People ask me this question all the time:
“Simon, I really want to leave the country, but where should I go?”
Quite literally, there is a world of possibilities out there, each full of richness and opportunity. But as you could imagine, it depends on what kind of person you are. What would be a great expat haven for some seems like a hellish nightmare to others.
Over the years I have seen thousands of expats roaming in and out of different countries around the world. In my opinion, most expats fall into seven categories… and chances are you probably fit one of the molds as well:
PIONEER: You are an opportunity-focused expatriate, and you are willing to relocate solely for the prospect of making a great deal of money and doing something interesting. You think nothing of charging in to an almost native, potentially dangerous environment and care nothing of dilapidated infrastructure, squalor.
You are willing to learn the local language and don’t care if anyone else speaks English there… you love the almost lawless, wild west persona and can literally smell the money everywhere.
EXPEDITIONER: You are a classical traveler in the mold of British merchants and explorers– you want to make the journey overseas, but you want your amenities too, complete with a triple mocha latte.
You want to storm the plains of the Serengeti… with an armed guide. You want to see India up close and personal… then go back to your five star hotel.
In short, you want the richness of the expat experience, but you want it to be easy and painless.
RETIREE: You have had a full career and are looking for a switch… it’s not about playing golf every day (though there will be plenty of that), it’s about finding a new direction in life, taking new steps, and getting energized again.
You are looking for something worthwhile to throw your time and effort into, and you want to be surrounded by like minded people who are in a similar position in life. In a way, you want to turn back the clock and find a place that reminds you of home years ago– 1950s America, for example.
NOMAD: You are a permanent traveler. You roam the globe because there are simply too many amazing places to see, and abundant opportunities in each. You perhaps have a ‘home base’ somewhere, but you don’t see it for months at a time. You know people all over the world and enjoy making new connections and trying new things.
You count air miles as an asset and talk about ‘running down to Panama for a few days’ as if you were going down the street to pick up a quart of milk at the grocery store.
HERMIT: You shun contact with most of the world because they just don’t get it. You are passionate about your beliefs and are looking for a place where you can execute an agenda– growing organic food, preparing for social chaos, etc.
You are possibly interested in setting up a small community with like-minded souls, preferably away from major civilization where you can live your life without bother or interference from governments or corrupt social institutions.
INTERNATIONALIST: You are a smart, educated, opportunistic professional that is a cross between the pioneer and expeditioner– you thrive on opportunity but need some basic structure to feel comfortable… probably because you have a family or some other obligations beyond yourself.
As long as basic needs are met– safety, schools, healthcare, etc., you are happy and can focus on building a life and a new business.
HEDONIST: You have been successful in life and simply want to enjoy the fruits of your efforts over the years– wine, women, whatever else seems interesting. You almost feel like a kid again, free to jump on a plane to follow your favorite team, see an old friend, or make new ones.
You pick a country because of its opportunities for pleasure, and are always willing to explore new ones.
… so there you have it. In all honesty, most people can find elements of several categories but are generally dominant in one.
The places that you will probably find appealing depend on which kind of expat you are. We will explore these together in future letters, and I will use these categories as a reference point from now on when I write about cities and countries.
Think about which one you are and let me know what you think. Did I miss any?