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Living Abroad: Expat Living Guide

In this page, we’ll define what is an expat and tap into the basics of expat living.  In particular, our discussion will include the following points:

  • Expat meaning
  • Living Abroad: Best Countries to Move To
  • Living in China
  • Living in Canada
  • Living in America
  • Living in Switzerland
  • Living in Germany
  • Moving to the UK
  • Moving to Japan
  • Living in Qatar

If you are looking to invest as an expat or high-net-worth individual, which is what I specialize in, you can email me (advice@adamfayed.com) or WhatsApp (+44-7393-450-837).

Living abroad is full of ups and downs, but ultimately transforming. Many set out on a path of professional and personal development for a variety of reasons, including, but not limited to, career advancement, educational possibilities, and a thirst for cultural immersion.

Investment options are varied and should be carefully evaluated in light of the local regulatory climate, tax laws, currency dynamics, and financial landscape.

Expat Meaning

One definition of an expatriate, commonly dubbed expat, is a person whose primary occupation is finding gainful employment in a place other than their home country. Those who have chosen to live abroad are also called expats. This includes pensioners, artists, and skilled professionals who plan to return home. An individual’s origins are less important than the reasons behind their decision to reside in another country when defining an expat.

Essential Tips for Expats Living Abroad:

  • Network Building: Attend local events, join expat groups, and connect with both locals and fellow expatriates to build a support system and make new friends.
  • Education Options: If applicable, explore educational options for children, including international schools or local institutions offering expat-friendly programs.
  • Cultural Activities: Engage in local cultural activities, festivals, and events to enrich your experience and feel more connected to your new community.
  • Emergency Fund: Establish and maintain an emergency fund to cover unexpected expenses or emergencies.
  • Living Expenses: Understand the local cost of living and create a budget that considers both daily expenses and potential fluctuations in currency exchange rates.
  • Work Permits and Visas: Ensure all necessary work permits and visas are secured before relocation to avoid legal complications.
  • Understanding Work Culture: Learn about local work culture, communication styles, and business etiquette to integrate seamlessly into your new workplace.
  • Tax Obligations: Comprehend both local and home country tax obligations to ensure compliance and prevent financial complications.Seeking legal advice to understand any financial or legal implications related to your expatriate status, investments, or assets.

Living Abroad: Best Countries to Move To

Living in China

China provides a diverse combination of cultural and career options for expats. As shown in Expatistan data, Large cities like Beijing and Shanghai are more expensive, whereas smaller cities are cheaper.

Technology and e-commerce are growing, attracting investors.

Related content: A Guide for Living in Beijing China as an Expat

expat living overseas

Moving to Japan

As an expat in Japan, you’ll experience both the modern and the traditional aspects of life. The overall cost of living in Japan is modest according to Numbeo’s aggregated data, although Tokyo and Osaka may be somewhat pricey.

Expats can find encouraging investment opportunities in the thriving technology and automobile sectors.

Related content: Investing in Japan: An expat’s guide in 2023; 11 Best Stock Mutual Funds In Japan To Invest In

Living in South Korea

Moving to South Korea allows expats to experience a lively culture and lively urban centers. Although the cost of living in South Korea can be quite elevated, particularly Seoul, there are cheaper options to consider as well.

Investing in the booming tech and entertainment sectors can be a great idea.

Related content:

Best Places to Live in South Korea as a Foreigner in 2022

F-5 South Korean Permanent Residency Visa: Is It Easy to Get?

Living in Taiwan

Because of its varied landscapes and warm people, Taiwan is a great place for foreigners to settle down. The cost of living in Taiwan is about 34% lower than in the US as per Numbeo. The capital, Taipei, has a moderate cost of living.

A promising investment opportunity exists in Taiwan’s technological industry, specifically in the production of semiconductors.

Related content:

How to invest in stocks in Taiwan?

Living in Taipei Guide for Expats

Living in Hong Kong

Known for its cosmopolitan lifestyle, expats face a high cost of living in Hong Kong, particularly in terms of housing rental at almost 1,600 USD.

Finance and real estate sectors are traditional strongholds for investment in this bustling financial hub.

Related content:

Cost of Living in Singapore vs Hong Kong

Investing Abroad from Hong Kong: Best Guide 2023

Living in Singapore

Expat life in Singapore is cosmopolitan and efficient. The cost of living is high, especially in housing.

Singapore’s finance and technology sectors are robust, making them attractive for investment.

Related content:

Is Singapore More Expensive Than London?

5 Best Steps to Apply for the Singapore Global Investor Program

Living in India

Expat life in India offers a vibrant cultural experience with diverse traditions and cuisines. The living expenses are generally affordable, especially in smaller cities. In fact, the cost of living in India is the cheapest in Asia and globally based on data from Expatistan.

