For the last few months we have been subjected to the spectacle that is Trump running as an actual candidate for the presidency of the United States of America. And to all of our surprises, since July he has been the front runner for the coveted Republican party nomination. As I have been traveling the past few months I have gotten a number of questions from foreign friends as to the validity of Trump’s bid for office and as much as it pains me I have to tell them that it is very real and he has A LOT of supporters in the US, hence his rise and permanence at the top of the polls.
This past Monday, Donald Trump made his most incendiary comments to date and rather than back down he has seemingly further distilled his plan to ban Muslims from the United States. While many may view this as simply the views of a candidate playing on the fears of the masses, the fact is many of these masses are cheering him on with even greater fervor. I for one have no interest in living in a Nazi-esque USA so for those looking for a new home, below I have suggested eight countries to move to if Trump becomes president.
Remembering that no country is perfect I have highlighted the countries selling points and the biggest drawback in my mind.
Canada is the most obvious and easiest choice for American immigrants. Our large neighbor to the north offers a similar feel of the US, but without all of the violence, no need to learn a new language, relatively similar costs of living, and you can pack up the family car and just drive north. Canada, which appears on lists such as the World’s Happiest Countries and the World’s Most Peaceful (Safest) Countries, is a great alternative to its southern neighbor. Basic offerings such as universal healthcare coverage, cheap universities and only four percent of the population reporting working more than 50 hours per week may have you packing your bags before next November. And even better news, Canada has tons of land and is fairly sparsely populated. So there should be space for several million Americans, with the added bonus that its proximity to the US will allow people to easily visit family members sticking it out at home.
Drawback: Canada gets cold. Unlike in the US where we can escape to our warmer states in the south, Canada has no such option. When it is winter in Canada it is winter all over Canada. Given its geographic proximity to the North Pole this is an obvious issue, for me at least. Most of the population in fact lives in the south of the country because many parts of it are uninhabitable due to the climate. Bundle up!
Though 21 years have passed since the 1994 genocide many people cannot move past that image of Rwanda, but you should! The country of one thousands hills is lush, beautiful and rapidly developing. Kigali, the small but expanding East African capital is the perfect home for would be immigrants (some use the term ex-pats). Rwanda is one of the safest countries on the continent and unlike in many other African capitals you can feel safe walking around whether during the day or night. Another selling point to living in Kigali is it is CLEAN! If you’ve traveled to a few African countries you may have noticed plastic bags littering the ground, well not Rwanda! Prior to exiting your plane, the airline staff will announce that you are not allowed to bring plastic bags into the country so be sure to leave them on the plane or dump them before exiting the airport. I managed to forget this simple instruction and sure enough on my way out of the airport I was stopped and they removed my duty free alcohol from the two plastic bags, disposed of them and sent me on my way!
Beyond safety and cleanliness, Kigali has a great art and fashion scene, delicious restaurants and numerous options for weekend trips throughout of the country. The added bonus is if you live in Rwanda you not only get discounts to national parks in Rwanda, but also in neighboring Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania. So if nothing else, spend a few years in Rwanda to live out your African safari dreams. An added bonus is that they have successfully been converting the usage of French in the country to English. English is now the primary educational language so no need to brush up on your French skills, but it is a great opportunity to learn Kinyarwanda.
Drawback: Housing costs are high! With a huge influx of development workers the cost of housing in Kigali has skyrocketed. I’m talking one bedroom apartments for $2500. There is obviously a range of options so you can definitely find cheaper housing, but be prepared you may experience sticker shock.
Editor’s note: Many have expressed that the cost that I mentioned for a one bedroom above is an anomaly, let me clarify, if you want an apartment with amenities, what they call “serviced apartments”, this is the cost of a one bedroom in the most desired neighborhoods. As I stated you can definitely find cheaper options. You can browse housing in Kigali here: http://www.lamudi.rw/kigali/apartment/
Because who wouldn’t want to live in Brazil?
Brazil is one of the BRICS countries, which is a group of emerging global economic powers. With the relatively recent rapid economic development, Brazil offers the modernity that many Americans may be seeking, but without all of the artificial food. Being the world’s fifth largest country by land area means they have space for newcomers. Rio is the obvious draw as a place to live with its expansive beaches, seemingly perfect weather and lush mountains, but Brazil has more to offer. One can choose from a more urban environment in São Paolo or the lesser populated, but equally beautiful state of Bahia or one can head to one of the islands such as Florianópolis. Brazil offers variety!
The people of Brazil are quite a mixed bunch with German, Portuguese, African and indigenous heritage this is a very cosmopolitan country. I find Brazilians to be quite welcoming and very open people. Then there’s the food: the agricultural powerhouse offers a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, for meat lovers there is the world famous churrascarias, and caipirinhas. Oh and in terms of more practical reasons to move there, Brazil has universal healthcare and approximately 35 paid vacation days.
