I have been an expat for 6 years now, and I’m in my 3rd country … and counting
Have you ever felt the need or curiosity to know how it would feel to live in another country? Many people has this in the back of their minds at some point of their lives, some are too afraid to make the jump.
Here I want to give you some pointers or criteria I have used in order to determine which country could be good for me and my family as an expat.
You will frequently find people telling you WHY not to relocate, or how horrible their experience has been in a foreign country, on the other hand you will find other telling you exactly the opposite.
Each experience is unique to every person and down here I will list a number of criteria which can potentially influence how good or bad your experience as expat could be:
This point is very important, if you don’t know the local language in your target country, your life as an expat can become a nightmare very quickly. If on the other hand, you don’t know it, but you have an interest in learning it, then there is no better way to learn a foreign language than immersing yourself in it.
Also this impacts immensely the amount of job opportunities you will have in said country. As the possibility to make friends and having a healthy support system.
2.- Be aware of the local Culture and mostly cultural differences
Definitely one of the most enriching parts of being an expat is the cultural differences with your own.
Learning from another culture or how things are done differently in another country can blow open your mind.
But be wary, it can be frustrating at times, and you should be mentally prepared for that.
3.- Education system
This point is important if you are a parent or you are planning on relocating as a student. Some countries have better public systems than private and vice versa, some are cheaper or even free, some are expensive.
4.- Visas / Residence permits / Work permits
A big criteria you should consider before throwing yourself head first to this expat life is VISAS. There is no point in relocating to a country without a long term plan. Evaluate your options, for example: I have Spanish citizenship, so basically for me it’s way easier to move as expat to any European country, than let’s say USA, Canada or Australia.
Even more when considering getting a job in a country that requires sponsorship can be a daunting and challenging task.
5.- Job Market
You have to sustain yourself somehow. So do some research beforehand on how is the economic situation of the country you want to move. Is your career on demand? or will you find a lot of local people competing with you for a job?
You can check more info on this in my post “Some tips and tools for International Job Hunting”
6.- Quality of life
If you already know someone living in that country, ask them how expensive it is? how are the salary ranges in a target area where you would plan to live. Commute times to job centers. There are many tools online such as Glassdoor for the salary ranges, you can check real state sites to check on rent costs, etc..
7.- Public Safety
How safe is the target country, that is of paramount importance for me, so I normally check news papers, crime reports, etc.. before making the decision to move.
It might sound stupid, but if you come from a country where the food is AWESOME, such as Mexico and you move to a country where the food options are not so good. Let me tell you, you will feel it after a while.
Also very important, how good are the health and sanitation laws in the country? are they feeding only transgenic stuff to the people? or they have natural high quality produce available?
As an example, I moved from Mexico to USA and in less than a month I gained 10 Kg. When I moved to Germany from USA, I lost the same or more in just a couple of months.
9.- Healthcare system
How good (and cheap or expensive) is the healthcare system of the target country, as an expat, to have a good healthcare insurance becomes of paramount importance.
Since most of the times you don’t have the same rights as the citizens of that country or simply you have not been paying taxes as long as they do, therefore it may be more expensive for you.
10.- Distance from your home country
Depending on each person’s priorities or needs, but this may be an important factor, for instance, someone whose mom is sick may want to be a 2 hr flight away from home.
How frequently and therefore expensive can become if you plan to fly back for holidays every year ? or for friends and family to visit you.