Immigrating - Choosing Where To Go

July 8, 2008

In - “Is This The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Dream“, I discussed immigrating to another country, to live and work and shared some useful resources I’d discovered.

And as this is something I plan to do in the very near future, I’ve been doing quite a bit of research. If you’re planning to immigrate to a sunnier more appealing climate, let me share with you what I’ve uncovered so far.

Firstly, everyone’s dreams are different. And you might not be looking for the same lifestyle as me. Some of the basic things we’re looking for in our new chosen land are:

1) Plenty of natural outdoor space for safe cycling, walking etc.
2) A place which is less densely populated than the UK.
3) A country with a good educational system.
4) A good place to start and run a business.
5) Sunny weather - though not necessarily hot all year round.
6) Low levels of crime.

First we looked at some livability indexes. Out of the top twenty most livable countries we were most attracted to Australia and Canada. The US also appealed, but we left that out of the equation as it is a lot more difficult to immigrate to nowadays. We also considered France and Spain, as it is pretty easy for people from the UK to go and work in most other European countries.

The second livability index we looked at was the most liveable cities one. We don’t want to live in a city, but it would make sense to live near one. And we were pleased to see that out of the areas we were most attracted to, Vancouver in Canada came in at number 3, Melbourne at number 17 and Perth at 21. But no cities in France and Spain featured in the top 40.

Then we looked at which countries would be best to start a small business. According to this study by CNN, Canada came in at number 3 and Australia at number 4. While France was down at number 20 and Spain was way down at number 38.

We’re pretty close to choosing where to go - but we’re still keeping an open mind. If you enjoyed this post, click here to subscribe in a reader, so you don’t miss the second part in the series: Immigration - Weighing Up The Pros and Cons.

Why not check out some of the stories by people who’ve inspired me:

My Journey to the Land Down Under by Monika Mundell.

Is Becoming An Entrepreneur Harder Than Surviving In A Foreign Country by Akemi Gaines.

2 Texans Down Under by Bob Hill.

Extra Virgin: Amongst The Olive Groves In Liguria

A Lesson In Lifestyle Re-Design: From the suburbs to a sailboat - an interview with Doug and Sheryl Mayle.

Comparing America and Japan - Part 1 by Hunter Nuttall.

Comparing America and Japan - Part 2 by Akemi Gaines.

Chasing Coconuts - How I Went From The Cube To The Caribbean - by Mark Hayward.

Are you considering immigrating to another country, or would you prefer to stay put? Have you immigrated already? How did you choose where to go?

Share This StumbleUpon It!


23 Responses to “Immigrating - Choosing Where To Go”

  1. Brett Legree on July 8th, 2008 3:05 pm


    Good for you! I think you’re well on your way to making a decision and starting the process. We are looking at New Zealand ourselves, and my wife had looked at a few of these rankings prior to our taking a trip there last year.

    (Which I highly recommend, if you can - go for a vacation there, and while there, talk to some residents - ask them about life in the country. I’m in Canada, so feel free to ask me about it if you like!)

    Anyway, when my wife was looking at some of the rankings, she noted that NZ was lower on the HDI than Canada and the US. I pointed out that the ranking is just a ranking, and that it is important to go to the source and look at the actual index.

    So the point is - if you look at the actual values of the indices you have linked to above, just about any country in the top 20 is within a few points - #1 is perhaps 4 or 5 points above #20, around the 100 point mark.

    So they are all pretty good - hence my suggestion to take a trip and get your feet wet!

    Hope this makes sense :)


    Brett Legree’s last blog post..a cog.

  2. Hunter Nuttall on July 8th, 2008 3:10 pm

    I’m staying put in the U.S. for the forseeable future, but Canada might be my top choice if I was going to leave, even though I hear some of the people don’t like guys who don’t speak French. Thanks for the links.

    Hunter Nuttall’s last blog post..The Introverts Strike Back

  3. Brett Legree on July 8th, 2008 3:23 pm


    I used to work for a company in Montreal and even though my French is very poor, I never had a problem! I think only a small vocal minority presses the issue. It really seems like a political thing to me.

    (Strangely enough, if I stay in my current field, I’d be more likely to move to where you are, because there is a lot more work for me in the US - and most of it is in small towns, which is good.)

