10 Best Countries To Live In For The Online Professional
One of my targets for the next couple of years is to sample life on every continent in the world, including a (very) brief taster of Antarctica.
I spent the last 8 months living in Bangkok which made a great base to explore South East Asia. Now that I’m back in Europe and the novelty of catching up with friends and family has passed, I’m already daydreaming about new adventures. Guybrush Threepwood eat your heart out, I’m ready to conquer the seas.
Expats regularly discuss the sensation of returning home after an extended period of traveling. It’s a strange feeling.
If you’ve spent your entire lifetime in a single city or state, only to one day decide to go traveling, it’s amazing how so little seems to have changed when you finally return home. The uncertainty and adventure is replaced with familiarity and a grinding restlessness. There must be more to life than life as you know it.
Thailand was my first taste of settling in a foreign country. As much as I enjoyed my time, there are things I would have done differently and efforts I would have made if I could go back and do it again. The temptation, of course, as a guy who makes his money from the Internet, is to do exactly that. Go back and do it all again.
I thought I’d draw up a list of countries I’ve considered moving to, for anybody else out there with the restless desire to travel and dump themselves in to the unknown. Let me know if you have any other destinations that I’ve missed. I’m no expert in the field, just a guy who spends too long pissing around on Wikipedia and Google Images.
The 10 Best Countries To Live In
Argentina – The next country on my hit-list, and regularly touted as the Mecca for expats seeking the best standard of living at the lowest price. Everybody I know who has experienced Argentina, has loved it and wanted to go back for more.
Buenos Aires, the capital and gateway, regularly tops polls as the most popular destination for expats. Simmering subtropical weather, luscious food and a vibrant atmosphere are just a few of the descriptions I hear thrown around. Sounds like the perfect remedy for British autumn and winter.
By all accounts, learning Spanish seems like a pretty good idea before planning a move to Argentina. As I learnt in Thailand, language is often the decisive factor between loving a culture, or respecting it from afar, and between making close friends, or merely lots of smiling acquaintances.
Thailand – I spent 8 months living in Bangkok and it’s pretty hard not to fall in love with the Land of Smiles. Thais are incredibly friendly, gracious and welcoming… even if like me, your control over the native language is somewhat sketchy. Thailand is not as cheap as I was expecting, but considering I wedged myself in a luxury apartment in downtown Bangkok, the standard of living to the dollar was immense.
Certain products are dirt cheap (DVDs, electronics, clothes), but replicating your western way of living will rack up the expenses. It’s a country where immersing yourself in the language will reap the benefits of avoiding a tourist economy. Admittedly, hiring a maid for £80/month to do your grocery shopping is a good alternative.
The economy is corrupt and you will undoubtedly find – for better or worse – that money will buy you just about anything in Thailand. Herpes included, so don’t be a dumbarse!
The many beaches scattered around Thailand are simply out of this world. I’ll have the pure white sand and crystal clear waters burnt in to my retinas for the rest of my time on this planet. Little else can compare.
Canada – A friend of mine is moving to Canada next year. I’ve never been, but I deal with a lot of account managers based in Canada who seem a whole lot more cheerful than their American counterparts – so there must be something uplifting about the world’s second largest country! What really strikes me about Canada is the balance between urban familiarity and untouched natural beauty.
Canada always scores highly on standard of living polls, and it probably helps my attraction that most Canadians I’ve spoken to, I’ve gotten on with very well. Let’s not forget how much easier it is to move there as opposed to the draconian measures necessary to enter the USA without getting your arsehole cross-examined for a visa.
Czech Republic – If you fancy a slice of bohemia, grab a plane to the Czech Republic. Prague has a reputation for offering all the charm of Berlin and Paris at a fraction of the cost. It’s one of the cheapest places to settle in Europe, and rapidly becoming one of the most popular. Known as the City of a Hundred Spires, you’ll find history dripping from every street. Students and tourists flock here, along with a growing number of expats.
I have to stress that for anybody visiting Europe from afar, prices are not cheap across the continent. The further north you go, the deeper in to your wallet you can expect to reach. The Czech Republic has the benefit of being nicely located if you want to jump on a train and see the rest of Europe. Small countries, huge diversity…one of the great attractions of moving to this part of the world.
New Zealand – My reasons for moving to New Zealand hinge on the fact that it looks fucking awesome. There’s not much more to it. New Zealand is a hot destination for students here in the UK, which probably has something to do with it being the adrenaline junkie’s capital of the world. My friends who’ve travelled there tell me that Wellington and Christchurch are better choices than Auckland for settling down. But the country seems to attract expats all over.
