At some point, you've probably fantasized about moving abroad. Maybe it's because you fell in love with the tulips in Amsterdam while on vacay, or heard about the new offices (and dream jobs) that your company was opening up in Singapore.
But while starting fresh halfway across the globe sounds glamorous and exciting, there are a lot of factors to weigh, not the least of which include how your wallet and your quality of life could be affected. Expat resource site InterNations recently released a report surveying more than 12,500 expats of varying nationalities to get their takes on the countries they now call home; the results could help you decide if you're ready to turn your wanderlust into a long-term relocation.
Here's what they found:
Best for Expats Overall: Bahrain
According to the study, Bahrain improved this year across many of the factors the study covers, including how well a country makes expats feel welcome, how happy expats are with their careers and how family-friendly a country is. Almost a third of the respondents living in Bahrain said they expect to stay there for more than five years, while 11% say they might choose to stay forever. Costa Rica and Mexico followed close behind in the overall ranking.
Best Quality of Life: Portugal
This ranking took into account how happy expats were when it came to leisure options, travel and transport availability, health and well-being, and safety and security. Expats loved Portugal because of its weather, affordable health care and the amount of sun and relaxation it provides residents. Taiwan came in second.
Easiest on Your Wallet: Vietnam
This takes into account two different indexes: personal finance, which asks expats how they view their financial situation and whether their income was enough to cover their expenses; and overall cost of living. Vietnam took the top spot on both because it provides great value for the expat dollar: 93% of respondents said they made enough or more than enough to cover what they needed, much higher than the global average of 77%. Vietnam also comes in first for job and career satisfaction.
Best Place to Work Abroad: Czech Republic
Expats working in the Czech Republic reported being happy overall with their jobs, career opportunities, work hours and job security. Interestingly, the country also reported higher percentages of self-employed professionals than most other parts of the world. New Zealand came in second.
Best for Families: Finland
Finland was the clear winner here because of its excellent school system, the recreational opportunities available for kids and affordability of child care. One respondent even lauded the country as "one of the best places on earth to raise kids."
So which countries weren't as expat-friendly? Some of the countries that didn't fare as well in the overall rankings when compared with last year's study were Australia, which dropped from No. 7 to No. 34, primarily due to work-life balance and other career reasons; Poland, where expats seemed unhappy with the environmental conditions, citing smog as an issue (it fell from No. 24 to 49); and the Ukraine, which fell from No. 34 to 59 because expats weren't too happy about their financial situations there; plus, they found it hard to make friends.
Still think you're ready to live the expat life? Before you pack your bags, here are five things to keep in mind that could impact your job and your money.