Where is the best place to live? Last year, just under five million Brits had asked themselves this question and answered, ‘Not the UK’. For the last twenty years, our country has been in the world’s top ten for its numbers of people choosing to emigrate. Becoming an expat might be a tempting prospect, if you’re on the hunt for the most liveable cities, a higher standard of living or more gender equality. But which are the best places to live in the world?
We asked travel experts to tell us about the destinations that inspired them to want to live there. Some were so keen on the place that they organised new jobs, schools for the kids, furniture delivery and pet transportation to make the brave leap into a new life abroad. Let me know what you think of their choices.
Kirstie from the Family Adventure Project says:
From the moment I walked along the harbour in Reykjavik and looked past the Harpa Concert Hall to the wilderness beyond, I knew I would be drawn back to Iceland. Living on this lightly populated island in the North Atlantic Ocean would be a full-on experience, and not always easy. Winter is an icy reality, but there is huge pay-back in the spring and summer, where waterfalls dance like the elves, and the rhyolite and ash-coated interior calls to be explored.
My first goal as an expat would be to swim in every one of Iceland’s hot pools. I have already visited some but there are many, many more. Then I’d visit more of the quirky museums that pay homage to the island’s magic. I’d explore the whole of Reykjavik by foot, getting to know its quirky cafés and bars and looking out for a visit from the Icelandic popstar Björk. And the glacier lake of Jökulsárlón?
I’d return there again and again, picking out different shapes in the icebergs and seeing time and the landscape floating by in front of my eyes. Of course I would need a new coat. This is no sunshine relocation…
Emma from A Bavarian Sojourn says:
Bavaria isn’t somewhere I think about relocating to, it’s somewhere I lived up until recently, and which we explored extensively during our time spent in one of its most famous cities: Munich. This might be well-known for a rather rowdy bier festival, but it remains effortlessly classy at all other times of year. It also (along with the whole region) takes great pride in its traditions. The determination of the residents to keep these going is something I envy, coming from the UK.
Bavaria covers many places: Augsburg, Regensburg, Nuremberg to name but a few, and also boasts another kind of berg, with some of the most beautiful mountains in Europe, that you can hike up, or chuck yourself down on skis depending on the season. It’s also a beautiful place for children to grow up in. Part of me thinks they have a slightly longer childhood there, which is no bad thing.
You also can’t beat things like waking up to bad Bavarian weather and escaping it by jumping in the car and popping to Italy, or Austria which are literally just up the road. What’s not to like about that? I don’t regret a single minute of our time there.
Claire from Tin Box Traveller says:
My husband is in the Royal Navy, which means that foreign postings are always on the cards. Two trips to Italy in 2018 have got me thinking about how great it would be if Her Majesty sent us to Naples for a couple of years. I adore lavish Italian architecture and their simple but delicious cuisine. And I know my two water babies would think they’d died and gone to heaven if they could swim outdoors for more than a couple of weeks a year.
We have friends stationed in Naples right now and seeing their weekend trips to the Italian Lakes plus holidays on the Amalfi Coast and Sicily are making me wish for that assignment order even more. That’s not to mention all the possibilities to hop into other Mediterranean countries!
Jenny from Travelynn Family says:
Indian cities are known for their chaos and congestion, and India isn’t an obvious choice as one of the best places to live for families. But an opportunity arose through my husband’s work to move to Bangalore in 2017. Having travelled to India before, we jumped at the opportunity. Our boys were aged one and three at the time.
India for us radiates colour and vibrancy, with an energy that gets under your skin. This is a country where life spills out onto the streets for all to see, and every day is an adventure. Plus, there is so much to do in India with kids, from careering around in tuk-tuks, to exploring secret tunnels hidden in ornate palaces, and the golden pristine sands of Goa to play on.
In our year of living in Bangalore, we did miss the green open space of England, the variety of food in the supermarkets and, on occasion, the ease of life back home. But India provided us with a higher standard of living, as our money went further, as well as incredible adventures every day on our doorstep, riding around in autos (tuk-tuks) and visiting temples. But more importantly for us, Bangalore was a new base to travel from and explore a different corner of the globe. Overnight sleeper trains took us to Kochi, Pondicherry or Hampi for a weekend, and affordable flights connected us to Nepal, Sri Lanka and Thailand.
Cerys from Rainy Day Mum says:
With a focus on eco-friendly living, no armed force, and with over 90% of the energy coming from renewable sources, Costa Rica is a magical place to live.
The kids would quickly pick up the language. I know I did when I lived there. And the natural wonders around them, like volcanoes, would feed their curiosity about the world.
From the beaches where sea turtles nest, rainforests with sloths and tree frogs to the Cloud Forest where the quetzals fly, there is so much to see, to learn about, and to work towards protecting for the future.
Their love of adventure would be nurtured as well, with ziplining, white water rafting, nature reserves to hike and beaches where they could learn to surf. I would move back tomorrow given the choice.
