Where to Begin
When starting to look for an ideal place to move abroad, it’s helpful to ask yourself a few key questions that can help you steer yourself in the right direction.
Everyone’s preferences are different but as someone who has lived and worked in several countries on four continents, I look for the following things when choosing a place to live:
Personally I have an extreme sensitivity to cold, even though I grew up in New England and lived in New York City for a number of years. Yet I find I am MUCH happier when I live in warmer climates. So for myself, I tend to look mainly at places where snow is a very rare or unheard of occurrence. Sadly, thanks to climate change, colder places are actually not as plentiful as they used to be.
It’s also worth thinking about extreme weather and the various kinds of natural disasters that also are on the increase. If earthquakes are your worst nightmare, you might want to skip moving to places that are especially prone to them, for example.
2.) Cost of Living
Depending on your budget, work situation, or job prospects, it’s always a good idea to make sure you won’t exhaust yourself trying to make ends meet in an expensive mega-city or posh locale. However, if you do move somewhere that is relatively inexpensive, be careful if you are hoping to get a job there as your new salary will also usually be lower.
If you can somehow find work that pays an international salary but get your housing and other expenses at a local rate, you will be in an excellent position to keep and save your hard earned money. If you’d like to learn more about how you can work abroad with ease, you might like my blog post, How to Easily Start Working From Anywhere
Some great resources for figuring out how much certain places cost to live include: Worldwide Cost of Living Report 2017
Another one of my personal favorites is this list: Quit Your Job And Live Abroad: 8 Places So Cheap You Might Not Need To Work
3.) Safety and Pollution Levels
Last year my husband was offered a job in a place that ranked right near the bottom on a list of “Best Cities to Live” in the world. The reasons were crime, congestion, poor infrastructure, and choking smog in the air. Needless to say I gave a big thumbs down even though I am normally very open-minded.
That said, you can use these data-driven lists and resources to not only size up places you are thinking of moving to, but also discover which world city might be a perfect fit for you that maybe you haven’t even considered before. Check out: The Global Liveability Report 2017 (PDF)
4.) Distance from family
We currently live very far from both our families and this is a minus because some family members are old and not in the best health. It’s very expensive to travel to them especially in an emergency, etc. And they can’t come to us for medical reasons or they are scared to travel so far.
We plan to only stay in Myanmar for a few more years (unless there’s an emergency or the government decides to kick out all the foreigners like they did in the 1990s.) So when our time here is up, we aim to move much closer to family in the Western Hemisphere.
5.) Political stability, economy, etc.
When we moved to Myanmar in July of 2016, everything was more or less on the up and up. And now.. well, you have seen what is going on in the news. This also affects the economy as tourists are now canceling their plans to come, hotels are sitting empty, even the investors in my university are starting to waver. So we are hanging in there, but if I were making the decision now to come, it would give me pause.
6.) Schools, attitude towards foreigners, attitude towards children, etc.
In Yangon we found a great school for our boys… pretty much by accident. In Italy we had the exact opposite experience.
In Myanmar so far, everyone has been absolutely wonderful to us and we often find that if people treat us differently for being foreign, it’s because of an excited curiosity. We know in today’s polarized world that is a luxury. And of course, if we had a different skin color or religion, I might not be able to say the same.
This is pretty much the case in any country you move abroad to. The best thing to do is research the place you are thinking of moving to, get books, watch documentaries, and most importantly, start talking to those who already are living there via expat groups on Facebook, Google+, etc.
So these are a few things I think about. With this last move, we didn’t have SO much choice. The World Food Programme ultimately decided where we’d go. But we did create the list they were choosing from… and all in all we are happy at the moment.
So What About Finding A Place to Live Once You Have Decided Where to Move Abroad?
Looking for a place to live far away from where you’ll actually be living does not need to be scary. Here are my top tips for organizing your housing from afar and what to do right after your arrival.
You can get the full course on making a successful move abroad here if you are already in the planning stages of your big move. I love helping others take the pain and stress out of a big move abroad and dare I say, even help make it FUN.
And after you arrive, you should check out my blog post 5 Tips You Need to Be Happy After Moving Abroad.
So what do you look for when choosing a place to live before a move abroad? Please share your tips in the comments below.