One of the best things about being single is the freedom it offers, including to live where you like! But where should you move for a change of scene? We’ve ranked our top 12 countries – see where made the cut
How have we drawn up our index?
The best thing about being single is the freedom it offers. Such as, being free to live where you like! But where should you move if you fancy a change of scene? At Property Guides we took a scientific approach to the question. We asked our single friends what makes a country great for singletons, then we found the relevant data about our 12 favourite countries, fed it into the computer and found the 12 best. Think of like computer dating, fixing you up with your perfect country!
Amy Baker, author of Miss-adventures: A Tale of Ignoring Life Advice While Backpacking Around South America, introduces the Property Guides index of 12 Best Countries to Move as a Single Person.
Did you know that currently, 40 percent of the British population over the age of 16 are single? That amounts to 20 million people. Furthermore, data collected by the Office for National Statistics in 2019, found that the number of single-person households in the UK is increasing and their report predicts that by 2039, one in seven people in the UK will be living alone.
If you were to believe the TV shows, you’d think that the only people deciding to move overseas were couples and families. In reality, 385,000 emigrated from the UK in 2019, and many of them were single. This is because, realistically, moving abroad as one person, rather than a whole clan, is easier, quicker and far more affordable.
Read more about buying a home in your favourite country by clicking on the link: France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, Greece, USA, Canada, Turkey, UK, Ireland…
There are many reasons to want to make like Shirley Valentine and up sticks – the chance for life experience, career advancement, romance, more sunshine! Perhaps you’re sick of carting your kids to the airport so they can jet off on their gap years, and you’re ready to finally take one of your own…
Therefore, in honour of Single’s Day, celebrated every February 15th, we’ve studied a range of criteria to determine the 12 best places around the world to move as a single person.
The joys of moving abroad alone
Moving abroad alone is an undeniably liberating and empowering experience. Stepping out of your comfort zone stops you from living life on auto-pilot and pushes you into a state of heightened awareness. It gives you the chance to build a new life and new habits free of any constrictions or long-held notions about what kind of person you are. A move overseas is a chance to focus on yourself; to establish new routines, new friendships, new hobbies.
Also, moving abroad alone allows you to experience a different culture and way of life, and it forces you to be confident – as you will have to do things that you may not have considered doing for a moment in your old life. Additionally, should you have specific goals about how you’d like your future to look, relocating can be a great help at helping you to focus on them – whether that’s building your career, getting fit and healthy, travelling more, or mastering a language. This is your chance to get out of a rut, to run towards new experiences, and establish the life you have always dreamed of.
If you’re ready to move to France, Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus or the USA, but you still have questions you want to ask the experts, don’t miss Your Overseas Home on 14 November. All the information, but not virtual!
The challenges of moving abroad alone
Of course, there are challenges to moving abroad alone – that’s why not everyone is doing it! The idea of moving away from your friends and family, and effectively removing your immediate support system overnight can be daunting. In fact, it can be enough to make you tuck those dreams of an overseas move into a box, never to be looked at again. Being in a new country can be lonely at first and chances are there will be moments when you find yourself longing for those creature comforts.
Of course, there are challenges to moving abroad alone – that’s why not everyone is doing it!
Also, making such a big move as a single person means the nuts and bolts of managing an emigration fall entirely on your shoulders. You’re responsible for applying for visas, finding a place to live and work, learning how to communicate, not to mention the fact you’ll have to front the whole cost. There are many hoops to jump through to realise the dream of moving overseas, but you are more than capable of making it happen if you are determined enough. And, there is beauty to be found in the challenge!
How to make it easier
While it may feel intimidating, particularly if you’re moving to a non-English speaking country, the most important thing to do is get out and meet people. Making friends is the best way to feel at home. Reaching out to the expat community is an easy place to start. Fortunately, many Brits have moved overseas before you, which means finding an expat community in your new country will be easy. Check out expat communities on Facebook, as most cities have them. Your fellow expats will understand what you’re going through, so tend to be particularly welcoming and helpful. Also, they will be able to offer invaluable tips on how to get set up, the best things to do, and where to find those home comforts that you find yourself craving.
Definitely check out Meetup, a fantastic website that facilitates making friends via social events and activities. The website operates in 180 countries, including all of the countries in our top 12. Meetup is brilliant for new arrivals in any country, because it allows you to prioritise two things that will be vital to your happiness; meeting people, and doing the things that you enjoy. Whether you are in to hiking, football, tantra or flower arranging, you will find a group on Meetup. And if you don’t find one that meets your specific interest, you can start one of your own and people will find you!
Another way to meet people while getting to know your new home town is to get on the dating apps. Dating gives you a chance to meet people, while accruing the kind of local knowledge about bars, restaurants and activities that will start to make you feel like a local. Don’t worry about finding an app that works for you – there are plenty! For example, Grindr is available in 192 countries, and Tinder is in 190, is available in 40 languages, and used by an estimated 50 million people worldwide. If you’re not interested in dating, there are apps specifically for making friends – Bumble BFFs, Tinder Social, VINA – which is an app for women looking to make female friends, and Atleto, which connects you with people interested in playing the same sports as you.
If you’re moving to a non-English speaking country, learning the language is essential for feeling connected. Plus, language lessons are a great place to meet people, as are language exchanges where you can chat to locals and build your confidence in a relaxed, wine-friendly environment.
Finally, sightsee, visit all the places and do all the activities that caught your eye when you were deciding where to live. You never know who you’ll meet or what you’ll discover during your explorations. This is an adventure – treat it as such. Be curious!
How did we work out our rankings?
To work out the best countries to move as a single person, we thought long and hard about the factors that contribute to a happy life, and then studied official statistics on each factor to create our top 12.
