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Ask HN: How did you decide where to live?
229 points by keiferski 3 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 258 comments
For the remote workers out there (and anyone with a mobile career, really), where do you live? And how did you decide to live there?



This is a favorite topic of mine. My wife and I spent about 10 years living on five continents and traveling extensively though six (~50 countries) looking for the perfect place to live. We define "living somewhere" as renting a home, connecting the utilities and exhausting our visa. Long story short, we decided to settle in Boulder, CO (USA).

It's worth mentioning we're pretty independent, probably to a fault, and have no interest in living near family, despite having children (sorry fam).

We've lived in the following places: Bay Area, USA (twice); Berlin, Germany (twice); Montreal, Canada (twice); Chiang Mai, Thailand (twice); Sydney, Australia; Bangalore, India; Cusco, Peru; Buenos Aires, Argentina; and a handful of other places for shorter periods.

We first settled on Montreal, but on our second visit, we decided to try somewhere else. The same happened with Berlin and it's still my wife's favorite city to visit. Boulder was just a major step above the rest for us personally: friendly people, very active lifestyle, some tech/startup scene, sunny weather, mountains, etc. We've been here three years now, which is our record for staying anywhere, and we've never once thought about anywhere else.

If anyone is at the beginning of a similar journey and search, get in touch.


I'm still at the beginning of my journey, but I've found that in each new city I have to establish and grow a friend circle and it can be slow and difficult and lonely (I don't travel with a partner). Do you have any solutions or tips for this problem?


I haven't been traveling quite as long as GP but here's my two cents. Even as an introvert getting social interaction improves travel so much.

In a new city try to find a 'social hostel' (not a party hostel, unless that's your thing) with organized walking/food tours. Go on said tours and chat with everyone. After the tour see if anyone wants to get dinner/drinks/sight-see together.

Basically everyone in common areas at a hostel will be open to conversation at least. Be the initiator, chat with people, organize a group to go get dinner, etc.

If you aren't good at being the initiator, try to find someone who is and befriend them. Add people on whatsapp/messenger and setup a hostel group chat.

Befriend people who are also traveling longer term, they're usually more open to change plans a bit.

Socializing takes more effort and most relationships will be fleeting, that's the nature of the beast. But nothing makes a trip like organizing a small group of friends to travel together to a few different cities. You can create much stronger bonds and even some life-long friends.


This is probably my prejudice but 'social hostel' to me suggests under 30yrs old. I find at my age while I have no trouble hanging out with people in their 20s there are issues. For example having to eat at the cheapest places because none of them are financially secure yet. Or listening to their 20 something issues and feeling far outside of that time. There's also probably getting use to more comfort as in the comfort of a nice private room with a nice bed and nice private bathroom instead of a cot and shared bathroom. You could say that's being spoiled but the older you get the more likely you have back problems or bathroom problems that the comfort helps with.


I feel like you're way too defensive about your viewpoint! This seems 100% understandable. This guy is just talking about what's worked from his experience.

If anything, I can't imagine having more money making things harder. Wouldn't you be able to join a travel group? I guess the main issue there is people would probably be coming with their families, though.

There's gotta be some way to meet other bachelors who are decently well off.


I hear ya on this one. A few recommendations:

- join local communities that interest you (cycling, running, chess, gaming, etc)

- don't be shy about being explicit about meeting new friends. there are others out there just like you and you'll find just by simply saying "im looking for new people to meet" will make it much easier

- drink! I hate to say it, but drinking (nothing excessive) makes meeting people much easier

I've been lonely enough times in my life (due to moving to new places) that after you've done it enough it sorta becomes regular practice. I like to remind myself of a Tobias Funke quote "there's dozens of us, literally dozens of us!"...in other words, you're not alone no matter how small you think you are.


Go to meetups. Language exchange meetups are the most diverse in terms of what people you meet do for living. Programming meetups let you befriend people from IT circles.

On Friday I visited a Mundo Lingo meetup in Buenos Aires and met a lot of interesting and nice local people (along with travellers from other countries). If I was planning to stay longer I'd say I could have met there one or two people I could be long term friends with. And it was so easy and enjoyable. Normally I'm not good at social events, like parties or generally interacting with strangers at clubs and pubs, but the atmosphere there is the most friendly.


After a few years we started valuing friendships more and more. I don't have any solid tips other than making it a genuine priority and treat it like an ongoing project. Learn how to make contact, get better at approaching strangers, etc. That said, it is nice to eventually settle down and build longer lasting friendships, though those you build on travels don't have to disappear if you keep in touch and revisit each other. I think I've learned it's better to have a larger and wider variety of friends even if some are distant than a smaller homogenous group of friends.


Creating a new network in a new dwelling place can be a great experience because the bonding experiences you have with people will create your mutual history. For example, if you walk across campus with a lady it's not too distinct a time for either person, perhaps. But, were you carrying just one umbrella and offered to share it, your joint venture under the canopy, shielded from the rains, would be [more of ]a bonding experience and help swiftly build a relationship. In short, don't shy away from adversity, it is the wall you scale to reach the horizon. My usual strategy is to go to places where I can meet other travelers (typically a low-key hostel i've found via guide-book) and once you start connecting with travelers it's easy to grow your field of friends. Which is cool, because the bigger your field of friends, the more likely you are to connect with the someone who is super groovy for you as you are for them. Or the crowd, or the group, or the sextuplet. The singular-pair partnering is a bit antequated for my tastes, the relationships of harmony and Love among people can appear in so many ways. (Thinks to self: This is such an involved question I almost regret beginning to answer it at this point but I would like to add in finality, that) finding a partner is not an easy task to be undertaken like shopping for a one-time commodity, it is a joint journey of co-discovery that begins when one person is whole in their own, and both be able to comfortably accommodate a binary star system in their heart.

In meeting people, you may want to simply be in places where you can peaceably interact with new friends. It depends on the calibre and quality you seek. A library near a research institution will likely yield interesting discussion, but that's not to say you won't run into a chemist on the beach. Probability (odds of interaction) is good if you want to try and get a hold on events and mingling. Consider Tokyo, a hypertech culture compared to many places that requires scheduling a month or two out on your calendar just to meet up with a buddy. It's bizarre, and perhaps a trend common only to the big city, but it's interesting to take note of and do-as-they-do. In Japan, people use Mixi for networking, oftentimes there are get-togethers situated around specific activities like tennis, movie-going, karaoke, enjoying the cherry blossoms with SLR, etc. Getting roped into an activity or finding local get-togethers like that can really expand your network rapidly, and with a shared-interest you at least have a reason to keep meeting up.

Bees are attracted to a variety of flowers, and every flower is vibrant, has strength, has fragility and delicateness, and it has its own lock on the situation. The flower is always a flower, but unfolded to different degrees. It doesn't waver in being a flower. When the flower is 100% its best flower, the bee comes to the flower.


> The bigger your field of friends, the more likely you are to connect with the someone who is super groovy for you as you are for them. Or the crowd, or the group, or the sextuplet. The singular-pair partnering is a bit antequated for my tastes

This is something that personally put me off the nomadic lifestyle. It seems to be a very common theme, and the concept of "locationships" as well.

If GP is the same way, I'd recommend to GP to first find a partner that's open to traveling, and then go traveling with them. Otherwise, the world is your oyster as sova said.


> finding a partner is not an easy task to be undertaken like shopping for a one-time commodity, it is a joint journey of co-discovery that begins when one person is whole in their own, and both be able to comfortably accommodate a binary star system in their heart.

I feel that was a very poetic way of explaining finding a partner. Thank you. You have a way with words.


Sports, gyms and group activities ( Meetup)


Get a partner ;)


Hah funny enough my story is about the same. My wife and I spent much of the last 10 years traveling (although only for a few years together). Since I was working remotely I worked from a few countries in South America, Australia, New Zealand, and a variety of countries in Europe.

We finally settled down in Boulder in 2016 although we still travel a few months every year with our 2-year-old son. Boulder is a really amazing place (but very expensive). For us, we wanted a place with easy access to nature, a ton of sun, good tech scene, and walkability. We love that we can easily walk downtown, to the library, to the farmer's market, and to the grocery store with ease. We both grew up in Arkansas where you have to take a care everywhere which we dislike.


Curious, how did you reconcile your peripatetic lifestyle with having children? Schooling and making friends would seem to be a challenge?


Hi todsul!

My wife and I used to travel a bunch, but we have a 6 month-old now and start to find ourselves pretty pinned down and not easy to go on even short trips. The good thing is I made the jump to a remote job so we now have flexibility, but infant care is currently proving to be quite time consuming.

How old are your children and how do you deal with their needs with your living in different states and countries? How is their schooling?

I currently live in the suburbs of Bay area so the remote job is working out great, I can enjoy Bay area conveniences and food without suffering the commute traffic. But we would like to live in other places too, provided that we figure out plans for the kid, with regards to schooling etc.


Interesting. I loved Berlin but absolutely hated Boulder (the people, not the place itself which is beautiful). Also hit the bay area twice. I think Boulder is pretty different once you have a family and money vs. trying to make it there when you're a confused 28 year old between jobs like I was.


What was it that you didn't like Boulder people?


ya I am curious on this one too, we love the people here? Just a nice university town like where we grew up in Arkansas.


You mean Fayetteville? I loved it there. Want to go back.


Yep, I grew up there and great town. I don't want to live there now but it is a great place :)


I am at the beginning of this journey. My fiance and I booked 3 months in bellingham starting in february, then for summer we will go to Portland or omaha, then fall will be boise, winter will likely be in denver or boulder. Looking forward to exploring the world the same way you and your wife have.


I've also lived in many places and choose to live in Boulder. Love it here.


Why do you like Berlin? I live 4 hours from that city and I consider it to be one of the best in Europe. I'm particularly interested why others like it because I still have it on my list of life targets :)


We liked Berlin because it is cheap, has good diversity (I know, Boulder is one of the least diverse places on the planet in contrast), has lots of recent history to explore, public transport is good, a culture that's interesting to us, a decent amount of English spoken, tech scene, startup scene, lots of great places to visit only a short flight away (keep in mind we're from Australia), and most of all it just felt right the two separate times we lived there.

What ended up driving us away was the red tape running a startup in Germany and dealing with taxes, etc. Normally we wouldn't let this deter us, but we had a shortlist of other places we liked just as much.


are you guys independently wealthy to have this lifestyle?


No.

First decide "I will structure my life so I can be location independent"

Then take the next few years obsessing over how to make it a reality.


You mentioned in another comment that you're from Australia. What made you leave? What's wrong with Sydney, for example?


Sydney is a beautiful city, but still part of a rather insular and inwards looking country. House prices are obscene (but are finally dropping!), the public transport is a disgrace compared to any European city, and if you work in tech, the really good jobs have only started to appear in the last 2 or 3 years.

