Where to spend a few years to a lifetime
June 1, 2016 9:36 AM Subscribe
We are a family of four with two primary-school age children. We would like to spend a few years (or more) living somewhere abroad (we are currently on a small island in BC, Canada). We can live anywhere in the Schengen area and Canada. My job will travel with me, so employment is not an issue. A list of desirable attributes is below the fold. Aside from the weather and desire for mountains, medium-sized cities in the Netherlands, Flanders, and Denmark meet most of these desires. Is there a Ghent in the Alps? Eindhoven in Quebec? Aarhus in the Andes?
- Everyday bicycling culture. It should be normal for women, children, and the elderly to ride bikes for everyday errands supported by safe bicycle infrastructure (separated bike lanes, well designed intersections, car free areas).
- Good public education system. Our kids will be going to public school, so we would like somewhere that is well ranked globally, and values creativity and play (not only rote learning). Not interested in private or international schools.
- In the Schengen area or Canada. Other countries that make it fairly easy to get some kind of permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain (like Argentina?) also possible.
- Not super expensive. We would like to live modestly but comfortably on US$75,000/EUR 65,000 per year (before tax) for a family of four.
- Culture that is open to foreigners. E.g., we do not want our children to be harassed incessantly in public school just because they are a bit different and do not speak the local language fluently.
- High speed Internet available. Need this for my work.
- Four distinct seasons. Ideally, we would like moderately snowy winters that are not too dreary, and summers that are not too humid.
- Speaks non-English language. A Germanic language would be ideal (easiest for us to learn). Also nice if English is commonly spoken as a second language.
- Good public transit. Can generally get where you need to by public transit without too much inconvenience.
- Medium-sized city. 100,000500,000 people in the metro area seems about right.
- Has good yarn shop.
- Relatively flat terrain in town. Should be able to run errands and go to school by bicycle without major inclines. Rolling hills or mountains outside town are fine.
- Natural/rural surroundings. It should be easy to reach quiet natural and rural areas by bicycle.
- Not too far from large centre. It would be nice to visit a major museum or other such cultural institutions within a 1.5 hour train ride.
- Car share available
- Near an institute of higher education. But not totally dominated by that institution (i.e. not just a college town).
- A water body. A river or canal running through town, or being on a lake or the ocean.
- Mountains not too far away. We would like to be able to rent a car and take a day trips into the mountains.
- Diverse economy. Not just dominated by one economic activity, but with a mix of industry, services, creative class, etc.
- Moderate politics. Getting harder to find in Europe these days, but as long as there is a reasonable percentage of the population with moderate or centre-left views that is fine.