Leaving the US - for where?
July 6, 2011 1:54 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to emigrate - but where should I go?

I'm a Midwesterner that's come to dread winters more and more with each passing year, and I'm tired of the area I grew up in. I've thought about just moving somewhere else in the States, but I've lived overseas before (Morocco) and really enjoyed it. I also like the idea of having decent holidays (which the US infamously does *not*)plus reasonably good healthcare.

I work in information technology and have a BS in CIS, so I qualify for some skilled migrant programs - new Zealand, for example. My partner isn't considered "skilled," though - he's a screenprinter, but can do just about anything in retail/general labor.

What I'd like:

English speaking (I speak/understand some French, Spanish, and Arabic, but not well enough to use at work)

Warmer overall than the American Midwest! Occasional snow is ok, just not grey slush for months on end.

Good art/culture/film/theater/educational opportunities

Public transportation (trains!)

Requirements to get pets into country not exceptionally prohibitive

Beach/water no more than two hours drive

Walkable communities
posted by HopperFan to Travel & Transportation (18 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
Australia, perhaps?
posted by Foci for Analysis at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2011

Vancouver, BC? There is something called the Provincial Nominee Program that actually helps fastrack immigration for skilled workers.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:00 PM on July 6, 2011 [3 favorites]

Come to Southern California, dude. You'll love it here. Vacation time? Just work as a contractor and you'll have all the time off you want. Our train system is growing, if spotty, but if that is a priority to you, then seek out job & housing near those corridors, and you can make it work. I live downtown Los Angeles, and take the subway to Hollywood for work and it is great.
posted by markhu at 2:14 PM on July 6, 2011

posted by mauvest at 2:18 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

I'd recommend The Netherlands if you are flexible on your weather requirement.

There's currently a high demand for IT workers. Americans can use the Dutch American Friendship Treaty or be hired by a Dutch company (highly skilled migrant). There is a very high percentage of ex-pats in the population. Very easy to get by with English only, but learning Dutch would be valuable.

Good luck. F-America.
posted by humboldt32 at 2:25 PM on July 6, 2011

Hawaii has universal healthcare for state residents and meets some of your other criteria.
posted by Lobster Garden at 2:27 PM on July 6, 2011

Parts of New Zealand match your criteria, but parts don't. Realistically, you'd be looking at Auckland or Wellington (Christchurch is not doing so well at the moment, Dunedin is probably too cold for you), and here's how they match up on the other criteria:

Good art/culture/film/theater/educational opportunities: Auckland and Wellington are pretty good in these categories

Public transportation (trains!): Wellington's buses are okay, Auckland's public transportation is usually reckoned to be pretty bad.

Requirements to get pets into country not exceptionally prohibitive: NZ biosecurity is a big deal, so cats and dogs are the only pets you can import, and they have to stay in quarantine for quite a while.

Beach/water no more than two hours drive: I'm pretty sure that nowhere in NZ is more than two hours away from a beach; both Auckland and Wellington are on the ocean.

Walkable communities: Wellington is very walkable, but Auckland is rather spread out (think Los Angeles spread out).
posted by Paragon at 2:29 PM on July 6, 2011

Yea, I think there's a lot more places within the USA that meet your criteria than abroad. I'd second California of course, but suggest that the Bay Area has a little better public transport than LA. If you're OK with rain, then Oregon and Washington are nice.

Abroad, there's Ireland to consider, the current economy sucks right now but the country is beautiful. The climate is temperate and damp. Things are better in Great Britain and while the London area is way overcrowded there are some lovely parts of the country in the west.
posted by Long Way To Go at 2:29 PM on July 6, 2011

If the U.S., of course, California. But if excluded, for the reasons you indicated, then there really is only one choice, given all your criteria: Australia. It fulfills your language requirements as well - if you can drop the language req, your options expand dramatically.
posted by VikingSword at 2:41 PM on July 6, 2011

My friends just got their dogs out of quarantine in Australia -- I think it was about six weeks. From the pics the pups look healthy and happy, so. Datapoint for moving there.
posted by sweetkid at 3:11 PM on July 6, 2011

2nding mauvest - South Africa, particularly Cape Town or the Garden Route (hell, anywhere in that southern part, but I could also recommend Durban). It's a bastard to get a work visa, but totally worth it. Ticks all the boxes.