The cost of living is rising in New Zealand, but unlike many other popular expat spots, moving here requires very little adjustment. The language is the same, the people are friendly and there’s already a strong presence of other nationalities. New Zealand and Australia are seen as the traditional landing ports for pissed off Brits seeking a better quality of life.
Costa Rica – In many expat eyes, this is the gem of Central America. Costa Rica is the oldest democracy in Latin America, and generally accepted as the safest country in the region. It’s a peaceful, friendly country with a tropical climate and the kind of scenery that takes your breath away. Volcanoes, rainforests and natural fauna… you name it, Costa Rica has it.
Living in Costa Rica can be very cheap if you limit yourself to the bare essentials. But in keeping with many expat hotspots, you will pay a noticeable premium to retain your western way of living. Expect your diet to improve with a rich invasion of fresh fruit and veg, although I would suspect getting a pizza delivered could be difficult if you choose to immerse yourself in the secluded paradise spots.
Costa Rica has been hit by a swarm of North American expats in recent time, making it proportionately, the most heavily populated country by US citizens outside of America itself. What does this mean? Starbucks…coming to a rainforest near you.
South Africa – A stunning country with the strongest economy in Africa, you probably remember clips of natural sublimity from last years Football World Cup. I’ve always had a soft spot for South Africa, being drawn to the incredible safari experiences that are available throughout the country. Obviously living somewhere is about more than encountering lions in the wild, but some of the landscapes look unmissable to me. When it comes to crossing off Africa from my continents to experience, I’m pretty sure it’ll be here that I decide to base myself.
South Africa comes with a few risks attached. Safety issues on the streets are well documented and there are some places where you simply cannot risk walking around on your own at night. There are plenty of tourist horror stories to shit your pants over but ultimately, being sensible and acknowledging the risks should be enough to avoid them altogether. Housing is cheap, food is priced reasonably, but don’t be fooled in to believing that costs are low across the board in the major cities. One look at the forum posts reveals that they’re not, and they’re rising.
Singapore – Seriously Singaporeans, how do you do it? I only spent 5 days in this buzzing metropolis, and I managed to spunk my way through close to £1000 on some pretty standard expenses. Okay, admittedly, Andrew Wee inflated my bill by coaxing me in to buying a shit ton of imported chocolate on the last night, much of which I ended up eating to be able to get back through customs unscathed. But let me put it out there… Singapore is not cheap.
It’s certainly no retirement destination for the old hack making tuppence on his state pension.
That said, Singapore is spotlessly perfect. It really is one of the tidiest and most attractive looking countries you’re likely to find. This is made much easier by the fact that it’s so small. Imagine Wales, with civilization thrown in for good measure.
If you’re a city dweller who likes to be in the thick of fast moving urban life, Singapore will definitely appeal. It has a thriving economy, excellent infrastructure and the comfort of the English language. Just be prepared to sell multiple body components to pay your rent.
Panama – Were you not paying attention during Prison Break? Panama is the perfect paradise for criminals on the run. So as an affiliate marketer, I should fit in just fine.
Wedged in the heart of Central America, Panama brings the freedom of two different oceans on your doorstep. It’s a destination that is exploding in popularity for the tourism industry. Many Americans and Europeans alike are drawn to the country for the higher standard of living and feisty climate. You should tackle Spanish before committing to a Panama move. Once conquering the language, you’ll find a passionate and friendly population that is known for being very welcoming towards expats.
Crime is always something you want to consider before relocating to this part of the world. Historically, Panama has developed a reputation as one of the safer countries in Central America – if you don’t take up employment in the drugs trade, you should be fine.
I don’t like to get bogged down in what some biddy in her rocking chair misconceives to be a violent nation on the other side of the world (It’s a bit like the argument, “Thailand? Don’t the women there have dicks?“), but I know it’s a sore spot stereotype for many people looking to move.
France – I’ve been told that the south of France would be the perfect match for my personality. Whether there’s any truth to that remains to be seen. I’ve never been. Paris has never appealed to me. Londoners and Parisians couldn’t be further apart, despite their geo proximity. But the south of France looks to be a different story. Glorious food, regular t-shirt weather and a lackadaisical attitude in getting from A to B. On second thoughts… where’s my passport?
So what of London? Having moved back here in July, would I recommend the city to other individuals looking to sample life abroad?
Yes and no.
London is a brilliant place to visit. Full of things to do, sights to see and with the cultural back-catalogue of history nestled in to every bustling corner. The spontaneous individual with a sufficiently fat wallet can never get bored in London.
But as a home, it can be overwhelming and underwhelming in equal measures. I have obvious ties to the city. Most of my friends and family live here. It’s always felt like home to me, but that’s only because I can’t afford to uproot my loved ones and bung them in the back of the plane to be relocated to the destinations above.
