Where to Live Overseas?

It's becoming a world where many people can choose where they want to reside. Australia's a great place, but for a whole range of reasons, including proximity to work and tax, it may be more convenient to settle down somewhere else for a while. Also, in an increasing number of jobs, it is possible to carry out your work virtually anywhere - at the extreme, on a beach in Thailand rather than across a desk in Melbourne.

We've listed below are a few factors that we think you should bear in mind when choosing where to live. It's difficult to place them in order of importance, because it depends very much on your family circumstances - for example, education will rank near the top if you are married with children, but not of course if you are single.

  • Proximity to work
  • Access to transport - particularly airport hubs
  • Taxation - both of domestic and overseas income
  • Security and stability
  • Ability to purchase property freehold
  • Education and health facilities
  • Housing quality and availability
  • Cost of living
  • Culture/freedom
  • Weather/Climate
  • Access to permanent/long-term residency

Just as an indication, we find at Exfin that the three primary "filters" used by individuals who are mobile on a global basis (eg. oil and gas professionals) are 1) ability to become a long-term resident 2) taxation treatment and 3) transport access.

Choosing the "right" country to live in is an intensely personal thing and perspectives differ considerably - for example on whether the focus is retirement and your overall financial situation. Also, your background inevitably plays a role, with Americans often seeming to favour South American and European locations, whilst Australians often have a bias towards Asian and European countries. For interest, see below International Livings 2010 rankings of the best countries to retire in:

International Living’s Top 25 Countries to Retire in 2010

Country
Real
Estate
Sp.
Benefits
Cost of
Living
Culture
Health
Infra.
Safety/
Stability
Climate
Total
1.Ecuador
100
95
73
62
72
45
86
96
81
2. Panama
93
100
62
63
77
74
93
69
80
3. Mexico
94
90
68
66
76
59
81
92
79
4. France
78
60
59
81
100
92
100
87
78
5. Italy
85
65
64
85
90
62
100
87
78
6. Uruguay
94
80
64
72
72
61
100
93
77
7. Malta
88
72
66
71
80
52
100
95
76
8. Chile
95
87
60
67
73
73
98
59
76
9. Spain
90
65
56
68
90
66
100
79
75
10. Costa Rica
95
76
62
60
78
60
95
79
75
11. Brazil
92
74
66
61
73
62
83
82
74
12. Argentina
92
60
61
70
82
56
100
91
74
13. Colombia
98
70
68
58
72
44
71
92
73
14. New Zealand
96
55
58
59
86
70
100
84
73
15. U.S.
57
78
57
79
78
100
100
80
73
16. Portugal
72
74
60
72
77
56
100
83
72
17. Australia
57
69
56
58
87
92
100
84
71
18. Belize
83
78
69
58
60
60
82
65
70
19. Malaysia
96
62
66
71
68
44
86
43
69
20. Ireland
78
80
28
81
79
60
100
65
68
21. Nicaragua
98
60
66
57
66
36
69
68
67
22. U.K.
57
80
30
70
84
80
100
66
67
23. Honduras
97
50
65
32
66
40
71
83
64
24. Dom Rep
97
60
58
47
60
40
70
57
63
25. Thailand
92
45
68
65
63
32
60
24
61

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How our Global Retirement Index is scored

Real Estate. Countries where real estate prices are low and the purchase of real estate is relatively easy receive the highest scores. We use our own experiences plus reports from our contributing editors and real estate contacts around the world to rate each country. Weight: 15%

Entertainment, Recreation, and Culture. This category considers the number of newspapers per 1,000 citizens, the number of museums and cinemas per capita, the number of university students, the literacy rate, and the variety of cultural and recreational offerings. Weight: 10%

Cost of Living. This score is based on statistics from the Indexes of Living Costs Abroad, Quarter Allowances, and Hardship Differentials, published by the United States Department of State, and on data published by Business International. We also use our firsthand experiences living and traveling in these countries. The lower the score, the higher the cost of living. Weight: 20%

Safety and Stability. This measure of unrest in each country is based primarily on Interpol data and State Department statistics. It also takes into account the civil liberties and political rights granted by each government. Our own experiences and reports from expatriates living in these countries also influence the safety scores. Weight: 5%

Health Care. Considered in this category are the cost of a typical visit to a general practitioner and the cost and coverage particulars of health insurance. Weight: 20%

Climate. Countries with temperate weather throughout the year, moderate rain fall, and little risk of natural disaster come out on top in this category. We use data representing each country as a whole instead of favoring one region over another. Weight: 5%

Special Benefits. This category considers government provisions that make moving to and living in each country easier and more affordable for foreigners. Taken into account are property rights for foreign residents, property tax rates, duty-free imports on personal belongings, currency controls, employment restrictions, voting rights, and transportation discounts for seniors. Weight: 20%

Infrastructure. This section considers the number of cars and telephones per 1,000 residents, the length of railroad track in usable condition, the number of airports, the quality of the country’s road and highway network, and the availability of telecommunications. Weight: 5%