There's even a (small) film/TV industry. And any country with Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela has got to be awesome.
posted by guster4lovers at 3:28 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

If it weren't for the beach requirement I'd say New Mexico. Yuma, AZ, maybe?

If you really want out, though, NZ seems like the most obvious choice.

(I do not recommend Southern California, not if only one of you has a good chance at immediate income.)

Also: since you're in CIS, have you considered consulting? My stepdad has a tendency to spend his winters in suspiciously warm places (Venezuela, one year) despite his midwestern postal address.
posted by SMPA at 4:25 PM on July 6, 2011

The Netherlands?
posted by Kololo at 6:29 PM on July 6, 2011


One more note, some of the skilled migrant categories actually require you have a job offer first to qualify, and many employers will back away from sponsoring someone that's not legal to work (nice catch-22). If you liked your time abroad before, you might consider "taking a year off" and trying to pick up small jobs in a place to see if you like it (assuming you have some cash to live off of in the meantime).

Another option for that could be teaching English somewhere. That way you're not locked in forever, but get exposure to another culture, and if you like it, you can try to get an IT job through connections once there.
posted by Metro Gnome at 7:13 PM on July 6, 2011 [1 favorite]

American ex-pat who's lived in New Zealand for 3 years here. Don't come to New Zealand.

Paragon beat me to the punch with most of the reasons why. The quality and pace of life is great, compared to the US, but the downside is life is much more inconvenient in a number of ways. IT is near the top of the pack, but the wages still stink. I could go on and on, but I'll just leave my email address and if you would like to talk about more about NZ, email me: hootenatty@gmail.com

Where To Emigrate is a huge, intricate topic, and it's hard to say more about your situation with the limited info you gave. Based on what you wrote, I'd recommend you consider Australia.
posted by hootenatty at 9:02 PM on July 6, 2011

I'd throw in a vote for Australia, but I'm biased, most of the major cities over there have areas with the requirements you'd like. Though quarantine could add a layer of complications and expense for the pets, and you can only take dogs and cats I think. Also the UK might be an idea, though the weather is not as nice as Australia, its better than what I had here in Indiana last winter by miles and the people are nice too.
posted by wwax at 9:05 PM on July 6, 2011

Another vote for Vancouver/Lower Mainland, British Columbia.

Weather: there's usually just enough snow to be pretty but not too much of a pain in the ass. The summers will be cooler than the midwest in general, but we do get over 90F days, 80F days are a regular feature. Me, I like it when it stays in the 70s.

Transportation: there's lots of public transportation in the city, some in the outer burbs and there's the Westcoast Express that gets you from the outer burbs into the city and back.

Culture: there's a Chinatown, there's several museums, First Nations stuff, zoo, aquarium, etc.

Pets: when immigrated I brought a cat from the US with his current shots info and they never looked at it. We take our dog over the border all the time. We always have her papers with us, but they've never asked to see it.

Water: there is water everywhere - ocean, sound, lake, river, etc.

Walkable communities: I have little info on that. My small city (Abbotsford) has, sort of, two downtown areas and depending on where you live, they're both walkable.
posted by deborah at 12:36 AM on July 7, 2011

It's a tough question, but bear in mind one of the more important questions is "where can I go?" not "where should I go?". Someone mentioned the UK: you might or might not qualify to emigrate here (it would mostly depend on your income), but the government is trying to make it harder for skilled workers to come here.

There are certainly places in NZ or Australia that meet all or most of your stated criteria. Australia wins out on warmth and potential income (even though costs are higher too). There are also more cultural opportunities in Melbourne or Sydney than in Auckland or Wellington, simply because of the size of those cities. The job market in both Australia and NZ should be a lot better than the US: a few years back NZ had the 2nd lowest unemployment in the OECD. It's up to 6.5% now, but that's still a lot better than the US. But you're a long way from anywhere else, and food and housing is relatively expensive. Healthcare in NZ isn't terrible, but it's not fantastic - hospital services are free but you will pay a contribution towards GP visits and prescriptions.

That all said, I know about five American, Canadian and British couples who came to Wellington in the last few years on working visas and have now become citizens - so clearly some people like it.

If I were you I would probably choose Melbourne, Sydney, Wellington, Auckland in that order (but I'm from Wellington and so naturally biased against Auckland....but seriously, it doesn't have anything that Melbourne or Sydney don't have, whereas Wellington is a different kind of city, more like a village).
posted by Infinite Jest at 2:46 AM on July 7, 2011

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