Written by Michael

6min read


An expat is by definition someone who’s chosen to leave their birth country to explore the world and find a country of adoption. You’d be surprised to know that there is a variety of reasons for people to want to move abroad and start a new life, from political to professional reasons. But the most common explanation that you’ll receive from Millennials coming from any of the Western cultures is a sense of self-discovery. Young adults decide to move abroad as a way to tackle the feeling that they don’t fit in where they were born. It’s a common disparity in civilisations where the digital revolution and the social traditions don’t match. People who grew up in a world where they could expand their knowledge and cultural perspective with a click of a button find it difficult to exist in an environment where the social evolution is not yet a match for their open-minded digital approach. You know the kind: borderless, genderless, nationless, these are the results of digital interactions. No wonder Millennials are changing countries to find a place that will understand them better! So, if you find that you’re stuck in your current situation, maybe it’s time to consider a bold move abroad. What’s the best place to go and how to make it work? Here are some thoughts about the expat life to help you make a choice.

pasted image 0Kuala Lumpur

South east Asia is a cultural blast for those who need a change of lifestyle.

If you genuinely need to take a brand new start and change your perspectives on life, then you want a cultural renewal. If like most expats you were born in Europe or the USA, you need to broaden your horizons with a stay in south-east Asia. Why there, you ask? Because it’s the perfect mix of activity poles, high tech, centuries-old traditions, great food and folk culture, and more importantly amazing landscapes. Besides, you’ll find that the history of the place is fascinating and somehow has a tie to Western history too. There are plenty of options from Thailand to Cambodia, but you’ll find that Malaysia offers the ideal balance of new and old if you’re not ready for a complete mindset reboot. On the one hand, you’ve got cities like Kuala Lumpur that combines a happy mix of Malay, Chinese and Indian influences in the middle of a modern town surrounded by a fantastic landscape. But on the other hand, you’ll be amazed by Cameron Highlands, a lush scenery of tea plantations, strawberry farms and butterfly gardens around volcanoes. Besides, the cost of living there is low so that you can look for a house for rent in Malaysia without breaking the bank. The local currency, the Malaysian Ringgit equals around 18 pennies, so you can find it easy to settle in Malaysia. In fact, with grocery prices 25% cheaper than European prices, you’ll enjoy the local life even more!

Touring Europe: Going back to culture basics

If you prefer to stay in a known environment but still get a change of traditions and landscape, you will love the European life. It’s a safe bet if you want to move abroad but can’t be too fussed with integrated into a new culture. European culture is thankfully very similar to what you grew up with if you were born in the UK or even in the USA. You will find the same religious traditions, such as Easter and Christmas – although some European countries celebrate it more in-depth than others. In fact, regions that are deeply Christian, like Spain or Italy, have made religious celebrations the core of their behaviour. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun there, on the contrary! If you are keen to discover something new, have a look for Orthodox celebrations in Greece, as it will give you a different perspective. Still need to decide where to go in Europe? You could try Denmark, which has been named the world’s happiest country several times in a row. Or maybe you’d love the confrontation of natural elements in Finland, which makes it the ideal spot for artists. For British expats, specifically,  the place to go to is not Finland but Sweden instead as it offers the best advantages for families to raise their children, on top of a super healthy lifestyle. Too cold or too expensive for your liking? Try Porto instead, the beautiful harbour town in Portugal that offers low rent and healthy Mediterranean environment with a sunny weather almost all year through.

There’s only one issue with choosing to live by the Med: You will have to learn a foreign language, as most people, while they understand English, don’t use it as a mean of communication. In Nordic countries, you can survive with speaking English only, but if you choose to live in the south of Europe, you’ll have to learn Italian, Spanish, French or Portuguese.

pasted image 1Porto

Embracing a big adventure in America

Finally, how about embracing the famous American dream and giving your life aspiration a little boost? If you’re thinking about moving to the USA only, take a moment to consider your options. Nowadays, both north and south Americas are popular destinations for expats and migrants. In fact, while most people still choose to start a new life in the USA, more and more adults have moved to Central America in the past few years. The reason is a happy combination of sunny weather and new business opportunities. In fact, there are more Europeans who have moved to Latin America than the other way around. From a historical point of view, it’s easy to understand the peak in interest, as Latin America’s past is tightly connected to Europe, and especially Spain. However, whether you choose north or south, you’ll need to keep an eye on the intrinsic divergences between each country. In north America only, the cost of life in Canada and the USA is very different, and the social advantages you receive in one country have nothing in common with the other. If you’re planning to start a family, Canada is the place to live in. But if you want to launch a successful entrepreneur career, you may pick the USA instead.

Whether you’re in for a cultural change, a brand new language in a known cultural environment or a successful career, you’ll pick a different destination. But the bottom line is: the expat life is only as good as you’re ready to make it.

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42 thoughts on “Could You Be The Ultimate Expat?

  1. I’ve been fortunate enough to live in Asia, Europe, and America. It’s kind of funny how expats tend to band together and be kind of similar across the board. I can’t imagine doing this without my support group of fellow travelers.

  2. Loved reading this- too true! I’m an expat in Italy and have loads of friends from all of Europe that would swear by the truth you’ve written about. Sad you didn’t mention my Home country- Australia as an option tho 😉

  3. As an expat living in Copenhagen, I can totally recommend it as a place to live as a foreigner. Just everything about it is “hygge”. Another big reason for expats to be expats is actually Erasmus, but I think your analysis is very accurate 🙂

  4. When I was living in China the expats were definitely separated from the rest of we foreigners. They had expense accounts, drivers, lived in very nice homes, usually in gated communities, sent their children to international schools and many had no idea what the culture here was beyond the staple foods of rice or noodles. I am happy things have changed!

  5. Sometimes, I find myself not being able to move because I can’t leave the people behind, not the situation. Moving means meeting new people, discovering new things but at the same time, it also means letting go of some of the things that are of value to you at where you are currently ? haha but I do have moments when I want to just go away to another country for months by myself and explore new places ?

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