I left it for Berlin, and mostly don't miss it (apart from days like today where I could perhaps tolerate weather slightly warmer thatn 0º.)


We live on the edge of the grid in a very remote New Mexico near the Gila National Forest. With 3 kids, 6yrs and younger that we home school. I've worked remote since 2010 and absolutely love it. Working remote plus home schooling the kids means we can travel and pretty much go anywhere we want any time. We do a lot of RV travel plus spend lots of time outdoors in the Gila, hiking, hunting and exploring...

As for the deciding where to live, it was pretty easy for us. We were already coming to New Mexico for the outdoors multiple times per year, and land in our favorite area is cheap. We were able to locate 43 acres with a log home and relocated here 5 years ago... was the best decision for our family.

Our first couple of years here the internet was a bit spotty as I had to use a Verizon hotspot and typically had 2 bars of LTE on the best days. Surprisingly, there is fiber run all over the place here even tho its super rural. Eventually the local phone company installed a DSL box on one of the fiber runs near our property and that allowed us to get DSL. It's only 5/1 but fits our needs and my VPN connection works fine with it along with my VOIP desk phone.


1Mbps uplink would cause a severe hindrance for any remote work involving a team and heavy collaboration tools or videoconferencing.


Works well with Webex for me. Entire team is remote and I share my desktop often for collaboration.


I have a 1Mbps uplink and was a remote developer. We did not use "heavy collaboration tools" to my knowledge, but we did do plenty of videoconferencing and google chats. It was fine.

It is annoying to upload large files, which was a task I virtually never had to perform.


Uploading large binary files is an issue.

I have no problems using zoom with only 768kbps upload. I was surprisingly impressed.

Slack remote screen sharing sucks, but I never had a problem with Screenhero. Chatting is fine.


> Uploading large binary files is an issue.

I've been in situations like this in the past and would SSH to a build box that had a fatter pipe. Depending on the situation, it may be a cheap alternative.


This is encouraging to hear. I’m about 4 months out for a move to the hill country just west of Austin. Same situation, working remotely, homeschooling. Any advice on what to look out for? I’d still be grid connected, so I wouldn’t be relying on a femto or anything like that.


Some advice would be to start your day earlier so you can end it earlier. I'm usually done with work by 3pm and them I'm spending time with the kids, doing stuff outdoors and being disconnected. Our team is spread across the country so I typically work an east coast schedule.

Another big thing for me is having a separate place for an office, so I can leave the house and go somewhere that is dedicated to work. For that, I have a 400sq ft office about 20 yards from the main house.

We also have a separate space for homeschooling, that's a big help for my Wife and the kids.

If you want advice on remote living and property type stuff, shoot me an email (in my profile).


A femotcell would still need an internet connection from some ISP, correct?

Check out some of the plans from these guys (I am not affiliated)...

https://www.4gantennashop.com/


Would you mind sharing what kind of job you're doing that's enabling you to do this? What would it take someone let's say with 0 background in what you do to get to the point of doing this?


I live in a tiny town in North central Washington state right by North Cascades National Park. We have about 200 full time residents. Originally built our house as a weekend place (about 4-5 hours from Seattle) but started working remotely in 2011 and was getting sick of Seattle going the way of San Francisco so we decided to move full time. I have to go to SF a lot for work and the travel can be tough with mountain passes, weather and flight delays out of the tiny airport I use but it's 100% worth it to be within a 5 minute drive of hundreds of pitches of climbing and right in the middle of the largest maintained network of nordic ski trails in North America.


Note, find a SO before moving to a tiny mountain town.


yes, and be ready to get social fulfillment from them too.


what is SO?


Significant other


I think I'm from that town you're talking about. Is it the one named after a goat, near a larger one named after a wasp?


yes


I couldn't handle the cold there! If winter sports are your jam though, it's a good place to be. I recommend hitting up the Arrowleaf, if you haven't. one of my homies runs it


I'm thinking of moving to that same general area. Right now I'm in Utah because that's where my first real job was, but my family lives near Seattle, Idaho, and Montana and I want more sun than Seattle and more green than everything in between.

I've thought about moving close to Leavenworth/Cle Elum or down south on the border of Oregon near Hood River/The Dalles.

We're still in the planning stages, and I'm rounding up some more clients just in case my main client stops working out (and I'm working on some startup ideas as well).

I just wanted to say that I'm super jealous that you're living in the area that I want to end up.


This sounds like my dream. :) Have you had to change jobs while being remote?

I'm torn between having my kid (4 now) grow up in Seattle w/ access to great schools and dozens of different educational & extracurricular activities, or to grow up someplace less hectic, where he can run out the front door in the morning and play outside all day.


Depending on how much free time you have, you could always homeschool him! The educational/extracurricular activities part is hard though -- I was homeschooled and got a lot of my 'socialization' through team sports, which can be harder in a rural area.


No kids yet?

We loved the location we were in, but the school districts were awful.


No kids yet but haven't ruled it out. It's actually a great place to raise them. The local public schools are one town over and are very well supported by the diverse population in our valley. The high school actually has a shooting range for ski biathlon. https://methow.org/ edit: added link


A distressing number of rural towns in WA and CA are meth towns. Some of them are in the process of being cleaned up and gentrified.


Treat living in new places like dating. You're learning and growing the whole way, and for many people the ultimate goal is to find a good long term fit.

Right now I live in Indianapolis. My ex girlfriend and I wanted to try somewhere new, so we looked at a bunch of different options and listed the pros and cons. Ultimately our decision to live here was based on the high population yet low population density, the growing tech scene, the cleanliness of the city, and the low crime rate.

Those are all great qualities, but I've learned a lot along the way about more things that are important. First of all, I really can't stand the cold. My house had the heater on even during some summer days (running endlessly now in the winter). Also, everything is too spread out in Indy. There's not much outdoorsy stuff nearby. Being landlocked sucks and I love the ocean. Finally, I love Asian culture which barely exists here.

So again, now that I've learned all this, I'm applying this knowledge to my next place. It turns out that Oahu, Hawaii seems to fit the ticket. It has all the positive qualities I mentioned above. The super high prices out there are less than ideal of course, but living in San Francisco already taught me that it's not a deal breaker (plus I'll finally save some energy with the heater turned off)

So, hopefully I'll make cool friends and find that Oahu is a great fit. It seems like somewhere I could live for years, and possibly settle down in.


> high population yet low population density

As somebody who hates driving I immediately wondered how that could be a good thing!

> everything is too spread out

Ah! Yes, I can imagine.


It's a really good point! Super high population densities seems to make people much more grumpy, increase sickness, and increase pollution. But admittedly I wasn't prepared for exactly how spread out everything actually is here, and I sold my car before coming here.

Hopefully Oahu will have a good balance where I can be a bike ride or short drive away (considering buying a cheap truck) from downtown Honolulu while still living in a super green, peaceful area. But the great thing is that I can always just make slight adjustments to my distance to the city the longer I live there.


I’ve never heard Indianapolis referred to as having a low crime rate. Is there a specific type of crime you are referencing?


I guess it's all relative. It has a high crime rate when compared to someplace like Boise, Idaho, sure. But for a city that has well over a million people, I can walk around in the middle of the night downtown feeling quite safe, which is definitely not the case in, for example, San Fransisco (Market St. is PACKED with dealers and tweakers). Of course there are some places that are sketchy in Indy, but that's true anywhere and it's easy to avoid.

It's rare enough to hear about a shooting or robbery here, but there's a lot of cities where it's a regular occurrence.


Not sure where you are getting your information, but it isn't so cut-and-dry. 2017 had a record number of homicides in Indianapolis and 2018 hasn't been better. That said, most other types of crime are down.

From October [1]

==The FBI reported that crime dropped 10 percent from 2016 to 2017 in Indianapolis and robbery was off by more than 12 percent.

IMPD statistics show robberies are down another 17 percent so far this year and burglaries are off 20 percent from last year.

But killings and aggravated assaults, often with guns, are up.==

[1] https://cbs4indy.com/2018/10/01/overall-crime-down-as-murder...


Statistics don’t tell the whole story, but Indianapolis is pretty consistently ranked as one of the top 20 most high-crime cities in the nation.


That's fair, my experience is just anecdotal. According to the locals it has improved significantly in just the last couple of years. However, that may possibly be just due to gentrification. The crime rate is probably averaged across the huge surface area of the city, whereas my range is fairly confined to the inner portion.


Care to share one of those rankings? I looked at quite a few and couldn’t find any ranking Indianapolis in the top 20.


==The website SafeWise recently found Indianapolis to be the 10th most dangerous city in the United States based on 2016 FBI crime statistics and population data.==

https://fox59.com/2018/08/14/100-homicides-put-indy-ahead-of...


I grew up in Florida and went to college in Tampa. I just kinda stayed around after school.

I was working in software at Raymond James unhappily wearing my business appropriate attire in 90% humidity everyday. (I am VERY temperature / humidity sensitive).

After work (in 2004) I used to go to a bar and code a bit. No WiFi, I don’t think Starbucks even had WiFi. Needless to say, no one else ever had their laptop at the bar.

I do this for a few months. One day another dude walks into the bar wearing board shorts and a tshirt with his laptop and sits down at the far end of the bar.

The bartender says to me, “I bet he’s a software developer.”

And I said, “what would make you think that?”

“Who else would bring a fucking laptop to a bar?”

Good point, I thought.

So I ask the guy if he’s a software developer and he says yes. I ask what he does that he gets to wear board shorts to work. He says he works for a start up in Los Angeles.

Now at this time in my life I’d never heard the phrase “start up” ... I thought it was the company’s name.

So I ask what Start Up does? He explains it’s not the company name. I feel dumb.

He goes on to explain a start up as “some MBA tricks a bunch of rich people into giving them money and then they hire software developers that pretty much get to do whatever they want.”

So I quit my job the next day and moved to LA that weekend.

Should I have moved to SF? Probably would have made more money sure, but I also don’t enjoy temperatures below 72° F.

I traveled for quite a while a few years after I moved, developing from “the road”. My favorite place was Routan, Honduras.

I lived in “the woods” (maybe they call it the jungle, but I’m from Florida - so it’s “woods”) on the beach in a little hut WITH WIFI!

I eventually settled in Pasadena. Close proximity to nature and city things, affordable houses with a yard relative to the rest of LA.


Pasadena is beautiful, but affordable houses? I have family there and the 7-figure prices they paid for their nondescript houses are eye-watering.


Compared to LA. I sold my condo on the westside and bought a 1/4 acre for a fair amount below the selling price of my condo.


My wife wanted to be with family in her hometown, so I moved with her. I have regretted that decision ever since.


Same problem. Our biggest issue while dating. My wife said she wanted to stay permanently in the South to be near family but agreed to move for a few years if a really good job became available.

