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Updated 16 Jul 2021

It’s a brave new world. As people are shaking off the shackles of a pandemic, they’re re-evaluating what’s important in life and reconsidering their surroundings. This has led many to pursue happiness in pastures new, be it for an improvement of their quality of life, a new adventure or simply a change of scenery.

Whatever the reason for relocation, it can be difficult for prospective expats to choose a country that will suit all their needs. This is why we’ve compiled a list of the best countries to move to in 2021, complete with pros and cons, and category ratings.


Norway

While many expats are drawn to Norway for its stable economy and pretty scenery, others are attracted by the safety and security the country affords its residents. Not only are crime rates incredibly low, but Norway also has many social welfare and development programmes in place as a result of the country’s egalitarian policies. Moreover, Norway affords its residents world class healthcare at a highly subsidised rate, while state universities are free for all high school graduates, whether they're Norwegian or not.

Expats moving to this Scandinavian country can also look forward to a buzzing job market, lucrative salaries, and awe-inspiring landscapes that are just waiting to be explored.

With these benefits come an exceptionally high cost of living. You should expect to pay dearly for almost everything in Norway. The tax rate is also extremely high – something that should be brought under consideration when negotiating your salary. That said, most expats happily accept the high cost of living in Norway, as they see a high, tangible return on their investment in the country.

Family friendly: 9/10

Safety: 9/10

Cost of living: 3/10

Political stability: 9/10

Job opportunities: 5/10


New Zealand

A highly popular expat destination in recent years, New Zealand permits its residents a good work-life balance, with plenty of leisure time during which they get to enjoy the country’s beautiful Tolkienesque landscapes.

The country ranks highly for political stability and good governance. Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has also been praised for her effective liberal policies and exemplary handling of the coronavirus pandemic. New Zealand also holds plenty of advantages for businesspeople. It tops the charts for ease of doing business, with outstanding scores for starting a business and getting credit.

Although the pros of life in New Zealand may far outweigh the cons for some, potential expats should be aware that the country is undeniably isolated. While it’s close to neighbouring Australia, travelling from New Zealand to the rest of the Western world requires many hours of air travel, often at a high cost.

New Zealand’s location also raises the cost of living in the country. It imports a lot of goods which, given the country’s remote location, get marked up considerably. The small size of the archipelago further adds to the cost of living as space, and therefore accommodation, is limited, and in high demand.

Family friendly: 9/10

Safety: 9/10

Cost of living: 5/10

Political stability: 9/10

Job opportunities: 6/10


Taiwan

Taiwan is a country brimming with drawcards for expats, from its affordable and extensive transport network and relatively low cost of living to great work-life balance and affordable healthcare. It’s no wonder expats who have made the move to Taiwan rave about the improvement in their quality of life. With more time on their hands, and access to the country’s reliable transport system, expats in Taiwan can explore the country’s gorgeous landscapes, towns and historical sites with ease.

While there are myriad reasons to make Taiwan your home, there are also a few downsides to consider before taking the plunge. Cities in Taiwan can be overcrowded. This makes finding decent accommodation difficult due to high demand, and the roads are terribly congested. It’s also loud. Some expats may find this overbearing but, luckily, the big outdoors is never too far away for expats to escape the hustle and bustle of urban life and spend a day in nature. Air pollution can also be a problem in Taiwan. The residual dust from sandstorms and pollution from China are often swept down to Taiwan, while local industry also contributes a fair amount to the smog seen in some Taiwanese cities.

Family friendly: 7/10

Safety: 8/10

Cost of living: 7/10

Political stability: 7/10

Job opportunities: 6/10


Ireland

Expats looking for lucrative job opportunities should not overlook the Emerald Isle. While the economy has experienced a recent boom, Brexit has also resulted in many big corporations relocating their headquarters to Dublin. As a result, the expat community in the Irish capital has expanded greatly, with foreigners flooding to the country in the hopes of benefitting from its competitive job market. The advantages of living in Ireland don’t stop there, though. Access to affordable healthcare, safety, and proximity to the rest of Western Europe are further positives. As is the fact that employees tend to get generous annual leave, which affords plenty of time to explore the country’s lush landscapes and immerse themselves in its rich culture.

