Best Countries to Live In as an International Citizen
Thriving metropolitan cities. Small, quaint towns. Tropical island living. If you’re considering beginning a new life as an expatriate in a foreign country, the possibilities are endless. But which are the best countries to live in?
For many international citizens, the hardest choice to make can be deciding where to go. Here are a few of our suggestions for the best places to live abroad.
Maybe you’re looking for the laid-back lifestyle of a country like Costa Rica. Perhaps you prefer the glitz and glamour of a metropolitan hub like Singapore or Dubai. Or maybe you’re more interested in enjoying the arts and culture in a European country such as Italy or France.
With so many options, how can you be sure you choose the right one? Whether you’re retiring, planning to work, or looking to relocate your family, keep reading to learn about the best places to live abroad.
Key Things To Consider When Choosing Where To Live Abroad
When thinking about living abroad, there are a few things to consider before you choose where to go.
- Cost of Living – Research the cost of living abroad to make sure you can afford to live there.
- Job Opportunities – Unless you’re retired, consider what job opportunities are available and if it’s an easy place for non-natives to find work.
- Visa Requirements – Learn what the visa requirements are and what work permits are required for the type of job you intend to do.
- Safety – Safety should always be a top concern. Just because a country has great vacation resorts doesn’t mean it’s a safe place to live.
- Schools – If you have children, research the school system so you understand the education options.
- Quality of Life – Last but not least, consider the quality of life. How is the economy? What type of weather can you expect? What is the culture like? Do people in that country enjoy a work-life balance?
Best Countries for Foreigners Living Abroad
If you are exploring your options on some of the best places to live as an expatriate, you have more than likely found out there are numerous aspects to consider when making this decision, like where will provide you with the best experience, what countries have the best cost of living and how health care is in the prospective countries.
To help make this task more manageable for those looking to relocate, HSBC Bank has created a list of top countries to live in overall, based on a survey given to more than 4,000 expats.
Here is the list of the top ten best countries for expats to live:
- Singapore (Living in Singapore)
- Hong Kong
- The United Arab Emirates (Dubai Laws)
- Canada (Moving to Canada)
- Spain (Why Live in Spain)
- Australia (Living in Australia)
Although China was ranked tenth overall, if you have children and are considering becoming an expat, you will want to keep China in mind. China has become a very cost-effective country to raise children in and the quality has not suffered for it. Expats have actually reported a 22 percent decrease in the cost of childcare since relocating to China, and while the global average for improvement in the quality of childcare is 48 percent, China has seen a 56 percent increase in the quality.
If it is a balance you are searching for, 60 percent of expats in Canada claim this is what they have found since relocating. Along with this balance also accompanied a 69 percent increase in earnings for these expatriates.
Singapore might not be the first place that comes to mind when brainstorming the best places in the world to become an expatriate in, but 66 percent of expats agree Singapore has offered them an improved quality of life (compared to the global average of 53 percent) and 65 percent agree it has improved their career (compared to a global average of 40 percent). Based on the surveys, Singapore is able to provide positive feedback both economically and socially.
There are many locations to choose from around the world, and each varies with the benefits they have to offer. This list is a good place to start when researching the best countries for expats to live and where will be the perfect match for you.
Best Places to Live Abroad With The Lowest Cost of Living
If you’re looking for the cheapest places to live, consider Mexico, Malaysia, Thailand, and Panama.
In addition to the low cost of living in Mexico, the country has beautiful weather and a stunning climate. Plus, its close proximity to the U.S. makes it easy to travel to and from the States.
The cost of living in Malaysia is 43% less than the United States. The number of foreigners in Malaysia is growing, and it’s an ideal place for retirees. Like much of Southeast Asia, this country is also very tech-savvy, making it an excellent place for people who work in IT or digital media.
For those who prefer the exotic culture of Thailand, you’ll find a variety of locales that all have something different to offer. The inland city of Chiang Mai is one of the best places to live in Thailand thanks to its thriving expat community of freelancers and digital nomads. The remote island of Koh Tao is perfect for people who love being on the water. And with its hot and tropical climate, Hua Hin will make you feel like you’re living in a beach resort. There’s also Bangkok if you want to experience one of the busiest cities in Thailand.
