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9 most common New Year’s resolutions and the best destinations for pursuing them

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The beginning of a new year for most of us in the Western Hemisphere means it's time to make a difference in the coming year. To help everyone achieve their goals in 2019, InterNations has compiled a list of the 9 most common New Year’s resolutions and the best destinations for pursuing them.

The list is based on data from the Expat Insider 2018 survey, which is annually conducted by InterNations, the world’s largest expat community. With more than 18,000 respondents living and working abroad, it is one of the most extensive expat studies worldwide. Apart from offering an in-depth analysis of life abroad, the survey ranks 68 countries by a variety of factors such as quality of life, working abroad, and settling in.

InterNations 2019NY Resolutions

1. Live a Healthier Life
Leading a healthy life can mean anything from regularly spending time outside to living in a country with a great quality of environment. However, many people struggle to break with the bad habits they have developed over the years — a change of scenery might give them the push they need! Ranking 1st out of 68 countries in the world for health & well-being in the Expat Insider 2018 survey, Austria seems to have cracked the code to a healthy lifestyle: it has a great overall performance for the affordability of healthcare, the quality of medical care, and the quality of the local environment. In fact, nearly all expats in Austria (97%) are satisfied with the quality of the environment, compared to just 69 percent worldwide. A Romanian expat even claims that the Austrian environment is “perfect”, with “clean water and enough green spaces”. What is more, Austria’s healthcare system is among the best-rated in the world: more than four in five expats (81%) find medical care affordable (vs. 59% globally), and almost nine in ten (87%) are satisfied with its quality (vs. 67% globally).

2. Start a Family
Coming 1st out of 50 countries in the world for family life, Finland seems to be the place to provide everything a family needs. More than nine in ten expats raising children in Finland (91%) say that they are happy with their family life in general — this is twelve percentage points more than the share among all expat parents worldwide (79%). A vast majority (93%) also consider the attitude towards families with children to be friendly (vs. 83% globally), or as an Australian expat puts it: “Finland is good for kids.” In addition to living in a family-friendly environment, finding a good school is crucial for a successful family life abroad. Fortunately, 96 percent of expat parents in Finland rate the quality of education positively (vs. 69% globally). In fact, about two-thirds (67%) choose local state schools for their children, compared to just 36 percent of expat parents worldwide. Lastly, children in Finland are also very safe: all expat parents in the country (100%) rate their children’s personal safety favorably, while just 81 percent say the same across the globe. A US American expat in Finland appreciates “not having to worry about the safety of my family while I am gone.”

3. Find Love
While starting a family might be more of a long-term goal for you, perhaps finding love is on your to-do list for 2019. According to an online dating portal, dating websites are at their busiest between 26 December and 14 February. They report that there are 50 million messages sent and one million dates arranged in this short period!

If you would rather meet your partner offline, Chile might be the perfect destination for you. More than half the expats who live in the South American country and are in a committed relationship (56%) have met their partner there, compared to 32 percent of expats worldwide who have found a partner in their new country of residence. Of those expats in Chile who are in a relationship, almost half (49%) have a local national as their partner (vs. 35% globally), while just 29 percent are in a relationship with someone who has the same nationality (vs. 43% globally). And it seems like they have found their special someone: more than nine in ten (93%) are happy with their romantic relationship (vs. 85% globally). A Uruguayan expat even says: “My partner is my favorite thing about Chile.”

4. Save Money
With a number one ranking for personal finance, Colombia is the place in the world where expats can make the most of even a limited budget. In fact, more than three in ten (31%) say that financial reasons were part of their motivation for moving to Colombia (vs. 16% globally), and they seem to have made the right decision: over four in five expats in Colombia (84%) are satisfied with their financial situation, compared to just 67 percent globally. What is more, almost two-thirds (64%) say their disposable household income is more than enough to cover their living expenses, compared to just 51 percent globally. So, financial satisfaction is high despite the fact that only 36 percent think that they earn more than they would in a similar job back home (vs. 53% globally). One of the reasons for this might be the low cost of living: here, Colombia (5th out of 68) loses out only to Bulgaria (1st), Mexico, Vietnam, and Thailand. A Canadian expat explains that “the cost of living is very low” in Colombia.