Well, we got married, and shortly afterward one of the well known tech companies made a really good offer. My wife threw an absolute fit and said she had taken a gamble while dating and didn't believe I would ever actually get a job offer at one of those companies. I nearly filed for divorce because of how horrible she was treating me, but instead I accepted the job and told her I was moving to the Bay Area regardless. Soon after, she agreed to honor her promise and came too, but every single day here she complains about how much she hates California.

When my few years are "up" I'm really dreading going back to a non-tech region. The company I'm at doesn't generally allow fully remote work, so I am somewhat seriously floating the idea of commuting to their office in the Northeast by plane each day from Atlanta. Sounds expensive but the plane tickets would be balanced out by the much lower cost of living. I don't know if the idea is actually feasible; I'd have to test it for a week.


Don’t have kids if you haven’t already. I’ve seen this exact scenario tear apart many relationships. Where you live often reflects underlying values, so long-term sustained disagreement in this area is very hard to survive from what I’ve seen. Not trying to doom you, but look at the language you’re using: she complains every day, you’re dreading moving back, etc.

Not to imply that where you live has to be both partners’ first choice, but if you can’t be on the same page that it’s a good compromise, one of you is just going to be miserable.


> but every single day here she complains about how much she hates California.

I think you are wasting your time. This will not end well. I'm telling this because I speak from my experience with very similar situation.


Reminds me of a quote I heard once - "Marriage is all about compromise. My wife wanted a cat. I didn't want a cat. So we compromised and got a cat."


If a wife compromises, the husband is a happy man!

If a husband compromises, he is a wise man!


Not sure if that was meant to be funny but I laughed. I hope you're able to find peace with the decision or correct course.


I actually laughed out loud too.


Because ...?


I literally couldn't care less where I lived. Is it really that big of a deal?


I like sun, forests, and fresh food (love farmers markets), and my wife can't live without Asian groceries (she's Asian) and international travel. We want to be close to family, and neither of us wants to live in an urban area.

My family lives in the PNW, and my in-laws live in SoCal. Right now we're in Utah (ticks most of those boxes), but I'm looking around for other options, and right now I'm considering central Oregon or central Washington.

So yeah, I think it matters a ton where we live. Sure, we could be reasonably happy anywhere, but we'd really prefer to not have to compromise.


I like sun, forests, and fresh food (love farmers markets)

considering central Oregon or central Washington

Consider the Tricities -- Pasco, Kennewick, Richland, WA. It's not central. It's Eastern.

But my sons quit eating frozen veggies while we lived there and never went back. They got spoiled by fresh stuff. It is considered "the fruit basket" of the US, which I never heard anywhere but there. It's like some well kept secret. I learned to eat fresh pineapple there. Having grown up on the canned stuff, it was news to me that fresh pineapple is awesome. I had a pretty low opinion of it.

It's also kind of a retirement destination because it's relatively sunny and temperate for that part of the world.


I was in the same boat as you, but there are big enough differences that I thought I'd get over but now recognize they're more important to me than I realized.

I lived in Alexandria (outside of DC), then Evanston (outside Chicago) and now Rogers, AR, and each move revealed things to me that I didn't realize I enjoyed.

In DC I had a big enough friend circle that any given weekend I could find someone to hang out with. In Evanston I could walk to everywhere I wanted, and in Rogers, I've got actual gigabit Internet and pay half the rent I was paying before, for twice the home.

Each new place has a different set of advantages and disadvantages. DC was crazy expensive, Evanston had my whole life revolving around Northwestern (my fiancee was a student) and I'm not making tons of friends out here in Rogers yet.

What I did realize is that I could get used to anything, and remembering that my happiness is probably going to level out no matter what my situation is helps me cope with any of the bad stuff I don't like.

I find it hard to imagine that any one place is perfect, so if it's just a matter of making tradeoffs, I don't think the choice of where to live is one that you can "solve". Just pick a few things you want, and move somewhere that has them.


I moved to Poland mainly for cheap booze and smoke. The latter aren't cheap anymore due to convergence with the EU. Alcohol is still cheap though. Some places sell beer for less than half a euro on special nights. It's always fun to take visitors from Norway to such a place and watch their jaws drop.

My Polish friends always wonder why I would leave San Francisco for their country. Poles love America and San Francisco in particular is a symbol of civilizational achievement. There's even a popular song about it. Well, one of my friends went on a work trip there and stayed at a hotel on lower Market for a week. When she came back she told me "yeah, now I understand why you're here" (or something to the effect).


> When she came back she told me "yeah, now I understand why you're here" (or something to the effect).

Why she didn't like San Francisco?


Could you talk more about the process of moving to Poland and what you do for work? Remote or do you get a local salary?


Interesting, which places do you live and prefer in Poland? Warsaw, Krakow or smaller ones?


I'm a remote web developer. My wife and I live in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and we've been here for about 4 years.

I think I first heard about Chiang Mai on NomadList [1], where it was ranked as one of the top cities for digital nomads. (Side note: I made a typo while typing that URL and now I'm the proud owner of MonadList.com.)

My wife was teaching English here for a few years, and now she is studying music. I'm still a contractor and am also working on my own projects.

We really love Chiang Mai, and it's been a great place to live for the last few years. But we're planning to move somewhere else soon. A few candidates: Berlin, Melbourne, Toronto

[1] https://nomadlist.com


I've been working between Bangkok and Chiang Mai the past 2 years and love it as well. Made two trips back to the USA to see family, but spent the majority of my time there. Both cities have different vibes but I'm productive and happy in both locations. Vietnam is pretty nice too, only been to Ho Chi Minh, would like to check out Hanoi early 2019.


What visa have you used for 4 years?


Lots of tourist visas (60 days + 30 day extension.) My wife had a work permit while she was teaching English, and I was on a dependent visa. We also did the hand-to-hand combat visa for a year [1]. Now I have a work permit with Iglu [2], and my wife is on a dependent visa.

[1] https://hand2handcombat.com/en/

[2] https://iglu.net/


What %/amount do iglu charge you? I find it quite weird that a company saying “use our invoice and billing system, and we’ll pay you a salary” doesn’t mention how much they’re going to charge for that.


You can find the fee information under "How Does it Work?" on this page: https://iglu.net/join/

Iglu takes 30% of your total invoices. I think ~20% is for your Thailand income tax and social welfare, and the Iglu fee is around ~10%. There's also a minimum of $2,500 USD per month. So you're paying Iglu about $250 per month.

I think it's a pretty good deal. It's one of the only legal ways to live in Thailand long-term if you're working as a web developer or startup founder. The other options are:

* Marry a Thai person and get a marriage visa

* Get a retirement visa if you are over 50

* Buy a 5 year Thailand Elite visa [1] for 500,000 baht ($15,000 USD) -- This also works out to $250 per month. However, it's technically a tourist visa, so you're not legally allowed to work. You also have to file your own taxes, and I don't think you're eligible for the social security system.

[1] https://nomadcapitalist.com/2018/01/22/thai-elite-visa/


I'm aware of the options - I've lived in Thailand for 6 years, and started a company here.

30% seems like a lot - I guess they know they have a market with few choices.

For reference, in a month where we had client invoices worth 4 times the amount you've given in your example, our outgoings for Tax, Accountants, SSO and rental for a business address, was about 7.5% of revenue - and a good chunk of that is a relatively fixed fee.


Oh, nice. Yeah it might be worth setting a company, but I've heard a lot of horror stories. I met someone who actually shut down their Thai company and switched to Iglu because it was a lot easier.

I'm not sure if you're comparing the 30% with 7.5%, but that wouldn't be very accurate. Iglu pays all of your personal income tax, social welfare contributions, visa application fees, etc. So I think it's more like 10% vs 7.5%, which isn't too bad. Definitely a good start for a solo developer/founder.


> Iglu pays all of your personal income tax, social welfare contributions, visa application fees, etc.

That 7.5% includes both company and personal taxes, SSO, etc.

My visa application fees are about $70 a year now, they're inconsequential. I realise this isn’t viable for some - I started on a business visa and it was a lot more work and money each year.

> because it was a lot easier

I'm sure it is easier, particularly if you're a foreigner without any kind of ties to the country (e.g. no spouse+family to trust/rely on). But it's definitely more expensive if you're intending to operate for more than a year or two, and expect to have reasonable income.


Hmmm... Pay 20% - 30% of my earnings before tax or take a $50 flight to Penang every three months.


Sorry, no it's not 20% - 30% before tax. It's 30% including tax. Iglu pays all of your personal income tax, so around ~20% goes to the Thai Revenue Department for tax and social welfare.

The bottom line is that staying in Thailand for over 6 months per year is illegal if you are working and not paying any income tax. Anyone who stays in Thailand for over 6 months is officially a tax resident (even if you're on a tourist visa.)

So you will get deported or possibly sent to prison if you are ever caught (and you never want to end up in a Thai prison.) A lot of people have been getting away with it for now, but I don't think this will last forever, and it's probably not a smart idea if you plan to stay here long term.

I think the "working on a tourist visa" issue is a grey area, and they don't have any problem with tourists who do some work on a laptop. It just gets tricky as soon as you become a tax resident.

You should be OK for 1-2 years if you stay under the radar. But this is very important to sort out if you're going to stay for 3-5 years.


Not the same guy, but I've lived in Thailand for a similar amount of time and I've been on my NON-B for the majority of the time.


A year after getting my first remote job, I realized that there was no way I could ever move back to an in office setting. No more commute, no more traffic, no more office drama, etc. On top of that, I had a much increased productivity and focus - all while being infinitely more relaxing and less stressful.

So I left the medium sized city I lived in, sold my moderately expensive house, and picked a small town over an hour away with a rural fiber build out, and bought a much larger property with tons of room for my kids to run around on, with a larger house, for much less money than my previous house. I’ve been working remote for a few years now and don’t regret any of my decisions, and wouldn’t change a thing.

In my opinion the advantage to technical remote work is that you get to choose the location that works for you - meaning you’re no longer tied to cities and large tech hubs. If you’re like me and don’t like or enjoy cities, remote is the way to go


Where to Live (Du Fu)

    West of the Flower Washing Stream,
       not far downstream from the bridge,
    the master has chosen a quiet spot
       here in the woods by the river.
    
    Living apart from the city crowds,
       the world loosens its grip;
    murmuring of this clear water dissolves
       the sadness that burdens a stranger.
    
    Countless dragonflies play in the air,
       dancing up and down;
    a pair of wild ducks out in the stream
       swim and dive together.
    
    You could take a boat downstream,
       thousands of miles to the east­
    or else forget the boat, and live
       here by this stream forever.
I live in New Hampshire because it is where I was born, so it is as close to a homeland as I have. I wish it had nicer things, like better food culture, so I will improve it as much as I can.

