I recently went through a very long process thinking about how to choose a country to live in.
Sometimes you just feel that it’s time for a big change but it’s far from easy to decide whether it’s the right thing.
People often get caught up wondering ‘which country should I move to?” or “should I move abroad at all?”.
So, in this post I’m going to share how I went about thinking about moving abroad (once again) and how I worked my way through some of my options.
I also created a workbook with only 5 steps to help you find clarity as you choose a country to live in. Enter your details below to get it now!
WHY IT’S DIFFICULT TO CHOOSE A COUNTRY TO LIVE IN
Deciding which country to move to is far from an easy decision, no matter why you want to move or where you’re thinking of moving to. And that’s because…
1. MOVING ABROAD IS A BIG CHANGE
The decision to move abroad is equally as complex when it’s your first time moving abroad as it is when it’s your 4th or 7th time.
People love to feel comfortable and safe, expats included. So even when you are not 100% happy where we live now, the evil that you know is better than the devil that you don’t know. As a result, it’s not all that easy to pack up and leave one’s comfort zone, no matter how fed up or ready for a big change you may be.
It’s all the more difficult to leave the comfort zone if you’re actually really happy with your life. But then, the opportunity of a lifetime comes along and there’s a part of you that is afraid to miss out on it.
2. YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT YOU WANT
Whether you’re thinking of moving abroad alone or with someone, making the decision (and making sure that it’s the right one) is equally anxiety-inducing.
That’s because knowing what you really want from your life is an ever-evolving process. Even if you think you know what you want right now, it may change as you change or it may not truly be the right thing for you.
You can only really know whether your goals or dreams can be realized in another country when you are already living in that country.
At the end of the day, moving abroad is so much about simply taking a risk and being prepared to make things work along the way.
Which doesn’t mean that planning and thinking ahead does not have a role to play in deciding whether you should move abroad.
QUESTIONS TO ASK WHEN MOVING ABROAD
When I was travelling solo for many years, I was a bit of a wild card, I must admit (with the wisdom of hindsight). I literally didn’t do any homework about my destination countries.
That’s because I knew I wanted to live abroad and nothing was going to stop me. If there was at least two or three things interesting or appealing about the destination country, it was enough for me to decide to move there (and I can tell you, they were as superficial as ‘they have great chocolate there’… ahh, youthful folly!).
I never had a job lined up nor a place to live. I just made things work through sheer stubborness. But that sort of approach can wear anyone down pretty fast.
I made some epically bad decisions that way, even though I will never regret the adventures that I had along the way because of it.
These days I’m all about doing my homework when I’m deciding whether I should move somewhere new.
1. DEFINE YOUR PREFERENCES
As a first step, you need to define what you’re looking for. Do you know where you want to live (city or small town?), in what climate, doing what kind of work and living with kind of lifestyle?
Moving beyond that, it’s also imperative to be clear about your non-negotiable and flexible criteria. Living abroad requires compromise, so being clear on what you knowingly agreed to give up helps with settling in better (at least that’s half the battle).
2. RESEARCH YOUR DESTINATION
This can take the form of visiting the places you’re considering moving to. It’s a completely different experience visiting a city or a country with the intention of discovering how it would be like to live there. The kinds of questions you’ll be asking and things you’ll be interested in doing will be very different from a normal touristy trip. You’re not going to find any answers visiting tourist traps and museums!
Doing your research can also take the form of doing a deep dive into blogs, social media and expat websites. However, living abroad is not a one-size-fits all experience. Different people can have vastly different experiences in the same place. So exercise caution when you read about other people’s experiences.
3. MAKE A PROS AND CONS LIST
This may sound like a very obvious suggestion, but it’s an incredibly powerful and simple exercise to do.
If you have really thought about your non-negotiables and nice-to-haves, as well as done your homework about your chosen country, it will be very easy for you to make the right decision based on your pros and cons list.
Because the more non-negotiables make it onto your pros list, the higher the chances that your desired destination actually has a chance of working out for you on a deeper level and not just on a nice-to-have level.
Far too many people choose a country to live in based on what they like about a country as a tourist and not based on what they need.
You may like the food scene somewhere, but do you really need it for a fulfilling life? You may like the architecture but do you really need it for financial stability? And so forth.
Being thorough about choosing a country to live in ensures that you don’t go in circles and make a move that will ultimately make you miserable.
So if you’re in the process of thinking about moving abroad, enter your details below for the 5-step workbook that guides you through the process of making a decision.
How have you chosen a country to live in? Share your experience in the comments below.