Technology, renewable energy, and healthcare sectors present promising investment opportunities.

Related content:

A Guide for Living in Delhi India for Foreigners

How To Apply For Repatriation To India: 6 Easy Steps

Living in Cambodia

Known for its rich cultural heritage, expats enjoy a relatively low cost of living in India, with housing and transportation being economical.

The tourism and real estate sectors are key investment areas, driven by the country’s growing appeal.

Related content:

How To Get Cambodian Retirement Visa

Your Guide to Investing in Cambodia Including Property

Living in Indonesia

Expats savor a diverse culture and tropical lifestyle albeit at varied cost of living in Indonesia. Jakarta, the capital, is pricier than other cities.

With a burgeoning middle class, sectors like e-commerce, infrastructure, and renewable energy are attractive for investments.

Related content:

Best Places to Live in Indonesia

Buying Property in Indonesia Guide for Expats

Living in Malaysia

The cost of living in Malaysia is a steal for expats, being the second-cheapest country to live in Asia and fourth in the world per Expatistan.

The technology, healthcare, and Islamic finance sectors present promising investment opportunities.

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How to become a digital nomad in Malaysia in 2023

Why you shouldn’t invest in Malaysian real estate in 2023

cost of living in the philippines

Living in the Philippines

The Philippines culture offers a welcoming local community. Real estate, business process outsourcing, and tourism are key sectors for investment.

However, the cost of living in the Philippines has been rising and the country is now deemed one of the most expensive in Southeast Asia. If you move outside of the main cities, though, you can still find more economical alternatives.

Related content:

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How to Invest in Stocks in the Philippines – Part 1 ‍

Living in Thailand

Thailand provides a diverse expat experience with a mix of urban and tropical living. The cost of living in Thailand is about half off of expenses in the US, Expatistan said.

Tourism, manufacturing, and technology are attractive sectors for investment.

Related content:

Buying Property in Thailand Guide for Expats

Best Investments for Digital Nomads in Thailand

Living in Vietnam

The cost of living in Vietnam is generally low, with housing being affordable at around 221 USD per month to rent.

Manufacturing, technology, and tourism are burgeoning sectors for investment.

Related content:

A Complete Guide to Navigating Vietnam Income Tax System in 2023

How To Buy A Property in Vietnam

Living in Portugal

Expatistan’s data ranked the cost of living in Portugal, a popular tourist spot, third-lowest in Western Europe. However, the country is costlier than 55% of countries worldwide.

The government has a program in place called the Portugal Golden Visa that facilitates the residency of international investors.  

Related content:

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Living in Luxembourg

The cost of living in Luxembourg is higher vs 79% of countries globally and 65% of Western European countries.

Luxembourg is second only to the United States in terms of global investment fund centers, and it is by far the biggest in Europe, according to KPMG.

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Living in Germany

The cost of living in Germany is more within your means than both the US and the UK.

Thanks to its solid legislative framework, dependable infrastructure, highly trained labor force, and top-notch R&D, Germany is always named as one of the most appealing investment locations, according to the International Trade Administration.

Related content:

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Living in France

France has a higher cost of living compared to 78% of the world’s countries, but it’s less expensive than Iceland and Switzerland.

Investors from all over the globe flock to France because of the country’s welcoming attitude toward foreign investment and its relatively stable business climate. 

Living in Spain

The cost of living in Spain is the second-lowest in Western Europe. It’s 39% less expensive than the US.

Individuals must buy unencumbered real estate worth 500,000 euros or invest 2 million euros in Spanish public debt instruments, 1 million euros in Spanish equities, shares, or investment funds, or bank deposits to get an investor visa in Spain

Related content:

12 Best Places To Live In Spain For Expats In 2023

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Living in Poland

When compared to other EU member states, the cost of living in Poland is one of the most reasonable, especially for US expats, as overall prices are about 43% less than back home.

As a result of well-timed macroeconomic policies and solid fundamentals, Poland’s economy has outpaced the EU average in growth rate in the last several years. Despite this, projections remained flat in 2023, according to the US State department’s report.

Related content: How To Retire In Poland

Living in Sweden

The cost of living in Sweden is higher than in Nordic neighbor Finland but lower than its other neighbors Denmark and Norway. Compared to the US, living expenses in Sweden are also more affordable.

Foreign investment has typically been highest in the following industries: healthcare, public transportation, information technology, telecommunications, and energy. But there has been a recent uptick in FDI into the retail, wholesale, and manufacturing sectors as well.

Related content:

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Living in Switzerland

When compared to other Western European and global countries, the cost of living in Switzerland is the highest.

Switzerland provides non-EU nationals with a number of residence by investment opportunities. Participation in these programs can lead to permanent residency and citizenship.

