Top 5 Expat Cities Worth A Look

From Dubrovnik to Punta Cana, each of these destinations offers a very unique lifestyle. Our favorite destinations for travel this season have been seen on various travel blogs, and always remained somewhere in the Top 10 on these “expat” lists. When you’re looking to live or vacation abroad this year, check out these 5 cities:

1. Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Punta Cana is rapidly becoming a popular Caribbean destination due to its’ abundance of affordable yet luxurious all-inclusive resorts, turquoise tropical waters, and kilometer after kilometer of white sandy beaches. The Punta Cana Lifestyle is one of relaxation, but is not “burdened” by the boredom that typically surrounds the “tropical” island lifestyle. The Punta Cana Lifestyle affords one the ability to “chill” on the beach in relative privacy yet still have the ability to shop, dine, and entertain oneself in the normal “bigger city” ways. The Dominican Republic is one of the only Caribbean islands to have natural ground water, natural resources as well as its’ own economy that is not reliant solely on tourism. Combine this with a growing and “proper” infrastructure and Punta Cana has what could be considered the “recipe for success”. Punta Cana (and as such the Dominican Republic), is investor friendly and purchasing real estate as a foreigner here is a relatively painless process. Dominican Republic and Punta Cana Real Estate made it through the market reletively unscathed. Granted a few of the American property owners suffered due to “personal” financial issues, but the majority of these properties were picked up quickly by other foreigners eager for a ripe investment opportunity. The thing is, Punta Cana real estate did “slow down” during the crisis, but never crashed. As an expat or traveler, consider targeting Punta Cana (or the neighboring town of Bavaro) for your next real estate acquisition, as this is “the right place, at the right time”.

2. Dubrovnik, Croatia
Not as wore-torn as some might think, this city in Croatia is considered by many to be the “gem” of the Dalmatian Coast. Dubrovnik is a coastal Medieval city where one can find traffic-free pedestrian streets meandering their way through everything from convents to coffee shops, and even a pharmacy that is nearly “as old as time”. Dubrovnik has been mentioned quite a lot more in the media recently, so expect this city to become less “undiscovered” by expats as time goes by, but still, one can live cheaply here if you know how to do it. Rooms to rent is the best way to go, and you’ll likely run into more than enough people that wish to share a flat to offset the already affordable cost of living. Getting yourself mixed in with the (quite obvious) tourist traps will run your funds down fairly quick however. Imagine Dubrovnik as Venice on a rock. The architecture is similar in style, the streets carry that same “storybook” feel, and seafood restaurants are plentiful. For real estate bargains, look just outside the city in surrounding villages. If you do this, you’ll be surprised at what you find, but in the city of Dubrovnik, although great for expats, you will pay. Dubrovnik is likely the most expensive of the cities on our favorites list, however you can live “close” taking advantage of all the city has to offer, yet live far enough out to accomplish the typical expat goal of “lowering” your cost of living.

3. Sofia, Bulgaria
Sofia has actually been quite well-known by expats living in Bucharest. Many of us travel back and forth to Sofia to renew our Visas (those of us that need to renew). The general consensus seems to be that Bulgaria “adjusted” their financials a bit in order to qualify for ascension into the E.U.. Who would have thought. The average salary is low, around 185 USD per month on average. This beats out Bucharest for one of the lowest wages in Eastern Europe. Investors take note here; property values have come down again, so apartments and other real estate related investments are cheap cheap cheap. Reminiscent of a “less chaotic” Bucharest, one actually feels “instantly comfortable” in this city. Most of the locals speak English, like Bucharest, so you won’t necessarily suffer from major language barriers. Best of all for investors (and as such expats) the government is beginning to privatize some of its state-owned companies. They are also making some very business-friendly moves regarding taxes. Consider this; currently corporate, individual, and capital gains taxes sit at a low flat rate of just 10%, and 5% on dividends. Is this a new technique to get people to actually pay? From a business and personal tax perspective, you should seriously take a look at Sofia.

4. Montevideo, Uruguay
Montevideo, located on the southern tip of Uruguay, is a city that has been “used” be expats living in nearby Buenos Aires for the purpose of “Visa Renewal”. Expats and “long-term tourists” would hop on the express boat from Buenos Aires, where, an hour later, they could set foot in Montevideo, thus taking care of there Visa expiration issues. As more and more tourists were doing this, they began to realize that this smaller version (and sleepier version) of Buenos Aires may be worth a deeper look. With a population of just over a million, Montevideo is a more “manageable” city. You still get the European Old World feel (you can even locate a great example of a 1940’s or 50’s American Car to drive around on the roads of Montevideo for a reasonable cost), the great weather, the ultra-low cost of living BUT in a Country that is more “foreigner friendly”. Visa restrictions are loose, investment into the country is simple, and locals don’t turn their noses up at you like they may in Buenos Aires. Worry less about political issues and a growing cost of living and check out Montevideo, Uruguay.

5. Andorra la Vella, Andorra
If you like picturesque mountain towns, low cost of living, foreigner friendly businesses, and plenty of shopping, then THIS is the place to be. Andorra, a small Country wedged between France and Spain, has really only been well known as a “photo opportunity” for those passing through. Dotting the mountainous countryside are small villages complete with Romanesque style churches. Although the majority of the population is Spanish, the primary language here is Catalan, but, in the main city. many speak English, most understand. Andorra la Vella’s population is relatively small, however fluctuates greatly with the seasons due to the influx of tourism to the area. While all this is fine and dandy, the “big deal” in Andorra is its status as a tax haven. Andorra la Vella speaks for roughly 80% of the GDP with the primary industry being banking. With all that is going on in Spain right now, you may be thinking that we’re nuts for promoting Andorra, but we’re not. You see, where Spain moved towards higher taxation and mixed that with “mis-allocation” of government spending, resulting in dismal economic conditions, Andorra’s move was quite the opposite. Andorra has no direct taxation on individual income, no tax on business profits, no tax on gifts, no tax on inheritances, and limited taxation on consumption (like sales tax or VAT). What you wind up with in Andorra (specifically Andorra la Vella) is a lower-cost-of-living version of some of the nicer cities in Switzerland. Andorra is clean, beautiful, unemployment is low, crime is almost non-existent, and overall, living in this Country is just… plain… attractive! Check it out.