Besides France - which top countries are or were on your expat list?

Am I alone in here to have played thoughts of choosing another country for expat-living?

I lived in Germany, Austria, Portugal, Italy and (not just traveling) in Oceania and Asia for years. France was never really on my 'go list'...

I originally intended to come to France from Thailand and stay for a few months, then continue on to Costa Rica or Panama.

So here we go I'm curious to hear if you have seriously considered another destination for your expat living, either before having moved here, or either post-move. And , perhaps you still carry that LIST in some of your secret cupboard or mind? :)

With the current economic unfolding I am considering a more stable country, like Switzerland.

I don't have idea about the new immigration policies, being a entrepreneur and able to sustain myself, + speaking its 4 languages fluently I have some hope that I could relocate with ease. Yet need to investigate it seriously.

Am I tired to live in France? More keen to try something new, same-wise similar (or better?).

In the last days I searched for many places:

Iceland -> PROS wild and adventurous, they say water is purest up there. As a health freak really tempting. Fish and food should be plenty and people awesome.

CONS cold, language barrier

Norway ->PROS Bit like Iceland, its wild nature is attractive. Sky incredible at night.

CONS Because of the seize organizing your supply must be more difficult, Import Tax,

Expensive, Language Barrier

Portugal ->PROS Fantastic people and nature, good climate, reasonable priced if you go in country side you can find bargains. Good Food, lots of Organic.

CONS language is easier than ICELAND, Internet may be slow

Spain -> PROS Like the above, good climate, cheap housing

CONS Spain has more social issues, unemployment, even if it does not effect me short-term

its something i consider.

South America -> Too Far so taken out of equation right now. Otherwise CHile, Panama would be on my list.

Asia ->Been there, done that. Off my list due too much people density and pollution issues + social problems (prostitution etc.etc.)

Other Considerations

Housing prices all over the world are surprisingly the same! In India you can get a house for 600 € and in France with 100 € more you get houses and added quality of life, stability, charm.

Renting in Costa Rica can be more expensive (often is) than here in France, the houses in Costa Rica look very poor quality, poor charm unless you go for some luxury but that is out of budget-range and senseless.

Summa Summarum. There's a reason why we are in France after all, not many countries (not even neighboring ones) can beat what LA FRANCE offers :) There's something so qualitative and at range, accessible if you can endure a few obstacles.

Most Europeans think of living in Spain as the perfect expat life (it once was like that) i would much favor Italy and to Italy I would favor France (that might be biased - i'm italian)

That said my current best alternative to France is its little neighbor SWITZERLAND

I would choose a region where both german and french are spoken, ideally.

What about you?

Monterey. Yes. Loved it.
Now you have me thinking

Yes, I love the ex-Yugoslavia, especially the coast, but I know the residents are very stymied by bureaucracy, so it maybe too much like France.
And as you say, the language.
However as a retirement prospect it might work since essentially the regs would be reduced.

Thought of Canada. Beautiful country, especially west and east coasts, extremely friendly people, plus we have close friends there. We considered a Greek island but decided language barrier would be a problem, plus island communities tend to be very closed toward outsiders. If I ever become a widower, maybe Senegal, especially if the melting ice cap cits or diverts southwards the Gulf Stream.

Croatia is very very high on my list. I bounce between France and Croatia. France is more practical for me (and work) but I really want to move to the Adriatic. Things are buzzing in Croatia and it's coming into itself. Ten years ago it was much cheaper but there wasn't a lot of breadth to the offerings. Now I see opportunity and as they've joined the EU there may be some solidifying of their silly bureaucracy (each office seems to have different laws)...

Croatia isn't that cheap anymore. Food is the same as France, housing is nearly the same and transportation options back to the states are limited with no direct flights. That's slowly changing too as the tourist season gets longer. They have sea planes now that will fly to Italy for cheap and there are direct flights from there...

It's still on my list.


- Sunshine

- It's a bit cheaper the the rest of western Europe

- Water everywhere

- 1000's of years of reasonably unknown history to explore

- Lots of nature

- Laid back Mediterranean style life


- Remnants of old communist bureaucracy

- I find the language difficult

- Year round transportation options lacking

- Laid back Mediterranean style life (try to get anyone to build something)


In the sum of all things, we love it here more than any other place. Warts and all. We have a fall back option in Europe, however more for holidays than anything else.

Have lived in a number of other countries but, for me at least, The Italian South Tirol, the German speaking bit was the best. I could have stayed there forever but my partner at that time was homesick for England. Now happy enough with France though and a new French partner.

Hi Ivan

Just from my own point of view, there is only one place, other than the UK or France that I would choose to live (or have been born in) and that's California, and more specifically the Monterey Peninsular!

Good luck with your search


My OH had a grant to study child labour in the Algarve, so we went to live there for a year for her to do fieldwork. Because we had to 'merge' into the population we avoided contact with the foreign population by living where there were generally only Portuguese. We were thus thrust entirely into life with them. I spent a lot of time away actually, a busy year of travel, but when I was there and talked about my work even the 'simplest' rural people asked about it but never dismissed. It is now 13 years ago that we left, in March in fact, but we still have contact with friends we made there. The reason we did not go there was because travel to and from Switzerland was almost untenably long by road or rail, flying not always convenient but also never direct to Milan then up and with ageing (one dying in fact) in-laws necessary. So, pragmatism made us come here rather than first choice.

Lived in UK, South Africa, Australia. Long term stays in France, Italy, Swizterland, USA & Canada.

WOuld choose USA if I had residency, Italy if it wasn’t so dodgy and still maybe France. Planning to check out more of France & Portugal this spring / summer… Hopefully make a decision soon.

Hi Brian,

Interested in your Portugal comment. I too am considering living there or France. I have been travelling the latter for 18 months. Done 3 months in Italy. (Awesome, but worry about the corruption) and 5 in Switzerland. I have only visited Portugal for short stays before but really like the place, and it reminds me of my native South Africa. YOu said it would be ideal for you so I wondered why…

My father-in-law speaks all four languages, or at least he did. He was the personnel director of Swiss Telecom for Ticino and Graubünden, so had Rumantsch Grischun in his area. Because I am a German speaker and learned Latin I kind of understand it. What makes it difficult is the rhythm of the language. Only a few tens of thousands of people still speak it as a first language although the Swiss have made it an official language a few decades ago against massive Swiss German opposition. Ladinisch is similar but not the same, as father-in-law who had a few Ladinisch speakers working on the Graubünden-Italy border tells. He had to use an interpreter as far as I remember.

Anyway, Ivan your family name is definitely North Italian and if you are bilingual it is a German speaking area which was once part of a far bigger Slovenian language area so once Friuli Venezia Giulia in Italy, In Switzerland the Poschiavo area of Graubünden in a sweep across the top of Italy just into Ticino where Lugano's name has origins in Slovene, in Austria especially in Carinthia and Styria, in Vas in Hungary also in Croatia and probably Montenegro as Joan suggests as well as most of what is now Slovenia. My paternal in-laws' origins are Friûl–Vignesie Julie (we've had this discussion before haven't we?) and are only four or five generations into Ticino but some of the valley people who went there in a migration wave at the end of the 19 century still use marilenghe (friulano) and talk about furlanščina which is the Slovene name for it, also use a few slovenščina words and expressions. An anthropologist friend of my wife who studies the area has explained and pointed out the the many 'vich' (in your case 'vic') name endings (son of) - so you are presumably the 'son of Blogo'. An interesting cocktail making you potentially very cosmopolitan.

My brother-in-law is Algerian, he has to have my sister-in-law as a legal partner to be a self-employed businessman (they are not actually married, by have legally cohabited around 25 years) and nearly lost the right to be that when he divorced his first partner and she resigned her co-directorship of his company. Without an active Swiss equal status co-director you cannot be an entrepreneur only an employee. It ain't easy. My daughters are Swiss, we are married and thus I would be entitled to live there and take Swiss nationality even. But Ticino, no way... That is one of the reasons we can't afford to live there for one thing. Where there is good opportunity it is sky high expensive.

I heard that WALES is really nice with lots of lakes, springs, waters shortly said stunning resources and nature.

England truly is expensive and super-regulated. On top very speculated.

Even Ireland suffers from the same speculation in the housing sector.

You don't seem to find places for rent below 1000 € even long-term (without contract I mean).

For Switzerland, the sterile description really refers to the feeling that the real crap is hidden somewhere (often under the carpet) and potentially more disturbing than when show openly. On the other hand the quality standards in CH are very regarded. I'm not sure to give my final judgment, I know that some of the population (farmers) are not happy how things are doing.

Thanks Brian, for your exhaustive answer, "home is not a place, its a feeling"


romanisch is a reto-roman language. it developed in certain cantons and in one region of italy I grew up there is a small minority speaking still a reto-roman language = LADINISCH.

My mother spoke LADINISCH and my cousin/uncles still do.

I can say a few words, and would pick it up.

However I don't master it.

I can run my LTD living in CH while establishing a daughter company there.

Of course it comes and boils down to having the right connections

Thank you Terry, I like the sound of independence and many small realities living well together.

I'm from a autonomous region in Italy so that may explain that I fully understand that feeling of not being controlled by a centralist government.

centralization ain't good because power is in the hand of few and fewer.

the 2-3 month and treat it like a hotel thing is a good way to avoid hassle...

you can always rent in the name of a friend or take an apartment long-term.

could be all part of an internationalization plan.

Not sure I understand (Andrew yes I get the hippos ha ha) :)

Your talking in symbols though, what's the snake in the alpes...

Greetings Annick,pleasant to hear you enjoying this thread. So do I in reading your valuable contribution.

I was born in Northern Italy in a bilingual environment, mother lineage is rooted in Austrian genes, father in latin/south italian lineage, though he grew up in the North.

Coming from mix of cultures one often wonders where he belongs. For years i thought myself of a Kafkic figure, now and after years of globetrotting and international exposure i seem to have dissolved much of this sense for belonging or identity by simply embracing the European culture as a whole.

Biarritz has been on my previous destination and living route, last year I lived in Anglet for 5 months, I fell in love with its mighty waves and stone-solid houses (mansions). The basque countries are very well insulated, a protected region with class, high standard cuisine, gastronomy and genuine friendliness I rarely have seen in the world.

I appreciate you describing the fact that bureaucratic filters often act in protection of local culture, however the way things are now run seem to benefit not the many and us, more the few and already wealthy.

:) Italy ain't better business wise ... actually harder to some degree.

But feeling wise its more sentimental place, so people live by feelings not just reason or conscience.

French are less sentimental than Italians in my opinion.

I appreciate both natures. (that may explain your head vs heart:)

Have you been to my village in the alpes?
The snake lives right next door.
My experiences are actually often biblical