Not all expats have the option to choose where in the world they get to live, but for those who do have the option, the climate of a country or region is usually a reasonably important consideration. Obviously, climate doesn’t trump factors like career prospects, the economy, and safety. However, assuming those factors are already taken care of, many people look for a place where the weather suits them.For many expats, especially those who come from cold or rainy countries, the ideal place tends to be one with a constant summer, a place where you can enjoy the outdoors all year round, where you don’t have to always carry an umbrella or bury yourself under five layers of clothes.
Of course, not all summers are equal – if things were that simple, you could simply pick a place in the tropics and move there. Even someone desperate to get away from the rainiest, dreariest part of the United Kingdom is unlikely to appreciate the combination of high humidity and intense heat at the peak of summer in a place like the UAE. Many places that are warm all through the year get incredibly unpleasant during the real summer months. Some of them also have a long and intense monsoon season, and others may not have a proper monsoon season but may experience rain throughout the year. Some people may find this enjoyable during a short visit, but most will find it extremely disruptive and frustrating in the long term, year after year.
Clearly then, what we’re looking for is a place with not just year round summer, but a mild, pleasant summer, along with the usual expat requirements of a strong and stable economy, good infrastructure, safety, and so on. That’s a tall order, but a few such places do exist. Here are five of our favorite locations with a constant summer.
The Canary Islands are one of Spain’s seventeen autonomous communities, an archipelago to the south-west of Spain and off the coast of Morocco. In spite of being so close to the equator, the islands enjoy temperatures that are extremely comfortable all through the year, largely because of the sea breeze and the trade winds in summer. In fact, the climate of the Canary Islands is pretty much perfect for most people, and this is known to be one of the main draws for both tourists and expats. The geography and climate vary a bit from one island to the next, but in general even at the peak of summer, temperatures never go higher than 30 degrees Celsius, and the lowest winter temperatures are typically no lower than 15 degrees Celsius. The islands do get rain, but it is mainly in the winter months and is scant by most standards.
The other main draw in the Canary Islands is the low cost of living, which makes it a great retirement location. For those not looking to retire, options are a bit limited, but there are plenty of expats who do manage to make it work. Tourism is the main driver of the economy, and is where many expats either find employment or start their own businesses. The other major industries are construction and agriculture, and a considerable portion of the islands’ agricultural produce is exported to Europe and the Americas.
Knowing Spanish isn’t essential in the Canary Islands, but it does help, both in a general sense and when it comes to finding employment or running a business. There is a large expat community from all over the world, in particular from English-speaking countries. Life in the Canary Islands is laid-back, and getting things done can be a bit difficult, but for many people, this isn’t a major problem, and is in fact part of the lifestyle they’re looking for. The one real complaint that many expats have is handling the rather painful bureaucracy, but the best thing to do is hire a good gestor or agent.
Brazil – Sao Paolo
Brazil is famous for its beaches and warm weather, but the fact is that the climate varies considerably across the country, and many areas can be said to have a perpetual summer that can get unpleasantly hot and humid. Average summer and winter temperatures are roughly 25 degrees Celsius and 18 degrees Celsius respectively. Sao Paolo gets quite a lot of rainfall during the summer months, but few severe storms. Minimum winter temperatures can get quite low, even in the middle of the day, due to the combination of elevation, cloudiness, and cold winds, but depending on where you come from, this might still be summery enough in comparison with home.
Apart from the weather, one of the truly great things about Sao Paolo is how diverse and cosmopolitan it is. In addition to the expats and migrants from the usual places such as Europe, North America, and Brazil’s neighbors, the city has sizable Arab and Japanese populations. Culturally therefore, Sao Paolo has all the vibrancy that most of us associate with Brazil, but even more diversity. The city is Brazil’s largest, and is considered its financial capital, so every major Brazilian industry exists here, with plenty of job opportunities. A huge number of international companies have their offices in Sao Paolo, and the Sao Paolo Stock Exchange is Brazil’s official stock exchange and the biggest one in South America.
Most of the problems with Sao Paolo are typical of big cities in the developing world – traffic, pollution, crime, strained infrastructure, and so on. In addition, to the surprise of many tourists and expats, the cost of living is quite high. Nonetheless, the authorities are working hard to improve the city, and most expats manage to live a fairly comfortable and happy life in Sao Paolo.
