When it comes to moving to a new location, there are several factors that expats are likely to consider. These generally include the cost of living, quality of life, economy, education, employment opportunities, safety & security, climate, and proximity to other interesting places, to name just a few.
Based on these common aspects, some destinations tend to rate higher on the expat preference scale compared to others. However, when people actually move to these locations, many realize that the place is far from ideal for them as an expat destination.Read on to find out about some of the most desirable expat destinations that are probably not everything you think they’ll be.
Moving to Norway can be quite an exciting prospect for any foreigner, given that the country is known for its scenic beauty, clean environment, active lifestyle, and high quality housing. Moreover, the crime rate across the country is relatively low, making it a safe place for adults as well as children. Most residents of this country don’t have to worry much about safety issues, as long as they follow a few basic precautionary measures.
Work conditions also allow for a balanced lifestyle, as residents usually work for around seven hours a day, five days a week. This does mean that those who are used to a fast-paced and aggressive work environment may find Norway’s business culture very slow. Most of the larger companies offer their employees attractive perks to keep them motivated.
The weather in Norway is definitely one of the downsides of the country. Rain and wind go hand in hand with the coastal region, and the winter temperatures in the northern parts are severely low.
Another important factor to bear in mind is that Norway, especially Oslo, is regarded as one of the most expensive places to live in. Foreigners spend a lot more than they are used to on taxes, healthcare, traveling, food, and accommodation.
While many Norwegians speak English, foreigners should learn at least the basics of the local language, especially if they would like to get themselves integrated with the local community.
Canada is one of the most sought-after expat destinations for people around the world. This is mainly due to factors such as its immigration policies, liberal lifestyle, educational and employment opportunities, high standards of living, ease of settling in, social welfare system and multicultural diversity. However, no country is perfect, and this applies to Canada too.
First of all, Canada can be quite expensive, especially in comparison to the US and most Asian nations. Inflation in Canada has skyrocketed in the last few years, increasing the cost of living to a great extent. At the same time, taxes and immigration costs for foreigners are high. It is therefore essential to have a well-paying job before you decide to move or apply for immigrant status.
The weather is another downside of Canadian life. Many provinces face long and harsh winters, which can be difficult for expats to bear. Fortunately, the climate isn’t the same all over the country; the southern and western regions have more temperate weather.
Nevertheless, for years now Canada has continued to rank among the top expat destinations around the world.
Moving to a place like Switzerland is nothing short of a dream come true for many expats. This country often features as a popular expat destination in most global surveys, because of its employment opportunities, living standards, scenic beauty, clean environment, and education system. Since English, German and French are widely spoken across the nation, settling in is not a challenge for most foreigners.
One of the main cons to the expat life in this country is its high cost of living. Even expats from other countries in Europe find education, accommodation and food in Switzerland very expensive.
There is a severe shortage of rental accommodation in the cities and most landlords therefore charge a lot for leasing out their properties. Many apartment complexes force residents to share facilities and observe strict noise curfews. While these rules work well for the locals, expats may find it hard to get used to them.
Making friends with the locals in this country isn’t easy either. Although the Swiss are pleasant and friendly, they don’t go out of their way to make foreigners feel welcome. Outsiders may therefore take a long time to integrate into the community, especially if they don’t speak the local languages.
Australia has a lot to offer in terms of education, employment opportunities, outdoor activities, living standards, a great climate and modern infrastructure. Moreover, the country’s healthcare system is of high quality in both public and private hospitals. Foreigners often decide to move to this country quite quickly, perhaps after just one visit.
However, many people from other places – especially Asia – have reported severe racism in Australia. Some of the locals have a strong opinion about how foreigners should behave, dress and conduct themselves within the society. Of course, this problem isn’t exclusive to Australia alone, and it is no longer as severe as it used to be. Nevertheless, not everyone will find it easy to make friends with the local population.
The influx of expats to Australia has also increased accommodation, healthcare, education, utility and food prices drastically in the last few years. Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth are regarded as some of the most expensive cities worldwide.
Malaysia is a unique melting pot of different cultures. Expats in this country are exposed to a wide variety of religious celebrations and age-old traditions which exist side by side with modern infrastructure and diversity.