Many friends I know want to move to the city when young and then to the country with a house when they are old. This seems backwards to me. I want a home now, with workshop and woods I and my children can run wild in. (I am 30 and am in the final month of building a home just 5 minutes walk from Amherst village, on 4.5 acres). When I am old I may sell my house, maybe all my things, and move to a small flat in a city, like Cambridge MA or Paris.


Nice translation. AFAIK Dufu lived in Sichuan. The river he referred to was probably the Yangtse, which flows through southern Sichuan across central China to Shanghai (which didn't exist in Dufu's day, Yangzhou, Suzhou and Nanjing were far wealthier). You can still find quiet places on the upper Yangtse where land is cheap and nature plentiful, though mostly in neighbouring Yunnan province.


Smaller, less "glamorous" cities are often the best option for remote workers in my opinion; there are a lot of cities out there in places like e.g. Ohio or Western NY that are looked down on as "boring", but which actually have a lot of culture and fun things to do, and are still large enough to have a decent amount of nice restaurants/amenities/etc... And at the same time, they also have very low cost of living and avoid a lot of the overcrowding problems you see in bigger, trendier urban areas.

Personally, I live in Rochester, NY, and I absolutely love it. There are definitely some neighborhoods that I avoid, but there are also extremely nice areas in the city with beautiful yet affordable housing and lots to do. There are all kinds of fun events, concerts, and festivals going on all year; lots of nice restaurants, bars, and coffee shops; an assortment of beautiful parks; the list goes on. The community of friends I've met here is also much more tight knit than anything I've encountered in bigger, busier cities.

I think a lot of people tend to gravitate toward extremes: I see a lot of answers in this thread pointing to very large cities, or super-rural areas out in nature, or far-away international metropolises. There's definitely something to be said for picking a middle ground, though - I feel like I get to have my cake and eat it too, and if I want to occasionally go to a Michelin star restaurant or climb a mountain, I can always do that on vacation (which, of course, is easy to fit in the budget too, given the amount of money I save by living here).


Thanks for sharing! What kind of outdoor activities do you have in Rochester? Any mountain skiing? How far from the city is that? Thanks!


Bristol Mountain and Swain are both around an hour outside of Rochester.


SF. Immigrated to the US ~20 years ago. >90% of people I know in the US are in the Bay Area. Walkable. Goldilocks weather. Bright (can’t take the winter darkness of the far north). Good access to activities I like (hiking, Tahoe, Napa, etc).

Have been unable to find that mix anywhere else + fear of the unknown/devil you know.

Married w children + house, so friction of moving pretty high. Wife really wants to stay.

There are a host of downsides of course, and sometimes I think we’re crazy for staying.


Have thought about moving to SF with the family, curious to hear what the downsides are other than real-estate prices


Homelessness - there are a lot of literally crazy people in SF (not just startup people ;), which didn’t bother me that much as a single guy, but does bother me as a husband/father.

Schools when the kids get there: public school lottery, private is $30-35k/y + donations + extras, budget $45-50k/kid/year, after horrendous taxes (worst in the country for high earners?).

Traffic can be pretty bad, parking sucks and public transit is there but not that great. Seems to be at least one crazy person on the bus whenever I take it. Muni (= bus+subway+light rail) breaks down quite a bit.

Mostly it’s the cost (everything is ridiculously expensive, not just real estate) and the homelessness.

You need to be ok with people being quite leftie and your vote generally not mattering if you’re not.


I don't get the mix of highest salaries and real estate prices and unicorn companies within a primarily leftist society. I just can't


It's actually pretty easy to understand. Affordability is not and never was the priority in San Francisco. What are the priorities are things like environmental issues, keeping the police in check (making it politically impossible to enforce any norms of civilized behavior, e.g. don't use drugs outdoors in plain sight), catering to every imaginable niche in society (the city has five legally-sanctioned languages and every ballot is printed in all five), having the best food, and providing some form of health insurance to even the lowest people on the income ladder.

A lot of this policy is admirable in its intent but has the (mostly) unintended side-effect of making everything horrendously expensive. How could it be anything else...new construction in San Francisco requires years of permit approvals, solar panels on the roof, there's pretty much a ban on any non-union labor in construction, etc.

All the employers know this, so they pay salaries that make it worthwhile for people to show up. So you end up with hordes of people making $200-300K paying $100K/year in taxes and $40-50K for a babysitter for your kids because your parents or other family live halfway across the country and nobody can afford to live here on $20-30K when single rooms in a 4br place cost north of $1K/month after tax. Oh, and the schools, roads, and other infrastructure are pretty bad, too, and there's trash everywhere.

The real suckers seem to be the companies willing to pay the wages to keep this whole huge ponzi scheme going. The whole thing is a massive transfer from shareholders to local land owners, and government employees.

I'm not being cynical, this is just how it works, after living here for seven years. The city has 800K people and an operating budget of $8 billion. That's $10K/head and it's still potholes and unfunded pensions.


All of the above is spot on.

Except: “How could it be anything else...” - my wife is french and one thing that constantly surprises her is how little we get from our government for the taxes we pay. It is possible to make government more efficient, and not resort to the private sector (which has other problems).


thanks for this analysis


I make a circuit around the southwest US based on the season and which friends I would like to visit. In the past it was based on a combination of weather and available glass studios, but now I’m more concerned about urban flavor. I spent too long living essentially in an Arctic cabin, and like being in the city.

I assume my criteria is like that of anyone else, but I have great flexibility with no spouse, children, no home ownership and self-employment.

Naturally, I look for cities that have culture that I like. I’m drawn to cities like Denver, Austin, and Portland for their strong art cultures, area tech businesses, and a healthy concentration of educated middle class people under 45. I also explore and ‘live’ in places like Vegas or Tucson for a couple of weeks or months, or if I go somewhere for a convention, start there for a couple of weeks. I enjoy staying in ski resorts for a couple weeks in the off season, or hanging out at a state park for a while.

I practice and appreciate art and music, and enjoy establishments such as industrial chic coffee shops and semi-hipster cocktail bars, cideries, distilleries and wine bars. Cities that have a lot of people moving in and out are good for me because then you’re not trying to break into closed social circles - many people are new and looking for something to do.

Weather is a big deal to me, as I spent years slogging through snow despite being from the southwest. I can schedule my life like a snowbird and go north in the summer and south in the winter.

Currently, I am deciding whether to stay around Colorado, or head to Texas and Arizona followed by Oregon and Washington when that gets too warm.


How do you arrange housing? I assume you’re not signing any leases.


In a variety of modes. I stay with friends, watch people’s property while they travel, stay at motels, state parks and national forests, rest stops, BLM land and AirBnB. I lived in a house for 10 years where I was persnickety about 8.5 hours of sleep a night, and that went out the window when I started traveling to blow glass with people. At this point I’m limited by health problems, also and could not reasonably commit to even a 6 month lease. So, I remain very flexible about accommodation. If I shower 2-3 times a week and can cook twice a week, I’m all set.


Thanks -- I've thought before about moving with the seasons and hoped there might be better answers.


Live in Braga, Portugal.

My wife is Portuguese, but has no ties to our current location, nor do I. We moved here, because we found a great house, in a great location that we could buy for reasonable money.

Portugal is an affordable country (if not in Lisbon or Porto), with great people, great food and great weather. Education is great, and the startup ecosystem is ambitious and growing rapidly.

Let me know if anyone would like to meet up, if you're here; or any tips on moving here.


Portuguese here, I moved out of the country and I have worked in the UK for over a decade and more recently relocated again to the Netherlands.

Both myself and my wife have really enjoyed the opportunities we had along the way, both in terms of lifestyle, research projects and financially.

But we are now at a point where we both feel the urge to "come back home".

I would love to hear your feedback from an outsider looking into the tech scene in Portugal.

My frustration in previous searches and interviews is that everyone likes to talk 'innovation' but the majority of interesting projects are still pretty much university incubations and/or very dependent on EC research funding streams. Has this changed in these past years? Do you see companies actually securing VC funding rounds or growing into more mature businesses?

Also perhaps an inferiority complex bias but I feel that, for larger service companies, Portugal is still scene as what they would call a 'near-shore' outsourcing tech pool, where you can get a bit more quality output but still at a fairly cheap price point. Has this changed? i.e. Do you see that Software teams can command competitive salaries when compared to other European locations? Or is it that it's acceptable only if you leverage this with a very low COL (outside prime real estate areas like Porto/Lisbon centres)?


I've visited nearby Guimaraes. Not much English is spoken up there. Did you have to learn Portuguese?


Most people speak English, but are uncomfortable / inexperienced in doing so. Everyone in tech speaks English just fine.

For day-to-day, it does make your life much easier. Surprisingly, banks are a pain to deal with, without speaking Portuguese. I learned because my parents in law didn't speak English very well.

Portuguese is a rich language, and Portuguese people are typically familiar with the countries famous writers and poets. That makes it a valuable language to learn.


I live in coastal Los Angeles. The city has everything I'm looking for: fantastic weather (esp. warm winters), non-hectic pace of life, enough opportunities to become involved in interesting things (professionally and not), a diverse immigrant population, ocean access, great food scene, etc.

I work for a fully distributed team (Agentrisk), with people across the US and Europe. I'd be hard-pressed to leave SoCal for any other place.


Seafarer here. After bouncing from ship to ship from 1998-2009, and spending a few days in each place I was dumped between ships, I narrowed my options to Viana do Castello in Portugal, Edinburgh in Scotland, and Whangarei in New Zealand.

I ended up settling in New Zealand in 2009 because I love the culture, the fact that it's a long way from the rest of the world, it's affordable, and it has a lot of options for travel. I fly from there to my ship, then go home when the trip's over.


How are you able to stay in NZ long term? Been looking for visa options without a full-time employment gig.


I live in Jerusalem, but originally from America. I have travelled and lived all over. Jerusalem is special. In other cities people are trying to be cool, in Jerusalem people just are. The city feels international and small town at the same time. I choose to live here because it's the best place I found.


If you dont mind me asking, is this on a work visa or something like aliyah? Background is that I’d be interested in living in Tel Aviv at least for some time, don’t have a point of reference yet for how realistic it would be to get a working visa approved, given the Israeli workforce is already in supply of pretty good IT talent.


I made Aliyah, but work visas are also possible(I think) Actually there is a huge shortage of tech talent. It's so bad the government is trying hard to encourage arabs and ultra-orthodox jews into tech.


Spot on! Jerusalem is great: perfect weather, incredible people, easy access to nature, lots of culture all around. Only downside is it’s getting a little expensive - in Israel, second only to Tel Aviv and the surrounding area.


> in Jerusalem people just are.

Can you expand on that just a bit?

Also, curious if you are Jewish by birth or conversion?


In many cities I have lived in people are trying to be something they are not. They wear designer clothing, talk about the latest trends, dress like a hippy- they do this to fit into some group. In Jerusalem it is not like that.

People just do their thing and don't even think about it. I think it allows for more genuine relationships, more genuine interactions.

Another great thing about Jerusalem is that it's a smallish city. You see your friends on the street, you recognize faces at parties. You go to the local cafe and you know a few people there... But at the same time it's not so small that you know everyone. There are always new people to meet.


Interesting answer. Do you ever worry about security issues?


No not really. I stay out of the dangerous neighborhoods and its alright. It feels very safe.

Except for a few years ago when there was a wave of terrorist stabbings. Streets were empty. Everyone was looking back every few moments to see if they were being followed. Eye contact was made between every passing stranger in order to determine if they were about to stab you. It was scary but it did not last for too long. It was also a fascinating experience. Imagine walking down the street and EVERYONE makes eye contact with you!


Do people treat you like a foreigner? That would be my concern about leaving America.

I have many friends who moved to Europe who say the locals never let them speak their language and keep their distance.


Not OP, but gonna pipe in as a Jerusalemite: in Israel, being a foreigner is almost a default state. Consider that a very significant portion of the population only came in the last 30 or so years, and a vast majority of peoples’ ancestors only came in the last century. It’s a relatively new country. From a more practical standpoint, there are large English speaking communities all over & most Israelis are very fluent English speakers.


I’ve been all over Europe and I really don’t know where this would be true. If you can speak the local language well enough to have a conversation, 99% of people will talk to you in it. If they can’t understand you, well, you need to study more.


Jerusalem is a very international city. Lots of students, artists and tourists from all over the world. Locals are used to and friendly friendly to foreigners


I'm not a freelancer but it's not that hard to find a dev job in most major cities. I was living in SF and moved to NY. Reasons include:

- Getting out of the state I had spent my whole life in until that point. California is a great state, but I don't think I would have been happy with myself if I had never lived outside it for a significant amount of time.

- Moving to a city that doesn't hate tech (as much). Here, there are plenty of other industries assisting with gentrification, so we don't get singled out.

- Public transit is passable here.

- I originally came for a Recurse Center batch. They just moved to Brooklyn, and I live a 5 min walk from the location.

I miss my friends back home and being near all the nature that CA has, but overall it's a pretty good life here.


I live in Denver now but did a bit of analysis off of census and economic data:

1. Move somewhere where college graduates choose to move (this is a proxy for restaurants, arts, high paying jobs)

2. Move somewhere where desired incoming levels have net population increases (immigration)

3. Move somewhere within the major metropolitan statistical areas with continuous growth (city populations are funny, MSA is more informative for my case)

4. Scrape user profile locations off multiple websites to determine "Online participation" as a proxy for more modern citizens

5. Scrape job sites by the keywords in my field, full time, non-contract


How did you do #4? What other cities came up high in this algorithm?


I made a information map of MSA (Metropolitan statistical areas) and then linked it to common names for those areas and sites such as reddit.com/r/cincinnati and then scraped the online users over time. There was a bit more to it though around sentiment analysis because some cities higher on the MSA are really in decline, but have increasing populations of very low wage workers with decreasing high wage workers.

The cities on the top of the list were not surprising given my very limited scope (San Francisco, New York, Denver, Seattle, Boston etc).

The one that ranked highest that was most surprising was Minneapolis, they are fairly strong in almost all the metrics I was looking at.


The question based on your analysis is, do you live to work or do you work to live?


Good question - the flip side is, if I cover those bases, then I have time to do the things I like because I am not worrying about them. With Denver I ended up with skiing, hiking, Christmas tree / pumpkin farms, city amenities etc


Remote SE here - I live in the Sierra Nevadas in Truckee, CA. I chose to live here because its close to skiing/hiking, easy to get to SF for work once a month, and easy for people from the bay to visit. Plus Reno airport within 40 mins and I got a 3400sqft house for the same price I paid for a 1br in SF.


You wouldn't rather live on the NV side, given the tax savings?


I grew up in a small town where every single female left at 18. I moved to a nearby university town because I read it had a six to 1 female to male ratio, and was still close enough to everyone I knew, and wasn't a huge city.

Years later, I had to move to a huge city to find the women I ended up getting engaged to. I had worked out that only 0.5% of the population met my first few requirements in a partner, so I moved to increase my chances.

So, all my major moves so far have been to go where the women are!


If you're having trouble connecting with people, try avoiding dehumanizing terms like "female".


He’s discussing gender ratios; using the terms “male” and “female” is correct in this situation.


There is an interesting extended discussion about this type of word choice here (ignore what the URL seems to be saying):

https://www.reddit.com/r/changemyview/comments/3u4l4p/cmvthe...


I chose based on my personality type and social needs. I'm an INTP so I needed a good intellectual milieu that I could interact with (which meant having good universities nearby), but I also wanted to be among people who were friendly and accepting of outsiders (non-cliquish). It was a toss-up between Boston and Chicago, and I chose Chicago.

Boston would have been a good choice except I hear it's really hard to make friends there, but once you've broken through, friendships can be deep. Many people don't break through though.

Chicago people on the other hand are much friendlier, but it doesn't go beyond the surface friendliness. One doesn't typically get invited to dinners, so one has to make a conscious effort to reach out. I did, and have managed to get connected.

For me, two things in life were most important:

- Meaningful work

- Edifying relationships

So my choice of location was calculated to maximize the probability of achieving these goals.

Factors that were not important for me were cost-of-living, personal space, suburban-level safety, nature, schools (I don't have kids). I recognize that these are important to others and contribute to achieving their goals in their lives. I think most people have similar aspirations to mine in terms of finding meaning, but my path is just slightly different.


Fellow INTP here, similar requirements for me choosing where to live with friendly people accepting of outsiders. However, we ended up in the opposite environment than you, our nearest community is less than 200 people. If we don't wave to every passing vehicle, people might think something is wrong... and in Chicago, if you did the same, then people might think something is wrong! :)

After moving here, we quickly made friends and I've encountered quite a few other like minded tech workers in the area (one works for a direct competitor). My job and co-workers (many 10yr+ relationships at this point) fulfill my intellectual needs and the main engineering office happens to be located in Boston!


I work remotely in a flyover state near family which is important with kids. The low cost of living doesn't hurt either. I lived in NYC and the Bay Area before kids, so I know they are like, but I prefer where I am now for my current stage of life.


1. large metropolitan population (1M+) 2. city, urban environment (i.e. skyscrapers, concrete jungle) 3. safe 4. good hospitals 5. airport must be international with frequent flights to major cities like london, nyc, sfo, etc 6. has a great high tech environment with lots of high tech companies 7. speaks at least 1 of the languages that i speak 8. good education environment (elementary - university) 9. not that cold 10. great food (yet to find somewhere where this isn't true) 11. must have excellent broadband (100M broadband) 12. there exists an official apple store and shopping is relatively convenient where i don't have to wait weeks or months to get new stuff i.e. i remember having to wait several weeks or months before when growing up in the suburbs, had to wait a long time for sony ps2's 12. good transportation system (subway, rail, etc)

some others that didn't make the list:

* must know people, i actually didn't know anyone when i moved to atlanta, boston, tokyo, or shanghai, i ended up making a lot of friends in each place, so i don't find this to be a requirement. * family close by, i think this is more important as i get older, i used to want to get as far away from my parents as possible, now, even though i don't live remotely close to my father, i yearn for the days where i could see him regularly. * great weather, meaning warm usually and good air quality. since i'm in the city, the air quality's not that great, so i've come to deal with it, it's important, but i've never prioritized based on this.

i live in shanghai, it fits all of the requirements above, great city, safe, lots of good high tech companies, just that my family is in the states, and the air quality could be better.


Pretty much the same reason I chose Shenzhen in 2016, after living in-and-out of the country for many years on extended business trips.

Anything except for Internet is there. You may have a gigabit line to your desktop, but even internal Chinese Internet will be screeching slow unless you visit a site with an own CDN in every city.

I also worked in Shanghai on a 6 month assignment once. Line 2 rush hour commute was an everyday near death experience (commuting in between Lujiazui and high tech park where chip cos were.)


How does a person from the west move to China? Chengdu interests me.


I got a job at the American branch of a Chinese company (Microsoft). It works for tier ones, not sure how you go about getting a tech job in a tier 3 city like Chengdu. You could probably teach English though, lots of opportunities still.


i'd imagine much the same process as working anywhere else abroad, you need to find work so that a company can sponsor a visa for you, to find a job start checking websites of target companies, there are a lot of multi-national companies here, if you speak/write mandarin chinese, that would be helpful.


Oh my... do not chose cities in the middle of nowhere in China. Only megacities there "work" for a Western person


Why?


Very hard for legal reasons: i.e. you go to a hotel, but they can't accept you because they have to blanks for police registration of foreigners, or PSB not being able to register your household simply because they have no computer system to do so, and there are no option for a foreigner to file for a residence registration on paper. Not to say, your Mandarin should be as good as that of locals, along the knowledge of local dialect if you venture far inland.


Unless you're fluent in chinese, it will be extremely difficult to get around in these tier 3 cities like chengdu. Shanghai and beijing are a bit more international, but even stilll, english is relatively scarely spoken. Just imagine having to go to the doctors', that would be extremely traumatic.


* Weather

We eliminated any area that got below 50 degrees at any time. My wife and I had no interest in being cold!

* School Quality

We have two children so school quality was very important to us. We used sites like:

https://www.niche.com/k12/

https://www.usnews.com/education/best-high-schools/rankings-...

We originally eliminated private schools and focused on public schools since we had only lived in areas like San Francisco and Miami. We added them back when we realized other areas like Atlanta have reasonably priced private schools.

* Community

We wanted a global and diverse community. We wanted our kids to hear multiple languages and learn about different customs and celebrations.

* Cost of Living

We wanted to have a better life without having to increase our overall take home pay. So things like cost of house and amount of state taxes was an important issue for us. When we moved from San Francisco to Miami we stopped paying 7% to California which went straight to our kids college savings.

So after living in San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta, and Salt Lake City we decided to move to San Juan, Puerto Rico. The cost of living in Puerto Rico is comparable to Utah and Georgia, weather is amazing, and the private schools are top notch. Most people here are bilingual and well traveled. It is an amazing community to be part of and I'm glad we made the move.

We also have fiber internet for the first time in our lives since it was only available in small parts of any of the cities we lived previously, so our work is much better :)


When I realised that I no longer needed to live in California in order to run my business (MusicBrainz), I decided to move to Barcelona.

As a friend of mine said: Barcelona isn't a 10 out of 10 on anything. But it is an 8 or 9 out of 10 on everything. Good weather, amazing food, great people, great public transport, great airport, high speed rail and best of all: No republicans.