Savannah in Georgia, USA
Lisa from Travel Loving Family says:
My favourite city in the world is Savannah in Georgia, Deep South USA. We lived there for three years, so it’s always going to hold a special place in my heart. If we had the chance to live there again through my husband’s job, I think we would jump at the opportunity.
There is so much to do in the historical city, from museums, galleries and fabulous restaurants serving traditional southern cuisine through to ghost tours and river boat cruises. My absolute favourite way to spend the day was a self-guided walking tour from the city market square along River Street, watching the boats pass under the Savannah Bridge whilst enjoying a drink in the roof top bar, Rocks on the Roof. I would then walk all the way up Bull Street, stopping in the public squares and enjoying a coffee in one of the main quirky coffee shops before heading up to Forsyth Park. The best place to go for lunch is Mrs Wilkes Dining Room, which serves amazing fried chicken and corn muffins, southern style!
Costa del Sol, Spain
Donna from Like Love Do says:
Every time I think of the Costa del sol in Spain, I see white-washed walls with potted flowers, year-round sunshine and Spanish tapas. It’s no wonder people relocate to the Costa del Sol, with its diversity, from the pretty mountains of Nerja to the glamour of Marbella.
The summers along the coast of Andalucia are hot, with temperatures of up to 40 degrees, but with cool winters and almost 320 days of sun a year it’s never dull. You can spend your days on the beach, or take lunch on the terrace and feel like you are permanently on holiday.
There is plenty of culture in the city of Malaga, which is steeped in history and was also the birthplace of Picasso. It’s also not far from Gibraltar, for all your home comforts and another airport to use. Inland from the coast are pretty rural traditional towns with a rustic feel, like Ronda or the Sierra de las Nieves mountain range. With house prices relatively low and good schools, it’s a perfect place to relocate.
Cathy from Mummy Travels says:
Although I’ve lived in France and Germany while I was a student, there’s only one country which has tempted me to move long-term – Australia.
At one point, my husband’s work was suggesting sending him out to Sydney for a six-month project, and by the time (sadly) the idea fell through, I had already planned out our life in the shadow of the opera house, chilling on the beach and taking the opportunity to explore further afield.
Melbourne seems only to have got cooler over the years, from its street art to its foodie scene. Uluru and the Great Barrier Reef should be on every bucket list, while the white sands of the Whitsundays look idyllic. Six months would barely be enough to start exploring Australia though, with the fascinating west coast and beautiful Ningaloo Reef, fairy penguins, the Red Centre, perhaps a trip on the Ghan train, the unique landscapes around Kimberley and those wonderful road trips including the Great Ocean Road. Plus endless sunshine and some of the world’s best wine… Who wouldn’t be tempted? I still wonder what would have happened if that project had gone ahead!
Carrie from Flying with a Baby says:
South Africa, in particular Cape Town, has always appealed to me. Initially, it was the majestic Twelve Apostles mountains on a rainy day in May which captured my heart. The way they impressively loomed over the famous Camps Bay on a windy, rainy day captivated me then. When I saw them shine in the summer, I immediately began thinking, if I fell in love with this place in autumn, I’m smitten in the summer!
There is just so much to love about South Africa; the food, the people and of course the wildlife and scenery. It’s a country with issues, like most, but with sights like the penguins at Boulders Bay, impressive Table Mountain, elephants, giraffes and more on safari, I will always have a very soft spot for the area. There is just so much to see and do! Other appealing factors that place it over the UK are that, generally, the weather is much better! In fact, you can have rain on one side of Table Mountain and glorious sunshine on the other – which is only a short drive away. Perfect if you planned an outdoor activity!
Daisy from Dais Like These says:
Earlier this year we took our kids to a small island off the coast of the South of France for a month, and our two eldest (aged seven and ten) attended a small village school. Experiencing first-hand the difference in the way of life made us all really appreciate just how amazing a move could be.
The safety, community spirit, and laid-back life meant that our kids got more freedom than ever, which they absolutely relished. School life was fun but challenging, with longer days and tougher lessons, for our ten year-old, at least. But they also included lots of free play and long lunchtimes, either at one of the local restaurants, (who served three-course lunches for the school children for €4!), or at home.
We spent so much time outside, cycling everywhere and swimming in the sea daily. It was a world away from our day-to-day here in the UK. I think if our careers permitted it, we would be there in a heartbeat!
Monika from Inspireroo says:
Growing up travelling the world, settling in the UK and recently relocating to Sweden, I didn’t think I’d be tempted to move anywhere again.
However, that changed this spring. We spent a month in a campervan travelling around California, and only touched the surface. In so many places we were awe-struck. There is something special about California, with its temperate climate, beautiful beaches, towering mountains and awesome nature that has captured out hearts. As our adventure drew to a close we wanted to get lost and not leave. We vowed to return, but have been secretly eyeing up opportunities to relocate there, too.
Which do you think are the best places to live in the world? And would you actually make the leap to emigrate?
Interested in reading more about where Brits like to travel? Check out this post on the nation’s favourite holiday destinations, region by region.
This is a collaborative post. Thanks to everyone who contributed their thoughts on the best places to live in the world.
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