I like to mock the state of Britain (and it’s pretty easy given our recent riots), but as far as sense of humour goes, the Brits are the best in the world. No matter where I travel, I always miss the laughs that come with some self-deprecating banter over a beer and a burger.
Of course, Brits are good at traveling – even better at burning themselves to shit in the process – so it’s not hard to track them down abroad. But as the old adage goes, there’s no place like home. Or is there? I want to collect enough passport stamps to see for myself.
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33 CommentsLeave a comment
You don’t get enough for your money in Singapore man. I’d rather hit up the hot russian chicks in Latvia.
Real glad your making it online. I like your writing style especially your comment about Wales. I went there several decades ago, couldn’t even get a date with a sheep.
The thing about Singapore is that you can really live like a king if you fancy, and a peasant if you want. (if you know where to go)
We have the whole spectrum here, where your meals can run into the thousands at the most upscale restaurants, and as cheap as $2-$5 if you go for our local delights at the right places.
Being the baller you are, perhaps Andrew Wee has brought you to all the places where ballers belong lol.
@Kang – I did actually get a taste for the ‘local’ economy when Wee took my girlfriend and I around town. It was much more affordable, and actually pretty cheap compared to elsewhere. I guess it depends where you typically dine out and buy your groceries. Didn’t help that I stayed in tourist central! Lovely country though.
you should check out havana man. i just got back from there. Everygirl i banged tried licking my asshole too. the only problem with cuba is using the internet is a headache.
@John – I… didn’t know that about Havana girls.
Singapore is a sterile, lifeless and relentlessly hot hole. I’d rather take Hong Kong instead.
Polish girls do that too John.
Hey, Argentina is really nice (I live in Buenos Aires – Capital Federal) also there are different places to visit. English is ok in some turistic places but most people do not speak it fluently, it´s just a second language. It´s not a super-cheap country as you may think but with US dollars or pounds you´ll be fine here ;-). Anyway let me know if you want to know more and you´re welcome when ready! 🙂
@John – you just made me LOL.
Your lists of 10 best countries to live in are all beautiful. Philippines is also the best country, lots of tourist destination.
your best 10 is good i was amazed south africa and panama, seem like panama made me feel like I’m in the philippines, It’s nice
[…] Want to live the vagabond lifestyle? Finch tells you the Top 10 places for an online professional. […]
That very nice image adventure..hopefully i make that adventure around the world.. 😛
CANADA is the best for me. Yeah, anyway, everything you listed above are great!
I subscribe to International Living and they highly recommend Panama, Costa Rica, and Argentina. Do all these countries have affordable, reliable high-speed internet? If not, it would be very hard to continue one’s online business.
When I was young and ambitious (few years ago), I wanted to live in Dominican Republic, Cabaret-Sosua. I was simply in love with that country.
I wanted to be there for a year or two, establish my summer residence and some local agricultural business and then move on.
For small online biz company formation and foreign passport I wanted Guatemala. For big online business Hong Kong, and for lifetime residence after that – Moscow.
Don’t ask me why I did not realize all that…
I’ve been to Thailand and the elephant riding was really cool, you can also check my motherland Philippines, there are lots of good tourist spots. Hiking, surfing, any kind of extreme sports.
Hm… this sounds good and exciting the only problem is that you need to have the courage to go into the unknown, and to get rid off the familiar (including friends and family). And this is not such an easy think to do.
Anyway, nice subject, and I applaud everyone who has done this!
Best selection your 10 counties to online professional. South koria is also one.
Love the concept of living abroad, aka “Four Hour Work Week”. I’ve been following International Living for years. I recently moved from the east coast to southern AZ, so once I’ve left my home town, I think leaving the country would be much easier. Do all these places have easy access to high speed internet?
From the list, Thailand and Costa Rica would probably be your biggest worries for high speed Internet. It’s possible to get it, but the service very much depends on where you’re located in the country. It’s very regional.
I see Spain is not in there.
I have recently moved back from Spain and struggled to find any good quality websites to advertise my villa for sale on. I even invested in a private website to advertise my property (see http://villa.atomicsoup.com) if anybody wants a bargain double villa! Most websites that are on page one of google.com are way too expensive and kyero only lets agents advertise on there site. Others like rightmove are way too expensive for only a short period of advertising. I did find this site http://owner-sale.co.uk where owners can advertise their property for only £19 until sold! It has some good features on there, advertise in 7 languages, 18 pictures, video of your property, sale or rent. Good value for money, if anyone is trying to sell their overseas property check it out! Does anybody know of similar sites in this price range for me to advertise my villa for sale on?
Good informative blog by the way!
