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OFF-TOPIC What Countries and Places Offer the Best Life Quality?

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You can live anywhere in the world. Where do you live and why?

What does a perfect place need to offer to maximize your personal life quality?

What do you find super important (for example, low taxes or good weather) and what you don't particularly care about (like cheap public transport)?

What are your experiences of living in or traveling to various places around the world?

Some places were covered in my thread on best entrepreneur-friendly outdoorsy places, but this is a more general thread focused on the quality of life. Feel free to share specific places or just countries in general (or just describe some general qualities of a perfect place).

I'll share some of my experiences and observations later on.
 

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AlessioLC

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If i need to move i would definitely look for a place where there's a beautiful weather most part of the year, low-medium taxes and good food / friendly environment.
 

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If i need to move i would definitely look for a place where there's a beautiful weather most part of the year, low-medium taxes and good food / friendly environment.
How about southern France? Always thought of it as a nice place. Weather should be good, taxes are medium at least when comparing with Finland :D. Friendly environment? You tell me.
 
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AlessioLC

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How about southern France? Always thought of it as a nice place. Weather should be good, taxes are medium at least when comparing with Finland :D. Friendly environment? You tell me.
Well France is France, so we are the country of Taxes, north or south no differences ! It's definitely a nice place however the people are very special, very communal, if you're from the North you're not from 'them'.

Searched for a commercial space 2y ago for a coffee project, 1 month entirely at knocking doors, not a single friendly guy excepted 2 ladies whom where from Paris !

I generalize everything, there's exceptions everywhere but it's the truth.

If you ask me Lyon, Marseille, Monaco & Nice are great cities to work and live and i plan to move in one of those cities if i got the opportunity to.
I definitely need a sunny environment and everytime i got in the French Riviera i'm more happy, i got a better vision of what i want, i'm more productive because i'm where i want to be, i got this same feeling everytime i travel to sunny places, which i do think is a clue.
 
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Let me add some thoughts to the topic and cover some countries to kick off a discussion.

For me, some of the most important requirements are (no place will meet all of them):
  • Good weather. This means sunny for most of the year (so that you never go more than a few days without sunshine), and the average daytime temperature during the winter shouldn't be lower than about 60-70 degrees F/15-20 degrees Celsius), with maximum summer temperatures around 85-95 F/30-35 C). Ideally, dry heat as I don't like high humidity and sweating like a pig after a short walk. The best climates for me personally are subtropics, semi-arid, arid climates, or Mediterranean climates.
  • Personal safety. If I have to constantly worry about my safety or can't feel comfortable walking around in most neighborhoods, it's just not conducive to a good lifestyle.
  • Easy access to the wilderness areas. I can't stand big cities for more than a few days. Living in a place like Bangkok would be a nightmare for me. Good hiking trails, plenty of places where you can get away and be by yourself is a must.
  • Coastal. I enjoy being close to the ocean or at least sea. It offers many opportunities for sports and there's this special vibe that coastal cities have.
  • Easy to stay fit and healthy. In this aspect, some places are much, much easier than other. For example, I find it motivating to hang around fit, healthy people because it inspires me to work out harder and take better care of my health. I also look for a place where I can climb outdoors and recently, as a new filter, I'd like to be in a place where I can surf. Air quality is important, too.
  • Friendly, laid-back and welcoming people. I wouldn't be able to live in a place like most of Asia where no matter how long you live there, you're always a foreigner. I also would find it hard to live in an Islamic country (I like visiting these countries, but I wouldn't be able to live there long-term). I love places where I can easily blend in and where everyone (or most people) assume that I'm a local. This obviously depends on your ancestry and how you look. I also enjoy cultures where people are laid-back and warm by nature.
  • Reasonable taxes and good infrastructure. I used to look at low taxes as one of the key requirements, but now I look more at what you actually get for the taxes you pay. For example, zero taxes sound awesome, but if in exchange you have to live on a small Caribbean without much to do, you aren't really getting a good deal lifestyle-wise. Likewise, if the taxes are low but the infrastructure is weak and you don't feel safe, then I'd rather pay more in taxes and live in a place where I don't have to worry whether somebody will break into my car.
  • Reasonable cost of living. Doesn't have to be super low (higher costs of living motivate you to think bigger), but some places are just outrageously expensive.
  • Reasonable population density. I hate high traffic density and crowds. Living in the middle of nowhere isn't fun, but so isn't living in a place where it's always hard to find a parking spot, where there are huge traffic jams, and where you need to account for crowds in everything you do.
  • Good local food. This is actually related to health and fitness, but by itself, it's also a pretty important factor. I wouldn't be able to live in many places in the US where your choice is pretty much limited to fast food and supermarkets don't really carry anything of high-quality and locally made (like for example Spain and their great cheeses or Cyprus and their great fruits).
I could probably list a few more requirements, but these are the first that come to my mind.

Now, for some specific countries/places which would currently be my top picks, in no particular order (I'll only cover the ones I enjoyed the most but I can discuss other countries which I didn't particularly like if anyone's interested):
  • Australia. I'm currently staying in the Sunshine Coast/Noosa region for a couple of weeks learning how to surf. It's safe, well-developed, sunny, the air is clean, and people are friendly. Drawbacks include high prices (real estate is ridiculously expensive), some dangerous animals to watch out for (you should be fine if you aren't completely careless, though), and strong UV radiation. Hiking is okay, but nothing to write home about. It's a bit of a pain in the a$$ to enjoy the outdoors here. If you hate sunscreen like I do and you don't want to get badly sunburned, you can only spend time outside in the morning or late afternoon with only brief amounts of time in the middle of the day (if you don't mind putting on tons of sunscreen or covering yourself despite hot weather, then you won't mind this). Obviously, this applies to all places featuring tropical/subtropical climate and it's still better to deal with strong sun than with cloudy, cold weather all the time.
  • Cyprus. Very friendly people, beautiful architecture, nice landscapes, incredible beaches, pretty pleasant climate all year round (though summer may get too hot). The biggest drawback for me: it's an island. If the Republic of Cyprus reunites with the north, it will be a much better option. Another disadvantage: it gets dark very early in the winter (4:30 pm and it's already dark). It's weird because it can be pretty warm and sunny, but you don't have much time to enjoy it.
  • Canary Islands. I've been twice to Tenerife and plan to visit some of the other islands soon, too. Again, they're islands so it's a big drawback. However, the advantage is that they're pretty close to each other so if you get bored, you can easily fly to another island. Other than that, infrastructure is fine, food is good, people are welcoming, and there's a lot of hiking and many other opportunities to spend time outdoors. Climate is described as one of the best in the world as it's never too cold or too hot. Just avoid the tourist areas like parts of southern Tenerife.
  • Southern Spain - it's colder than in the Canary Islands, but you're on the mainland. Certain areas are much sunnier than the Canary Islands, and since you're on the continent, you have many more options for spending free time. I like the architecture, relaxed culture, and endless possibilities for sports.
Other options I'm yet to research:
  • Greece. Certain parts of the country might be nice (Crete would probably be best climate-wise but I haven't been there yet - I visited a smaller island in a colder region of the country).
  • Mexico. Lived on a tiny island for a few months there. Safety in certain areas is an issue, but there are probably plenty of places that could be pleasant and comfortable.
  • Southern Portugal. Might be a bit too cold during the winter.
  • New Zealand. As above, and it's not exactly the sunniest place in the world.
  • Uruguay. Also cold during the winter.
  • Nicaragua. One of the safest countries in the region, but infrastructure is an issue.
Last but not least, here's a good article about choosing a place where you'll be happiest: WHERE WILL YOU BE HAPPIEST? with the author (British multimillionaire) describing his selection process.
 
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Chapas

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Just made my way down to a small country in the Balkans by the Adriatic Sea called Montenegro. Plan is to stay here for 3 months and launch my own digital agency. Will keep you updated of the life quality here. So far this is what I have heard and read beforehand, and what I have experienced in my 2-3 days here.

Low Cost of Living: This is a relatively young country (only 12 years), so it is still developing and is not a part of the EU yet - even though they plan to join within 5-10 years. Right now we are renting an apartment in a huge house owned by a very nice and successful Montenegrin family for 300 dollars a month. In a very nice area. From what I heard you can get your own seaview apartment for 400-500 dollars if you sign a year-long lease. Groceries are cheap, eating out is cheap, public transport is cheap. Not aware of all the prices yet, but compared to other places I have lived and visited in Europe, this is by far the cheapest.

Weather: Today it was 15 degrees celsius. We sat by the beach without jackets on. So amazing to see enjoy the winter sun. In the summer the weather should be around 30/35 degrees celsius. The locals says it tends to rain heavily in the winter though, however, so far we have only experienced that when we arrived on the first day. But the more it rains, the more productive I get, so I can live with that haha.

Nature: The nature is amazing. Just google some pictures and you will see for yourselves. It is just like Switzerland. The only difference is that it is by the coast and it is 10 times cheaper. Cannot wait to experience the beauty of this country.

People: Everyone I have met so far has been very helpful and friendly. English is not widely spoken by the older generation, however, all younger people I have encountered so far have spoken great english.

Low Crime: This is just from what I have been told by the family we rent our apartment from. The crime level should be very low, and so far I have felt safe everywhere I have walked. Corruption is everywhere in Eastern Europe, however, as far as I know it is on a very low level here.

Low Taxes: Compared to where I grew up in Denmark (40 % income tax), the tax in Montenegro is only around 11 %. Furthermore, it is very cheap and easy to start your own business here and once you have done it you can get a business residency in the country, which means you will not be needing any visa to stay here - and you can bring your family with you. This is something I will look more into during my time here, and keep you updated about the law on this subject, if anyone is interested.

Investment Opportunities: Montenegro is still somehow undiscovered - especially by the western world. There are a lot of Russians here, and many of them have already invested in the country. There are a lot of foreign investments happening in the major coastal cities of the country, and I believe it is just a matter of 5-10 years before the prices will rise and the country will develop like the neighbouring Croatia. Especially if Montenegro gets accepted into the EU.

So far, this is all I know about this little hidden gem. I will keep you guys updated during my time here!
 

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I'll try to chime in and write a long post when I have more time, but to summarize:

Get two houses. Get the best of both worlds. Don't establish tax residency if you don't have to.
 

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@Get Right, how do you handle crazy high humidity in the summer?

@Chapas, awesome write-up, thanks for sharing! For me it's still too cold in the winter, but the place definitely has a lot of advantages, particularly for digital nomads or entrepreneurs who like emerging markets.

@AgainstAllOdds, I like the strategy of having two or three homes. The only issue is that you aren't 100% free because you need to move before you're considered a tax resident in each place (and when entering the country, there's always this little worry that for some reason they won't let you in).

So for example if I wanted to live in Australia for a few months a year, I'd have to be very careful not to spend there more than 6 months a year in total. Each time I'd have to explain why I want to stay for so long, and worry that they won't let me stay that long (a tourist visa doesn't really give you permission to live there part-time).

This is much easier for EU residents because you can theoretically move between countries without any paperwork whatsoever and split your time between, say, Spain, Greece, Italy, Portugal or Cyprus in the winter, and Northern, Central or Eastern Europe in the summer.

Still, I like the idea a lot as no place is perfect and sooner or later gets boring (so two or three homes are great to keep things exciting). It just requires a bit more thought than establishing one permanent home base and traveling from there.
 

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Just made my way down to a small country in the Balkans by the Adriatic Sea called Montenegro. Plan is to stay here for 3 months and launch my own digital agency. Will keep you updated of the life quality here. So far this is what I have heard and read beforehand, and what I have experienced in my 2-3 days here.

Low Cost of Living: This is a relatively young country (only 12 years), so it is still developing and is not a part of the EU yet - even though they plan to join within 5-10 years. Right now we are renting an apartment in a huge house owned by a very nice and successful Montenegrin family for 300 dollars a month. In a very nice area. From what I heard you can get your own seaview apartment for 400-500 dollars if you sign a year-long lease. Groceries are cheap, eating out is cheap, public transport is cheap. Not aware of all the prices yet, but compared to other places I have lived and visited in Europe, this is by far the cheapest.