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..a cog.

  4. James Chartrand - Men with Pens on July 8th, 2008 3:44 pm

    I so love my country. I’m feeling all YAY! Coolness! Let’s have beer! right now :0

    James Chartrand - Men with Pens’s last blog post..Where to Find Affordable Education for Freelancers

  5. jsanderz on July 8th, 2008 3:57 pm

    Good luck to you, I agree with Bret and would advise you to visit where ever you decide a good few times before you make that decision.
    A friend of mine moved to Canada and after 2 years moved back to the UK as she disliked the people.
    By the way your dreams are so very similar to mine.
    Out of curiosity what business are you going to start up?

    jsanderz’s last blog post..The Ever Changing Mobile Phone Video

  6. Brett Legree on July 8th, 2008 4:09 pm


    I hear you… my only beef with Canada is the “s-word”…


    @Cath & jsanderz,

    The other thing I am doing that I would recommend is to subscribe (gotta love RSS) to a national newspaper. Thus, for me I have the NZ Herald in my feed reader. I read it daily - national, entertainment, business, sports - pretty much everything - so as to get a flavour for what is going on there and help me know how I’d fit in.

    It also gives me a lot of trivia for watercooler chat that no one here knows about!

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..a cog.

  7. Akemi - Yes to Me on July 8th, 2008 4:10 pm

    Hi, thank you for the link love for our posts than compare America and Japan!

    Brett makes great point saying ranking is only ranking. I think there is a factor that is very personal — just as we are attracted to a certain people, we are attracted to a certain place, and that inner connection is important.

    Canada — gee, I hear a lot of good things about Canada, but if you are looking for sunny climate, why??

    I think it’s only in Quebec where French language is so critical. (Smile to James) I live several hundred miles south of Vancouver, where many people drive there, and never heard of stories of inconvenience.

    Australia is very sunny. I lived in Sydney for a year. The summer dry heat is pretty notable. Melbourne is milder (cloudier).

    Akemi - Yes to Me’s last blog post..Comparing America and Japan, Part 2

  8. Brett Legree on July 8th, 2008 4:26 pm

    I just looked at the posts by Hunter and Akemi - really great!

    As Akemi says, it can be an attraction. I was just attracted to NZ after seeing a few simple photos - photos which didn’t do justice to the real thing. And being there, rubbing elbows with the people, confirmed the fit for us.

    Even setting aside the rose-coloured tourist glasses, we got a good feeling about it.

    Here’s a simple example - we spent a lot of time in Auckland, and did a fair bit of bus riding - just the city bus. One day our route took us over by the University. Students piled onto the bus.

    And they greeted the bus driver, one by one. “Hello, bus driver.”

    As they got off the bus, they said, “Thank you, bus driver.”

    I am not kidding. It made me smile.

    So if you visit, take some time to become “a native”.

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..a cog.

  9. RacerX on July 8th, 2008 4:33 pm

    The key is not the indexes, but where you feel comfortable. I have traveled a bit (250k miles one year!) and I am surprised where I feel comfortable and where I don’t.

    For me, if I was to move to a foreign city it would be Vienna. I have always enjoyed my time there and the people, not to mention the music!

    RacerX’s last blog post..The Power of Focus…

  10. Cath Lawson on July 8th, 2008 7:13 pm

    Hi Brett - Great point - you have to be careful how you interpret any statistics. And you’re correct - many of the results only differ slightly. I know you’ve been thinking about New Zealand for a while but you said you wanted to wait a while. Do you have a target date, or are you just playing it by ear?

    Hi Hunter - I was reading the description of where you live on your joint writing collaberation with Akemi. It sounds like an awesome place.

    Hi James - I will definitely be joining you for a beer if I move to your country.

    Hi Jeff - One thing we might do is to travel round for a little while to see where we like best.

    I know you live in the North too, so I’m not surprised we share the same dreams. I’m guessing Iceland probably has nicer weather than we do.

    As for type of business - not completely decided yet, but have lots of ideas. Will have to closely research the area we choose though. I really would like to do something different and definitely nothing that involves 24 hour call outs again.

    Brett - I don’t mind snow so long as the sun is shining. Subscribing to a local newspaper is an excellent idea - thanks.

