As I begin meeting people in my new area, the Algarve in Portugal, I keep getting the same question…what made me decide on Portugal? If you’ve read any of my site, I’ve addressed this question and you know I originally went to Spain. But here I will go into some more detail. For anyone considering a move, what kinds of factors go into a decision about where to go?
For me, one major point was easy. Language. I didn’t want to go somewhere that was so similar to the States that English was the first language. So that eliminated some of Central America and basically, Mexico. No, it’s not officially their first language, but most Americans can live pretty easily there without having to learn Spanish.
Learning Spanish was actually a moving factor for me. But many people use a Spanglish mix in Mexico, so it was still eliminated. Then, safety was also a consideration. Now, I know that some countries in South America are safer than most Americans realize. But safety can also be personal perception and for me, I feel safer being somewhere I’m somewhat familiar with. That was what led me to Western Europe, as that’s where I’d been traveling most recently.
Geography. For example, do you want to live near a beach or the mountains? If you like the beach, are you fine with the humidity that goes with it? The same is true for most tropical climates like the Caribbean. (Bugs like that kind of weather, also…). Do you prefer a large city or a more rural area? Keep in mind that the further you are away from a metropolitan area, the fewer your amenities like choice of grocery stores and availability of big box stores. Especially if you want to fix up a place of your own, you need to consider where and how you will get your supplies.
Another related issue is transportation. If you live further from amenities, will you buy or move a car to your new place? How much will it cost you in fuel, insurance, taxes and government red tape? Can you use public transportation? How do you feel about walking if it’s hilly? What about later as you grow older?
If you are moving with a family, education will be a big consideration. Will you be fine with public schools or do you need to check on private options? Safety will also be big for you. And will you want to live near locals or stay in an expat area?
If you are not coming as a transfer with your current employer, you may be looking for a job. Even if you are on a pension, you may want to have the option of adding some income. Will that be allowed on a visa to that country? More importantly, what are your chances of local employment when many countries are themselves in a recession? Or perhaps you’re thinking of creating your own business or trying something new in your new country? Check that the country you’re moving to will allow you to open your own business and that the laws and taxes are friendly to you. Or at least, know what you are getting into before you make a move.
Then, generally, have an idea of where you might fit in to your new home. Are there lots of expats? Any other Americans? That may or may not be important to you but if you don’t speak the country’s language you will feel less isolated if you have others to talk who have been in your situation. It’s always nice to have a support system as soon as you can.
Your Takeaway – As you may suspect, there are lots of factors to keep in mind if you are thinking about making a move. Just as long as you’ve considered most of them, you should have a great chance of not just surviving, but thriving, as quickly as possible in your new place.