Not all of us get to choose the countries in which we live. Common reasons for becoming an expat include moving for work or joining a partner, both of which have limited options in terms of where you eventually end up living. Some of us become expats by accident, visiting somewhere while traveling and then settling down and staying there for good.
But there is another breed of expats on the rise – those that do not leave their home countries by necessity or accident but rather plan the move to improve their quality of life and find a better place to bring up their children. An increasing number of families are also realizing that the lower cost of living in many countries means that they can work less, or even not at all and spend more time together.
Deciding where to move your whole family is a much bigger decision than planning a move as a couple or on your own. There are so many things to consider – healthcare, education, cost of living, availability of work and climate to name but a few.
The reasons for liking a particular city or country are highly personal and the best place for one family is just as likely to be unthinkable for another. However if you are contemplating making the move to try and make a better life for you and your family, you may want to start by looking into some of the following locations:
The land of smiles is a name well-earned for this friendly Asian destination which has something to offer everyone. Popular expat spots include Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Phuket and there are plenty of international schools and facilities for kids in the major metropolitan areas. There are some great hospitals in Bangkok and the cost of living in the country as a whole is very favourable. Check out some great activities for kids in Bangkok here.
With its excellent infrastructure and wealth of job opportunities, Singapore offers some tempting advantages for would-be expat families. There are many good schools, healthcare is excellent and English is the common language. Singapore is one of the safest countries in Asia and even the most urban of areas are kept immaculately clean. However the main downside to Singapore is that it is very expensive compared to other Asian countries.
Ok I may be biased because I live there, but Bali really is a great family-friendly location and there are many expat families with young kids living here. The Balinese love children and they are made to feel welcome everywhere. Hired help is very low-cost and it is common for expat families to have at least one maid or nanny. There are plenty of international schools and lots of facilities for kids such as daycare centres, water parks and of course the beautiful beaches. The main disadvantages to living in Bali are lack of expat jobs and awkward visa laws. Healthcare may also be a concern as the hospitals are smaller and less well-equipped than surrounding countries. Many expats opt to fly to Singapore or Malaysia for complicated procedures.
4. Costa Rica
Costa Rica has become somewhat of an expat hotspot in recent years thanks to its pleasant tropical climate, good healthcare and low cost of living. There are many international schools and the expat community is thriving which can be a really important consideration for families considering relocation. Costa Rica offers an excellent standard of living and is considered by may to be one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It can however be difficult for non-locals to find work outside of teaching jobs.
5. United Arab Emirates
Dubai is the main expat hub in the UAE and many families find themselves here after following a work opportunity. Dubai is expensive but jobs are well paid and tax-free. Dubai has some beautiful beaches but temperatures can soar to unbearable levels during the hotter months of the year, making the air-conditioned shopping malls a popular alternative. There are plenty of indoor playgrounds and other kids activities within these shopping malls and a wide choice of international schools.