the experiences of those who have walked the path before you can significantly ease your transition into a digital nomad or expat lifestyle. Here’s how you can do it.
Join Online Forums
Communities such as Nomad List, Expat.com, and the /r/digitalnomad subreddit are full of discussions and insights that can provide you with first-hand information about different countries. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and engage in conversations.
Follow Blogs and Social Media Accounts
Numerous digital nomads and expats share their experiences through blogs, YouTube, Instagram, and other platforms. They often provide a wealth of information about their chosen countries, including the cost of living, lifestyle, and their personal experiences.
Attend Meetups and Conferences
Events and local digital nomad meetups are great places to meet like-minded people, share experiences, and learn more about the nomadic lifestyle.
Use Networking Apps
Remember, each person’s experience is unique, and what works for one might not work for another. Use these resources as a guide, but make your decisions based on your personal preferences and priorities.
Making the Move
Once you’ve chosen your country, it’s time to make the move. Here are the steps to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible:
Step 1: Conduct a Reconnaissance Trip
Your first action should be to take a reconnaissance trip to your chosen country. This short visit serves as an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the locale, explore potential housing options, and get a feel for the culture. It’s an invaluable chance to clarify any concerns before you commit to the big move.
Step 2: Organize Logistics
Next, start planning the logistics of your move. This involves everything from shipping your belongings, securing accommodation, to setting up utilities in your new home. Research international shipping companies, consult local real estate agencies for housing options, and identify suitable utility providers. This step can be time-consuming, but meticulous planning here can save you from a lot of stress later on.
Step 3: Tap into Local Expat Services
Many countries offer services tailored to help expats and digital nomads settle in. These could be full-service relocation agencies to take care of your moving logistics, language classes to help you learn the local dialect, or even social events to help you integrate into the community. Leverage these resources to ease your transition.
Step 4: Stay Adaptable
Remember, the process of relocating is rarely without a hitch. Staying flexible and open-minded is crucial. You might face unexpected hurdles, but being ready to adapt and adjust your plans will keep the process manageable and less stressful.
Moving to a new country is a monumental step, one packed with excitement, uncertainty, and a plethora of new opportunities. With meticulous planning, a dose of courage, and a resilient spirit, you’ll be well on your way to starting your new adventure.
Frequently Asked Questions About How to Choose Where to Move
How do I decide to move to another country?
Deciding to move internationally involves introspection and evaluation. Gauge your readiness by asking: Are you adaptable to new cultures and languages? Can you handle being away from family and friends? Weigh the pros like personal growth and new experiences, against cons such as loneliness, culture shock, and potential language barriers.
What is the easiest countries to move to?
Easiness to move to a country varies based on individual circumstances. However, countries often listed as relatively easy to move to include Canada, Mexico, and New Zealand due to their friendly immigration policies. Portugal, Costa Rica, and Belize are also favored by expats for their affordable cost of living and welcoming communities. Always research thoroughly and consider personal factors.
How do I know what country I want to live in?
To determine where you’d like to live, consider factors such as language, culture, cost of living, job opportunities, safety, climate, and quality of life. Research and travel to potential locations can provide valuable insights. Try using tools like Numbeo and Nomadlist to compare different aspects of life in various countries. It’s a personal decision requiring thorough consideration.
Which is the best country to immigrate to?
The best country for immigration is subjective. Consider job prospects, quality of life, language, cultural compatibility, immigration policies, and cost of living. Options might include the USA, Canada, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, or New Zealand. Always research thoroughly before deciding.
Choosing a new country to call home is a thrilling prospect, one that’s filled with the promise of discovery, growth, and transformation. Whether you’re a digital nomad craving for exotic backdrops to your workdays, or an expat seeking a complete life overhaul, the world is your oyster.
The road to a nomadic or expat life may seem daunting, but with thorough research and mindful planning, it’s a journey well worth embarking on. And remember, no choice is irrevocable. The beauty of this lifestyle is its inherent flexibility, allowing you to chart your course and redraw it as you please.
Have you made the leap to live in a new country, or are you contemplating it? I’d love to hear your experiences, challenges, triumphs, and any extra tips you might have for fellow or aspiring nomads and expats. Safe travels and remember, the world awaits.
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