My wife is Thai, and missed her family/where she grew up, so we moved to Thailand 6 years ago.

Now we have a son, and we’re planning to move back to Australia in the next couple of years. Thailand is an interesting place to live but I can’t imagine trying to raise a child through to the end of school (with western concepts/mindset) here.


>but I can’t imagine trying to raise a child through to the end of school (with western concepts/mindset) here.

Why not?


I've tried a couple of times to write a reply that sufficiently explains our concerns, without writing a novel about life in Thailand.

Unless you live like a hermit, you can't be the sole influence on a child - they will learn things from their school, relatives, etc.

If you really want to know more, send me an email and I can expand some more, but it's generally along the lines of even the most basic concepts of safety/precautions/thinking ahead, combined with not expecting women (be it your sister, gf, wife, etc) to be your own personal obedient slave.


Greetings from Berlin. My wife said she wanted to live in Europe, and so I took the first interesting job (which happened to be in Berlin.) Fell in love, that was seven years ago...


My dad was in the military, so we moved often. He finally retired at Ft Bennington, Ga, and my parents bought a house in Columbus, Ga. Columbus was a little too small and religious for me, so I got a job and moved to Atlanta. Close enough to visit the family, but a good city with lots of tech jobs. I lived all over Atlanta, but one thing I always did was live inside the perimeter. That refers to interstate 285, which circles the city. After renting for many years my wife and I bought a house in the city of Decatur. I live within walking distance of public transport to take to work, we’re a few miles from the city of Atlanta, and Decatur is a nice walkable town. I will admit that if my family didn’t retire here, Georgia would not be on the list of places I would chose to live, but at least we live in a blue spot in this red, racist, state.


I live in Antwerp, Belgium's second largest city.

There are basically only three cities worthy of the name in Belgium. Antwerp kind of hits the sweet spot between big enough to have everything you need, and yet small enough to be liveable.

There isn't much in the way of a tech scene. The Belgian tax man makes startups pretty much non-starters. Wages are taxed to death, so there isn't much in the way of competition for engineers. The vast majority of software engineers are working for the government in one way or another (Belgium has so many governments that this isn't an exaggeration).

As for how I decided where to live: I didn't consciously do so. I basically looked for jobs, found one over here, and moved here.


I got a remote job and moved from NYC to Boulder, CO. My reasoning was it's also a wealthy place with high real estate prices and good restaurants, but is in a more natural setting. Clean air, hiking, camping, skiing, etc... also close to a really good international airport (DEN).


Shenzhen is my main base of operation, been the best deal for buck for lifestyle and "having life."

I am nominally employed as a contractor, but am just an inch away from be being a de-jure full time employee. China was more or less welcoming to high flyer demographics living in the country on business visas, but the times seem to be changing. For this reason, I am planning on obtaining a residence permit next year.

For decades, China was all about it being no questions asked about anybody with a legit business staying in the country on long term business visas. They were effectively residence permits. In 2016, they first started looking more into the legitimacy of the business, and in 2017 they put it bluntly that 10 year M visa holders have to get work visas if they are to live in the country for any length of time regardless of the origin of their income.

Shenzhen became a very pleasant city to live in the last 10 years, in fact it is said to be the most liveable city in Asia by many rankings. I can say confidently that the city scores more on livability than any US megapolis.

For me, it depends on the future state of things if I am to continue living there. I admit, there is a risk that China may start kicking out foreigners from the country just for the sake of it.

I am 27. I lived 2.5 years in Singapore, 6 years in Canada. and the rest in badlands of ex-USSR countries. I worked in electronics, and manufacturing since my first job when I was an exchange student in Singapore. Even back in 2008, I was thinking about moving to China as one can't do a thing in electronics industry without doing things in Shenzhen.

I think many here are baffled why in the world so many high flying professionals from Western countries come to China in their sane mind. I tell that: yes, the choice for going to China is a bitter pill to swallow; you are choosing in between comfy everyday life, liberties and freedom on one hand, and being able to live life to its fullest, exhilaratingly dynamic business environment, and a chance of becoming somebody before you hit your retirement age.


wow, small world, I live in Shenzhen, too. maybe we can keep in touch, and hang around sometimes. you can drop me email at weishigoname at hotmail.com


Out of the country now, should be back at around CNY


Just started my remote journey. I went from working in Orange County, California where I had a two+ hour commute each way from the mountains, to living in Western Montana!

Why Montana? My sister convinced me to visit as she lives here. Loved it. I was faced with moving anyway, so I could move into a cardboard box with bars on the windows, or I could move into a large, beautiful home on lots of property in a beautiful land. I asked work, and they supported going remote. It was a no brainier. The cost of real estate is great. I got something in Montana that would have cost easily 6x in SoCal. The state actually tries for a balanced budget. Not as many assholes on the road. People are generally nicer. Taxes are better. The catch? Economic opportunities are scarce.


We looked for places with no income tax. Interesting people and things our family was into. Relatively warm climate and near an airport with relatively connected international flights.

We’ve loved Nashville and Sarasota, FL for these reasons.

Ended up in Sarasota once we had kids to be near family.


Have you found the additional property tax to cancel out any benefits of no state Income tax? Especially this year with Caps to SALT ?


In our situation and tax bracket, state income tax was the most important part of optimizing our overall tax burden.

Property tax and sales tax isn't bad here or in Nashville. In Sarasota property tax is < 1% per year on assessed value and sales tax is 7%.

Ideologically, I think taxes should be based on consumption, not on earning power.


Interesting that you put it like that, no income tax, rather than optimal services for the tax paid. Do you consider that as a richer person you should directly contribute financially to the improvement of the society that you live in at all; or is it that you see property tax as a fairer way to do that? (Or something else?)


I'm not the GP, but I don't think that paying more taxes is the best way to improve society. I'm not rich, but as someone making above median wages and living in a low-COL area with no state income taxes, I put my money where my mouth is by contributing an amount roughly equal to my annual federal income tax to local charities that provide a variety of services to people in need.


Thanks for responding, if I may probe further -- is it that you think the state can't provide the services those charities do, or that your particular local incarnation of it won't (ever?)?

Where I am, a poor UK city, the Christian Churches provide a lot of services to the poor (homeless shelters, food banks, pensioners meals, friendship clubs, pregnancy counselling, family counselling, pastoral care) often with referral by front line council workers. Most of those services are free at the point of need (only family counselling is charged for IIRC) but couldn't operate on those budgets as council services -- largely because they rely on donations of buildings from the Churches, and donation of time from volunteers. The council has to rent, and has to pay at least minimum wage.

So, in a way these essential community services work outside the state machine doing something that in a socialist setting government is expected to do.

I can see this works inasmuch as those services exist, when they seemingly wouldn't otherwise, but the payment for those services isn't as fairly distributed as if it were acquired by taxation IMO. Also, in theory on a state level you save optimise service provision to save administration and logistics costs; whilst local piecemeal approaches can be relatively expensive ... but then in practice government seems to add layers of bureaucracy and expensive management ...

Any further thoughts?


It's a complicated topic and tough to do it justice in a brief post, but a couple brief thoughts anyway. I believe that I as an individual have a moral obligation to provide aid to the poor. I do not believe that government has that responsibility. Ultimately the government is funded via taxation backed by the threat of force. As such, taxing some citizens to provide aid to others is a form of legislating morality. I think the legislation of morality is warranted primarily in the negative, that is, to prohibit things such as murder, theft, assault, etc.

Secondly, I believe that aid to the poor is most effective and of greater benefit to both the giver and the recipient when it is done in a relational context (which is not to say that aid is given directly from the giver to the recipient, just that it's localized enough that the givers and recipients are in the same community). The giver can see the tangible effects of his generosity and the recipient can see the care shown by the giver. By its nature, government aid is impersonal and therefore less beneficial. The "givers" in that case, who are "giving" often only under compulsion, often feel exploited and resentful. Many recipients develop a sense of entitlement since there's no direct connection between the aid they receive and their fellow citizens who provided that aid.

I do agree with you that taking government out of the aid business would result in less uniform funding for aid, but I think that's a lesser problem than forcing it on everyone. I'm on the board of a local charity and I see the private donors who fund it, 95% of whom are are middle or upper-middle class, and I'm pretty amazed by their generosity. I wish awareness of those kinds of things were greater.


As a Massachusetts resident, our neighboring state, New Hampshire has no income tax. I was working at a place many years ago, that moved to along a major N/S highway that made commuting from out of state more feasible.

Those at work who looked into moving there have noted, the commute is much worse, income tax is negated a lot by high property taxes. When the company started downsizing it was noted that those in NH had significantly worse unemployment benefits. Some feel its worth it, but a lot don't. I think we had one person move.


I’m in FL too, but not the same city/county. Curious what you mean by additional property tax? Is that something in all of FL or just that county? (Maybe you were referencing Nashville)?


The county voters will pass levies to raise additional monies for the local school system.


Florida is an awesome location. You can basically catch a direct flight to anywhere in the USA and some European destinations. Weather, no State income tax, low pollution, access to some of best medical in the USA, etc. It's in my plans to move there one day.

At the moment I live in what I consider another top contender, DFW has access to anywhere in the world via direct flights. No state income tax, excellent access to medical, lower cost of living than the North East, etc. There is also a lot of available work. Interestingly enough Bloomberg ran an article that it is the #1 place for people relocating from the LA, NY and Chicago.


it really is. The only downside is the lack of serious technology employers. So unless you land a remote gig, or are happy as a road warrior, it's tough to find work


My wife told me where we'd live. That was it.


I chose Spain (Madrid / Barcelona) because Spain has a lot of walkable city centers that are closed off to towns.

Many Spanish cities have a very small town vibe, while including high quality public transit infrastructure, great sunny weather, and very family friendly environments.

Mexico is my second choice due to proximity to US (close flights to see family & friends; US is not that bad as some people make it), biodiversity of climates, great food, sunny weather, and lots of walkable small towns.

I already can speak Spanish, so this is a plus for me.

I like traveling, but those are the two places I'd settle down in or retire.


My wife and I have chosen to live in Vancouver twice. Once in 1989 after ten years in Tokyo (8) and Copenhagen (2) and again in 2012 after six years in Cambridge MA. I grew up in Montreal. We chose Vancouver for some simple reasons. Direct flights to Tokyo, decent sushi, a culturally diverse environment in which to raise our multicultural children (now grandchildren), an interesting arts scene (in the 80s and 90s, it has declined as housing prices have gone up) and a relatively open society and political system. Economic opportunity was not a factor as I have always worked globally. I also prefer to be off centre, a bit away from the cities that think they are important like the Bay Area, NYC, Tokyo, Toronto, London etc. as I find that little of deep creative interest comes from these places. Innovation thrives on the edges and where different cultures rub up against each other.