Related content:

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8 Reasons to Invest in Switzerland

Living in Finland

Finland offers a world-class investment environment with its strong economy, innovative technological facilities, stability, practicality, and excellent quality of life.

However, the cost of living in Finland is higher compared to 73% of the world’s countries, albeit it’s still lower than the US.

Related content:

Best Places to Live in Finland in 2022

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cost of living in finland

Living in Croatia

The cost of living in Croatia is costlier than Poland and Hungary, but cheaper than the US.

Some of the many reasons to invest in Croatia include its business-friendly setting, its cost-effectiveness, its advantageous location, its attractive incentives, and the professional and free services offered to investors.

Related content: How to Retire in Croatia

Living in Greece

The cost of living in Greece is the most economical in Western Europe.

Citizens of countries outside the European Union can apply for a Greek resident permit through the Greece Golden Visa program’s residency-by-investment plan.

Related content:

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Living in Hungary

The cost of living in Hungary is cheaper than the US, the UK, and the United Arab Emirates.

When compared to other nations in the region, Hungary has a leg up thanks to its government’s dedication to simplifying business processes and boosting the competitiveness of small and large businesses alike through various incentives.

Related content: How to retire in Hungary in 2023: An expat’s guide              

Living in Ireland

The cost of living in Ireland is quite high; in fact, it’s around the same as in the US.

The Immigrant Investor Programme in Ireland provides a pathway for non-EEA nationals with a minimum personal wealth of €2 million, requiring them to invest at least €1 million for a minimum duration of three years to secure immigration permission.

Related content:

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Moving to the Netherlands

The cost of living in the Netherlands is more affordable than the US and the UK, though it’s costlier than 84% of countries on a global basis.

An attractive business and investment environment is provided by the Netherlands, which consistently ranks among the world’s top performing industrialized economies.

Related content:

Visa, Residency, and Citizenship in the Netherlands

A Guide to the Netherlands Pension System

Living in Italy

The cost of living in Italy is more cost-effective than the US, but it’s about the same when compared to the UAE.

Expats from outside the EU who put their money into assets that will have a lasting impact on the country’s economy and society can get an investor visa in Italy good for two years.

Related content:

Best Places to Live in Italy as an Expat in 2022

Buying Property in Italy Guide for Expats

Living in Belgium

The cost of living in Belgium is pricier than the UAE but more reasonably priced than the UK and the US.

Real estate investors should consider Belgium because of its affordable property costs in comparison to neighboring nations and its good standard of living.

Related content:

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How To Buy A Property In Belgium

Living in Iceland

The high quality of life comes at a price as the cost of living in Iceland is really pricey, even higher than the US and the UK.

Investors are enticed to the country because of its developed economy, favorable research and development incentives, and cheap corporation taxation.

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The Complete Guide To Opening An Icelandic Bank Account 2022

Moving to the UK

The cost of living in the UK is the second costliest in Western Europe.

The United Kingdom has been voted by CEOs as Europe’s most alluring investment destination, according to the UK’s business and trade department.

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Living in Australia

The cost of living in Australia is pricier than UAE but more economical than the US and the UK.

For those looking to invest in Australia and gain residency, the country offers residence by investment schemes.

Related content:

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Moving to New Zealand

The cost of living in New Zealand is steeper than the UAE but more reasonable than the UK and the US.

To live, work, and invest in New Zealand, you can apply for the Active Investor Plus Visa, which requires a minimum of 15 million New Zealand dollars or 9.3 million USD in available assets or funds.

Related content:

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Living in the UAE (United Arab Emirates)

The cost of living in the UAE is relatively high, especially in cities like Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The real estate and tourism sectors are traditionally robust, making them favorable for investment.

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Living in Saudi Arabia

The cost of living in Saudi Arabia varies, with housing and schooling being significant expenses.

International investors have many options in Saudi Arabia due to ongoing changes that reduce bureaucracy, said Reuters. It’s crucial to consider the economic landscape and fluctuations in the Saudi Riyal, the official Saudi Arabia currency, when planning and managing investment portfolios.

Related content:

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Qatar Living

In lieu of a high standard of living, the cost of living in Qatar is relatively high too, particularly in terms of housing and education.

The country’s investment focus is on infrastructure, finance, and technology, providing ample opportunities for foreign investors.

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qatar living

Living in Kuwait

The cost of living in Kuwait is moderate, with housing being a primary expense.

The oil and gas sector dominates Kuwait’s economy, but the government is encouraging investment in healthcare, education, and tourism. Investments in the country must examine market trends and the stability of the Dinar, the official Kuwait currency.