What about Holland, Amsterdam especially. I’ve spent 2 months working there recently, and coming from an former communist country it felt so liberating that the soft drugs, public and paid sex were legal.
Not because I enjoy those things (well, not that I don’t ;)), but the reason it felt so good is because that freedom and open mindedness was extremely liberating.
If you haven’t, at least go for a visit.
Great places! I’d pick Singapore its an amazing place but expensive. Garry, has also asked a very important question. I do not intend to settle abroad but if I ever do the internet speed will be my first priority.
Malaysia is a good alternative to Singapore price wise. And the local food is awesome as well. I have yet seen anyone decline a bowl of Penang laksa.
I’d love to move to an exotic location and I do work from home, so I could… but I have a 2 year old… and wherever I’d do would need to be affordable, and a good place to raise her… Any suggestions in that arena?
I guess it depends how you define a good place to raise her. Would it need to be English speaking, or just with good International schools?
If I can make enough money off of blogging Panama is indeed a place for me to be.
English speaking is preferable… as It’d be a struggle to get a new language soaked into my brain 🙂 But schooling and safety would rank the highest. (Well, those two and affordability :))
My husband and I are internet marketers in the field of natural health, and we just relocated to Vancouver, BC (your picture of Canada right there is pretty much our view) from different (cheaper) provinces.
Although we love how beautiful it is, and how veg and health friendly and young the city is, it’s rains A LOT. Like all the time, getting 3 days of slightly sunny with some cloud coverage is like heaven here.
But that’s not the worst part.
The worst part is that it’s the most expensive and overpriced city in North America, if not one of the top in the world. No one can afford to buy real estate or even rent here.
Paying $2000/month Canadian get’s you a very small 700-900 sq ft condo with no room to breath. Crack houses sell for over 1 million dollars here. Tiny tear down houses cost upwards of $600,000 CAD. A decent house is well over 1 million Canadian.
Since we work on line we are thinking why the hell are we busting our asses to pay to live in the most expensive city in Canada? Yes it’s beautiful, but when it rains so much we don’t enjoy the outdoors as much as we want to. And spending a thousand dollars a month extra on rent is akin to lighting it on fire. We could use that money to travel, or save if we lived somewhere else.
As much as I love this city, I am just down right disgusted by it. Foreign investors from Asia have bought up all the property. The people owning my small condo are 5 people! They are raising the rent on us and don’t care that we’d rather leave than pay extortionist prices in a recession.
We would move to the USA if we could. It’s hard when you own your own internet business though, not so easy.
I am wondering where else we could relocate to. We did live for 6 months in Costa Rica and planned to stay there, but it’s not very culturally rich, stimulating, veg friendly, or even safe anymore. Columbians are taking over and robbing and kidnapping expats. All the good stuff is in San Jose and it’s overcrowded, dirty and down right dangerous now.
I loved New Zealand, if they had better internet access and bandwidths and we could move there we might consider it, but it’s like a mini Australia and Canada combined.
It’s really hard to find the best place to live that is safe, Western friendly and affordable.
Well, if you have the advantage of both yourself and your husband being Internet Marketers, the world is truly your oyster! I’m sorry to hear about the rent situation in your condo, though. One thing I’ve learnt in my year back in the UK: landlords are arseholes. Always and forever.
Are you sure the poor Internet in New Zealand wasn’t just a regional problem? I know a few Internet Marketers based in NZ and they’ve never mentioned problems with their access.
If you’re looking for safe, affordable and Western friendly, Thailand is definitely an option. I might be moving back there in a few months.
Good luck with your next move!
I spent three months in Negril, Jamaica while working online. Some aspects I loved, some I hated, but it was actually a good place to be productive, thanks to Denis O’Brien’s Digicel 4G wireless internet. The beach is just amazing, and it is relatively free of hassles. The music scene and island cuisine are legendary.
However, it is a poor, corrupt country, and the millions of drug and sex-hungry tourists who preceded me set the expectation that bothering each and every foreign pedestrian with offers for same is a way out of poverty.
Most Jamaicans are wonderfully genuine, so on balance I really miss Negril. I had been there on a college vacation, with totally different intentions, a couple of decades prior. What pains me is how little the locals’ areas had changed in the twenty-six year interval between my two visits. Heavy tourist industry investment in beach and cliff zones has done nought to improve living conditions for the locals.
Again, the seven miles of white sand beaches, friendly guest houses in the West End and stable unlimited internet at £22/month with typical 4 Mb/sec d/l internet speeds all combined to make this an energizing and productive place to work from. I was quite surprised that as an internet worker who chose to work from there for a few months, I was such a rarity. By the way, check out Denis O’Brien’s work in Haiti. His is a very inspiring story.