Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Best Countries to Live in Abroad

The chance to live abroad for a short or prolonged period of time, to experience new cultures, sights sounds and a different lifestyle is something that an increasing number of people are choosing to do. But the very first step on the road to expatriation begins with a consideration of the best countries to live in abroad - after all there are quite a few to choose from! To help you decide between the countries on your list of potentials here are our top ten considerations to base your assessment on.

1) Demographics - on a regional basis you might like to examine the general characteristics of the population of a given country to determine whether or not you will fit into the environment and enjoy your new life abroad. If you’re a young family looking to move to an area inhabited by similar people you don’t want to move to a retirement haven, alternatively, if you’re a young hard working couple you don’t necessarily want to move into a family orientated community! Look carefully at a country’s general demographic make up and at a given region’s population statistics to avoid moving into an unsuitable area.

2) Immigration Restrictions - most countries have some immigration restrictions and policies - you should make yourself aware of the application and acceptance procedures so that if you decide to move to a given country that has a slow immigration route you begin on the path to acceptance as early as possible. Such countries include Australia, US, Canada and New Zealand for example.

3) Cost of Living - you have to be able to afford to live in the local economy of your new country therefore you need to look at everything from the day to day grocery costs to fuel and housing costs and even taxation.

4) Education Standards - if you have children or are likely to remain abroad for a prolonged period and potentially start a family you should examine what options you and your family will have when it comes to the ongoing education of your children. What are the facilities like, how accessible are they and also how affordable are they?

5) Employment Prospects - unless you’re retiring abroad there will come a time when you need to find employment. Even if you’re being relocated by your company or have found a job before you go how easy will it be for you to change jobs and advance your career if you want to and what can you expect to earn overseas. Make sure you have plenty of opportunities available to suit your career objectives and your earnings requirements.

6) Law and Order - you cannot take your personal safety or that of your family for granted so you should check out the crime statistics for a country and also the statistics on a regional basis so that you know what to expect and can avoid any nasty surprises! The United Nations Interregional Crime And Justice Research Institute is a good place to start!

7) Accessibility - how accessible is a country or region of that country for relocation, for travelling back home, for the shops, schools and day to day facilities you need. Look at the bigger picture - i.e., how easy will it be for your family and friends to visit you - but don’t forget the smaller picture. I.e., how easy will it be for you to have access to every day amenities? You do not want to feel isolated entirely!

8) Health Care - the standards and availability of healthcare vary massively throughout the world - find out what to expect as standard and find out how much it’ll cost. Find out about expatriate health insurance, what you need, how much your monthly contributions will be, where you can save money, where you should increase your coverage and how to afford the ongoing cost of maintaining your family’s health abroad.

9) Climate - even in countries where the sun always seems to shine you can be faced with climatic variations that can cause day to day problems. Some countries are tropical meaning you will have to endure periods of prolonged and intense rainfall and high humidity levels. Some countries are generally temperate but have brief winter and summer extremes. Get informed and that way you’ll be prepared for all eventualities!

10) Lifestyle - what do you want to gain from living abroad and what kind of a person are you? If you want an exciting new life where you will meet many like minded people then a country that has a reputation for quiet, laid back living might be wholly inappropriate. On the other hand if you’re seeking a peaceful overseas retirement haven the young and dynamic expatriate lifestyle available in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates could be wholly inappropriate for you!

Think about your preferred lifestyle experience and find a country that can match your expectations.