Best Countries for Expats
If you’re considering moving abroad, whether for work or just for a new start, there are a lot of things that you’ll need to think about for both yourself and your family before taking the leap. Some places are better than others for expats in regard to education, healthcare and employment opportunities. You will also need to consider the accommodation and how you will afford housing based on your current circumstances against the economy in your country of choice.
How to Determine the Best Countries for Expats
The most recent HSBC report surveyed expats across 46 countries to determine how the economy had affected the living experience in various countries and to understand how factors such as the Covid-19 pandemic had changed people’s perception of financial wellbeing across the world.
The Most Important Things for an Expat to Consider Before Relocating
Before you decide on your destination, it’s important to consider all of the factors, both from a lifestyle perspective and a financial one. Moving to another country is a huge step so it’s essential that you do your research. Some of the main things that you’ll need to consider are:
Usually, you’ll be relocating in the hope of securing a good job at the other end, or perhaps you already have one in the pipeline. As an expat, you need to consider that the salary that you’re used to for your field of work may not be reflective in your new country.
Different countries may value work in different ways. It’s also possible that a country that is poorer in terms of global economy is likely to pay less for its workers.
Although money isn’t everything, it’s a factor to facilitate your standard of living, so ensure that your chosen career path meets with your salary expectations before taking the leap.
In the U.S., healthcare is incredibly advanced but expensive. If you’re used to paying top dollar for an amazing standard of healthcare, or do have some ongoing medical issues, then it’s important that you consider this when you move.
If the country you have in mind has a lower standard of healthcare than you’re used to, it may affect your health in a negative way.
If you have children, or you’re looking to take on some higher education yourself, then it’s important that the education system in your chosen destination is adequate and also compatible with your previous qualifications. In some countries, your grades won’t be transferable, so in order to progress with education, some courses may need to be taken again.
You should review the schools and their reputation before making a decision. You’ll also need to consider whether you need to learn a new language to continue with education.
For many, the hustle and bustle of the American dream is a little too much and they’re looking for a more chilled lifestyle. There are many countries that operate using fewer working hours per week and provide many more opportunities for flexibility.
While moving may be your priority, it’s not always that simple to get all the benefits that you were expecting. Certain countries don’t allow you to have full citizenship for a number of years and require you to have been physically in the country for a specific number of days throughout those years to prove that you are a full resident.
In some cases, you won’t be granted access to education or healthcare until you’re classed as a full resident. In some countries this can happen as fast as 3 months. However, much like the U.S., some countries take years.
Mental Health & Wellbeing
If you’re looking for a more relaxed lifestyle that’s better for your mental health and wellbeing, then there are tons of countries out there for you to experience wide open countryside, a relaxed lifestyle and a chance for a new start.
Take a look at what sort of hobbies and lifestyle changes each country is famous for and take a leap into something a little different.
One of the major considerations when you’re relocating is the language. If a country has a first language that is different from your own, this could pose a problem with education, job opportunities or just day to day life.
While the majority of the world does speak English, even as a second language, you won’t earn yourself many friends by assuming people will automatically adjust to you. You should try to learn a little of the language to at least show that you’re trying when you move. You’ll become more fluent as you’re immersed in day-to-day life.
Taxes are a huge consideration too. Although you’re relocating, you will still be classed as a U.S. citizen, at least at first. This means that you’ll still need to file a U.S. tax return, even if you haven’t been living there.
This involves declaring your assets and earnings on a tax return form. If you relocate to a country that already has a tax treaty with the U.S. then this stops you having to pay tax in both countries, as long as you’re paying in your country of residence.
However, if you move to a country without a treaty, then you may be signing yourself up to be double taxed. It’s worth checking out prior to your move or consulting a tax professional to understand what your obligations are.
What if I’m way behind on my U.S. tax returns?
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The Top 10 Countries Rated by Expats
With all the amazing countryside and emphasis on fitness and mental wellbeing, the Netherlands also comes high on the list of most inviting places to live for expats. They have a higher focus on work-life balance than the U.S. with a higher expected holiday allowance and a working week which only consists of around 30 hours.
Switzerland has one of the highest recorded average salaries for expats offering an average of $203,000. Aside from the excellent career prospects, it also has an amazing education system, one of the best healthcare systems in the world and incredibly low crime rates, so it’s the best place to bring up children.
It also allows expats to surround themselves with a mixture of history-rich cities, historical buildings and beautiful rolling countryside.
Public healthcare is a massive bonus of living in France. You are entitled to healthcare paid for by the state after just 3 months of residency, which is one of the fastest and most efficient healthcare services out there, so you can say goodbye to expensive health insurance costs.
The education system and increased job opportunities in France also make it a favorite destination for expats.
4. United Arab Emirates
Only around 12% of the people currently living in Dubai and Abu Dhabi are actually originally from there. The majority of residents are now expats who have relocated due to the high wages and trendy lifestyle. It’s a place where you can live a rich and varied lifestyle with a high cash incentive.
5. New Zealand
New Zealand is known to be one of the friendliest places on earth, offering a safe and secure place to live with a family feel wherever you go. The focus on mental health and wellbeing in New Zealand is astounding in comparison to many other places in the world.
The salaries in New Zealand are also comparatively high due to their criteria for expats to move there. Usually, a career has to be planned prior to your move, making it harder to gain residency, but most expats say it’s worth it.
Ireland has also recently made it onto the top 10 list of places to be for expats with incredibly high-quality private health care on offer for much less than the high U.S. prices and the falling real estate costs, making it much easier to purchase property and obtain mortgages than in other countries, who’s real estate prices have actually risen since the pandemic.
The Global Peace Index ranks Portugal as the 3rd safest country to live in across the globe. Alongside this it comes with cheap real estate and rent prices – almost 3 times lower than those of the U.S. It also has a variety of terrain and landscape options depending on what it is that you’re looking for.
You’ll be able to purchase property in the mountains and away from the hustle and bustle or in Lisbon in the midst of city life.
If your aim is to enjoy a little of the outdoors, Australia offers shorter working days and a much better work-life balance than the U.S., but for comparative wages. The education and health systems are also second to none. Some resident expats have even boasted an improvement in their health after moving there, purely because of their new, relaxed nature.
The quality of life in Cyprus is known to be relaxed, where the working life takes a back seat in some cases. The cost of living is also relatively cheap in comparison to other European countries, which makes sense as the wages aren’t always the highest.
However, to combat this, the taxes, especially those in Northern Cyprus, are incredibly low. If you’re wanting to move for the lifestyle, then Cyprus is the place to go.
While Spain doesn’t offer the highest salaries, it tops the list in regard to work-life balance and promotion of a healthy lifestyle. The focus on local produce including olive oil, lean meats and fresh vegetables will have you feeling healthier in no time and their habit of offering midday siestas as part of a working day is incredibly appealing.
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