Drawback: For a smooth transition you should learn Portuguese. Brazil is a massive country and most of the population is on the Atlantic coast far from any neighbors so many people speak Portuguese and Portuguese only. While you can try to get by with English and Spanish it will not be easy so just go ahead and buy your Rosetta Stone now.
Looking to reduce your carbon footprint? Look no further than Costa Rica. Ranked by the New Economic’s Foundation as the greenest country in the world, Costa Rica aims to be carbon-neutral by 2021. So if you want to live in an environmentally sound country, this Central American nation is it! With beaches on both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, Costa Rica offers plenty of options for beach lovers and surfers alike. San Jose gives you an option for more urban living if you are not into beautiful beaches. Coming in at number 12 on the World Happiness Report Costa Rica is one of the best countries to live in in the Western Hemisphere.
Costa Rica offers a slow pace of life, healthy and natural foods, a tropical climate and universal healthcare! The UN has ranked Costa Rica’s public health system within the top 20 worldwide and the number one in Latin America.
Drawback: The slow and relaxed pace of life seeps into the services sector meaning that services can be slow, whether government, private or public.
This humongous country that is also a continent, like many of the previous suggestions has a lot of space. Most of the population lives along the coasts and with over 10,000 beaches, who wouldn’t want to. Australia offers an easy transition for Americans since they speak English and are part of the so-called western world. Though it began as a colony for British prisoners, Australia now has minimal crime and specifically gun violence. In response to mass shootings, the Government of Australia changed its policies with regards to guns and now less people have them and less people are being killed by them. Simple.
Another benefit to living in Australia is quick access to the beautiful islands of the South Pacific. Imagine taking weekend trips to Tahiti, Fiji and New Caledonia.
Drawback: When I first visited Australia in 2009 I instantly said, I could definitely live here, if it wasn’t so far. Australia is FAR. Obviously far is relative, but with Sydney being a 15 hour flight from Los Angeles, nine and a half hours from Tokyo, and what seems like days away from Europe being in Australia can feel a bit isolating.
Thailand is high on the list of most world travelers because of the delicious cheap eats, the interesting ancient Bhuddist culture and the beautiful landscapes that switch from lush mountains to white sand beaches as you travel from the north to the south of the country. For those looking for home, Thailand may be a good fit for these reasons as well as the overall cheap cost of living. Most Thai people speak enough English that not knowing Thai is not a barrier unless you’re in very rural parts of the country. And like many other Asian countries, being a native English speaker means an easy transition as an English teacher.
Drawback: The ridiculously hot and humid summers. I recently toured southeast Asia in September, which is not even the hottest month in the region and I sweated more than I’ve ever sweat before. I also spent a summer in Japan. Asian summers can be brutal.
Iceland, which is located in the North Atlantic Ocean between Greenland and Norway has been receiving a lot of visitors recently with a large bump in tourism and for good reason, Iceland is an adventure’s paradise. Between hiking glaciers, relaxing in thermal baths and taking horse rides around the famed Golden Circle, Iceland is not only a great country to visit, but also to live.
Iceland is number one on the list of the safest countries in the world. I don’t know about you, but I can only imagine the peace that comes with waking up and going to sleep in the world’s safest country. Locks on doors? Who needs those! And to add icing (get it ICEing) to the cake, the government offers universal healthcare and everyone has a MINIMUM of 36 paid holidays per year! That’s five weeks of the year that you get paid and do not have to go to work! I suppose that is why Iceland ranks second on the list of the World’s Happiest Countries.
An added benefit to living in Iceland is its location in the North Atlantic, giving easy and quick access to the US and Europe in case you need a break from the extreme cold during the winter.
Drawback: If you want more than an average of four to five hours of sunlight in winter this not the place for you. Because of its geographic location Iceland experiences very dark winters, but on the flip side, in summer you make up for it with SUPER long days, including the famed midnight sun in June when there is usually only two to three hours of darkness.
The Netherlands was the first country I ever visited and I said to myself, I could raise a family here. The small European country is clean, safe and efficient. I, for one, love the bike culture because not only does it mean that the country cares about the environment, but it means that most people regularly engage in physical activity as a means of transport. If you do not want to bike, the country has a great, fast and extensive train system to move about. It is seventh place on the list of the World’s Happiest Countries, this is probably fueled by the 27 paid vacation days and the best healthcare system in Europe and no need to ask, yes, its universal. The 16 weeks of maternity leave and monthly government financial contribution to the cost of raising children doesn’t hurt either.
Drawbacks: Get prepared for more than a few grey days. The weather in the Netherlands is not nearly as bad as the UK, but not nearly as sunny as southern Italy.
Other honorable mentions include: Denmark, Sweden, Ghana, Spain, and Colombia.
So do any of the countries on this list appeal to you as a safe haven from a Trump led America? What other countries would you add to this list?