Basing your expat dreams on your actual needs

Basing your expat dreams on your actual needs

Basing your expat dreams on your actual needs

Deciding to move to a holiday destination you’ve fallen in love with can be a mistake.

It’s easy to arrive on holiday in an unfamiliar country and immediately fall in love with its way of life, culture and laid-back lifestyle for expats, but deciding to up sticks and emigrate based on your recent experience can be a major mistake. First of all, liveable expat havens aren’t always the most affordable and exchange rates in this troubled world can wreck even the most carefully constructed plans for a new life. Put bluntly, costs of living whilst on holiday don’t always translate to living within your means as an expat, and the most seductive places are usually the most expensive.

Online surveys can help with replacing perceptions with reality, but often give results which conflict wildly with other reports on the same destinations. Different methodologies are the cause, but reading through a few studies will give a view of emerging trends which can be more accurate than the surveys themselves. For example, cities in Northern Europe such as Copenhagen, Zurich, Oslo and Geneva are top of the tree for costs of living, property prices, great public services and eye-watering tax rates, making it easy to decide against them unless you’re very rich.

It’s much the same for the top Asian cities of Hong Kong, Tokyo and Singapore and, although the latter offers reasonably priced household goods and personal care items, the cost of a car is mind-blowing. All these cities have one thing in common – they’re set in countries with a high degree of political and economic stability, whereas the most economical destinations are almost always politically or economically unstable or even both. Damascus and Venezuela’s capital Caracas are perfect examples of this theory.

Heading for mid-rated destinations can be one way of blending a reasonable cost of living with comparative security, with a few countries previously considered expensive dropping down the survey listings by more than a few points. Cairo, for example, is markedly more affordable nowadays, especially if you’ve US dollars to spend as the exchange rate is now highly favourable. London is another example, but it’s perhaps not a hub for older expats even although rents are now some 15 per cent lower than in Paris and likely to drop further post-Brexit.

Interestingly, would-be expat millennials have an advantage when living in very expensive cites, as their needs differ from those of older expats, retirees and career-junkies. Fiendishly expansive Hong Kong is relatively cheap for this group of expatriates, whilst Bueno Aires is double the cost of the Asian city. In the end, examining exact needs and matching their prices to your financial situation now and in the projected future is the best way to follow your dream, whilst falling in love with a single holiday destination is likely to end in disaster.

Related Stories:

Latest News: