Moving abroad: Where is the Best Place for Me to Live?

by | Dec 12, 2023 | Moving Abroad

You’ve made the decision to move abroad and now it’s time to answer the important first question: Where do I want to live? 

Maybe you’re still in the process of deciding on a country. Or you’re researching a country’s regional differences, deliberating over cities versus the countryside, near mountains or closer to the coast. There are also housing options – house, villa, condo, or apartment.  There are seemingly endless possibilities, which can create a sense of excitement about your decision but also can leave you feeling overwhelmed.

For this reason, I’d like to introduce to you the Criteria Funnel method. An approach to help you work through big-picture decisions like picking a country to the most granular level of decisions such as choosing between two houses in the same neighborhood.

Part One – Likes and dislikes

This exercise works best when all family members can be present and participate. Since this move will be made together, it’s best to start this process together.

Each person says what they like and dislike about where they live now, including their home and neighborhood. This is an important first step because this brings the abstract concept of moving into your concrete reality of everyday life. There are no right or wrong answers. You and your family are simply voicing your opinions and perspectives.

Some good examples of what may come up in the conversation are: You like a quiet neighborhood and would like the same abroad; your current home doesn’t have space for a garden; drug stores and grocery stores are accessible without a car, or maybe they aren’t currently but this would be on your new neighborhood wish list.

Part Two: The list

Once everyone has had the opportunity to share their thoughts, hand out paper and pens. This next exercise will create a useful way for each of you to understand your family’s needs.

We begin by doing something we’ve all done many times before and it is really fun, making a wish list. Go crazy. Think about everything you want for your new home and new neighborhood. There are no limitations.

I advise that each person writes their own list, so everyone can compare their list with everyone else’s.

Now, all your combined wish lists are put into the criteria funnel.

Part Three: Our must-haves

Each person must look at their wish list honestly and think: what are the items on this list that are the most important for me? What are my must-haves? This second list must be shorter than the first. The idea is to funnel down to what is essential for you to have in your new home and neighborhood. 

An example of a must-have would be that your family needs to stay within a certain budget, or your new community has a dog-friendly park/open space nearby.

Part Four: Non-negotiables

Your short list of must-haves will now be funneled down further by identifying your family’s non-negotiable items. These are things that you cannot negotiate or compromise on because they directly affect your ability to live a quality life.

A client of mine could not walk up and down stairs. She needed her new apartment to either be on the ground floor or in a building with a lift. Also, the neighborhood had to be on flat terrain with good sidewalks. For her, these items were not negotiable. They directly affected her ability to be mobile within her apartment building and outside in her neighborhood.

This same kind of granular thinking can be done with other important considerations, like children and school systems or open spaces and woodlands. You and your family will all have these non-negotiable items that can be identified.

Mastering the Decision: We are moving to…

Remember this is a process, and your lists are dynamic. Don’t be surprised that some of your needs don’t match the reality of a chosen neighborhood or that the importance of one need outweighs another.

Let’s say being in the city is your non-negotiable. Your company’s office is there, and you will not own a car. But then you discover that the rents are too high in the city center and downtown areas.

You decide to look outside the city limits and rely on public transportation. This shift allows you more housing choices, though you will need to factor your commute into the budget.

And share your non-negotiables list with your real estate agent and the other professionals assisting with your move. You won’t be tempted to look at areas or housing options that don’t meet your essential needs, and you’ll save time, energy, and money.

You’ve made this important decision to move abroad, and create a well-thought-out strategy to avoid costly mistakes. Your big change doesn’t have to be overwhelming with the right help and a good plan.

My online course “Decide Where to Live“ helps you navigate and create a moving abroad strategy. This course includes: learning the blueprint of the moving process, goal setting, an in-depth look at creating the Criteria Funnel, and a 1:1 consultation.

PS: Ready to take your move abroad to the next level? Join the Expat Journey Program and replace guesswork with a framework and get everything done.


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