Best Countries to Live and Work Abroad
Want to move to a country where you can live and work comfortably? Costa Rica, Singapore, Germany, and the UAE offer excellent job opportunities for non-natives.
Costa Rica is a great place to retire, but it’s also a great place to work. As home to one of the top engineering schools in Central America, the city of Cartago has a growing economy. Located just outside the capital city of San Jose, where there are lots of employment opportunities, is the city of Escazu. Escazu has a large community of non-natives from various countries, and it has every modern amenity you would find in the US. Interested in live the Pura Vida? Check out our list of the best places to live in Costa Rica.
Love the beauty and culture of Asia? There are many great reasons to move to Singapore, including the business-friendly environment. It also has a highly talented workforce, so it’s easy to find qualified employees.
For those who prefer Europe, working in Germany offers exceptional job opportunities. The city of Munich is home to many major global corporations. Frankfurt is an economic center with many jobs in banking and finance. If you’re looking for high-tech industry jobs, head to Stuttgart.
Interested in moving to the Middle East? The world-class city of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates is known for its big salaries and ultra-luxurious lifestyles. Before you move to the UAE, make sure you understand the strict Dubai laws you will be subject to.
Best Places to Live With a High Quality of Life
If you’re looking for a high standard of international living, Spain, Australia, and New Zealand top our list. The definition of “high quality of life” would include access to quality and affordable housing, food, education, and health service. In addition to stable employment opportunities, you would expect economic and political stability, individual liberties and freedom, with a range of social, cultural and physical activities readily available.
The reasons you would move to Spain include a low cost of living and quality medical care. It also boasts incredible food and exciting culture for international citizens from around the world.
If you decide to live in Australia, the beautiful city of Sydney is the country’s largest city and one of the best places to live in Australia. With beautiful beaches, the Gold Coast is ideal for surfers and people that love the water. And if you’re looking for an affordable city with good jobs and warm weather year-round, you’ll love Brisbane.
Many Americans and Europeans have immigrated to New Zealand and found it very easy to assimilate into the culture. It’s a stunning country with an emphasis on a healthy lifestyle.
Best Countries for Quality of Life (According to US News). Most are in Europe and we will include a few additional ones outside of Europe.
- Canada (Read Moving to Canada)
Outside of Europe, countries with a good quality of life (Again, according to US News – we understand there are arguments for many more countries to be included).
- New Zealand (Read: Immigrating to New Zealand as an Expat)
- The USA (Read: Moving to America)
- Singapore (Read: Move to Singapore as an Expat)
Other Great Places to Live Abroad
Canada, Italy, and France also have a lot of offer, especially to international citizens and nomads looking for a new way of life.
In Canada, you’ll find lots of jobs, excellent healthcare, and a variety of options for places to live. In this large country, you can choose small-town life, enjoy a remote lifestyle, or settle down amidst the excitement of a big city. Want to learn more? Check out our guide to moving to Canada.
Italy is home to dozens of big cities and small towns. Rome is known for its culture and museums, but it also has excellent international schools, making it a great choice for families. Florence is a beautiful locale that balances city living with small-town life. And as one of Italy’s leading cultural centers, Bologna is another one of the best cities in Italy.
If you are planning a move to France, your options are endless. You can live in the beautiful city of Paris. Or if you love wine, consider the famous rural region of Bordeaux. If you prefer a slower pace of life in a small city, you’ll probably love living in Montpellier or Nice. Like Italy and Canada, France has something to offer everyone.
Panama is also an affordable option and one of the best places to retire abroad. With a 25% lower cost of living than the US, retirees can really make their U.S. dollar stretch in this Central American country.
Know Before You Go
Do thorough research before you move and make sure the country you choose has everything you’re looking for.
With so many options to choose from around the world, the best place to live abroad is the place that has exactly what you need.