Choosing possible countries

The big first step to deciding what country to relocate to is thinking why you want to move and what you are looking to gain from your new environment. Here’s some ideas to help you get there. Our ‘First Four’ things you should think about when considering a relocation:

Career – Whether you want faster career progression, more specialist teams or international projects, more holiday days to spend with friends and family, it is important to think about which countries will offer you the right work environment.

Climate – Are you looking for constant sunshine or all four seasons? Want to spend your time lying by the pool or skiing in the snow? If weather is an important factor to you, then deciding what climate you wish for in your new location will help to pinpoint your target locations.

Language – It is important to only consider countries where you speak the local language (to at least an advanced level). Although English is spoken in many countries, it is not the gateway language to moving anywhere in the world. Aside from the fact that it would be difficult to integrate in a new city without being able to easily communicate with the locals, a lot of companies require local language skills from their employees, so they are able to talk comfortably with their colleagues and clients. Take foreign language classes before considering these locations.

Accessibility ­– You may have family and friends at home that you don’t want to stray too far from, so take flight times into account when considering different continents.

Narrowing it down

Now you have identified potential locations, it’s time to narrow it down further to make your shortlist! Want better healthcare, work/life balance or education opportunities for your children? Choosing what is important to you helps to guide you to locations that match. Here are some extra things you may want to think about:

Healthcare – Many countries have efficient, effective and affordable healthcare systems, but in some countries the cost of basic care is steep. It’s an important thing to consider, so do some research into all the locations you are interested in and cross off any that don’t offer care or health insurance that suits you.

Crime – When researching different neighbourhoods, check the crime rates to see where you will feel safest. Are you better suited to urban city centre living? Or leafy suburbia?

Community – How diverse is the city you have chosen? Is there a large expat community? Are the locals usually kind and welcoming, or will you struggle to integrate?

Housing – Have a look in advance at housing for sale or rent and see if there are a choice of viable options within your budget, to give you an idea of what to expect from the market when you arrive in your new city. If your goal is to live on the beach, is that possible in the locations you have chosen?

Education – If you have children (or are planning on starting a family), take some time to research the standards of the local schools.

Entertainment – You don’t want to move to a city and realise there is nothing to do there that interests you. Have a look on TripAdvisor or similar sites to see how many restaurants, bars, galleries, parks, museums, cinemas (etc) there are nearby.

Cuisine – What is the culinary landscape like in each location?

Need some help?

If you are stuck, there a plenty of tools online that can help you easily choose countries that could suit you. For example, the HSBC Expat Explorer survey uses answers by 27,000 expats to rank over 100 countries every year based on the economy, quality of life/experience and family life. You can filter the list by 27 different factors to tailor the ranking to what you find important in your new location, then find out more information about the top countries. You can also compare two countries based on the criteria you have set, if you are having trouble deciding!

If you want to compare the cost of living between countries, use Numbeo, the world’s largest database of user-contributed data on costs of living worldwide, with a report on quality of living by country.

Other questions to consider:

  • • How affordable is it to live there on a day-to-day basis?
  • • What are taxes like on income and capital gains?
  • • What is the economy and employment landscape like?
  • • Can you get hold of goods and services you need, depend upon or desire in your new nation?
  • • What’s the religion, what are customs and traditions like – can you adjust/fit in?

It is important to remember that wherever you choose, you will want to blend in and assimilate with your new environment and colleagues/neighbours. Pick somewhere that makes sense for you (and your family’s) personal tastes and interests.

This new start could be the beginning of the rest of your life!

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