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What Surveys Can Tell You About the Expat Lifestyle

Article Summary:

The results of two expat-centric surveys have been released this month. At first glance it seems there’s a direct relationship between where in the world you can find happiness, and where in the world you will have to pay a very high price to live – but is a happy expat life synonymous with an expensive lifestyle?

Photo Credit: Shelter Offshore

Original Article Text From Shelter Offshore:

Does a High Quality of Expat Life Have to be Expensive?

The interesting results of two expat-centric surveys have been released this month. The first discusses where one can find the best quality of life in the world, the second talks about the most expensive places in the world for expats to live.

At first glance it seems there’s a direct relationship between where in the world you can find happiness, and where in the world you will have to pay a very high price to live! But does that exclusively mean that a high quality of expat life is expensive? Is happiness really synonymous with wealth?

We decided to take a closer look at the findings and draw our own conclusions…

According to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development two nations which almost guarantee an expat an exceptionally positive lifestyle are Norway and Switzerland.

The Swiss live in a stunning natural environment which apparently makes them happier and healthier. They earn decent salaries on average, they don’t work excessively hard in terms of the number of hours they are in their workplace per year and they are well educated. The top 20% of earners earn five times as much as the bottom 20%.

In Norway on the other hand the top 20% of earners take home four times as much as the bottom 20%, three quarters of the population has paid work, they work fewer hours than even the Swiss annually and have a fantastic work/life balance. Finally there is apparently a general consensus of opinion that Norway is a very safe place to live.

Norwegians are also considered to be friendly and helpful people, whilst Switzerland is considered to be a highly desirable place to live.

Taking all of this into consideration it’s time to look at where in the world an expat won’t want to live if cost of living is a concern! And out of a list of the top 10 most expensive places to live in the world, 6 spots are taken by Norwegian and Swiss cities!

Evidently Bern, Basel, Geneva, Zurich, Stavanger and Oslo are among the most expensive locations in the whole world for expats to live and work – in fact, Oslo ranks number one in ECA International’s latest Cost of Living Survey! In Oslo a beer will set you back a whopping US$14 and a trip to the cinema will cost you almost US$19.

At first glance it seems that if you want to live in the best countries, your choice will come at a cost.

However, what’s interesting about both Switzerland and Norway is that the salaries you can enjoy can be far higher than you might enjoy elsewhere, depending on the sector you work in. Norway is also a high tax nation, but in return you get the likes of free education for your children (including through university), very low-cost healthcare, a good state pension, up to 42 weeks parental leave paid at 100% of your salary, (and monthly payments to help financially if you have children)…

So you can earn more, pay more in taxation, get more out in terms of quality of life…but does all of this really add up to guaranteed happiness for an expat?

We would suggest that you don’t have to live in high earning, high taxation and high cost nations to enjoy a high quality of life. You just have to understand what constitutes a decent standard of living for you and your family, and work out how to achieve that for less.

You may discover that the trappings of modern day living such as owning a big house and a decent car don’t actually make you happy, and you can do away with the expense and the luxury. You may realise that better weather means better health means a better quality of life, and this will determine where in the world you choose to live.

Australia ranks in the number one spot for the OECD’s survey into where in the world the quality of life is highest – and you certainly don’t have to buy into an expensive lifestyle to live well in Australia. You just have to choose your destination carefully, and adapt to ensure you’re simply working hard enough to earn enough to have a standard of living you are comfortable with. It’s a personal choice.

By becoming an expat you’re jumping off the British bandwagon of homeownership, keeping up with the Joneses, having the best car on the street – and you’re entering a much freer world where you can call the shots and build a life that truly invigorates and pleases you. You can ditch the trappings that are expensive and unnecessary, and in so doing, have a better quality of life for less wherever you choose to settle.

Link to Original Article:

From Shelter Offshore

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