My wife and I grew up in a small town outside of Pittsburgh, PA. It was easy to stick around because we had a child and I found a decent job out of school. I felt lucky with my employment situation at the time because the area has virtually nothing going for it and is getting worse year after year. The people who can leave, move away - and everyone else sticks around.

Fast forward a few years and I was doing contract work for a customer in Denver, CO and they offered to relocate us to Denver and brought me on full time. Ended up hating that place as a FTE but LOVE Colorado so here we still are.


I grew up in a small town in Ohio[0], and my first job out of school was in Pittsburgh, late 2009. After slowly going through 2 other jobs, I found a place with a team that feels like family (and pays well). I've been living in the South Hills area for 3 years, and I wouldn't dare live anywhere else.

The T is awesome. I love days when I don't use my car to go to work, and they allow bikes on the T, so I hit the trails downtown during spring/summer/fall weekends.

[0] Not near Cleveland, much closer to Columbus. I learned pretty quickly that Ohio equals Cleveland to people from Pittsburgh.


Microsoft relocated me to the Seattle area in 2005. I went full time remote about four years ago. I'm too lazy to move.

I'd like to live elsewhere, but SeaTac is well connected and I like the weather.


What’s spurring your interest in living somewhere else?


Too many people in Seattle.


Lived in Paris for the last 11 years. Planning to change country again ! (Berlin)

Edit : open minded people is the reason


Berlin is actually not very open-minded, after 8 years of living across the world its probably least I would say. The reason for that is, because if you don't fit into a "hipster, dj, art" culture, you will be constantly reminded. Try getting to a bar as a foreigner and wearing a shirt sometime...


I don't work remotely, but I did make a decision to live somewhere else.

I moved from the Netherlands to Romania. I travelled to Romania a couple of times for business and really liked the atmosphere and the people. Met my girlfriend in Romania and moved here about three years ago. Been loving it ever since.

The city I am in has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe and some of the cleanest air in Europe. Beautiful nature within an hour drive and lots of friendly people.


I've heard a lot of nice things about Romania, but what are the downsides? Honestly considering moving there at some point, though I likely won't.


[North America] I actually hope to jaunt into a remote position, in 2019, and this specific question has tussled quite a bit in mind. I'd love to hear what other people are considering.

Seeing that I'm in NYC, I think there are a few cultural, political and culinary reasons to choose a city to transition few. Here are a few of my requirements:

-Strong local job economy if in the event I lose my current position (my job is not sought after enough for me to gain remote positions immediately) -Cheap(er) real estate (this isn't hard considering I'm from NYC) -Left/Democrat-leaning locale (the state doesn't have to be blue but where I live should have an unshamed democratic community) -Some clustered seasonality (that removes FL, AZ, AL, and the northern state for their harsh winter)

My top cities I had in mind: -Raleigh or Charlotte (I have some trepidations about what the Republican leadership did recently) - Explosive growth which the city is not accustomed to/for - Traffic will be a nightmare if the rate continues (almost 0 public transport) - Good tech scene (Research Triangle) and quite cheap real-estate - Might be suburban hell/boring


Heh, I’m considering the opposite.

I’m currently living in Raleigh-Durham but thinking about moving to a larger tech hub. Options are DC, NYC, and Seattle.

Regarding your list of concerns, I share with you: explosive growth, zero public transport, and suburban hell.

The job market is good but not great. None of the big tech companies have a presence here, except Google for nothing more than historic reasons. I highly doubt that this will change anytime soon, simply because of the poor infrastructure and transit.

This leaves you with companies like Cisco, IBM, Lenovo, etc. They are not “bad” companies and there is a lot of interesting work to do, but they are also not Amazon or Google.

I'm still just starting my career, so I want to at least try out working at a big tech company. Also, my wife and I travel pretty frequently to Tunisia, and flights from RDU are long and expensive. As a comparison, a flight from Seattle to Tunis costs ~$400 less than from Raleigh while taking the same amount of time!


This is very complicate topic, because there are so many factors to evaluate before we can make that decision, but first of all, how are we going to survive there ? here what I mean are not how much money we earn, but food, weather, people, health assurance, some basic stuff of living.

the place where we choose to travel and where we choose to live are different, because we don't just enjoy the natural views, we care more about people, culture, and health, which is not easy decision in short time, so we'd better to live there long enough, and try to involve into local culture as much as possible.

I live in Shenzhen, it is a Chinese city, but much different with other cities in China, China is trying to build a modern city to beat Hong Kong, this city is Shenzhen, its policies, especially for political, are much transparent, so this city's growing is very fast, it is very livable and good to have business here, startups are come out every day.

but like many fast growing cities, the economic bubble issue, the house is pretty expensive here.


I live in Bolivia. My parents and my wife's parents live here. Having our parents here is great because we have children and are helped a lot by them. (I studied and worked in Switzerland before moving back.)

So, how did I decide? I just knew I wanted to have children and that grandparents are a great help, so it's mostly a family related decision. I work remotely as a consultant in software modeling.


Remotely for Swiss firms? How was it for you moving back to a poorer country (where less stuff works etc)?


La Paz?


Santa Cruz


I'm from Europe but I live near Queretaro (Mexico) in a small village.

- I have a decent internet connection. Optic fiber 30Mbps.

- Rent is cheap. $600 USD for a 3 bdr house with garden in a fancy neighborhood.

- Almost no crime. I rarely lock the door of my house.

- Great food at reasonable prices. The area is known for its cheese and wine production.

- Very very silent place which is super important for me.

- Most people you find are honest and peaceful


We thought we would like Ibiza a lot, went there for a couple of weeks, turned out we didn't. While there I spotted a book on tax paradises in a bookshop, turns out there are a bunch of countries where you don't have to pay taxes under certain circumstances, which means you double your income when you come from europe. Made a short list, didn't like the top one, but really liked the second one. Have been living in Curacao (a Caribbean island 40 miles off the coast of Venezuela) for seven years and still enjoying it a lot!


I got a job at Amazon before graduating and moved out to Seattle for it. Within a day of wandering around the city I immediately felt at home here in a way I hadn't ever before. I didn't really decided to move here, it was just implicit in accepting the job offer, but since then I've definitely decided to stay.


Where our roots reside and the high quality of life in our area. Once we began a family, this became all the more important and added in the desire for stability for our children. It was these choices, combined with living well outside an hour of Boulder and Denver, that pushed me to focus on a remote-centric career.

I think a lot about moving closer to technology hubs and there is definitely a desire to generally work day-to-day with excellent engineers in close quarters. However, each time I do rocking chair thinking, I come back to the same conclusion; our lives are more rich with family and friends and the lifestyle we are able to gain via the lesser cost of living. Though, I admit it has a large potential cost on career. I'd love to be slinging Haskell day-to-day, in SF, etc for the rest of my life on a professional level.


Implying it is a decision.

I was simply born there. I can't move because I don't make enough money to live anywhere else than with my parents. I am playing around with the idea of homelessness in which case I'd be headed south towards warmer weather, because I am afraid of tough winters.


Where are you now?


Barcelona (coming from the UK).

Reasonably cheap compared to other major European cities, great weather, close to the outdoors & the ocean, very walkable & cycleable with lots of public transport, good tech community, and amazing food, drink & lifestyle. My costs have halved compared to London, with a far higher quality of life.

Only real downside is that local salaries aren't great, but if you're working remotely that doesn't matter in the slightest.


Before getting married my wife and me lived about 100km apart. The middle point was the city we both worked, so it made sense. Now she's remote worker and we live near our son's school. Makes live easier to all.


Is anyone here from an Greek island, Cyprus or Italy ?

I am really want to try a few months in a Mediterranean beach spot (or similar). Hopefully a low-ish cost location.

I am doing mostly back-end dev, and also (sadly) some remote lead of a FE team. SO all i need is sunshine and broadband..


Try researching Chalkidiki which is a wonderful besch place close to a big city and Creta which is an island that includes everything.

For Cyprus I would recommend Limassol many expats there and lively.Taxation in Cyprus is really good and the state is more organized than Greece.


I live near where my wife and I grew up, exclusively because we find it important to have our kids spend time with their surviving grandparents. That's the only important thing in our lives that is location-specific.


When we first moved, my SO and I after Uni, we made no consideration of closeness to family. That was a mistake IMO - we're 4 hours from the nearest close family.

Now our parents are older we would love to be closer. Would have helped immensely with caring for the kids to have grandparents local too.


Like most people here, it is purely an issue of momentum. I completed my studies and got married in this city.

Where I live is ok, im used to it lots of family around .. but deep in side somehow I feel stifled


Easy. I joined the military. Where i live is thier decision/responsability now. (In reality we select a posting preference. I picked and got a posting within 100 miles of my home town.)


Where my wife's family is. There wasn't much question about it


I followed my fiancee, once I secured the ability to work remotely.

Also, Tulsa is starting a program where you get paid to work remotely from from Tulsa: https://www.seattletimes.com/explore/careers/tulsa-is-offeri...

Dunno if that helps. Also email me if you wanna talk about it at all!


Relocated 30 years ago (from a Sorthern English city) because of work and then fell in love with the new area (a Southern English coastal city). Now I have a stupid 70 mile drive to work that I tolerate because I'm where I want to be when I'm not working. I've since moved a bit within the local area to get closer to the countryside but am basically within a few miles of where I moved to 30 years ago.

When I am working, I work remotely quite a lot.


Please excuse the throwaway account.

I realized a few years ago that the place where you live determines a lot of what happens in your life:

The type of people you meet, the type of sports you can do, environments you see, activities & events you can take part in, people you meet, cost of living, tax, local wages, type of housing, what kind of foods you can eat, what the weather is like, transportation systems, healthcare, internet connectivity, what language you will speak, religious activities, exposure to diseases, peacefulness / safety & stability ... and so on.

Human life also has a certain momentum to it that means you are quite likely to stay in one place or nearby it for much of your life if you settle intentionally or get stuck unintentionally. So it's a situation where if you get it right at the start, you can be happy for quite a long time, and if you get it wrong, you can be suffering for a long time. Finding somewhere just 1% 'nicer' can integrate well over the years.

I began by deliberately saving up a 'find a new home' fund for a couple of years while working normally so that I could take some time to travel freely and in a patient/relaxed way. I spent these years looking at multiple sources of information:

- International statistics & websites & thematic maps describing the basic shape of many countries - quality of life, climate, culture / attitude of people there, cost of living, tax, etc. Forums for immigrants, forums for tourists, forums for locals. Newspaper articles. Anything I could find.