Related content: How to Get a Kuwait Residence Visa in 2022; Best Savings Accounts in Kuwait

Living in Bahrain

The cost of living in Bahrain is reasonable, with apartment rentals sitting between 666 USD and 833 USD.

Investment opportunities abound in Bahrain’s expanding financial, IT, and tourist industries, all of which are strategically important for the long-term viability of the Dinar, the official Bahrain currency.

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Living in South Africa

The cost of living in South Africa is lower compared to 81% of countries worldwide.

As one of the world’s most advanced, varied, and potentially lucrative developing economies, South Africa is an important site for investment.

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Living in Canada

The cost of living in Canada is more within your means compared to Singapore and the US but pricier than Qatar and the UAE.

Investors will find Canada to be an attractive destination for business opportunities. The country’s stable economy, strong infrastructure, and skilled workforce make it an ideal environment for entrepreneurship. Industries such as technology, renewable energy, and natural resources offer promising investment prospects.

Related content:

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Living in America

For individuals looking to save money without sacrificing quality of life, researching the cheapest places to live in the US can be a good idea.

Investors from all around the world can take advantage of the vast array of investment options presented by the US stock markets.

Related content:

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Living in Mexico

For expats and immigrants, Mexico provides a favorable cost of living, especially in comparison to the US, the UK, and Singapore.

The solid industrial sector, increasing purchasing power, and rising middle class in Mexico are all factors that entice investors. The manufacturing, tourist, renewable energy, and technology sectors are ripe with opportunity.

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Living in Argentina

Compared to many Western countries, the cost of living in Argentina is far cheaper.

In order to entice international investors, the government has instituted investor-friendly regulations, which include certain incentives.

Related content:

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Living in Brazil

The cost of living in Brazil is generally more affordable than most of Latin America.

Based on the US State gov report, Brazil’s economy ranks 12th globally and second in the Western part of the world after the US, citing the World Bank.

Related content:

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Living in Colombia

The cost of living in Colombia is the second-lowest among Latin American countries.

Expats who invest directly in Colombia under their own names may be eligible for a resident investor’s visa.

Related content:

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Expat Taxes in Colombia

Living in Ecuador

The cost of living in Ecuador is the third most reasonable in Latin America.

Ecuador currency is the US dollar, which ensures consistency and does away with currency conversion altogether.

Benefits such as steep discounts on utilities and public transportation are just a few of the many perks that retirees can enjoy with the country’s special Jubilado visa scheme.

Related content:

How To Retire in Ecuador: 7 Keys to a Thriving Retirement

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Living in Belize

The cost of living in Belize is less costly than Singapore, Hong Kong, and the US but more expensive than Malaysia.

Although Belize offers a high quality of life, it rates lower on the Prosperity Index, so expats and investors should carefully consider investing there.

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Living in Costa Rica

The cost of living in Costa Rica is generally lower compared to North America, making it an affordable option for those looking to relocate.

The country attracts investors with its skilled workforce, low corruption, strategic spot, acceptable living circumstances, aggressive investment promotion, and attractive free trade zone incentives.

Related content:

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Living in Panama

The cost of living in Panama per month can sit between more than 700 USD and 2,771 USD, relatively more affordable than many nations, per Numbeo.

Opportunities to develop wealth with high returns on investment are available in Panama’s real estate industry.

Related content:

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Living in the Bahamas

The high cost of living in the Bahamas is a direct result of the area’s status as a popular destination for expensive vacations.

Given the wide range of options for permanent residence that Bahamian property ownership and other investment provide, the country is a popular destination for investors and retirees.

Related content:

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Living in Dominican Republic

When compared to other Caribbean nations, the low cost of living in Dominican Republic stands out.

Thanks to its residence by investment policy, this country is a fantastic choice for retirees who want to save money without sacrificing their Caribbean lifestyle.

Related content:

Visa, Residency, and Citizenship in the Dominican Republic

Dominican Republic Healthcare System 2023: Best Guide

Bottom Line

Many issues need to be addressed before moving abroad. For instance, there’s owning rental real estate in the country of origin, keeping a UK bank account, savings account, or UK ISA, maintaining RRSP contribution, as well as dealing with 401K benefits.

Important considerations in making long-term decisions as an expat include the cost of living and potential financial opportunities too.

Aligning with long-term financial goals, expat decisions are further impacted by investment-friendly legislation, business prospects, and tax considerations. To fill up the decision-making process, cultural considerations, currency, and quality of life may all play a role in the decision to move.

At the end of the day, the expat experience is determined by how well the chosen country strikes a balance between affordability, prospects, and lifestyle facilities.

Pained by financial indecision? Want to invest with Adam?

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Adam is an internationally recognised author on financial matters, with over 760.2 million answer views on Quora.com, a widely sold book on Amazon, and a contributor on Forbes.



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