Malaysia is growing in leaps and bounds, without showing any signs of slowing down. Many expats claim that the living standards are high and the cost of living relatively low. Nevertheless, moving to a country like Malaysia may cause severe culture shock, especially for people from Europe and North America.
First of all, the locals are very religious and celebrate many festivals with a lot of pomp and noise. Businesses are therefore required to remain shut on several days of the year. While the locals take religious practices in their stride, foreigners may find the lack of public services frustrating.
Driving or even taking a taxi in Malaysia may be a nightmare for people from other countries, as drivers don’t often follow traffic rules.
Relocating to France may seem like the opportunity of a lifetime to many Americans, Canadians and Brits. In the last few decades, this country has become synonymous with world-class fashion, art and culture. Its natural beauty, slow pace of life, welfare system, climate and great food are also major attractions for potential expats. However, living in the land of cheese, baguettes and wine comes with its own benefits and drawbacks.
First of all, the cost of living in France is very high, particularly in the cities. Compared to other European and most Asian countries, people in this region pay more for almost everything, including housing, essentials, traveling, childcare and education. It is therefore important to make sure that you have a high enough income before you make the move.
French bureaucracy has made relocating to this country very cumbersome. Foreigners are required to complete a lot of paperwork and generally wait for a long period of time before they can settle in completely.
While many of the locals speak some amount of English, settling down in France becomes a lot easier for those who learn French. It is best to take up at least a basic course in your home country before arriving into France.
Many businesspeople who are interested in great economic opportunities with a fast-paced life have started looking at Singapore as their next possible destination. This country is known for its cultural diversity, cleanliness, infrastructure, security, childcare, healthcare, education, and employment options. Most of the residents are fluent in English and foreigners therefore find it easy to settle down here.
However, making it professionally in Singapore isn’t easy, unless you are highly skilled, qualified, competitive and career-driven. The work-life balance in this country is very low even compared to other Asian nations. There is stiff competition, as young professionals from other places are taking up jobs in Singapore for lower salaries or fewer perks. More than 50% of the expats who have worked here for a while worry about job security.
Singapore also happens to be one of the most expensive places in the world in terms of accommodation, private healthcare and education. Since many of the consumer products available have been imported from other countries, shopping is quite costly.
This island is often voted as one of the best places for raising children, by locals as well as visitors. Some of the other factors that attract foreigners to this location are its natural beauty, weather, work-life balance and relaxed pace of life.
Due to its limited population, the government of New Zealand is open to welcoming expats from different countries. The locals are also friendly towards foreigners and help them get integrated into their system with ease.
Fortunately, most of the drawbacks of moving to this island can be easily managed, as long as you are realistically prepared for the transition.
New Zealand is located just below the hole in the ozone layer; this means that the residents are exposed to high ultraviolet rays and are therefore at a higher risk of developing skin cancer. At the very least, they can easily suffer from sunburn. People are advised to protect their skin against UV rays whenever they step outside.
Getting around and out of New Zealand can be quite challenging. Since the island is very far away from most other countries, foreign trips become expensive and time consuming. Public transport options are limited and it becomes necessary to own a vehicle in order to commute with ease.
The United States of America
Life in the US is very diverse, to say the least! This superpower is home to more than 320 million people of different nationalities, religions and beliefs. This country has a lot to offer in terms of lifestyle, healthcare, infrastructure, education, career options, and overall experience. In fact, life in one state may be completely different from another.
Every year, thousands of people from Asia, Mexico and Europe move to the US for education, employment or business. Unfortunately, not everyone realizes their “American Dream” after making the move. There are several aspects of American culture that require some getting used to.
The cost of living in some cities (especially New York, New Jersey, Dallas, Miami & San Francisco) can be very high in terms of rent, commuting and utilities. Fortunately, groceries and everyday items are quite reasonably priced.
Since the local population tends to be quite highly skilled and qualified, foreigners may find it difficult to get a well-paying job. Most companies prefer hiring Americans, as the paperwork for recruiting expats is lengthy and expensive. It could take months or even years for expats to get the required permits to work there.
Did you encounter surprises when moving to your dream destination? Let us know in the comments!