How often do you sit at your desk daydreaming about picking up and leaving it all behind? Perhaps you want to travel the world, or just move to one of those places everyone says is one of the best countries to live in. That daydream can become a reality. Millions of people all over the world relocate from their home countries to new and exciting places.
You could do it too, you just need a little bit of information to get you started.
What Is an Expat?
An expat (short for expatriate) is someone who leaves the country they were born in to live somewhere else. This can be temporary or permanent. People choose to do this for a wide variety of reasons; adventure, work opportunities, love, and/or a better quality of life.
How Did We Choose The Best Countries To Live In?
We scoured the internet for various studies, reports, and opinions from people who have made the giant leap of moving to another country. We recommend you do a little research in Understanding Rules and Law When Transitioning Abroad. Things that we took into account are the availability of work for expats as well as the cost of living and quality of life. The cost of living statistics used in our evaluation was found here and here.
The Top 20 Best Countries to Live In
The following are our picks for the best countries to live in. We also want to mention that when living abroad, you should prepare for tax time, because it can get tricky. Start with our Guide to US Expat Taxes.
The cost of living in Bahrain is 18.41 percent lower than compared to the United States. The average monthly rent is $960 and a commuter pass is $37. Expats say they enjoy living in Bahrain because of the work-life balance, that is apart of the culture, high paying jobs, and fantastic healthcare. Many expats rent in Bahrain because there are strict restrictions when it comes to foreigners buying property. Some of the most popular areas are Juffair, Sarr, and Riffa.
Bahrain is an Islamic patriarchal society. It is very common to see the woman wearing clothing that covers everything but their eyes. Women from outside the country are not expected to do the same, although dressing modestly is a part of the culture.
The cost of living in Costa Rica is 25 percent lower than compared to the United States. The average monthly rent is $514 and a commuter pass is $46. Every year almost 3 million people visit Costa Rica and so many love it that there are about 50,000 people from North America that now call Costa Rica home. Jaco, Dominical, and Puerto Viejo are the most popular locations for expats to live due to the availability of work and housing.
Costa Rica is one of the best countries to live in because it makes it very easy for expats to start businesses in their country, even if you only have a tourist visa. Costa Rica has their own public healthcare system called Caja, anyone is eligible to receive healthcare through them for a small monthly fee.
The cost of living in Mexico is 52 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $272 and a commuter pass is $17. There are about 2 million expats who reside in Mexico, with about half of them coming from America. The high value of the American dollar plays a big role in expats moving to the area. That along with a low cost of living means that many people enjoy a high standard of living.
Many of the American expats are retired people due to the fact that finding work in the area can be difficult. There are opportunities if you have skills in engineering, computers, or communication.
You may also like: What’s Living Abroad Really Like? Expats Answer Your Questions.
The cost of living in Taiwan is 12 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $272 and a commuter pass is $33. People who have moved to Taiwan love how easy it is to integrate into the country, regardless of where you live. Many people speak English and it is relatively easy to find an English teaching job.
The transportation system is reliable and affordable and there are both traditional and modern landscapes to enjoy and explore. Many expats also report that Taiwanese locals are extremely welcoming to foreigners and will go out of their way to help.
The cost of living in Portugal is 26 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $588 and a commuter pass is $42. Many people who relocate to Portugal are inspired to do so because of the beautiful beaches and hot weather. In order to work in Portugal, you’ll need a residence visa or a temporary stay visa. To obtain either of those you will have to prove that you already have employment outside the country (since you can’t legally work in the country without one of those visas) or a promised work contract from a company based in Portugal.
The cost of living in New Zealand is 15 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $801 and a commuter pass is $27. New Zealand wants expats, which makes it another one of the best countries to live in. They had an initiative in 2016 called LookSee Wellington which aimed at recruiting 100 technology candidates.
Those roles have been filled, but they are still very open to people who want to live and work in their country. People love the diversity of New Zealand as well as the perks. If you have a valid work visa for at least two years you are able to take advantage of their free public healthcare.
- Recommended for you: Social Networks: The Only Thing You Really Need When Moving Abroad
The cost of living in Malta is 5 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $811 and a commuter pass is $30. Malta has about 300 days of beautiful weather per year. In the winter the temperature rarely falls below fifty degrees. The weather is a big reason why expats move to this island.
The other reason is the availability of jobs. In late spring you’ll start to find a large amount of help wanted signs on many of the hotels, restaurants, and bars as they prepare for the tourist season.
The average cost of living in Colombia is 54 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $274 and a commuter pass is $27. With the cost of living being so much lower than in American it is no wonder that Colombia is one of the best countries to live in.
Jobs are plentiful and there are many national companies who have offices in the country so having a job set up before you move isn’t impossible. There are plenty of apartments available for great prices (a 3 bedroom will only cost $500-$600.) If you have children there are some amazing international schools located throughout the country as well.
Here’s a video on living on the cheap in Medellin, a popular city for expats.
The average cost of living in Singapore is 30 percent higher than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $1,290, and a commuter pass is $73. Singapore is typically the number one spot for expats on most reports over the past few years. The average income for an expat in Singapore is $117,904.
Although the cost of living in Singapore is higher than in the US there are other perks that keep people happy. Work-life balance is much better in Singapore and many of the schools are highly rated. It is a very family friendly country with almost half of all expats moving to Singapore with their family in tow.
- You may also like: The Easiest Countries to Move to From the US
The average cost of living in Spain is 43 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $533, and a commuter pass is $52. About 7 percent of Spain’s population are expats. People are attracted to the low housing costs, warm climate, and high standard of living. Many of the expats in Spain are either retired or work for international companies.