Although the pros of life in Ireland far outweigh the cons, there are a few things to keep in mind. The influx of international business has had a great effect on the country’s economy, but the price of accommodation in Dublin, especially, has skyrocketed as demand has risen with the arrival of expats. This has led to an increase in the general cost of living in the city, although this does decrease as one moves further from the capital. The country also gets an inordinate amount of rain through the year, which can be a shock if you’re not used to wet weather. Thanks to Ireland's favourable location, however, expats can find themselves soaking up the sun in the Mediterranean in no time, and at very little cost.

Family friendly: 8/10

Safety: 8/10

Cost of living: 4/10

Political stability: 8/10

Job opportunities: 7/10


Japan

Expats moving to Japan will be met with some of the most modern and efficient transport and healthcare systems in the world. Expat parents can rest assured that their children will also get a world-class education in Japan, whether at an international or local school. Added to these benefits are a vibrant, proud culture with countless new experiences and attractions awaiting expats.

The country has managed to integrate a rich and proud history with ultra-modern cityscapes. It’s not odd to see a centuries-old monastery alongside a glittering skyscraper in Japan. These contrasts serve to highlight the seamless balance found in Japan between upholding tradition while embracing modernity, and it’s something expats come to cherish. 

Unfortunately, life in Japan does come with some drawbacks too. Japanese people are extremely hardworking, and this does negatively impact their work-life balance. The same diligence is expected of expats, so you can expect long working hours and little annual leave. Fortunately, there are countless options for getaways outside of all major cities where expats can relax over weekends.

The cost of living in Japan is also extraordinarily high and it is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive countries in the world. Although salaries may appear lucrative, you should make sure it will cover your lifestyle, as day-to-day expenses can be eyewatering.

Family friendly: 9/10

Safety: 8/10

Cost of living: 3/10

Political stability: 8/10

Job opportunities: 9/10


Canada

With so much on offer in this friendly, progressive and well-developed country, it’s no wonder it appears among the top expat destinations time and time again. With a diverse population, a large portion of which are expats, newcomers of all walks will have little trouble settling in. In fact, the country is so welcoming and friendly, that they’re often made fun of by their American neighbours for being too polite.

Newly arrived expats tend to marvel at the efficient service delivery in Canada, prioritising of social justice issues, a healthy and competitive job market, and exceptionally safe communities.

Although the cons of life in Canada are limited, they are worth considering for expats planning to stay long term. The cost of living is rather high in Canada, and expats will see a massive chunk of their monthly earnings taxed. Although this may come as an initial shock to expats, excellent service delivery, affordable, world-class healthcare and free education are enough to persuade newcomers that their money reaps tangible rewards. The biggest thing to consider, however, is the climate. Despite the country's awe-inspiring natural beauty, some expats may be put off by the prolonged, harsh and freezing winters.

Family friendly: 9/10

Safety: 9/10

Cost of living: 5/10

Political stability: 9/10

Job opportunities: 8/10

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global

Cigna Global can tailor an international health insurance plan to perfectly fit the needs of you and your family. With 86 million customers in over 200 countries, Cigna Global has unrivalled experience in dealing with varied and unique medical situations and delivering high standards of service wherever you live in the world.

Get a quote from Cigna Global

William Russell Health Insurance

William Russell

William Russell is a boutique insurance company, that values itself on its great customer service and is underwritten by Allianz. They provide health, life, and income protection insurance for expats around the world. With a global network of 40,000 hospitals and doctors, their health insurance plans are designed so that they follow you to whatever country you move to next.

Get a quote from William Russell

Moving Companies

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Moving Internationally?

Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Get your free no-obligation quotes now!