Moving and living in a another country is a completely different experience to just visiting one on holiday.
When you choose a holiday destination there are a plethora of factors that come into consideration: what’s the weather like? Is it by the sea? How expensive are flights? Are there enough attractions nearby to keep me occupied for a week?
When you are contemplating living abroad, however, you have to consider all these factors plus even more. How is the job market? Is there good enough public transport for the daily commute? Do I like the food there? Is rent reasonable? Do I know anyone else living in that country? Can I speak the language? Are there enough attractions nearby to keep me occupied for months if not years?
Moving abroad is not easy, but first you have to have a country you want to move to, so we asked our lovely writers which country they would move to.
As a German student, it was compulsory for me to undertake a year abroad as part of my degree. I duly packed my biggest suitcase, feeling very nervous and not quite sure of what to expect, as I embarked on the first leg of my year abroad, a teaching placement in Limburg, close to Frankfurt.
After spending five months there, I migrated north for the second part of my year abroad, a semester studying at Oldenburg University, close to Bremen and not far from the North Sea. I experienced short periods of living in Germany in two very different sets of circumstances, and, though I don’t plan on permanently relocating there, I had a pretty darn good time.
Something that makes life in Germany so easy to adjust to is how similar the culture is to England. Yes, they may speak a different language, and yes, both have their own sets of social customs, but in the grand scheme of things life in both countries is generally incredibly comparable.
Though many Germans will tell you otherwise, public transport in Germany seemed excellent to me. There were a handful of delayed trains, but I’m more than used to that from taking a Northern Rail train to school each day, and hiccups in timetables can generally be expected no matter where in the world you are. Germany has the wonders of double-decker trains, which are just as exciting as they sound, and in some there are even board games painted on the tables which you can play during your journey using a euro. Both trains and buses run late into the day, though this depends on how urban the area is. As a student in particular, the transport was fantastic; in Germany you don’t pay tuition fees at state universities, but instead pay a ‘semester fee’ which includes access to the library, a contribution to the campus bike repair shop, and a Semesterticket. This glorious little piece of paper offered me free public transport throughout Niedersachsen, the Bundesland (county) I lived in. I could take any bus in Oldenburg for free, and I could travel to Hanover without paying a penny (sorry, I mean cent) if I took one of the slow trains. Somehow my Semesterticket included Hamburg and Bremen too, even though both are essentially city-states, so I took many excellent day trips there.
While the public transport operates limited services on Sundays, the retail industry unfortunately does not. This is one of the biggest things I had to adapt to during my time in Germany; while not being able to access clothes shops and bookstores on Sundays wasn’t a problem to me, being unable to visit supermarkets was much more challenging. When I was studying this generally wasn’t a problem, as I had ample free time during the week to buy everything I needed, but when working in Germany this presented difficulties, as I worked til at least 7pm every night and often spent my Saturdays travelling or meeting friends. One fond memory I have is of me and my friends from Oldenburg spending the Sunday and Monday of a bank holiday weekend in Hanover, but having to bring bread, jam and even pasta with us on the train so we wouldn’t go hungry during our trip.
While I was ultimately there to improve my German, it doesn’t matter if you can’t speak the languages. The university I studied at offered roughly half of its degrees in English, meaning that most of my friends in Oldenburg were fellow international students who couldn’t actually speak any German at all. If you live in a town popular with either students or tourists, the level of English spoken by the local residents will naturally be much higher, but in general most Germans speak fantastic English. My friends managed to buy train tickets, order in restaurants and open bank accounts without needing to speak a word of German. If you want to learn the language (which I would thoroughly recommend you do), many so-called Volkshochschulen offer low-price evening classes, while many university students are keen to recruit an English-speaking tandem partner.
Germans are brilliant about looking after the environment too. One of my favourite things is that, whenever you buy a drink in a plastic or glass bottle from a shop, you pay a Pfand (deposit) on it, usually ¢25 or ¢50. Larger supermarkets having intriguing bottle vending machines where, after finishing your drink, you pop in your bottle and are given a voucher for your next shop. Not only does this encourage recycling, but the streets are cleaner, the bins need emptying less often, and it actually provides a source of income for homeless people.
Overall, living in Germany was a fantastic experience and I have so many wonderful memories of my time there. And in case you were wondering, I actually thought that the food there is great, and I could write a whole article about it – which I have actually done, and you can read it over here.
I could easily move to Australia. I would be on the next flight out if I could. This is the most diverse and breath-taking country I have ever had the privilege of visiting, and I would go back in a heartbeat. Wherever you travel there are pristine beaches with pearly white sand, glistening waters that are certainly warmer than the North Sea, lush green pastures and forests perfect for ramblings and picnics. And the sun, you could never forget the sun. Beaming down on its people every day, giving you a glorious tan that never seems to fade.
It is not just the sights which are phenomenal however, but also the food. With such diverse varieties from all around the globe you are spoilt for choice. Whether you want sushi, pho, or pasta, Australia has it all. Wherever you go in this giant country you feel at home. The natives are some of the friendliest people I have had the privilege to meet and go above and beyond to make your stay unforgettable. I had the pleasure of calling Australia my home for nearly nine months, and I would love to do so again.
It’s always been a dream of mine to live somewhere that isn’t the UK. Miles away from my own life, every time I visit somewhere new I think how much I’d love to settle into a completely different way of living.
With family connections there, an obvious choice for me would be Ireland. But for somewhere a little bit further afield, I’d love to live in Canada. With its surrounding mountains, beautiful scenery and friendly people, a trip to Vancouver in 2015 became one of the first times I felt properly drawn to a city. As a lover of all things nature and ocean, the opportunity to spend time outdoors in Vancouver makes the idea of living there even more attractive.
From food trips to Urban Fare with its array of vibrant fruit and veg, to beautiful sunset cycles around the Stanley Park and carefree evenings on the town, Vancouver seems like the ultimate liveable city.
Though I’ve never visited, I’ve always wanted to go to the Baltic state of Estonia, and I think it’d be an excellent place to live as well. So whilst I’m still being speculative, what the country boasts is hard to resist: there this high emphasis on a healthy and rewarding work-life balance, and Estonia has an enchanting juxtaposition of both being an incredibly digital country but offering beautiful, untouched forests and beaches and a stunning countryside. It has some of the highest air quality levels in the world and the unpolluted environment also leads to Estonia’s prioritisation of natural and organic food: maybe I’d finally eat healthy?
Estonia has insane levels of digital literacy, with internet access declared a human right, and all public services are embedded digitally; wireless internet spans everywhere. Though it seems, especially in the capital Tallinn and university cities like Tartu, there are a lot of English speakers, I also think the Estonian language (spoken by over a million people) is fascinating (though super hard to learn).
However, I do come writing this article from a naive perspective, having never even visited the country; I’m sure Estonia has issues like every place does, and there are reports on the high prices vs low wages which are creating a damaging divide in the country. But for the purpose of this article, I still maintain I’d like to live there at some point.
Last modified: 12th May 2020