Weather: Today it was 15 degrees celsius. We sat by the beach without jackets on. So amazing to see enjoy the winter sun. In the summer the weather should be around 30/35 degrees celsius. The locals says it tends to rain heavily in the winter though, however, so far we have only experienced that when we arrived on the first day. But the more it rains, the more productive I get, so I can live with that haha.

Nature: The nature is amazing. Just google some pictures and you will see for yourselves. It is just like Switzerland. The only difference is that it is by the coast and it is 10 times cheaper. Cannot wait to experience the beauty of this country.

People: Everyone I have met so far has been very helpful and friendly. English is not widely spoken by the older generation, however, all younger people I have encountered so far have spoken great english.

Low Crime: This is just from what I have been told by the family we rent our apartment from. The crime level should be very low, and so far I have felt safe everywhere I have walked. Corruption is everywhere in Eastern Europe, however, as far as I know it is on a very low level here.

Low Taxes: Compared to where I grew up in Denmark (40 % income tax), the tax in Montenegro is only around 11 %. Furthermore, it is very cheap and easy to start your own business here and once you have done it you can get a business residency in the country, which means you will not be needing any visa to stay here - and you can bring your family with you. This is something I will look more into during my time here, and keep you updated about the law on this subject, if anyone is interested.

Investment Opportunities: Montenegro is still somehow undiscovered - especially by the western world. There are a lot of Russians here, and many of them have already invested in the country. There are a lot of foreign investments happening in the major coastal cities of the country, and I believe it is just a matter of 5-10 years before the prices will rise and the country will develop like the neighbouring Croatia. Especially if Montenegro gets accepted into the EU.

So far, this is all I know about this little hidden gem. I will keep you guys updated during my time here!
In what city are you staying?
 

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I haven't done any research on places that would fit my criteria but always love the idea of moving to a new place, a new start, and a new beginning with my family.

Edit: I'd love for the people living in Netherlands to chime in because that's a country that both my wife and I enjoyed of visiting and heard so many great things about regarding family.
 
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Chapas

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In what city are you staying?
I am staying in Bar. Amazing name for a city. It should not be the most exciting or the most beautiful city in Montenegro, however, from the beauty I have seen so far in this city, I cannot even imagine how the rest of the country looks like!
 

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@Get Right, how do you handle crazy high humidity in the summer?
1. Pool
2. Boat
3. Shade trees
4. In all reality there are probably only 10 days a year that its just too hot/humid to enjoy being outside.
 
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I'll try to chime in and write a long post when I have more time, but to summarize:

Get two houses. Get the best of both worlds. Don't establish tax residency if you don't have to.
Still waiting for your post man!

Why bother searching, when Eric Weiner has done all the work for you already :hilarious:
This isn't 100% applicable to people who weren't born there. Many factors that make these places supposedly the happiest in the world have to do with growing up in a large family or a tight-knit community which isn't easily accessible to a person moving there.

Besides, it's a bit silly to assume these are the happiest places in the world because we're all looking for something different. I for one would absolutely HATE living in Iceland. I wouldn't live there even if you paid me seven figures a year. Yet he says it's one of the happiest places in the world (yeah, I can see that - no sunlight for several months, cold as hell, and always windy; paradise on earth indeed).
 

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Still waiting for your post man!

This isn't 100% applicable to people who weren't born there. Many factors that make these places supposedly the happiest in the world have to do with growing up in a large family or a tight-knit community which isn't easily accessible to a person moving there.

Besides, it's a bit silly to assume these are the happiest places in the world because we're all looking for something different. I for one would absolutely HATE living in Iceland. I wouldn't live there even if you paid me seven figures a year. Yet he says it's one of the happiest places in the world (yeah, I can see that - no sunlight for several months, cold as hell, and always windy; paradise on earth indeed).
I thought the "One Grump's Search" in the book's title would make it obviously clear that this is a work of entertainment, and not something to be taken as a serious, authoritative research piece.

