When Tom and Laine Berning first decided to give overseas living a try, they knew exactly what they wanted: “Good public transport, a lot of culture, walking neighbourhoods and excellent-quality food.” says Laine. They did their research and...
First, this is Europe. That means walkable cities (leave the car behind), with culture and history all around you. Want to stay in a restored castle or live in a centuries-old (but renovated) apartment? You can. Like museums? Science, art and history museums are all over, and many have hours when they’re free of charge. (Madrid’s Prado Museum, with its free evening hours, is a personal favourite. And you can admire Bilbao’s new Guggenheim Museum from the outside; the building itself, and its surrounding park, are the big draw in my book.) Like concerts? You’ll find everything from rock and jazz to opera and zarzuela (Spanish operetta). I’ve gotten concert tickets in Valencia, Spain’s third-largest city and a great centre for music, for €15 ($23).
I’ve walked to Sant Jaume along the narrow streets of the ciutat vella, the old city. At practically every corner, it seems, is a plaza, a medieval building, or a row of elegant, neo-classical facades. This is one of Europe’s largest and best-preserved historic centres; it can take days to explore it all. And after you’ve done that, there are still the many modern neighbourhoods to see, with their shops, museums, concert halls, parks and chic apartment buildings.
Thanks to its location on Spain’s southern coast, right on the Mediterranean, Malaga boasts fine, sandy beaches, a welcoming seaside ambience and a whopping 300 days of sunshine a year. And to top things off, it’s very affordable and comes with good-value real estate.
For affordable European living, it’s hard to beat Spain these days. It’s always been one of my favourite countries—a place I return to over and over, thanks to its enjoyable, laidback lifestyle; the great food; warm, sunny weather; beautiful beaches and rich culture.
I’ve lived in both the Colonial Highlands and the Yucatan Peninsula over my nearly nine years in Mexico, and have loved my time in each. In Mexico, there’s something for everyone. And in many parts of the country, you can enjoy life for half of what you’d pay in Australia. (A couple can live very comfortably on $2,800 a month or less, including rent.)
In fact, I’ve discovered a couple of market stalls that serve up a whole range of home-cooked foods to go, from hearty soups to taco fillings to homemade salsas. They’re a great time-saver for busy, working Mexicans who don’t have the time (or inclination) to cook but want a good meal. They’re pretty convenient for expats, too.
“When I got here, I saw this place had everything I wanted, and then some.” At the time, Mona had been working for 15 years in foreign affairs and international trade. The work was high-powered and high-stress. “My work and social life had become so intertwined that I never knew when to relax,” she says. “Everything was about work.”
First, because you’ll certainly not be alone. Thousands of singles, women as well as men, have already moved abroad. Every expat haven I know—in Ecuador, Mexico, Panama…in many parts of Asia…in Europe and beyond—has plenty of singles.