If you plan on moving to Spain without a job lined up, be careful. The unemployment rate in Spain is relatively high, and competition for jobs is fierce. If you are retired or self-employed though, then it is one of the best countries to live in if you want to move.
The average cost of living in the Czech Republic is 35 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $524, and a commuter pass is $24. Since the Czech Republic joined the European Union, it has become one of the best countries to live in for expats from all over the world.
Prague is particularly popular due to it being the center of diversity in the country. Although there is a lot of diversity, English is not the primary language if you do a business deal. That means that contracts, employment forms, and even rental leases will be in Czech. If you don’t speak the language make sure to budget for an interoperator, especially during the first month when you are getting settled in.
The average cost of living in Vietnam is 45 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $397, and a commuter pass is $6. From cities filled with millions of people to quaint mountain villages and coastal towns, Vietnam has every kind of lifestyle you can imagine which is why it makes the list of best countries to live in if you want to move. You may read first Wild Traditions an Expat should know.
Ho Chi Minh City is the most popular place for expats, with about half of the population being located there. The city is affordable and fun. Da Nang has the best beaches and is a popular place for expats who are self-employed or have foreign incomes. Regardless of where you want to move chances are you won’t have a problem finding a job. There is a huge market for English teachers in both schools and large companies.
Here’s a video from Da Nang, an expat destination.
- Recommended for you: What Do Other Countries Think of America?
The average cost of living in the Netherlands is 9 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $714 and a commuter pass is $93. One of the draws of the Netherlands for expats is that practically everyone speaks English. Besides, jobs are plentiful and the work/life balance is outstanding. The majority of companies in the Netherlands provide each employee with 30 days of vacation, not including national holidays. If you happen to get fired or laid off from your job it is also extremely easy to receive unemployment benefits as the government is usually more supportive of employees than the employers.
The average cost of living in Luxembourg is 25 percent higher than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $1,618, and a commuter pass is $59. Many of the people who relocate to Luxembourg do so because they want a small town feel with big city opportunities. Finding work in this country is not hard, although living in it does have its challenges. While many people speak English, the three official languages of the country are German, Luxembourgish, and French.
All of these languages are still frequently spoken, so if you aren’t well versed in at least one of them, you may find yourself a bit confused at times. It can be hard to find housing in the southern part of the country where many expats decide to settle down.
The average cost of living in Malaysia is 43 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $347, and a commuter pass is $23. Malaysia is popular for the low cost of living and the ease of finding employment, with the majority of those positions being in teaching.
Expats who move here are typically younger and looking to travel the world and experience cultures. While Malaysia has a vibrant culture and identity, there are some things to keep in mind. The most important being that there are very few LGBTQ rights and those that do exist aren’t typically recognized.
The average cost of living in Canada is 14 percent higher than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $967, and a commuter pass is $69. Canada is a very popular expat destination for people from all over the world. People think of it as one of the best countries to live in, especially those from America.
The fact that it shares a border with the U.S. and the legal requirements for moving are straightforward and easy make this one of the first choices for people who want to move out of the country. There are plenty of jobs available in a wide range of areas, and the Canadian government has recognized that the skills expats bring to their country are valuable and essential.
The average cost of living in Oman is 32 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $615, and a commuter pass is $25. We included Oman on this list because up until recently it was popular and considered one of the best countries to live in if you decide to move. That has changed as The Ministry of Manpower in Oman has placed a ban on new visas for people who work in 87 different professions. Although the ban was supposed to end in July of 2018, the government extended it for six more months.
The average cost of living in Thailand is 36 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $430, and a commuter pass is $30. Many consider Thailand to be one of the best countries to live in because it allows them to reside in a beautiful area and experience a more relaxed way of life than what many people in the US can afford.
Like many other Asian countries, one of the most popular employment options for expats is teaching English. Because of the high number of expats in Thailand, you can find plenty of social clubs and activities for people who are interested in various types of sports, theater or even language study. It is particularly nice for people who feel homesick or have a hard time getting acclimated to a new country.
The average cost of living in Romania is 48 percent lower than living in the United States. The average monthly rent is $317, and a commuter pass is $15. Romania has become a popular destination for expats looking for work in engineering, communications, construction, and software development.
Bucharest, which is the country’s capital is the most popular destination for new expats. It has affordable housing, an excellent transportation system, and a fun nightlife. It is quickly becoming known as a center for industry.
The average cost of living in Norway is 23 percent higher than living int he United States. The average monthly rent is $1,276, and a commuter pass is $90. Norway prides itself on its quality of life, lack of crime, and beautiful surroundings. It is one of the best countries to live in for families looking to relocate as childcare and education are highly rated and very affordable. The housing market can be expensive but most rental properties come fully furnished, and utilities are inexpensive.
The work/life balance is also perfect for anyone with a family. Most employers have no problem with a parent having to leave work to take a child to an appointment or pick them up from school. Work days are typically less than 8 hours, and employees are not expected to do any work when not on the clock, this includes answering those pesky work emails. If all of that isn’t enough to make someone happy college and universities are free to everyone!
Take the Leap
Moving to a new country can be scary, but it can also be exciting. While these 20 countries are seen as some of the best countries to live in, there are plenty of other options as well. Make sure to do plenty of research, use the internet to reach out to locals, and speak with your employer about opportunities that might be available that would enable to you keep your job while also allowing you to give in to your wanderlust. Happy travels!
- You may also like: How to Move to Another Country.