Ever wonder where you might live if you wanted to experience another life that is somewhat similar to your current life, but different than your home in the United States? Although everyone has slightly different criteria and own personal priorities, most people prefer countries that have similarities, in terms of language, free rights and quality of life.
If you have ever watched House Hunters International and viewed Americans selecting potential rentals and properties, it is clear that U.S. residents are accustomed to certain amenities, such as dishwashers, washing machines and dryers. The seemingly fussy home buyers are constantly surprised that there are vast differences between the living standards in the U.S. and many other countries. It is understandable, then, that many view Americans as overly demanding - thus a part of the anti-American sentiment that exists in many parts of the world.
Therefore, anyone who is thinking of moving overseas will want to ensure the majority of the people in the destination country actually like Americans. Otherwise, one could find oneself stonewalled and inconvenienced at every turn, not to mention the recipient of malicious behaviors.
The list we put together only include American-friendly countries and was derived from a couple sources: HSBC's annual Expat Explorer survey, which ranked each country on child raising, economics, health, income opportunities, social, education, etc. and results from the Expat Insider Survey 2014 conducted by Internations.org. Then we came up with our favorites from the two.
See what you think and where you might head if you wanted to "get out of town" for good, or at least a while, and create a new life.
Both expats and retirees are happily moving to Ecuador, however it is not for the job opportunities. According to most reports, the overall satisfaction with lifestyle and opportunity is very high. In fact, it was ranked number one for personal happiness in the internations.org study and moving there was to enjoy a better quality of life. Knowing the Spanish language helps tremendously, however respondents agreed that it is easy to learn. Eighty-two percent said that settling down in Ecuador is very easy to do.
This tiny country is often the destination for U.S. workers looking to improve their career opportunities, although many have been sent on assignment by their companies. It seems that although the environment is beautiful, many Americans don't plan to settle in for the long haul. Evidently, it is not easy to make friends, but while there the opportunities for career and travel are plentiful.
This vibrant country has just about everything an American would need. According to HSBC, it is easy to transition into this culture and it offers some of the best amenities. First off, it is affordable and, secondly, there is a rich local life that includes celebrations, night markets, outstanding food and festivals. The downsides cited were the work-to-life balance, the low quality of living spaces and childcare.
Many Americans have moved to Mexico over the past few decades. The country gets its highest marks on its weather, food and culture. But the country has always had a bad reputation for safety, even though many expats who live there do not have that fear. The country has a great transportation system and ranks high in personal happiness so they must be doing something right... could be the nachos.
Canada is the most similar to the U.S., although most Canadians are not crazy about the comparison. The HSBC study showed that 90 percent of expats feel a strong connection to Canada, even though the work-to-life balance and social opportunities did not score high. What did score well, however, are the child-raising, education and healthcare aspects. Canada boasts an excellent socialized healthcare system that, according to a report in Reuters, gives Canadians about three years longer to live than those in the U.S.
HSBC results had only the best to say about Australia, "Australia offers expats such a great quality of life that they don't want to leave." The country did not score well in public transportation or economics. But the scores for weather, lifestyle, child raising and other facets that relate to having great daily experiences all scored quite high. The country is progressive, relevant and home to a large melting pot.
India has been taking a foothold in many industries, including the film industry. It is now considered to be one of the primary emerging economic powerhouses, which means there are business opportunities galore. Many U.S. citizens are stepping outside of their comfort level and migrating to India. The country offers a low cost of living which includes excellent childcare, healthcare, clothing, shelter and education. It even ranked fifth for its social scene and ninth for entertainment.
Japan has been experiencing an economic slowdown for a few years, so employment, cost of living and discretionary income are ranked lower than in the past. However, the country gets high marks for other, equally important, aspects. Healthcare is outstanding along with diet, local food and culture. Education is affordable, so it is also a great country to raise children. Plus, if you are a sushi enthusiast you can be sure it will be the best in the world.
7 Hong Kong
Not many realize that amazing Hong Kong is actually independent from mainland China. It has its own currency, laws and economy. Living in Hong Kong would be akin to living in New York City, as it is just as densely populated. Child raising ranks high for expats, but there is a very low work-life balance. Hong Kong residents work to live rather than the reverse, so most Americans should feel right at home.
6 United Arab Emirates (UAE)
The UAE is becoming a new expat haven, particularly among the young up-and-comers who are looking to advance their careers and financial situations. There are excellent working options, big city living and great child rearing options. However, it's important to remember that the culture is conservative and frowns heavily on expats who are out to bring Western trouble to their country. The Islamic culture is something to research prior to making a decision to live there. For example, if you enjoy a nice glass of wine - it is mandatory to get a license. According to a story in Mytelegraph.com, tourist Sean Emmett was jailed for "drinking without a license".
Belgium is nestled in between France and the Netherlands and offers some of the best beer, chocolate and waffles in Europe. It's not considered a super healthy country or popular for its sports teams. However, one of the nicest aspects of Belgium is its low crime rate - and is, in fact, without violent crimes. The country scores high in health, well being and child rearing, plus it is situated perfectly for easy travel to other parts of the continent.
Russia has evolved into a country that is high in entertainment and social life options, even though it sounds a bit surprising. What isn't surprising is that the country known for heavy foods does not rank high for health. The good news is that expats are welcome and if you can get a work VISA, the cost-of-living is close to the average income. This means that the possibility of having a higher discretionary income at the end of the month is very likely.
3 Cayman Islands
Everyone's heard about the Cayman Islands and knows that is where wealthy people hide some of their income from dear Uncle Sam. The country is also known for having great income opportunities and high disposable incomes. But the cost of living is relatively high, so if you are a keep-up-with-the-Jones type, and need the latest in everything, remember - everything is shipped in and more expensive. Obviously, the weather gets high grades, as well as socializing, daily commutes and work comfort.
Singapore is one of the smallest countries in the world and because of this, the Prime Minister and Prime Minister Mentor take great pains to plan ahead. Although it can be an expensive location, the education and childcare are said to be worth the price. There are many available activities, such as water sports and shopping, as the designer malls are some of the best in the world.
Germany's strong economy places it high on our list of best places to live. Plus it is extremely safe and has a much lower crime rate than the United States. This might be due to the fact there are 25 percent more police officers, but that alone does not account for the fact that the country has close to 50 to 75 percent fewer murders and rapes. On the downside, it has a high cost of living and the social life is said to be substandard. But we hear Oktoberfest is a country on beer and full of fun.