Moving to a new country or city on your own is never easy, and for some demographic groups, it can be more difficult than for others. Today more than ever before, the expat life is not just restricted to single men and couples; a lot of single women are also choosing to live overseas as well. Many women are making the move in order to pursue better career and work options, while others are moving overseas simply because they’ve always wanted to travel and experience new cultures. Many are leaving high-stress jobs for an opportunity to enjoy a better work-life balance in a new environment.For any expat, the choice of location is an important factor in deciding whether they will have a positive or negative experience, and this may be especially true for single women. According to some research into expat lives and experiences, Malta is one of the most popular destinations for expat women who want to work overseas. The small nation offers a good work-life balance, is generally safe, and is a great place to make new friends and start a new life.
Countries, regions, and cities vary widely when it comes to safety for women. No place in the world is 100% safe but as long as you plan your move thoroughly, stay informed, and are alert, it is certainly possible to safely live abroad as a single female expat.
Here’s a list of some of the safest destinations for single women.
Iceland is considered to be one of the safest places for women to live. The crime rate in general is extremely low. Women living and working in Iceland get equal access to education, politics and healthcare. More recently, Iceland has become the first country to ensure that employers with more than 25 staff members provide certification to prove that they offer equal pay regardless of ethnicity, gender, nationality or sexuality. It has been ranked as the best country in the world by the World Economic Forum when it comes to gender equality.
Denmark is another country that is known to be extremely safe for women. The capital, Copenhagen, is a popular destination among solo women travelers. The city is compact and easy to navigate, and offers a variety of nightlife, shopping and art and cultural activities. According to the US News and World Report survey, Denmark is ranked as the second-best country in which to raise children. The report also states that it is the best country in the world for women to live in as it ranks highly on attributes like gender equality, safety, progressiveness and income equality.
Ranked #1 by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index in the Safety and Security section, Finland is another great destination for single women who are looking to relocate. The country is considered to be a safe destination for single female travelers because it does not have a high rate of cases of sexual harassment or major violent crimes. Any petty acts of thievery that are recorded are on a small scale.
Also on the list of safest countries in the world, Austria is ranked #7 by the Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Index when it comes to Safety and Security. Vienna is one of the most popular destinations in Austria. It is compact and very easy to navigate, and is connected by a good rail network. The area is also known for its grand concert halls, museums and cafés.
Switzerland is well known as a country where crime is rare. In addition, the exquisite landscapes and mountains make it a very picturesque place to live in. There are very few cases of theft or street violence recorded, and the Swiss are known to be quite pleasant and easy to get along with. They are generally honest people who take great pride in their culture and heritage.
The Netherlands is known as a safe country for women to live in and travel around. Public transport is easy to navigate. The people are friendly and helpful if you need directions or information. The only thing that women living here to be careful about is walking late at night through the red-light district in Amsterdam.
Ranked highly on the Safety and Security index, New Zealand is considered a safe place for women. The crime rate is relatively low here but it always helps to be cautious when living alone. Because there is so much to explore in New Zealand and cellphone coverage is unreliable when you’re outside the main city centers, it is advisable to let someone know where you’re going and when you’re expected to be back. One of the main reasons why New Zealand is a popular destination amongst a lot of expat women is because the wage gap here is negligible and gender discrimination is frowned upon.
Canadians in general are known for being extremely friendly and easy to get along with. The country is very welcoming to female expats and is considered to be safe for single women. Violent crime is rare here, but be sure not to leave your belongings unattended as thefts and car break-ins are fairly common, especially in the cities. Nonetheless, Montreal is considered to be one of the safest places to live in, and it is also a popular spot with tourists visiting Canada. The country is very multicultural, especially in the city, and so female expats should have no trouble fitting in or making friends here.
Sweden is a beautiful place, offering picturesque views and lots to do in terms of art and cultural activities. The city was ranked as the safest place in the world for women based on the parameters of human rights, income equality, gender equality, and safety and progressiveness. There is a feeling of mutual respect between men and women who live and work here, and this can be credited to the progressive culture prevalent here.