    Hi Akemi - I’ll definitely bear the attraction thing in mind when making our decision. When you’re from the North of England the weather almost everywhere sounds more appealing.

    Brett - that is nice that everyone is so friendly. I say thank you to bus drivers but I’m not sure whether this is the norm in the UK or not. It should be though.

    Racer - 250k in one year is a lot. Thinking about it is enough to give you jetlag. I love Vienna too - it is beautiful isn’t it? But I’m not so great at their language, so I’d probably find it tough to settle in.

    Cath Lawson’s last blog post..Immigrating - Choosing Where To Go

  11. Brett Legree on July 8th, 2008 7:24 pm


    The places you’ve been looking at are all great places to live (hey, I live in one of them!) - so whatever you choose will be great for you. We just really wanted to make sure that our children were a little bit older (e.g. fully toilet trained and so forth), so right now it could happen any time. I understand the process to make the move pretty well now, so realistically we are looking at around 2010 for a time to be there, if we go. Things are underway at the moment to make it happen, though.

    I figure if you were in BC it would be a lot nicer even with the snow - it is a beautiful province and the mountains are magnificent. No mountains where I live… just flat, flat, flat :(

    I’m not surprised that folks are like that in the UK (or NZ, for that matter). Canada could use a few lessons in etiquette - I’ll probably get into trouble from some fellow Canadians, but it’s true!

    Brett Legree’s last blog post..a cog.

  12. Barbara Swafford on July 8th, 2008 7:30 pm


    I give you lots of credit for doing so much homework. I agree with Brett. If you could take a trip and see the areas for yourself, that would be the best way to go, but that could get extremely costly.

    Me, I’m not going anywhere. Maybe a road trip in a month or two, but with gas over $4 a gallon, I might even put that off.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..NBOTW - It’s Better The Second Time

  13. Kelly@SHE-POWER on July 8th, 2008 10:57 pm

    Hi Cath

    This was a really useful post for anyone thinking of emigrating and I love the links! I used to think I would like to emigrate to another country, but since I’ve had a family I am VERY glad I live in Australia.

    We are blessed with so much here - great weather, amazing geography, friendly people, great outdoors lifestyle, high standard of living, and compared to many other countries, low crime rates. But I hear Canada is also wonderful and ranks highly on these as well, except for the weather.

    The English and Australians have such a long history together I think it would be easy for you to settle in here because there are so many cultural similarities and we even have a similar sense of humour. There is a downside of course and that is we are so far away from the UK, which makes it hard for family and friends to visit.

    I’m a firm believer that a decision like this must be made with your instincts as well as the stats. Where do you get most excited about going? That’s the place you should live.

    No matter where you go, there’s exciting times ahead for the Lawson clan.


    Kelly@SHE-POWER’s last blog post..It’s official: Australians are Fat and Badly Dressed

  14. Akemi - Yes to Me on July 9th, 2008 12:35 am


    Thank you for checking the joint writing Hunter and I did.

    I just can’t emphasize the personal attraction factor enough. After all, I read people’s soul records professionally, and I know there are reasons behind the visible events.

    When I moved from Tennessee to Oregon, which is over 2000 miles and almost like moving across the border (over the Rockies = another culture), it was all about intuition. . . I did make one weekend trip to make sure, though.

  15. Brett Legree on July 9th, 2008 12:58 am


    You are quite welcome - I enjoyed reading it!

    I agree with you completely on this - as I said, I saw a few photographs - and it was a feeling, that grew inside - kind of like a hunger. Hard to explain unless you have had the experience, and I think everyone probably has for some thing or another.

    It was confirmed when we visited the country - it just felt like we belonged there. I’ve joked with people that I lived there in a former life. But I’m not so sure it is a joke…


    Brett Legree’s last blog post..a cog.

  16. Nick P on July 9th, 2008 1:31 am

    Hi Cath

    With all the research you seem to have done I reckon you will be okay, but all the in depth research in the world is no substitute for spending some real time in the destination before making the move.

