Unless you know the area well, choosing a new neighborhood abroad as an expat can be tricky – to say the least. There are numerous factors to take into consideration when it comes to moving overseas and choosing a neighborhood for your expatriate family requires extra care. With this guide we hope to ease the neighborhood selection process for expats.
What Do You Want in a Neighborhood?
Perhaps, before you even think about your destination abroad, consider your own preferences. Think about the neighborhood in which you currently live in your home country. What do you love most about it? What could have been better? Make a list of comparison, so that you can ascertain what’s important to you when you choose a neighborhood abroad.
What Are Your Needs and Wants?
In life, you will always have to compromise and when you’re under pressure or not thinking clearly, you can easily make the wrong compromises. For that reason, it is a good idea to make a list of needs and wants. For instance:
NEEDS: furnished, three bedrooms, proximity to schools (if there’s no bus service) and a security alarm.
WANTS: a pool, double garage, built in cupboards.
If you’re selling all your furniture for your move abroad, and you will not be able to replace it right away, you will need a furnished apartment. It is not negotiable. If the home you like does not have a pool, but there’s a decent community pool nearby, it may be something you can let slide.
Many expatriates opt for expat neighborhoods, which may not be the most cost-effective option. However, if feeling ‘at home’ and being around other expatriates is important to you, that may be the best option. Connect with other expatriates on expat forums in your destination country to learn which expat neighborhoods would suit you best.
Factors That Influence Expat Neighborhood Selection
Proximity to work and schools, grocery stores, social venues, medical services and similar issues affect your expat neighborhood selection in more ways than one. Let’s take a look:
Types of homes
The type of home you wish to live in will probably influence the neighborhood you select. Apartments are usually located in more densely populated areas, while single-family homes are in the suburbs. Affordability will often determine the type of home you can afford and that might dictate your choice.
Your access to transportation will affect how far you can live from work or from school, if you have kids.
If you have kids, it makes sense to live near the schools they will be attending. However, living in a neighborhood with a sought-after school will raise the value of your property, if you are buying.
If you enjoy staying fit with daily workouts in the great outdoors, you should choose a neighborhood that offers you the opportunity to participate in outdoor activities, such as a park where you can run or cycle, or close to a beach with good waves for surfing.
If sleep is important to you, steer away from college areas, or suburbs with clubs and pubs.
Security is obviously an important consideration. Look at the local law enforcement’s website, or on real estate sites that provide information about how your chosen neighborhood measures up to the national average.
Choosing a neighborhood with a homeowner’s association is usually a good idea, as they tend to look after the best interest of the people and the value of the properties. Be sure to find out about their restrictions and fees before moving in.
Finally, remember that you want to be proud of the area you call home. For that reason, it is important to look for warning signs that might signal trouble for you later on – in terms of nuisance or a drastic reduction in the value of your home. Look out for:
● dilapidated buildings
● many for sale signs
● signs of vandalism
● sounds from train tracks, highways or airports
● bad smells
When choosing a neighborhood overseas, rely on the advice of people who are not trying to make a sale. Instead, ask locals and other expats about their experience of living in the neighborhood.
A personalized look-and-see tour provides the perfect opportunity to experience a variety of neighborhoods at different times of the day, and get a good idea of what matters to your neighborhood selection. Your free movabroad relocation assistant can definitely help!