10 Amazing Dream Destinations for American Expats
If you've ever fantasized about what life would be like in another country, one of these dream destinations just might make you take the plunge. YOLO, right?
Photo By: Steve Larese
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Photo By: Image courtesy of Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts
Home to a world-famous rainforest (yes, the other Amazon), rich archaeological heritage, pristine beaches and culinary delights, like ceviche and cuy al horno, you'll want to add Peru to your short list. Slow down and take time to explore this small tropical nation that's just one-tenth the size of the United States (by population). There's more to Peru than Machu Pichu. Even better, your dollars go farther here, like twice as far. That's according to Numbeo, a crowd-sourced database that shares cost of living figures for countries worldwide.
Singapore is a city, a state and the best place in the world to work and play. That's according to HSBC's Expat Explorer Survey, which culled findings of interviews with more than 22,000 expats on three primary expat life categories, including economics (job security, disposable income), experience (safety, quality of life) and family (education, social life). It's also home to a newly-expanded Changi Airport, which is consistently ranked as the world's best airport thanks to in-airport butterfly gardens, nature trails and a movie theatre. Whether you choose to explore every inch of this tiny city-state or jet off for the weekend, you'll be well taken care of here.
Portugal is one of the more wallet-friendly destinations in Western Europe, making this coastal nation a prime pick for budget-conscious expats. It's also landed on multiple must-go lists over the last few years, so now is a good time to experience the charm and beauty before Portugal falls victim to overtourism (Lisbon, in particular). Portugal's openness to Americans, as well as other nationalities, makes expats feel welcome and eager to explore this safe and sublime overseas destination.
Best-known for ornate temples, extravagant palaces, and of course, exquisite beaches, Thailand is among the most popular expat destinations in Southeast Asia. Savor Bangkok's thriving floating markets or soak in the sunshine on the southwestern island of Phuket. Expats will quickly find that a move to Thailand affords a more relaxed lifestyle, as well as a highly desirable cost of living. You won't be alone in making a move to Thailand. Between Facebook and Meetup, there are hundreds of expat groups eager to take you in as a new friend.
Pura Vida, as the locals say. It's how locals say hello and goodbye in Costa Rica. It's also an accurate description of the country's relaxed lifestyle since the greeting translates to "pure life" (also, simple life). Costa Rica recently topped the Happy Planet Index as the greenest and happiest place in the world based on happiness, life expectancy and ecological footprint. Sustainability-focused expats take note, Costa Rica is able to generate nearly all of its energy from renewable sources. This is a peace-loving nation eager to share its lush greenery, coffee plantations, gorgeous beaches and huge diversity of wildlife with expats of all kinds.
Another top-ranked country on HSBC's Expat Explorer Survey is one that may come as a surprise. It's Bahrain and it's a real gem in the Persian Gulf. This welcoming destination is a winner thanks to a relatively low cost of living, a relaxed lifestyle and salaries that typically exceed what expats would earn in the United States. Bahrain also came out on top in the Expat Insider ranking for 2018. Among those surveyed, many cited how easy it was to communicate (most everyone speaks English) and settle in with a comfortable new group of friends.
For expats eager to spark joy in their lives, make the move to Scandinavia. The United Nations recently released its annual World Happiness Report and all three Scandinavian countries made this list, including Sweden at number seven. The country is clean, beautiful and efficient (Marie Kondo would be pleased). Sweden is also known for its work-life balance. In fact, it's kind of obsessed, even putting forth initiatives that help workers spend more time with their families. How refreshing. It's not an inexpensive place to live, but all the positives can easily supersede the dent in your wallet.
For many expats, Taiwan is a pleasant surprise. It's also a new home they can't imagine leaving when the time comes to return to the United States (except maybe those who are not fans of Hello Kitty because Taiwan is obsessed with her). For one, Taipei's street food scene is incredible. It's fresh, delicious and incredibly diverse. Another top reason (if not, the top reason) is the healthcare system. It's well-organized, easy-to-access and costs for doctor visits and prescription medications aren't off the charts. You may never want to come back to the U.S. healthcare system after experiencing Taiwanese medical care.
If you're not exactly sure where Malta is, you're not alone. This tiny island nation of less than 500,000 citizens is a sparkling jewel set in the Mediterranean Sea, just below Sicily. This beautiful island is exceptionally safe and draws in expats with its sunny disposition. English is widely-spoken across the island, making it easy to get around and settle in to the simple expat life in Malta (and there's a fairly large expat community here). This country may be small, but there's plenty to do, like snorkeling, kayaking, hiking and festival-hopping.
The cost of living is blissful in Ecuador, making this equator-straddling tropical country a top choice among expats. According to Numbeo, it costs a full 40 percent less in Ecuador to live a comparable lifestyle to that lifestyle in the United States. The landscape here is incredibly diverse, ranging from sandy beaches to dense jungles to rocky highlands. As an American, you won't be alone in enjoying the expat lifestyle in Ecuador. There are dozens of expat communities across Ecuador, though you may also find that the locals go to great lengths to make you feel welcome and at home in this captivating destination.