Very few expats decide to move to a different country without some motive. Leaving your home country for what may be months, years, or even the rest of your life is no small decision and it usually takes some time before a would-be expat finally takes the plunge and takes those first steps to leave their home country for what might be a very long time.
The reasons are quite varied, and they can be very personal to each individual. However, the reasons can often be lumped into one or more of the categories below.
The prospect of better salaries and better chances to advance in one’s chosen field has been the primary driver of voluntary expat movements since time immemorial. As higher salaries make it far easier to pay off debts, retire early, and enjoy a decent quality of life, it’s no wonder cash continues to be king when it comes to reasons expats choose to leave behind life in their home country. Those who want to engage in very specialized types of work may also find it impossible to pursue their career back home, making it necessary to move to a totally different country.
A stable economy
Those who that would like to start ventures in foreign countries, on the other hand, tend to look at macroeconomic factors rather than just salaries as their basis for moving abroad. Countries with a positive economic outlook, equitable foreign business ownership laws, tax breaks, and low corruption indices tend to attract expats that are willing to invest both time and money.
A good or affordable educational system
Expats that move to a host country for the educational system tend to fall in one of two categories: foreign students and families with children. In both instances, the quality and cost of education are the highest consideration. The Nordic countries, for example, are a popular destination for foreign students thanks to affordable and often free higher education, that’s open even to foreigners. Other popular destinations include Taiwan, Mexico, and India. For families with small children, Switzerland and Singapore are among the top picks for expat families.
Work-life balance/ quality of life
While some people are all about productivity or making money, other expats would rather choose a country based on the quality of life and the balance it can offer them. For this reason, Canada, New Zealand, Australia, and Germany are perennially high on most expat lists, even when there are many other countries with higher average salaries. A good mix of career opportunities, easy access to nature, and a wholesome environment for raising a family is far more important for many expats than any single one of those factors by themselves.
Cost of living
Other expats, rather than going for a fatter paycheck, are perfectly content to move to a country where things are cheaper to, begin with. Many countries in Southeast Asia, South America, and the Caribbean are popular destinations for expats who want to stretch their retirement dollars further than they could in their home countries. If you’re the type willing to move to a place in the countryside, you will even have options in countries that are often thought of as expensive such as France, Italy, and Portugal.
Depending on what one’s looking for, an expat may prefer to move to a country that’s completely alien to anything they’ve experienced or a place that’s perhaps more familiar in some ways. Other expats may just feel a strong affinity for their adopted culture and feel that it completes them in a way their native culture doesn’t. The presence of cultural sites and events can also be a huge draw.
Countries with a unique, well-documented heritage such as Japan, Korea, France, and the UK attract a good number of expats, as do countries that are historical melting pots such as Singapore, the Philippines, and Brazil.
The excitement of exploring other cultures in such an intimate way can be a deciding factor for many people who want to move to a different country for whatever reason. A good number of expats live in foreign countries because their significant others had a foreign job posting, or because they decided to follow a flame who lives in another country. Others do so because they feel that they would prefer a significant other from the host country’s culture and they want to “play the field”, so to speak. Other expats may also feel compelled to move if their significant others are unable to make the move themselves or marry them for whatever reason.
Whatever the reasons for your move, it’s best to be prepared for common contingencies often faced by expats upon moving abroad. As soon as you decide to make a life for yourself abroad, make sure to get the right kind of international health insurance for expats as soon as possible. A number of companies such as Now Health International have plans specific to expatriates that cover areas other insurance companies may miss. While your life abroad may not always go as smoothly as you expect, you’ll at least be able to rest assured some things are taken care of.