What to consider before becoming an expat: written by an expat (part 3)

Climate and Environment

What sort of climate do you love? Do you love to be really warm or is it more comfortable when you can be a little cooler? Often hot countries have cooler regions up in the mountains. You may be able to absolutely choose your climate by deciding how far up the mountain you want to live.

Do you love flowers and trees and nature or do you prefer beaches and sand and a few beautiful palms? Do you want a golf course at your door step or just nearby? Do you want to live in a city or near a city or far away from a city?

Do you want to immerse yourself in a new culture and learn all about how the locals live or do you want to live immersed in an expat community with people like you?

Are you willing to learn a new language or maybe practice your skills in a language you are learning already?


This is important as we come from developed countries into less developed ones and we may assume some things we want are of course there. For example in many developing countries fire trucks and ambulances may not exist at all or if they do exist they may not be of the quality or caliber you expect. You may not consider this a deal breaker but you still want to know what you are facing.

Highways and Paved Roads. Travel was one of the most important parts of becoming an expat and so being able to travel by car around my new country was important to me. I also wanted good access to airplanes.

High Speed Internet and Freedom to Access the Web

In today’s world we want to know that we can have access to the World Wide Web at any time and it is fast and reliable. One of the things that make it easy for us to be expats is Skype and Google phone. We can call home whenever we want and it is almost free. My granddaughter got to know me over Skype and she would often try to crawl into the computer to say, “Hi”. Not quite as good as a hug but still quite satisfactory.

Economic Considerations

This is probably more important if you are looking to invest, as well as to live, but even if you are planning on living somewhere for a few years it is good to know whether the economy will allow you to support life as you want it to be.

A strong economy is one where expats are usually welcome. Also consider if there are a number of other expats living in the country as this expat crowd may support a number of imports that bring into the country things you are familiar with and enjoy. Embassies are also a good source for imports of things you really miss from back home


Finally, and it is far from the least important of the considerations, you want to be sure that the freedoms that you hold dear are also protected in another country, before you try to live there. In my case, I do not want to live in any country where women are not permitted to have equality of opportunity and expression.

Individual Concerns

Clearly, if you are being transferred for a job or by an employer, your concerns will be met and dealt with usually by your employer.

If you need to earn money to support your lifestyle then you need to know if that is possible before you choose a country and if so what are the restrictions, if any?

Most countries welcome self-employed expats or those who will start businesses and possibly even employ locals.

So where did we go to be expats?

My husband and I chose Panama and in the beginning it seemed like an excellent choice. We soon discovered why Panama is considered to have the worst legal system in Latin America.

So Panama would not be on my list of possible places to go and be an expat. The stories I have heard… One gentleman got into a small road accidents with the wrong people and experienced secret trials, where he and his lawyer were not informed and therefore were not present, that found him guilty of heinous crimes and assessed damages in the millions against him for injuries that did not occur, ultimately requiring him to flee the country and lose his assets.

Would I still consider being an expat? YES!

Are there countries on my short list?

Yes, and Uruguay is at the top of my list. However, before taking the leap I will be much more selective and much more careful. I want to know what the reviewers say about their legal system.





About the author: Mary

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