Moving Abroad: 5 Cities to Check Out!

Thinking about moving abroad? It’s something I think about constantly! I’m always asking myself when I travel, “could I live here?”

There are a few things that I consider when I’m reviewing a potential future home.

  1. Plenty of green space
  2. Cost of living
  3. Proximity to major airports
  4. Diversity
  5. Cultural activities

Obviously you can’t decide if you’ll be happy living somewhere after 1-2 visits, but it’s always a good start. I’d only been to NYC 4 times before moving here 10 years ago! Here are the top 5 destinations from my travels that I’d consider moving to and maybe you should too!

1. Rome, Italy

Oh Rome, how I love you. Rome is one of my favorite cities in the world. I’ve been 3 times and every time I go, I feel at home. Why? The food is great – superb even! The pasta, gelato, tiramisu – I’ve had so many good meals in Rome that I’m convinced it’s hard to find a bad one. Food is a major part of my decision-making process, as a lifetime of terrible meals sounds like a nightmare! (I’m looking at you, London!) So much culture around you! I love living in walkable cities, and Rome is definitely one of those. Strolling in Rome, it’s easy to unexpectedly come across ruins.  It’s a history buff’s dream!

Moving abroad: Outside the Colosseum in Rome - one of my favorite sites!
Moving abroad: Outside the Colosseum in Rome – one of my favorite sites!

The people are always so lovely and welcoming to me. I know some people have had issues in Rome, but for the most part, I’ve had nothing but great experiences! The women are kind and the men are gorgeous! It’s a major cosmopolitan city, close to so many great places to visit. Living in Rome, you’re only a train ride away from places such as Cinque Terre, Amalfi and Tuscany. Travel to Asia is also an affordable option.

2. Lima, Peru

I know this one may be a bit of a surprise to you, but I adored my time in Lima. Peru is general is a beautiful country. I went to Peru in 2014 with a group of friends and didn’t expect much, to be honest. Lima is a beautiful city – it’s got urban flair, a lovely coastline and a hopping nightlife. I’m not a huge beach person, so I liked that Lima has way more going for it than its beaches.

Moving Abroad: The view from Larcomar, an outdoor shopping mall built into the side of a cliff in Lima, Peru.
Moving Abroad: The view from Larcomar, an outdoor shopping mall built into the side of a cliff in Lima, Peru.

 I’m sure I wouldn’t miss a meal if I lived in Peru, as the food there was pretty good!  Peru has a large Chinese population and they’ve created a Peruvian-Chinese cuisine, called chifa. Chifa was one of the more memorable meals I had in Peru, but it was all great. Nightlife is hopping in the district of Barranco and I loved shopping in Miraflores. I would need a few more visits to Peru to be sure, but it’s definitely on my list for a future move.

3. Shanghai, China

I visited Shanghai in 2013 and I’d love to go back. Shanghai reminded me a lot of NYC, the city I’ve made my home for the past 10 years. It’s a cosmopolitan city with tons to offer, and even though I stood out as a black American, it felt very safe. Shanghai has a big expat community and I can see why. Many major corporations have outposts in Shanghai and help make up its stunning skyline. The food was great (soup dumplings anyone?) and there was lots to do and see. I enjoyed shopping there (you have to haggle in the markets!) and it’s a great place to get clothing made or tailored for cheap. The clothing I saw on display was gorgeous – and for a fraction of NYC prices! The one downside to Shanghai is a major one – the smog.

Moving Abroad: Shanghai on a smoggy day - most smog ever recorded in the city that day. Shanghai skyline the next night.
Moving Abroad: Shanghai on a smoggy day – most smog ever recorded in the city that day. Shanghai skyline the next night.

When I visited, Shanghai had a record level of smog and I ended up sick for a few days upon my return to the States. That’s the only reason I would hesitate to move to Shanghai – if they get that under control, then I’m there!

4. Cape Town, South Africa

Before arriving in Cape Town, I thought the claims of it’s beauty were overblown. After visiting in November, I now agree. Cape Town is reminiscent of the Bay Area, California. It’s got an agreeable mild climate and you can get so much out of one trip. Even though Cape Town is a major city, it’s easy to escape the city life if that’s not for you.

Moving Abroad: Cape Point, South Africa
Moving Abroad: Cape Point, South Africa

In 3 hours or less by car, you can have many different experiences, like seeing penguins, going on a safari, wine tasting and hitting the beach. Cape Town was surprisingly diverse – but also slightly segregated. If I had to pick a downside of life in Cape Town, the segregation would definitely be it. On my trip, it was quickly apparent that black & white South Africans don’t seem to move in the same circles. All in all, I think it would be a great place to make a life – if you can deal with the long flights to get almost anywhere!

5. Paris, France

Paris is an easy choice for so many reasons. If you’re looking for a life that is comparable to one you have in the States or Western Europe, then it makes sense. For someone like me, Paris is my pick for a host of other reasons. One of the many reasons I moved to NYC is that I enjoy walking as a mode of transportation. Like NYC, it’s a major city but it’s relatively small in land size – on a warm day, it’s not unthinkable to skip the metro and walk to your destination. Living in a place where I don’t need a car is always a plus!

Paris, like Rome, is a place with tons of history. Like Rome, it’s easy to turn a corner and discover a beautiful and historic site. Although Paris is expensive to some, the cost of living is lower than NYC, which makes it a viable option. Paris checks all my marks – walkability, proximity to a major airport, diversity, plenty of green space and tons of cultural activities. Where else can you go see the Mona Lisa for FREE once a month?

Moving Abroad: Relaxing walks along the Seine in Paris
Moving Abroad: Relaxing walks along the Seine in Paris

The obvious downside to life in Paris would be the problems of racism and more recently, terrorism. As a transplant New Yorker, I’m not terribly concerned by the terrorism threat, but racism is something I always consider. I’m also of the belief that racists are everywhere and don’t let them keep you from living your best life!

What do you look for when you’re considering a move abroad? Let me know in the comments!

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