    I left Manchester UK for sunny Brisbane last year to set up a new small travel business and am so far enjoying it immensely, however dont expect things to go as planned! I have found getting things done here in Oz very different (read much slower) than in the UK and the work ethic here is just not like in the UK (some would say that this is a Queensland thing - but I have found it country wide), people don’t call you back, don’t deliver on time etc etc. This can of course be turned to your advantage once established and you don’t get sucked in to the Aussie way of doing things. Anyway I hope to launch within the next week - only 5 months behind schedule, which in the grand scheme of things, considering we moved continents is not too bad.

    And finally, if you’re thinking of Oz make sure you look at the weather (if that is a factor), I was surprised to find that Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide and to some extent Sydney all do in fact get pretty damn cold in winter, hence why we went for Brissie - it’s mid winter now and 24 degrees……now if that’s not enough to tempt you I don’t know what is!


  17. Monika Mundell on July 9th, 2008 7:43 am

    Hi Cath,

    I definitely second Nick’s comment, especially on the work ethics thing. I guess this is what both John and I struggled with most when we migrated to Australia 10 years ago.

    Coming from Europe we were trained to perform to standards at all times and this doesn’t happen here for sure.

    However, I believe wherever you end up moving to there will always be things that will bother you as we often compare the new country to the old one.

    In the end, I never regretted my move and couldn’t for the world of me imagine living back in Europe anymore. I think living in Oz made me an even more free spirit than I already was.

    Traveling to the place you consider is however a must. Become a local for that time and talk, talk, talk to many locals. It will help make up your mind.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..How To Develop A Mind Set For Writing

  18. cathlawson on July 9th, 2008 9:25 am

    Hi Kelly - Thank you. It’s difficult to say where I get most excited about going, because I get excited about going everywhere. I must admit, I’ve always been drawn to Canada though.

    Hi Akemi - I’m going to go with the personal attraction thing. I’m guessing this will probably become clearer and easier once I’ve finished the homework you set me.

    Hi Brett - It could well be possible that you’ve lived there in a former life. It’s good that you’re getting the feeling Akemi described though and I’m guessing you’ll settle in a lot easier knowing for sure that’s where you want to be.

    Hi Nick - Good for you. Did you go over there on a business visa, or is it all new for you? 24 degrees in the winter sounds very nice.

    Hi Monika - We’d already booked our summer holidays and with hindsight we should have travelled to one of the places we’d like to live. It’s difficult as we really want to go asap. I’ve pretty much wound down doing anything we can’t take with us. Once I decided I wanted to move it just seemed pointless doing anything that wouldn’t take us forward.

    Now the work ethics thing might be hard for me to adjust to as I’m fairly impatient when it comes to slow service.

  19. Monika Mundell on July 9th, 2008 11:16 pm

    @ Cath: Yes, work ethics can put a serious damper onto being in a new country. But in the end we can only do our best and try to adjust as much as is possible without neglecting our own work integrity.

    Other than the work issue, there is nothing I wouldn’t want to change here and somehow i fear this work ethics thing isn’t just Australia related either as my friends in Europe mentioned similar issues where they live.

    I think in general the world or today’s generations have become a lot slacker at work. Nobody seems to care anymore and those who do get taken advantage off. I could sing many songs in this regard but lets leave it at that, otherwise I just get all worked up. LOL. Thank god I don’t have to deal with this anymore.

    Monika Mundell’s last blog post..Write Distraction Free With Q10

  20. John Hoff - eVentureBiz on July 10th, 2008 2:31 am

    It’s good you’re doing that kind of research. I couldn’t imagine having to move to another country - I find it hard just moving across town hehe.

    John Hoff - eVentureBiz’s last blog post..50+ Wordpress Plugins & Hacks Candy Store

  21. cathlawson on July 11th, 2008 11:46 pm
    Hi John - it must get amazingly hot where you live though. Do you ever feel yourself longing to escape the heat - or do you just get used to it?
  22. Immigrating to Canada or Australia - Pros and Cons on July 15th, 2008 2:24 am

    [...] Immigrating - Choosing Where To Go Is This The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Dream? [?] Share This [...]

  23. Live The Dream In Vancouver, Canada on December 16th, 2008 10:46 am

    [...] Interview With Davina Haisell of Crimson Compass Immigrating To Canada Or Australia - Pros and Cons Immigrating - Choosing Where To Go Is This The Ultimate Entrepreneurial Dream? Image [...]

Got something to say?

E-mail It