How To Choose A Place to Live When You're Moving Abroad
More than a year of restrictions on global travel and relocation has left many people itching for a new adventure.
But when it comes to moving abroad, you need to get your decision-making hat on. Which country do you want to move to? Are you going to settle for a rural area or an inner-city hub? And once you finally settle on a place, which part of that place do you want to move to?
And that's the key question that this article will help with – once you've decided on a city or a region, how do you choose a specific neighbourhood?
To make the whole process easier, we’ve listed the key questions you should ask yourself when choosing a place to live abroad.
What’s your budget?
Your budget will determine how you answer the rest of these questions – so let’s start there.
Moving abroad can be costly, but it doesn’t have to be. It's a fairly obvious thing to say, but if you’re moving with a relatively small budget, it’s worth looking up the most affordable places within the city or region you’re moving to. Usually, you’ll find that the further you stray from the city centre, the cheaper the houses are – but remember to factor in commuting costs.
As for living costs, things can fluctuate depending on the country, city, or neighbourhood that you’re in. Again, make sure to do your research before you move, and have a long hard think about whether you can realistically afford those £7 pints, pricey bills, or fancy dinners.
Do you want to be around green space?
One of the more welcome consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and its lockdowns has been a new wave of appreciation for being close to nature. In fact, in a recent survey, one in five adults said green space was more important to them now than before the pandemic.
So if you’re thinking of swapping a countryside village for a city abroad, or jumping from a small town to a bustling metropolis, consider how much green space you’ll have around you to help you adjust to the change.
When looking up neighbourhoods in your new city, consider choosing a property that's only a short walk from a big park – although somewhat frustratingly, you can expect this to make rent a bit more expensive.
Where will your family feel most at home – in a bustling city or a quaint countryside town?
Will you need access to the city centre?
You don’t want the excitement of moving abroad to be quashed by constantly getting stuck in traffic.
If you’re moving abroad for a new adventure, make sure you have access to the city centre – whether that’s by train, car, walking, or cycling – so that you can soak up all the fun.
Most cities have developed public transport options that can get you from one side to the other in a matter of minutes. If you’re considering an area in the suburbs, check the transport options around you – are there bus stops or train stations nearby? And if you’re sticking with getting around by car, what’s the traffic like in the area?
How safe is it?
This is a biggie for a lot of expats. If safety is something you’re concerned about, it might be a good idea to look into local crime rates to make sure you steer clear of any dodgy areas.
If you already know people living in the place you’re moving to, ask them which areas are the safest. And if you don’t know anyone already out there, you can always look to expat forums for guidance.
People with existing health conditions might also want to check whether it’s safe for them to move to the country. Check with your doctor if you require certain vaccinations before you move, and dig around to see how effective the healthcare system is.
Would you prefer peace and quiet?
Of course, not everyone moving abroad will be doing it for the adventure. If you’re bringing along a nervous pet, want to avoid waking up little ones, or just crave a slice of silence, smaller towns or suburban areas might be best for you.
Speaking of little ones…
Whether it's for exercise a quiet spot to read, having nearby green space is a huge bonus
Is the area child-friendly?
Whether you’re moving to one of the largest cities in the world or escaping to quaint countryside, you’re sure to find somewhere right for your children – you just need to do your research.
If you’re unsure where to start, try checking out:
- Local schools – Compare the success rates between schools in the area. There might also be some schools that cater to specific children’s needs, such as international schools or schools for children with learning difficulties
- Childcare options – If you need it, check out any local crèches, childminders, nurseries, or nannies
- Safety – Make sure to do your research on crime rates in the local area, just in case
- Green space – Spending time in nature is proven to help with mental health, child development, and overall health – plus, it’s somewhere for children to burn off all that energy
- Things to do – Consider whether there’s enough in the local area to keep your children entertained
Will you rent or buy?
For many expats, renting is the best option – even if it’s just for the first few months. This way, if you’re not entirely happy with the neighbourhood, you won’t be tied to it.
Spend these first few months exploring the area, and other neighbourhoods around it, to see what’s best for you before buying.
If you think you’ll be part of the 62% of expats who never return home, however, buying a house might save you money in the long run.
Are there many job opportunities?
Broadly speaking, cities tend to have more job opportunities for expats. Of course, there are job opportunities in more rural areas too – especially if you specialise in agricultural work.
If you’re moving abroad without a job, it’s a good idea to check whether there will be many opportunities waiting for you when you get there.
How long will the commute be?
No one wants a long commute – but for some, it might be worth it.
It’s good to weigh up the pros and cons of a long or short commute. Is it better to have a more affordable house in the outer city with a longer commute, or an expensive inner-city flat closer to work?
If you’re teetering between the two, consider the different travel options available. Who knows – perhaps you’ll be able to bag yourself a nice suburban house with excellent connections to the city.
Can you put up with a long commute, or do you need to be a stone's throw away from work?
Are you close to your social circles?
Some expats move abroad to be with loved ones. If this is the case for you, don't hesitate to check out areas near your friends or family – this way, you won’t miss out on any of the fun!
What’s the nightlife like?
Moving to a new place means lots of new venues to explore. And, if you consider yourself a bit of a party animal, an area's nightlife options will probably be high on your priority list.
Before you move to your new home, check out the local nightlife scene – we’re talking clubs, pubs, bars, wineries, eateries, comedy clubs, and any other weird and wonderfully unique experiences.