But, apparently, humour doesn't travel well, especially online :hilarious:
 
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This is something I will look more into during my time here, and keep you updated about the law on this subject, if anyone is interested.
Yes, please do. I have never looked into residency/visas but am curious now.

Montenegro is on my short list of places to take an extended vacation, for sure.

I haven't looked at it in a while, but I remember the incredible views (mountains next to coast line), and the "no one has heard of this country" part being a big selling point for me.

I had completely forgotten how insanely cheap the rent is, until your post. I've not seen airbnb prices this low in any other place in the world (that I've desired to visit).
 

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@Private Witt, where did you live? How was personal safety over there?
 

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I am happy to live in any country that has:

  • No government corruption
  • Hospitals for everyone with the best services
  • Strong economy
  • You don't need a personal relation to get a job
  • No tribalism
  • Freedom of speech
  • Ability to have residency even if you get fired from your job

Yeah lol. These stuff are like no brainer rights, sadly we suffer from it mostly in Jordan.
 

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@Private Witt, where did you live? How was personal safety over there?
I lived one year on the North Coast a few hours east of Santa Marta and another year in Bogota.

I rode my motorcycle around the country for two years and never had a problem. I did come back for a vacation and got mugged in Bogota, but would go back and just stay in tourist areas.

It was the most amazing two years of my life. From the geography, people, food, partying, and everyday living its just so fun on a day to day basis.
 

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Yes, please do. I have never looked into residency/visas but am curious now.

Montenegro is on my short list of places to take an extended vacation, for sure.

I haven't looked at it in a while, but I remember the incredible views (mountains next to coast line), and the "no one has heard of this country" part being a big selling point for me.

I had completely forgotten how insanely cheap the rent is, until your post. I've not seen airbnb prices this low in any other place in the world (that I've desired to visit).
I will keep you updated! I am paying around 300 euros for our apartment now through AirBnB. It is almost twice the size of the apartment I lived in for the last 3 months in the outskirts of Copenhagen. Which I paid 800 euros for. The value is insane down here.

Went to the most popular beach bar/restaurant to relax today. It was pretty packed, but the views are amazing. We had 3 big beers, 1 aperol spritz and 2 pizzas. It set us back 20 euros. Would not even be able to get 2 pizzas for that prize back home in Denmark lol.

The people here are seriously some of the most friendly ones I have ever come across. Maybe it is because it is off season and we are some of the only "tourists" around. Maybe they are like this 365 days a year. Nevertheless, I feel good here!
 

Chapas

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I am happy to live in any country that has:

  • No government corruption
  • Hospitals for everyone with the best services
  • Strong economy
  • You don't need a personal relation to get a job
  • No tribalism
  • Freedom of speech
  • Ability to have residency even if you get fired from your job

Yeah lol. These stuff are like no brainer rights, sadly we suffer from it mostly in Jordan.
Looks like Denmark could be your ideal country. Not quite sure about the last part though. It is getting more and more strict for foreigners from outside of the EU to relocate to the country. But the first 6 points totally matches Denmark. The weather is not the best though. Prepare to become best friends with your umbrella if you decide to move there!
 
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These stuff are like no brainer rights
Very few governments that aren't corrupt (if there are any, even the least corrupt are probably still a bit corrupt).

I did come back for a vacation and got mugged in Bogota, but would go back and just stay in tourist areas.
That sucks. But two years without any problems is still goo., I'd expect at least several similar experiences during two years of riding a motorcycle in Colombia.
 

Private Witt

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That sucks. But two years without any problems is still good., I'd expect at least several similar experiences during two years of riding a motorcycle in Colombia.
Yah it sucked, but I was just at the wrong place at wrong time, lessons learned.

It was a great experience as I had a KLR 650, which is pretty big and when you rolled into towns and villages you are like a rock star and everyone is so helpful.
 
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Yah it sucked, but I was just at the wrong place at wrong time, lessons learned.
Yeah, could happen anywhere in the world, though I've found that in certain places there are very few "wrong places at the wrong time" and in some, a lot of them.

It was a great experience as I had a KLR 650, which is pretty big and when you rolled into towns and villages you are like a rock star and everyone is so helpful.
Bet you were popular with the local girls :)
 

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