While the expat life can be filled with adventure and new experiences, it can also sometimes be a lonely life. The cities of the world are interesting, bustling and exciting places to live, but despite the closely packed crowds and endless things to see and do, they can be places where individuals feel isolated, and where meaningful personal relationships are hard to create.One of the most challenging aspects of expat life is finding a life partner. It is something that is not often considered when making the decision to move to a different country. But having a healthy romantic relationship when relocating overseas, or even chancing upon one during the process of settling into a new society and culture, can be deeply rewarding and beneficial to the transition process.
In a recent expat survey, it was found that of the 14,400 expats in 195 countries interviewed, one in ten relocated to be with their partner or for other love-related purposes. Nearly 32% of expats around the world said they were in a relationship with someone belonging to their adopted country. The survey also cast light on the fact that certain destinations were more conducive to finding love or a life partner from among the locals, and zoned in on some of the countries where expats were most fulfilled in their relationships.
In the Philippines, Thailand and Ecuador, expats were most likely to be in a romantic relationship with a local. The highest number of expats in relationships with another expat was found in Malta, Israel and Panama. Among the top ten countries for romance surveyed, expats were most likely to be in a relationship with someone from their home country, and were also most likely to have met them while in their home country. Expats were mostly in a relationship with someone of the same nationality in countries such as Mexico and Thailand, and were also likely to have met them in their home country. On the other hand, in Israel, 13% of expats were in relationships with someone of the same nationality, but had met them in another destination. In countries such as Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, a greater number of expats had partners who were local residents.
Including love, or rather, the prospect or continuation of a meaningful romantic relationship, in the list of criteria for moving overseas can further enrich the expat experience. Here are ten expat destinations where romance can thrive.
Ecuador came out right on top in a survey of the best countries for expats. The survey included a variety of factors such as quality of life, leisure, making local friendships, family life, employment, personal finances, expat relationships and international romance. Almost 82% of expats cited the ease of settling down in Ecuador. The country took top rank when it came to the ease of making friends, and in personal finances. Expats reported a high degree of personal happiness in their relationships and general emotional state while living in Ecuador. The majority of the expats interviewed indicated they were so satisfied with life in Ecuador that they would potentially make it their permanent home. While Ecuador met most expat expectations, the one challenge seemed to be the language. 37% of expats living in Ecuador said that not knowing Spanish interfered with daily life. But an equal percentage of expats maintained that learning Spanish was actually quite easy!
Costa Rica has always been a favorite among expats, including retirees. Expats living in this rainforested, tropical Central American country say they are able to live a healthier lifestyle; something that can be attributed to the better diet and active lifestyle. Costa Rica is also a place where the locals are warm and friendly, and expat professionals are able to maintain a desirable work-life balance. Many also cite high levels of satisfaction with their love lives. A considerable number of expats, who were in relationships prior to relocating moved to Costa Rica together. Countries feature in expat surveys and rankings for many reasons, the most popular one being better career prospects. But Costa Rica’s charm lies in its offer of a higher quality of life.
Malta is ideal for those who want to enhance their career prospects, and simultaneously to enrich their personal lives. A significant percentage of expats move to Malta for love reasons. With its beautiful quiet beaches and bays, Malta does romance well. It is one of the smallest states in the world, and therefore densely populated. Another advantage that expats will have while living in Malta is language; the country has dual official languages of Maltese and English.
Expat parents find Israel to be an appealing destination due to its excellent education options and the feeling of general wellbeing the country offers its residents, including children. It ranked third on family wellbeing, after Australia and Austria. Israel is known to be a great place for those in relationships. Expats generally flock to the main cities such as the capital city of Jerusalem, and Tel Aviv, the financial and commercial hub of the country. Israel is a beautiful country, and its idyllic countryside, expansive public gardens and pleasant weather make it a great place to rekindle romantic relationships or begin new ones.
