Thursday 20th October 2011

Choosing the best place to live

If you’re in the fortunate position of choosing where in the world you would like to live, then you really should research which is the best place to live in the world, FOR YOU.

There are endless lists available that rate cities and countries according to a whole host of factors. However, the aspects that the people who compile these studies take into consideration may rank highly for them, but do they rank highly for you? For example, some studies rate the quality of life on offer in a given location by taking into consideration the quality of education and schooling on offer. This is all well and good, if you have children. For those that do not, this factor is probably irrelevant and skews the results in a manner that means they are not relevant for you.

In order to help you out, we’ve compiled a list of factors that need to be fully researched before you select the place in the world that you are going to call home. Not all of them will be relevant to you but do make sure that you are fully aware of how the others stack up before you take the plunge and move overseas.

The Cost of Living

Top of your list of things to research before packing up your things for a new life abroad should be the cost of living. Ensure that you fully understand the expenses that will be involved in the host country on a day-to-day basis and how they stack up against those in your home country. This will be especially important if you have a set budget, such as a pension. Don’t just take people’s word for it either. There are plenty of online resources that will give you a high-level indication of the cost of living in a given location, but that isn’t enough. You need to compare the costs associated with YOUR lifestyle in your home country with those you can expect to pay in your home country. What constitutes a low cost of living for one person may not necessarily have the same benefits for you.

For further information see the following articles:

Calculating your cost of living

International cost of living comparisons explained

Your money and the cost of living

Tax

A big factor that should feature highly on your list of things to research when choosing the best place to live in the world should be the tax rates. If you are planning on starting your business or finding work in a given location you need to be fully aware of the tax you will be expected to pay in your host country and, potentially, your home country. Understand what tax agreements are in place between the two countries and ensure that you truly understand the tax rates and rules. It’s all well and good finding a location in which to live that offers a low cost of living but if this will be offset by an extremely high tax rate then you may not benefit from the high standard of living that you were expecting.

For further information see the following article:

Tax – a practical guide

Cost of accommodation

Although this is often included in consideration of the cost of living it is important to consider this in its own right and for this reason we will specifically talk about it here. Many countries, especially those in Asia, offer the advantage of very low day-to-day living costs and tax rates but really hit expatriates hard when it comes to accommodation costs. When researching your expected cost of living, make sure that you understand how much a property that will be big enough for yourself and your family (where applicable) will cost to rent or buy. Again, many surveys offer rankings according to accommodation costs in countries but you need to know that you will be able to afford a property that actually meets your needs so relying on these alone will not be sufficient.

For more information see the following articles:

The five cheapest countries in the world in which to live

Negotiating relocation packages

Safety

Another element that should feature highly on your list of things to research is the crime levels in your targeted country. This is especially important if you will be relocating with your family. Make sure you fully research the crime figures and statistics and understand which areas of a given location are potentially safe for you and your family and which are not. Each of expat relocation guides contains comprehensive information on crime levels in each popular expatriate location and contains helpful hints and tips about keeping yourself and your belongings safe while living there.

Education

If you have children this is one that will be especially important for you. Make sure you fully understand the quality of education that will be available in a given location before you move there. There’s no point in moving half way across the world only to find that the schooling available for your children in shockingly bad and that the cost of private education is way too high to meet your needs. Do plenty of research to understand the school system and quality levels in a given country and ask questions on expat forums in the country to get the real lowdown on what you can expect. If you are planning on placing your children into private schools make sure that you fully understand the costs associated with these. If you have any children with special learning needs make sure that sufficient help will be available for you.

Each of our expat guides contains comprehensive information about the education system available in each destination.

For more information see the following articles:

The price you can expect to pay for expatriate education

A comprehensive guide to the international baccalaureate

Healthcare

Last on our list of things to research when selecting the best place to live in the world for you (but by no means least) is healthcare. You need to ensure that you fully understand the healthcare costs and insurance costs that you will need to meet in order to have full access to the dental and medical care that you need at all times. If you require regular medication or treatment ensure that this will be available in the country to which you are planning on relocating and that you will be able to afford it. Also make sure that you fully understand the quality of the healthcare facilities that will be available to you and how accessible they will be.

For more information see the following articles:

Best healthcare in the world

Health and social security

Other things you may wish to consider:

  • Climate: What will the weather be like and will you be suited to living in such a climate?
  • Distance from home: How long will it take you to travel home, will you be able to see friends and family on a regular basis?
  • Pets: How pet friendly is the location. If you have pets will you be able to take them with you and will the location be suitable for them? See Taking your pets abroad.
  • Currency: How does the currency of the host country stack up against that of your home country? What currency will you be paid in? What currency risks will you be running if you relocate there?

Have we missed anything out? What factors do you think people should consider when choosing the best place to live in the world? Leave a comment and let us know.

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