Oh, the places you could go: If you need to leave, here’s where you can live

by Kasal Smaha, Reporter

These days, it seems as if America is growing crazier by the week. A lack of a Supreme Court Justice in a time when incredibly important decisions must be made and a massive court battle between the government and one of the country’s largest corporations seems to reinforce this. In addition, the number of Google searches for “how to move to Canada” spiked after the Super Tuesday presidential primary elections. In a satirical jab, a Canadian island has even offered refuge to Americans if Donald Trump wins the election. For the average American hoping to flee to somewhere a little more sane, here are The Lance’s top ten selections for expatriates.

  1. Luxembourg

Positives: Luxembourg is a landlocked country in Central Europe, sandwiched between France and Germany. The country has a great deal of history to it, being of strategic importance during the Napoleonic Wars and as one of the first battlegrounds of World War II. It is well-known for its high quality of life and plentiful job opportunities. Its healthcare system is one of the premier in Europe.

Negatives: However, individuals living in Luxembourg report only a relatively average income. Expats living in the country also state that it is difficult to become engaged in Luxembourger social life and activities. Luxembourg─like most of the other countries on this list─has a language barrier. The country has three different official languages: French, German, and Luxembourgish.

  1. Ecuador

Positives: Ecuador is well-known as a tropical tourist destination, including the scenic Galapagos Islands and cultural site of Guayaquil. It is one of the seventeen megadiverse countries in the world, and is well known for its climate, which varies from that of a tropical rain forest in the east to subtropical on the coast. Out of all of the expatriates living in the country, 56% are American.

Negatives: Despite Ecuador’s attractive weather and culture, the country is ranked poorly in terms of job opportunities and security. While the official language of the country is Spanish, languages such as Kichwa and Shuar are commonly used by the indigenous people, which make for a daunting language barrier.  It’s a great place to live if you have a little Spanish background.

  1. Bahrain

Positives: The Kingdom of Bahrain is an island country in the Persian Gulf, about 250 miles from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. For centuries, the island has been a trade hub in Western Asia and lives up to its commercial history in that it is now one of the world’s largest banking centers. According to the World Bank, Bahrain has the foremost economy and one of the highest average incomes in the Middle East.

Negatives: Even though citizens and expatriates alike tend to make a great deal of money, the cost of living is quite high, which means that there is less disposable income from person to person. The official language of Bahrain is Arabic, which is generally considered one of the harder languages for native English-speakers to learn. Also, the weather in Bahrain is very hot and very dry, which can turn away potential immigrants with a preference for colder climates.

  1. Canada

Positives: For some people leaving the United States for another country, Canada might be first on their list due to its geographical proximity to the continental states, but the country has far more benefits than simple location. Canada has a large economy and a famous healthcare system and is also world-renowned for its vast stretches of sub-Arctic forest and tundra that has been left untouched by human hands. There is no language barrier between the United States and Canada, though subtle differences in the dialect of English spoken remain.

Negatives: The largest barrier for individuals looking to immigrate to Canada are the strict requirements for prospective expatriates. Canada’s immigration law sets strict restraints on who may immigrate permanently to Canada. For example: if one has been arrested for driving while impaired by alcohol or drugs, then the Canadian Department of Immigrants, Refugees, and Citizenship will deny any immigration application. Having a marketable skill or the sponsorship of a relative who already lives in Canada can help to expedite the immigration process.

  1. Australia

Positives: The Land Down Under, Australia, is far more than the land of endless stereotypes that some make it out to be. While not as historically rich as some of the other nations on this list, it is just as culturally and economically wealthy. Much of Australia has a warm and dry climate, not unlike that of the American Mid-Atlantic region. For the outdoorsman type, the Outback provides an endless amount of space for camping, stargazing, and hiking. Many expats from dozens of different countries already reside here, affirming Australia’s spot at number six on this list.

Negatives: Australia’s immigration law is very similar to Canada’s: to obtain the appropriate visa, one typically must be college-educated and able to work. Australia has a high cost of living, which means that it might be a good idea to job search prior to moving.