The Philippines is known for its friendly local community. It is one of the most preferred destinations among expat retirees. The country provides a welcoming atmosphere for expats, and many expats move to the Philippines to live with their partners. The survey by InterNations indicated that the Philippines is a top destination for expats to find their ‘significant other’. Nearly 66% of expats living in the country are in a relationship with a local, placing it at the top rank in the category of ‘in love with the locals’. This expat romance hub is also a place where expats feel ‘completely satisfied with their relationship’. The ease of settling into a new country plays an important role in relationships, as pressures and stress, including culture shock, can take their toll. The survey showed that the Philippines ranks high in the ‘ease of settling in’ index, coming in fifth place.
Indonesia is an excellent destination for personal finance, and expats are likely to get their money’s worth while living and working in the world’s largest archipelago state. Expats are able to have a high quality lifestyle, while living amongst welcoming locals. According to the survey, two in five expats are in romantic relationships with an Indonesian resident, having found love locally. It must be kept in mind though, that the survey was a voluntary one and not based on random sampling, therefore these are not scientifically obtained results. Also, male and female expats may perceive the idea of finding love within the local community differently.
Panama is among the top expat destinations in the world due to its high quality of life. In the matter of love, most expats living in Panama are in relationship with a person from their home country who moved there along with them. Panama’s beautiful landscape and its ability to improve personal happiness make it a place that fosters intimate relationships. Panama also scores highly in rankings of the world’s best retirement havens. Becoming a legal resident is easy and the country’s pension program is one of the best across the globe, providing residence and special benefits for those with a retirement income. Membership of this scheme entitles you to mandatory discounts in places like clinics, pharmacies, restaurants, theaters and hotels. It is also easy for those who do not have pensions to obtain residence.
Thailand had more than half of its expat residents agreeing that expat life in this tropical paradise did not have a negative effect on having a relationship. Most of the expat respondents already in relationships are involved with a local resident they encountered after relocating. However, Thailand has a greater number of male expats. Working in Thailand is a rewarding experience as employment opportunities are easily available. The sunny climate and warm cultural community also make it a treat to live and work there. However, expat positions that pay well are mainly accorded to those hired from abroad or on expat assignments from their current employers. The salaries of expats hired from within the country tend to be lower.
Unlike Costa Rica and Thailand, Portugal has a greater number of female expats living within its shores. Portugal is one of the most welcoming nations in the world for expats, and ranks highly in the categories of ease of settling in and quality of life. A little more than half of expats living in Portugal are already in committed relationships and they cite a high level of happiness and overall satisfaction with their love life. While Portugal takes the ninth place for ‘best for romance’, it comes second in Europe, just after Malta.
Mexico is popular among expats for its friendly local population. It also has a multitude of leisure options and expats report being highly happy here. When it comes to working overseas, Mexico doesn’t do too well. But a significant number of expats desire to move specially to Mexico for a better quality lifestyle. Of these, almost 80% report being content in their relationship. Due to its relaxed pace of life, Mexico has a way of slowing things down, which can actually lead to an enhanced quality of life. It is also where expats can get more for their money. Since goods and services are cheaper, one can afford various luxuries that were beyond budget back home. For instance, many expats families in Mexico are able to afford hired help.
Seeking and finding love
There are numerous ways to look for love in a different country. Some of the most common ones are expat dating agencies, online dating agencies and speed dating. Another ideal way to chance upon love in your host country is by attending social events. Going to these on a regular basis not only improves the chances of finding a suitable partner, but also helps build a network of valuable contacts.
The process of dating and seeking love in a brand new place sounds exciting; however it is helpful to take some precautions such as making it a point to meet in public when you meet for the first time.
Making distance work
It is interesting to note that in the InterNations survey, in all of the ten listed countries, if expats were involved with someone before their move abroad, the couple usually moved together. This may not be possible for everyone and moving abroad can undoubtedly strain all relationships, including romantic ones. Expats are forced to get used to the fact that their significant other, who used to be by their side for most of the time, is now perhaps an ocean away. Distance can either weaken or strengthen such relationships. But thanks to the technology of the day, it is getting easier to maintain long-distance love via social networking sites, smartphone applications, video calls and email.
Distance can serve as a useful tool to adapt and even thrive in the area of love relationships, because it involves two people deciding that it is worth the effort to sustain a long-distance relationship and adjust to the changes. In such cases, the distance between partners can cause a relationship to grow stronger and turn into something more special than it would have been if one partner weren’t living overseas.