The Myth of the Best Expat Destination
Many articles and reports have been written about which are the best expat destinations around the world. When selecting the best cities or countries to live, these studies consider elements such as quality of healthcare system, standard of education, access to basic services, travel/flight connections, safety issues, housing and many others alike. While these remain crucial factors to take into account, they are not the only ones, or the most decisive ones to define the best places to live as an expatriate.
Generally, seasoned expatriates consider the best destinations, the ones where they had the best time. And by best time, one should not think solely on “fun” or “amusement”, but more on personal fulfillment. Indeed, many expats manifest having a great experience in places where the quality of living wasn’t very high or as comfortable as they would have expected. They say that despite the challenges of living and developing a routine in problematic destinations, they manage to have unforgettable journeys that allow them to grow as human beings and to acquire invaluable knowledge.
The key to achieve that highly regarded personal fulfillment even in places that don’t rank very high in basic services, housing, education or safety, to name a few, relies on two basic elements: individual purpose and support/social network.
Expats and, particularly expat spouses, fill accomplished when they find a purpose while living abroad. The purpose could be job related or not, as many expats find their identity in activities like volunteering, dedicating more time to their family/children, studying, developing and new skill or practicing a particular hobby or sport.
Expats also rank high destinations in which they were able to have a solid support system; a group of friends and acquittances that offers them company, guidance and empathy. Expats need to be socially connected in order to fill the void of the extended family and to share their experiences with people alike.
When expats or potential expats evaluate possible destinations to move to, they should indeed factor in the obvious living elements, but they should also, once there, work hard to find an individual purpose and a social network to complete a positive experience abroad.