How To Choose Your First Country Abroad

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Written By Andrew Shannon

You have probably already began researching and maybe even accomplished your fair share of research.  Likely, you have come across the standard places such as Thailand, Bali, Mexico or any other share of Latin American and South East Asian Countries.  While these places are, and can be great places to live, they may not be great for everyone.

There is a lot that goes into picking perfect locale for yourself, and what works for someone else may very well not work for you.  Some things that you need to be aware of include visa requirements – which will depend on your own nationality, the cost of living and by association your budget, geographic location, and climate.  All of which depends on each individual’s circumstances and preferences.

Choosing your first destination can become a never-ending task.  If you stop and think for a second, there are 195 countries in the world (in 2019) and each offers a unique experience.  The purpose of this article is not to tell you where you should go, but rather provide insight into some of the criteria you should consider when looking for a country to relocate – either long term or short term.

Visa Requirements

Regardless of where you are from, and where you are going, the most important thing to consider are the visa requirements.  First, put some thought into how long you would like to stay in your desired country. Then check if you need a visa to enter the country of your choice and stay for your preferred duration.  An excellent resource for checking visa requirements is Visa HQ.  Simply enter your citizenship, and where you would like to go and it will return a set of basic requirements.  Another excellent resource would be your Government’s website to get the full details.

Ideally, once you determine the above, you will have a good idea of what is needed to stay in your desired country.  For more detailed information regarding Ukraine and Russia, check out how you can gain legal residency in Ukraine or how to move to Russia.

Cost of Living

Another important aspect, is the cost of living.  Regardless of where you are planning to go, the cost of living is probably one of the first topics you started to research.  The best place to find this information is on Numbeo.  In general, Numbeo can provide you with an accurate cost of groceries, dining out, utilities, and other general costs at your destination country.  You will also want to research the cost of transportation, especially to and from your home country should the need arise to return. We have compiled a list of European Countries With Low Cost of Living.

One final thing to note is that the cost of accommodation will vary depending on your planned duration.  Accommodation is a topic worth discussing on its own, and that’s why it’s the next topic in this list.


Accommodation is a complicated topic.  First and foremost, it is important to determine how long you will need accommodation.  In order to get the best deal on a long term rental, it is best to get the help of a local.  In some parts of the world, the notion of ‘Real Estate Agents’ doesn’t exist. To make matters worse, if you don’t speak the local language, you can even get taken advantage of.

Now when it comes to shorter term rentals, the best general advice would be to use a reputable service such as Airbnb or  They contain a diverse range of living options and are available in most parts of the world.

Geographic Location

Geographic location is important for two reasons.  The first of which is timezone. If you are working a remote job or have a business that involves specific parts of the world, then you need to be cognizant of where you go.  That is, unless you don’t mind working late or early. Or, actually prefer either.

The second point is proximity to where you want to go.  If you want to travel through Europe, then it makes sense to choose a location in or near Europe to be your home base.  If you want to travel throughout Asia, then being based out of an Asian country makes the most sense.


Do you live in a tropical climate and want to experience a cold, or cooler one?  Or do you have your ideal climate already and want to stick to more of the same? Climate shouldn’t play much of a role in which country you ultimately choose – but it is important to have in mind what you like, and what you don’t like.  The weather, as will the culture, will become part of the overall experience. For climate data, Wikipedia is a good place to get started.

Crime and Political Stability

Moving on, crime and political stability are also an important factor to keep in mind.  One thing to note is that political stability can change in an instant. In general, the political landscape plays a role in a country’s overall economic landscape as well as their stance on immigration.

Additionally, note that petty crime exists everywhere and a lot of the time, being a foreigner makes you an easy target.  Be sure to thoroughly research your intended destination’s crime statistics so that you can plan to be as secure as you are comfortable being.

Ability to Assimilate and Make Friends

Finally, we arrive at one of the most overlooked attributes of a country – especially if you don’t speak the local language.  It can be incredibly difficult to assimilate into the local community. Likewise, some countries have different beliefs and morals that can also hinder your ability to join the community.  

The reality is that everywhere is not as forward thinking as the west so it is important to think about things such as religious beliefs, racial outlook, and sexual orientation prior to choosing where you are going to relocate.

If you’d like to learn more about the importance of learning the local language, then we’ve got you covered.

Bonus Criteria:


If you are tied to the internet for work, then this is another item you must consider.  Everywhere in the world may not have as fast or stable internet as your home country does.  Keep in mind though, that most major cities will have comparable wifi no matter their location.  To get an idea, check out’s global index.

Tip: If you are using Airbnb, and the internet is important for your stay, always write your host, to have them verify the speed.  

Quality of healthcare and Medical Facilities

Another complicated topic is healthcare and medical facilities. You should research health insurance, and be prepared to deal with medical emergencies should they arise.  Even if your chosen country has state funded medical insurance, it often applies only to citizens and even if it is extended to foreigners, a lot of times there are limitations.

In addition to this, is the quality of service and care acceptable to you?  This matters more and more as you age, start a family, or are in retirement.

Local Job Market

If you wish to work physically in your new country, rather than digitally – then you must consider the local job market as well.  It is important to research the typical wages for someone with your background, and if it is realistic to live comfortably as a foreigner on such wage.  Get started by identifying your background, or market you wish to pursue and find the most commonly used job board in your country of choice.

Wondering what type of jobs are common for expats?  Most expats are not digital nomads. Check out our article, popular jobs for expats!


At the end of the day, remember that it comes down to your personal preferences, and your needs.  Every location will not be suitable for every person. What is important is that you are able to live and work comfortably, and that your choice makes YOU happy.