  1. China

Positives: Even though the People’s Republic of China might not even be anywhere near to the top ten places you’d most like to emigrate to, being an expatriate here has its benefits. The country’s geography is greatly varied, and in the west includes northern sections of the Himalaya mountain range, which levels out into the Tibetan Plateau and eventually becomes the Gobi Desert as one moves north. In the northeast lie the expansive Manchurian steppes, while rugged, hilly land that has been adapted for agricultural use cover the southeast. Despite the difficulty that most native English-speakers face in learning any dialect of Chinese, English is understood by many people in the country, even if they cannot speak it, and there is high interest in learning English in the country. Despite its recent slump, China has the world’s second largest economy, and employment opportunities for English-speakers are many, since English is the language of business the world over.

Negatives: Even though its economy is booming, which might be an attractive prospect for an individual looking to move abroad, China has an incredibly poor track record when it comes to civil rights. There are also several dozen types of spoken Chinese that are used in different parts of the country, not to mention dialects of Mongol used in the north and Tibetan in the southwest. The culture shock might be another factor in deciding not to move to China.

  1. Hong Kong, Singapore

Positives: Hong Kong and Singapore tie for the fourth best countries for expatriates due to their striking similarities. Both countries are incredibly tiny city-states in Asia (Hong Kong is about 1 ⅓ larger than New York City, while Singapore is about ⅔ the size of NYC), and are both prime East Asian trade centers. Both city-states have a high disposable income, and are acclaimed for their social life (Hong Kong is especially renowned for its nightlife). Both countries have efficient public transit, which is important considering that it is very expensive to own a car due to the lack of space. Singapore even has a type of lottery which is necessary to be a car owner.

Negatives: While Hong Kong and Singapore may sound like a city-lover’s dream, both are plagued by many of the same issues as New York City. There is a severe lack of space in both locations, though Singapore has had some success with land reclamation. Both Hong Kong and Singapore have English listed as an official language; however, Hong Kong uses Cantonese in day-to-day activities, while Singapore lists Mandarin Chinese, Tamil, and Malay as additional official languages.

  1. Sweden

Positives: Sweden is one of the four Nordic countries, and is just as neutral in global politics as is Switzerland. It is a natural paradise, with great forests and minimal human development in much of the country. It has an incredibly high quality of living, and, despite it being incredibly difficult to enter into Swedish social life, there are plenty of other expatriates living in the country that may be an easier route.

Negatives: Even though Sweden does not have English listed as an official language, 86% of the population speaks it as a second language. Sweden is also very cold come winter, which might be a deal-breaker for those who prefer a warmer climate.

As a side note, the government of Sweden has an official Twitter that it passes off to a different citizen every few weeks.

  1. New Zealand

Positives: Some know New Zealand as the country where the Lord of the Rings was filmed, but it is a great deal more than that. It is a collection of 33 islands that are mostly mountainous. The islands have a moderate climate, and are home to a great deal of open space. The government offers public healthcare, and the country as a whole boasts a high quality of life.

Negatives: Unfortunately, since New Zealand has a low population density, it is difficult to maintain a public transit system outside of the cities, which means that, for long trips, a car is usually the best option. Travel within the country can be expensive because of this.

  1. Switzerland

Positives: Switzerland has earned the top spot on this list. It is a beautiful Alpine country, a destination for any winter sport fan. Switzerland is a part of the Schengen Area, which is an agreement between European countries allowing travel without a visa, meaning that an expat in Switzerland can travel to almost any country in Europe. The country has a very low crime rate, and is internationally recognized as a neutral party in world politics.

Negatives: The only serious barriers for any potential immigrant to Switzerland are the four widely-used official languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansh. A majority of the country’s population speaks a variant of German. However, despite this, English is a primary alternate language in the country.

Regardless of whether or not these are the countries that you would seek asylum in, these are the most agreed upon best places for expatriates from around the world to live. Many of these are a matter of personal preference, so if you have a favored country, leave it in the comments!