Portugal – Lisbon
Most people seem to have a rather sunny picture of Portugal in their minds, but in fact, the country’s climate is extremely diverse, and there are several regions where you’ll find a cold winter with a fair amount of snow. However, the capital city of Lisbon, which is where a large number of expats tend to live, has warm, sunny weather throughout the year. Winter temperatures in Lisbon are usually only around 11 degrees Celsius, and summer temperatures are usually around 28 degrees Celsius, although they sometimes do get considerably hotter. Lisbon does get rain during the winter months, but not much – the total rainfall through the year is only around 750 mm.
Apart from being Portugal’s capital, Lisbon is also its largest city, and one with both a rich cultural heritage and a vibrant contemporary cultural scene. Expats living in the city can enjoy its wealth of architecture and museums, and a range of musical performances, from opera to the famed fados, as well as modern pop and rock. One of the biggest music festivals in Europe, Rock in Rio Lisboa, is held in Lisbon in May and June every other year.
Portugal has had a fair amount of economic trouble over the last few years, but things have been improving of late, and unemployment is lower than it has been in quite a long time. In addition, since Lisbon is the capital of the country, it offers the most opportunities to expats who want to live in Portugal. Most large national and multinational companies in Portugal have their offices here, and the city is also growing as a financial hub. Job opportunities for expats are largely in the services sector, although there are manufacturing industries too, mainly on the outskirts of the city, across the Tagus River.
Spain – Málaga
Spain is another country that’s always associated with sunshine and warm weather, but again, the climate is quite diverse, and the country is usually divided into three main climatic zones. Many parts of Spain see heavy snow in the winter and heavy rain in spring or summer. The city of Málaga however is perfect for anyone looking for an endless summer. Winter temperatures here are usually around 15-17 degrees Celsius, and summer temperatures are usually a comfortable 25-30 degrees Celsius, although August can get a bit hotter. Málaga gets a bit of rain in winter, especially in November and December, but the rest of the year is quite dry.
Málaga certainly isn’t the only place in Spain to have such amazing weather, but it’s arguably the best place for an expat to also have career options and a good lifestyle. Tourism is the most important industry here, but there are also reasonably large construction and technology industries, and other sectors are seeing considerable growth too. Although it’s only the sixth largest city in Spain, Málaga is home to a number of major Spanish companies as well as multinational corporations, from Accenture to Oracle. The Parque Tecnológico de Andalucía (Andalusia Technology Park) employs thousands of people, both locals and expats, and over 500 companies have their offices here. In addition, the recent ‘Málaga: Open for Business’ campaign has helped to boost business and the local economy, especially in the areas of technology and innovation. Málaga’s infrastructure is also quite good, with no major issues. Most people get around quite easily using the local bus services.
In terms of culture and recreation too, Málaga is a great place to live. The city has a beautiful waterfront, a lot of historic architecture, and several great museums, and there are a number of wonderful traditional celebrations every year, of which the most important are the Holy Week of Málaga before Easter and the Málaga Fair (Feria de Málaga) in August. There’s also the Málaga Film Festival, focused on Spanish cinema, some great options for nightlife and eating out, and of course plenty of football.
Taiwan – New Taipei City
Taiwan is the warmest place on our list of recommendations, and with the high humidity and relatively high rainfall, it’s probably the one place where the weather could border on uncomfortable for some people. However, both the heat and the rain are milder in the northern parts of the country, which is where New Taipei City is. Many expats find that they quite enjoy the weather here, and say that the rain is usually not regular or heavy enough to be a problem. Winter temperatures rarely go below 10 degrees Celsius, and summer temperatures are usually in the high 20s, peaking at around 34 degrees Celsius in July and August. The region gets light rain through the year, but June to September is monsoon season, when the rain can get a bit heavier.
Taiwan is a modern, highly developed country, one of the four Asian Tigers, and has for a long time been a great place for expats in terms of careers, income levels, and so on. The biggest sector in Taiwan is the high-tech sector – the country is of course famous across the world for its technology products. It is estimated that the city has 50% of the global market share in technology products. Other major industries include biotechnology, digital content, and telecoms. The New Taipei area, with the city of Taipei at its center, is Taiwan’s major business hub, with thousands of companies and factories, and five industrial parks.
New Taipei City is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, so congestion is a bit of a problem, but for the most part, it’s easy to get around using the city’s extensive transport network of trains and buses. There’s also plenty to do and see here – museums, architecture, temples, night markets, religious and cultural festivals, as well as a number of beautiful natural attractions in and around the city.
The majority of expats in Taiwan tend to live in New Taipei City, so it’s easy to find and connect with an expat community here. English is also widely spoken, although as always, knowing the local language has its benefits.
Where would you move to if you were chasing the sun? Is it sunny in your home country? Share your thoughts in the comments!