What do Whoopi Goldberg, Miley Cyrus, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jon Stewart all have in common? They’re among the celebrities who have vowed to flee the United States (and in Stewart’s case, the planet) if Donald Trump is elected president.
By now, threats to quit America if a polarizing candidate wins are old hat. But the threats aren’t entirely idle ones. Canada last saw a big influx of American immigrants in 2004, after George W. Bush was elected to a second term. Depending on how things turn out in November, our neighbors to the north might want to brace themselves for another wave of dissatisfied Americans. Following Trump’s big primary wins on Super Tuesday, Google searches on how to move to Canada jumped 350%.
Those on the left aren’t the only ones who like to toy with the idea of pulling up stakes for political reasons. In 2010, Rush Limbaugh said he’d move to Costa Rica if President Obama’s healthcare reform plan was implemented. As of 2016, he was still living in the United States.
Like Limbaugh, most people won’t follow through on their promises to relocate for political reasons, in part because they tend to “overestimate how much pain they’ll feel when they experience a dreaded outcome,” Adam Alter, an associate professor of psychology and marketing and New York University wrote in an article for the Washington Post. But if you are seriously toying with the idea of giving up on the U.S., you might want to broaden your horizons beyond Canada.
Mercer, a global consulting firm, recently produced a list of the top cities in the world for expats, and only one of the top 10 is in Canada. Germany and Switzerland are better bets for those who want to move abroad, according to the rankings of 230 global cities, which Mercer developed after looking at factors such as the economic environment, transportation, history of natural disasters, availability of medical supplies and services, and limitations on personal freedom. The resulting list is designed to help multinational firms determine how much to pay employees they send abroad.
Here are the 10 best cities in the world for expats, according to Mercer.
- Vienna, Austria
- Zurich, Switzerland
- Auckland, New Zealand
- Munich, Germany
- Vancouver, Canada
- Dusseldorf, Germany
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Geneva, Switzerland
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Sydney, Australia
What makes these 10 cities the best for expats? For one, they’re safe. Those cities that performed well on measures of internal stability, crime, performance of local law enforcement, and the country’s relationship with other countries ranked high on Mercer’s list. Cities in Iraq, Yemen, and the Central African Republic, all areas struggling with political unrest and violence, landed at the bottom of the list.
While only Vancouver cracked Mercer’s global top 10, Canadian cities dominated the list of most desirable places to relocate in North America. Vancouver, Toronto, Ottawa, and Montreal all ranked higher than the top-finishing U.S. city, San Francisco, which came it at number 28 on the worldwide list.
Still, you shouldn’t pack your bags and book a flight to Vienna just yet. Mercer’s list might give you a good idea of which global cities have a good quality of life, but it doesn’t capture the whole picture for would-be expats.
For one, the list doesn’t take into account how easy it would be to move to one of these cities or secure a work visa. Nor does the list specifically consider cost of living. (According to a separate research by Mercer, two of the 10 best cities, Zurich and Geneva, are also among the most expensive for expats.)
The cost of living and ease of finding work aren’t the only factors you need to consider if you are toying with the idea of moving abroad. You’ll also want to make sure it’s the right life choice for you, not just a knee-jerk response to political events.
“At many conferences I see that focus on anger at the American system, big government etc., where the folks are looking to run away from Big Brother and Big Government,” Mike Cobb, who owns a real estate firm that sells and manages property in Central America, told The Street. “Instead, they should run toward a great life overseas. There’s just so much that is awesome about living overseas. The ones who do this are the happiest folks and make great neighbors and friends.”
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