Now that the light is starting to fade and the temperature is dropping across the UK and Europe, it may be as good a time as any to reimagine those dreams of emigrating abroad.
Many of us have thought about, or perhaps been given the opportunity to relocate abroad. Whilst there are many good reasons; children at school, family at hand, the language barrier; to name a few, not to take the plunge, there are just as many persuasive reasons why 2019 might be the perfect year to seize the opportunity for a new and revitalising life experience.
To get you started, let’s look at 3 destinations that contain an enticing blend of culture, opportunity, and life-learning.
The best destination for those seeking fame and fortune
Mumbai. With a mean income for expats of $217,165 according to HSBC’s global expat survey, Mumbai tops the list if money is on your mind. Mumbai is a vast city with a perhaps unfair reputation for its slums and pollution. Whilst the city is sadly blighted by poverty in places, most expats will find the lifestyle to their liking. Mumbai boasts world class schools, property, restaurants, nightlife and culture, and a life of relative luxury is accessible, even if you are not earning absolutely top dollar.
English speakers will find it easy to orientate themselves in the city and there are plenty of tight-knit expat clubs and societies to get involved with. And locals are accommodating, friendly and welcoming. Mumbai is a truly cosmopolitan city with a rich history, and you are unlikely to experience boredom in such a thriving metropolis.
On the downside, traffic and transport can be a nightmare, and red-tape can also be a problem, with a complex Visa system making things stressful upon first arrival. Whilst the city is liberal, expats may find the lifestyle hard to adjust to, and finding the right property can be an expensive business.
Verdict: If it is an unforgettable experience and a (manageable) culture-shock that you are searching for, without too many financial constraints, then Mumbai may well tick all the boxes.
The best destination for a home from home
Denmark. The country enjoys a reputation for being amongst the most business friendly countries in the world, so finding a good quality work-life balance should not be an issue providing you do your research in advance.
Denmark is also well known for its tight knit communities, and culturally, the sense of wellbeing, or “hygge”, as the Danes refer to it, is immensely strong.
Denmark’s capital, Copenhagen, is modern, well-adjusted, and offers a wealth of different experiences, whilst still being contained enough to feel like home. The Danes pride themselves on providing excellent educational facilities and the needs of the family are high on every Danish person’s list of priorities – although there is still plenty for adults to do once the kids have been put to bed!
People with foreign heritage make up more than 13% of the Danish population of just over 5.7m people, and Denmark makes a good base from which to explore the rest of Europe, and Scandinavia in particular.
On the flipside, the language barrier can be tough to overcome, and Danes are not renowned for socialising with expats, although in a cosmopolitan city such as Copenhagen this should not present too much of a problem. Provided you are prepared to respect local customs and ways of doing things, friendships can be struck up, and strong bonds formed based on mutual interests.
Verdict: Denmark is a place you get back what you put in, and the rewards are certainly likely to outweigh negatives such as a tricky language barrier. From a work perspective, there is much to learn, and if you can get that part right, the rest will come naturally.
The best place for a Digital nomad
Colombia. A country that is bound to be on most people’s bucket list, those who did not make it to Colombia on their gap year or immediately after University may well be pleased they waited. In recent years expats have been flocking to Colombia, and whilst it may not be the perfect place to further a “traditional” career, it is most definitely a place where you can allow your entrepreneurial instincts to kick in. Freelancer will love the laid back lifestyle that can be found in a host of expat friendly enclaves.
Accommodation can be found cheaply, and of course, Colombia boasts a temperate climate and beautiful, dreamy surroundings, that are easy enough to explore. Healthcare in Colombia is amongst the best in South America, and the overall infrastructure in the country is good.
Financially, Colombia is not too challenging a place to live, and if its urban living you are after, the capital city Bogota, home to 8 million people, has much to offer, as do provincial cities such as Medellin.
On the negative side of the ledger, Colombia has a reputation for political conflict, and drug related crime, but most visitors to the country will find that, unless they going looking for it, trouble is unlikely to find them.
Verdict: Colombia “feels like home fast”, according to the travellers who know the country best. Expats are relatively scarce, which means they are often afforded a special welcome. You are more likely to find yourself having fun in bar-cos than dealing with narcos!
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