5.Expand Your Network
A good personal and professional network is important for everyone, no matter if you’re looking for friendly people to spend your free time with or for business contacts to boost your career. The new year might be the perfect time to expand your network: for example, you can join an international community like InterNations or a business network like LinkedIn.

While some people have a hard time approaching strangers, this does not seem to be an issue for those living in Mexico: 94 percent of expats find the local residents generally friendly (vs. 69% globally), and another 90 percent consider them to be particularly friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 66% globally). “The locals are extremely accepting and friendly”, states an expat from the US. This may be one reason why more than three-quarters (77%) also say that making local friends is easy in Mexico, compared to less than half (45%) globally. Maybe it also helps that there are many opportunities to meet new people in Mexico: almost nine in ten expats (86%) are satisfied with their socializing and leisure activities (vs. 66% worldwide).

6. Find a New Job
 Whether you are stuck in a rut at your current job or simply looking for a new professional challenge, why not go all out and start a career abroad?  Bahrain ranks 1st out of 68 countries in terms of working abroad, which is partly due to the great career opportunities for expats: seven in ten respondents (70%) state they are happy with their career prospects in Bahrain, compared to just 55 percent globally. If you are starting to get interested in Bahrain’s job market, it might be reassuring to hear that almost half the newly arrived expats (48%) also found it easy to apply for a job in the country, compared to about two in five (41%) saying the same about job hunting around the globe. Lastly, expats in Bahrain also do not seem to worry about their job as another seven in ten (70%) are satisfied with their job security (vs. 59% globally). With 85 percent of expats also being happy with their job in general (vs. 65% globally), it seems like Bahrain has a lot to offer for job seekers from abroad!

7. Reduce Stress
It is estimated that one in five highly engaged employees will potentially suffer from burnout at some point in their career. If your life is all work and no play, then moving to Denmark may be a possible solution: 83 percent of expats living in Denmark are satisfied with their work-life balance, compared to just 61 percent of expats globally. More than four in five expats (84%) are also content with their working hours, which is 22 percentage points more than the global average (62%). An Iranian expat in Denmark, for example, appreciates his “flexible working hours”. This high level of satisfaction is most likely due to the below-average working hours. Expats who work full time in Denmark spend about 39.0 hours per week at work, while the average respondent works five hours more (44.0h). “Life is generally easier, and the working hours are very short,” says an Italian expat.

8. Travel More
With globalization on the increase, the world is getting smaller by the day, while traveling and exploring other countries are becoming much more accessible for everyone. If you are planning to cross more countries off your bucket list in 2019, you might want to consider Singapore as your base camp. Expats rate the tiny country the top destination for travel and transport in the Expat Insider 2018 survey. Nearly all expats in Singapore (96%) view the travel opportunities it has to offer positively, compared to about four in five (82%) expats living in other countries. A US American points out that “Singapore makes a spectacular launching pad to the rest of Asia if you like to travel”. As a bonus, it is also easy to get around within the city-state: 95 percent rate the transportation infrastructure favorably, while just 68 percent say the same globally. “The public transport is top notch”, according to an Australian expat in Singapore.

9. Find a New Hobby
Perhaps the start of a new year also means it is time to try something new. If you are looking for a new leisure activity, you might find something in Spain — the top-rated expat destination for leisure options. More than nine in ten expats in Spain (93%) are happy with the available leisure activities, compared to three-quarters of expats globally (75%). A Bulgarian expat in Spain explains that “there are many different activities for different people”. In fact, more than three in five (61%) even give this factor the best possible rating, compared to less than two in five (37%) among all expats. A Belgian expat states that his favorite aspects of expat life in Spain are “the climate and leisure options”. In fact, the sunny weather is another benefit of moving to Spain, as almost all expats (96%) are happy with the climate and weather (vs. 61% globally). This means that many leisure activities can also take place outdoors!

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