- I made a shortlist of about 10-15 countries (occasionally adding/removing new ideas over the years) and used a combination of VR streetviews and real life 3-7 day trips to build an idea of the feeling of being in each country. I made a point to avoid all tourism, keep costs low, and stick to exploring widely on foot and visiting residential areas to get a taste of actual life as an immigrant. I would ask locals where they would live in the town (and country) if they had the freedom to choose, and why. I would ask immigrants how they felt about being there and if they knew of any better places (towns or countries). I kept a list of the top 5 towns or cities in each country that might suit me best and would adjust my trip following advice from local people as I travelled.

- If I found I was having a nice time and felt happy somewhere, I would wait a few weeks then go back for a second trip staying in my favourite town for 2-4 weeks, to see if I continued to like the place. This gave me a chance to exclude 'sunny weather' effects, i.e. almost anywhere can seem nice on a sunny day. Also it helped to overcome the novelty effect. New places are always fun, for a while. It's useful to ask yourself if you still feel excited about the idea of going back for another full month having just spent a week somewhere.

I won't say where I picked in the end, because the process is much more important than a particular result - and because my needs & values & preferences & language background will be different to anyone else's.

However, some places that might be interesting to begin your search with: Netherlands, Estonia, Portugal, France, Bulgaria, Romania, Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, New Zealand, Czech Republic, Sweden, Georgia.

I have no regrets about taking a systematic and extremely patient approach over several years, utilising every possible source of information online, and always keeping an open mind (avoiding prejudices about certain parts of the world). I can see that if I had tried to solve this problem in just hours, days, weeks or months, I would have found a much less appropriate answer.

If you will be running your own business, PAY ATTENTION to business practices (laws, accounting, taxes). There are many countries where it is fantastic to be a salaried employee and you can have a generally excellent quality of life, but you might be tripped up repeatedly trying to run a business (cough Germany...).

Equally there are countries where the quality of life has certain things missing, but running a business is easy and straightforward; or the cost of living is so low that it makes a transition to running your own business viable where it otherwise wouldn't be (in particular, the cost of a local accountant to make things easy for yourself). Some countries have unique entrepreneurial tax systems like France's micro-entrepreneur system, or Estonia's 'your company only pays tax whenever you start to pay yourself anything'. Those are worth exploring. It's also worth looking for places with plenty of other coders & meetups to hang out with. (Meetup.com will give you clues).

And there are places that are just so friendly and fun that it may be worth paying whatever it costs to live there. Last of all, don't miss out on the chance to try something radically different to what you are used to. If you are from the US, consider Asia and Africa as well as Europe & Canada. You only live once.

Finally, a virtual reality headset (oculus rift or htc vive) is probably the fastest/cheapest/most effective way to explore thousands of villages, towns and cities for just a few hundred dollars total, and get an excellent idea of what it's like to be there in person.

You might find these sites useful: https://nomadlist.com and also https://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/

Good luck everyone and I hope you all find somewhere nice to live.


UK south coast, not perfect by any means but there is enough of a tech scene for me to be employed and not have to commute far. Cost of living here means I can comfortably afford to by a 3 bed house in a nice location. UK weather is crappy but I get 6 weeks PTO so make the most of going on cheap trips to places like Portugal.

I think if you’re happy within you can be happy wherever you are.


I live in a small town in Washington. Among other things, I moved around a lot as a military wife. I developed a list of criteria and did a bunch of research.

I also have a Certificate in GIS, so I briefly took a stab at trying to create a website and consultancy to help others find their personal best place, but it didn't really get any further than a very half baked website and asking around a bit.


What were your challenges with site creation?


I looked around at other sites doing the same sort of thing and decided that asking a few canned questions and spitting back a list of cities wasn't really a good approach. I had already done a lot of research and created a short list of potential cities for myself. Trying out these sites mostly failed to get me a list that made any sense to me. So I wasn't impressed with that approach.

I decided it would need to be a consultancy doing custom research. I don't really know how to make that happen and it seems like there may not be a market for that. Or, if there is, it wasn't a market a homeless woman was going to be able to sell to. No one was going to hire me to do that kind of research so I could improve my income and get off the street.

I've seen people post questions to various forums, similar to this Ask HN but more focused. And there's lots of free info on the internet already via sites like City Data and Best Places.

But when I asked around about how people make such decisions, part of the feedback I got was that deciding where to move was an alien concept. Only super rich people think like that. Most people live where they were born or go where the job takes them or similar. They don't pick some personal best place for their personal best life.

I was homeless at the time and trying to decide where to move to try to get back into housing. It never occurred to me that only very, very privileged people ever wondered where they might prefer to live. I was dirt poor. I didn't see myself as very, very privileged. But that's part of the feedback I got.

Free or very cheap info on the topic is very popular. You see a lot of articles with lists of "best cities to retire" or "best cities for young families." But it's very generic, really, and I'm not aware of any pricier custom solutions for the space.

I never figured out what the next steps might be. I asked a couple of people from HN for feedback. One replied and the other never answered me. I don't have experience doing something like that and I don't have good connections and couldn't get enough feedback to figure out where to go next with the idea.

I think I eventually took the website off the internet and stopped bothering.

It's potentially something someone else could maybe tweak and run with, someone who knows how to set up a consultalncy or has the right connections where they could get good feedback. That doesn't happen to be me.

Oh, also, if you google terms like "personal relocation," you mostly get moving companies, not services helping you decide where to move. The assumption is you already know where you are going and you need help making it happen. The idea that you would pick a dream location seems to not really exist, in spite of the popularity of questions like this one in forums and "best places" type books and articles.


If you talk to enough homeless people, you will definitely find some who chose where they live.


I talk to plenty of homeless people. I'm well aware they often choose where they live.

They are not the target market for a service I want to charge money for. So my awareness of that is not really relevant to my feeling that this would not fly, at least at the time and under the circumstances that I was doing the initial research.


I'm in Oaxaca, Mexico. Might swap between Berlin and Oaxaca for a bit.

Oaxaca has: good coffee, friendly people, safety, mountains, amazing weather (except April/May, which are too hot for me), small scene of digital nomads, mountain biking, yoga, etc. My 2bd apartment near downtown is $250 usd and my unlimited coworking is $250.


Is it expensive to travel to and from there?


I live in SF now (moved from EU 3 years ago) and while I like it here, this city have so many flaws that I cant imagine settle here pernamently. My wife wants to return home to be closer to parents, so we will probably move some time next year back to our home country. That idea still excites and scares me at same time.


I... Got married. She has a business and I thought I could work remote. But the city still has a nice tech scene (SP, Brazil).


+1, except it was the worst decision we could have made. Her business is toxic and has held us back from growing.


Lived overseas for years in major cities in Europe and Asia, came back to my hometown outside of Boston. Good schools, lots of things to do nearby in terms of work and travel, kids can grow up near grandparents.

Regularly travel and work remotely for 1-week to 1-month stints, and hope to expand that when kids finish high school. So easy to do these days.


I live in Argentina. Been working remote for the past 10 years (I work for a UK company). Until March I was living in Patagonia (where my family is) but recently relocated to Buenos Aires because of my wife's line of work (She's a flamenco dancer - bailaora - professionally, and where we were her career was at a dead end).


How do you get paid? I'm asking because I also live in Argentina (Misiones) and I'm interested in working remotely, but I have no clue where to start.


I started working for this company 10 years ago in Barcelona, so I have a spanish bank account. the first 5 years or so I used my CC to withdraw money from the ATMs (I know, expensive) but then bitcoin happened. Nowadays I buy bitcoins in the corresponding market (UK in this case as last year I went there to open a bank account after I got sick of the issues with the spanish one) and then sell them here using a couple of different brokers (Satoshitango, Buenbit). Obviously some money is lost in the movements, but regular banks rip you off money just as much if not more (Not to mention you have to triangulate the money - transfert it normally to a bank account they own in New York - and that it takes a lot more time - weeks, sometimes). For me, bitcoin has been a godsend.


Given how volatile Bitcoin is, I'd suggest you give TransferWise a try. There are few companies I am more enthusiastic about. They saved me a ton of fees in the 4+ years I've been a customer and have never caused me any hassle.


Sure, until TransferWise decides to screw you over.

I'd rather take the volatility of bitcoin and never have to worry about another centralized exchange/company locking my funds again.


I've been using bitcoin for the same purpose, doing remote work, getting paid with BTC and using it as a store of value.

I cash out a small portion of my BTC every month (to pay bills) and take the money from an ATM, it works like a charm.


Curious what your setup is like to cash out Bitcoin for living expenses? Is there a specific ATM card you recommend?


Victoria, BC. Born nearby, came here for University and never left. Got into the Pro Audio industry, and once I left Mackie it was either work remote, change industry or move. I chose work remote and now have clients in SF and Seattle. Would like to spend a year in Belgium / Netherlands once the dogs die.


Belgian here. Curious to hear why you'd consider Belgium!


Last year I spent some time in Bruges and Attert and I enjoyed it. I'd like to come back and see some of the big cyclocross races and the spring classic road races. I do speak a bit of French so that could be helpful depending on the area.

I'd like to stay in a smaller European city that is cycling friendly that maybe has some sailing.


Seattle. I was previously in the Midwest (with California, and the South before that), and needed a change of scenery. At the time I'd developed a bit of a competitive pinball addiction, and Seattle has an incredibly active and friendly scene. I meant to stay a year or two, but it's now been three.


I am from the central/eastern europe and have been looking at the USA as a country to settle but given the circumstances i will never be able to live there long term.

The easiest way would be to acquire investors visa but I am only in the 250k E bracket and it would take me too long to acquire at least 500k to move out.


I am a dot com migrant worker. I followed the money and will stay here until there’s no more money to be made.


I based my decision on liking mountains and the sea, so I live near mountains and the sea. I prefer solitude, I have no friends by choice, and I work online. In my time off I either go to the beach (in the summer) or I go hike mountains.

I like mountains.


Grew up in NJ. Most of my family came to the US through NYC and it seemed a lot more exciting to me than NJ.

That was around 7 years ago and now I'm thinking about moving to Miami or LA. My only requirements are warmth, some tech jobs, and a little more space.


Strange nobody mentioned Europe/Malta - member of EU, English language, warm on most of the time.

... or Canary Islands even warmer but not English.

... and last but not least - Sri Lanka with English as a secondary/third language (but official) and also warm.


I assume there are many other places that are also "warm" and have english speakers, so it's presumably not that strange. What else is it you like about those places, that you'd singled them out?


I chose San Francisco because it's seemed like the place to be, as an engineer in the U.S. But I've found the quality of life very poor compared to the other cities I've lived in, and I'm planning my escape.


Usually a combination of work and desire. After a decade of travelling around and five international relocations (Madras, San Francisco, London, Paris, Alderley Edge, and Tokyo).

We decided to settle down in Tokyo.


This is a wonderful thread for its diversity of choices, acceptance of other people's choices and openness to learn.


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