Australia ranks in the top 20 in the Global Safe and Secure index, and is considered to be especially safe when it comes to crimes against women. While the income gap is still pretty high here, there is a lot of focus on getting rid of gender bias, on gender equality and on creating safe spaces for women. Some of the more multicultural areas in Australia are Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, all of which have huge expat populations.
Hawaii is considered to be one of the safest destinations in the United States. The state gets a huge number of tourists visiting every year to explore the islands and enjoy the beaches, waterfalls and other scenic vistas on offer. A number of single women have also opted to relocate here for a more meaningful life. People from all around the world live here, and the islands are a melting pot of culture.
Germany has become home to a lot of expats from around the world. The country is known for its extremely vigilant but approachable police force, which is why it is considered to be a safe destination for single women. The most common crime here is theft, so it helps to be careful with your belongings. The country is easy to navigate by public transport, car or even by bike. Germany has relatively recently started moving towards becoming more and more cosmopolitan, and discrimination does exist in some pockets of society, but on the whole the country is very welcoming to outsiders.
With an overall crime rate that is very low when compared to other European countries, Norway is another Scandinavian country that ranks highly when it comes to the Global Safe and Secure index. It has a good reputation for being a safe destination for resident women and travelers, and there are a lot of initiatives to ensure equal treatment of women. Police in Norway patrol the streets in cars, on foot and also on horseback.
There are quite a few expat communities in Portugal, with several local clubs and groups that organize activities and help new expats who move here. The country is known to be one of the safest places for single women to live, as there is almost no violent crime, and it is mainly only petty theft that seems to be a problem here.
France is one of the safest places in the world for women. Single women living here can feel safe walking the streets, can easily make new friends and never have to feel alone when living here. It is a very multicultural place and works hard at self-improvement, which is why it has recently seen an improvement in its safety ranking from #50 to #15.
If you’re a single woman looking to move abroad, here are a few tips to prepare you for the challenges that lie ahead.
Do your research
While it’s not possible to prepare for every eventuality, it helps to be aware of the culture and traditions of the place you are moving to. Do adequate research into a new city or country before you make a decision to move there. Take into account things like gender roles, local norms, how you’re expected to dress or act and also research which areas are considered to be safe.
Do your own homework about the real estate market, activities and events that you can engage with, and get an idea about how welcoming the area is to expats.
Learn the language
It always helps to know a few sentences in a new language when settling into a new culture. You can sign up for classes or use self-help videos and books to learn common phrases that you might need to use in your daily interactions with the locals. This will help you to communicate and feel comfortable, and possibly even help you make new friends.
Learning the language gives you an insight into the culture of a place and the little nuances that make it unique. It can also help you stay safe in new and unfamiliar situations.
Meet other expats
Forming a local network of trusted people is an important part of staying safe. Apart from interacting with people from your own country and with locals, it helps to interact with fellow expats who are also having the same experiences as you. It helps to befriend people who can relate to your struggles, and hopefully also offer you some useful advice on how to cope. Doing this makes you feel less alone, and will also give you the strength to deal with being homesick or missing friends and family back home.
Specifically setting out to make single friends can also be a good idea. As a single female traveler, it helps to know other people who are in the same boat as you. Dating or making new friends in a new country or city can sometimes seem very daunting, which is why it helps to have friends who are also single and with whom you can share this experience.
Try something new
Getting involved in some sort of activity or engaging in a hobby can help you in a new place. Not only is it a great way to meet like-minded people, it also gives you something enjoyable to do outside of the work environment. If you can’t find an existing group for one of your hobbies, then you might want to look into trying something new and challenging yourself.
Social networking is a great way to help you adjust when in a new place. You can use the internet and social media platforms to find other single women who live in the same city. You can also use it to stay connected with your friends and family members back home so that you don’t feel too homesick or left out.
Have you lived abroad as a single woman? Share your experiences in the comments below, or answer the questions here to be featured in an interview.