Firstly, we looked at how much it’s going to cost to live in each country. As single people only have the one salary, we wanted to determine how far that money will go. We used our findings from our Property Guides Cost of Living survey, compiled by writers located in each of the countries. Also, we studied the price of a one-bedroom apartment, and the cost of renting, in each location.
Next, we considered the factors that are sure to guarantee enjoyment of your new country; whether it’s English-speaking, access to the UK, sunshine hours, how accepting each country is, levels of life satisfaction outlined in the OECD Better Life Index, and work-life balance – because although fantastic job opportunities might be a perk of your move, you certainly won’t want to be working all hours. Additionally, we looked at statistics from the EU on the percentage of single people in each location, and how much people enjoy socialising, based on OECD data about alcohol consumption.
Lastly, we studied cultural factors that play a role in happiness in a location. We looked at OECD data on how safe people feel walking home at night and civil engagement, i.e. how engaged locals are with their area. We also considered data from the Legatum Prosperity Index, with examines each country’s natural environment, and social capital, i.e. strength of personal relationships and social support.
If you would love to buy in the sun but don’t have quite enough money, check out some innovative financing options, including equity release and mortgages, in Spain, France, Portugal, Italy, USA, Canada and other countries, in our new guides, How to Pay for a Property Abroad.
Given the key criteria selected, our rankings are also very helpful for those choosing where to buy a holiday home overseas.
The 12 best countries to move to as a single person
12 – Italy
If work-life balance is top priority, Italy is a superb choice. The country ranks highly for sunshine hours (2250 per year), and how simple it is to pop back to the UK (or, more likely to have your friends and family come to see you!) Also, Italy is the most affordable place to live out of our top 12. Renting a one-bed property outside of a major city will cost you on average just £224 per month, and to buy, Italian property costs £1,175 per square metre – over £2,000 less per square metre than property in the UK! Another huge perk of Italy is its high number of single people, so if amore is what you’re seeking, the odds are in your favour. However, Italy ranked 10th on our list for life satisfaction, and despite their alcoholic offerings being delicious, they come in last place in our top 12 for opportunities for a tipple.
11 – Ireland
Unlike the Italians, the Irish have a world-wide reputation for the craic. Team those opportunities for a friendly pint with the fact there is no language barrier and that there is a high number of single households, and chances of meeting a suitor are rather high! Those who move to Ireland will also enjoy the 3rd best work-life balance of anyone on our list – which probably contributes to their high life satisfaction rates. Plus, if you’re worried about missing your friends, being in Ireland means it’s easy and affordable to hop back to the UK in a jiffy. Ireland loses points on its sunshine hours, receiving just 1,424 per year – although that is 14 more than the UK! Ireland is also the second most expensive place on our list in terms of cost of living, and the most expensive place on our list to rent.
10 – Greece
Greece comes in second place for overall cost of living, and wins gold for both property and rental costs. While the more rural you are, the cheaper things get, should you be looking to rent a one-bed apartment close to a city, expect to pay £387 per month. Greece’s natural environment scores it big points and with a glorious 2,771 sunshine hours per annum, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to get out and enjoy it.
There are of other single households to get some tea and sympathy when you need it, and a decent number of people speak English. Greece does less well in terms of social capital, life satisfaction, and how easy it is to get back to the UK which can be a bit tricky if you move to one of the more remote Greek islands. Although, that could have been one of the reasons you fancied moving there in the first place!
9 – USA
If you move to the USA, there is zero language barrier, and given it comes in in 2nd place on our list for civil engagement, you can guarantee a community feel. Buying in the USA is affordable, especially if you have your eye on somewhere outside of a major city. Property will set you back on average £1,338 per square metre. According to Zillow, the median home value in the US is currently $255,054 (£195,350).
Americans also enjoy close personal relationships, and are the 5th most satisfied nation in our top 12. If you’re moving to the USA for a job opportunity, it’s worth noting that work-life balance isn’t the best in the states (10th place). The average worker gets just 10 days paid holiday per year. Additionally, it’s longer and more expensive to fly back to the UK than it is from the European destinations on our list. However, there are a lot of airlines covering the routes, including budget carriers like Norwegian Airlines, so there are bargains to be found if you’re savvy.
8 – New Zealand
New Zealand has the third best natural environment on our list, which is great news if you want to get active and spend more time outside when you move abroad as a single person. Kiwis also speak English, and are famously friendly and welcoming, which is probably why they also score high for the social capital too, i.e. personal relationships and strong support networks.
No poky single-person bedsit for you on this side of the world!
Being a little isolated from the UK is New Zealand’s downfall, it being a little far for a cup of tea and sympathy if you get homesick. However, in terms of life satisfaction, only Canadians claim to be happier, so you’ll probably be okay.
The cost of living is a little on the high side compared to some countries, but you’ll still be paying around 29% less for your groceries than the UK. And while you’ll have heard that house prices are high, they’re still cheaper than the UK according to many estimates, while the homes are far bigger. No poky single-person bedsit for you on this side of the world! Go for it!
Don’t spend any money on your move abroad until you’ve read The Currency Guide to Emigration, free to download.
7 – Cyprus
Cyprus secures the number one spot for sunshine hours with a wonderful 3,362 hours per year – just perfect if you envision spending life on the beach when you move overseas. The nation also takes second place for the affordability of buying property, which is fantastic news for singles who want to own their own homes. The average cost of property per square metre in Cyprus is £1,318. Average monthly rent is also affordable at just £388. Another perk of Cyprus is how widely spoken English is. Cyprus loses points on the amount that people like to socialise and the care that goes into the natural environment.
6 – Portugal
Portugal is a superb option for single people wanting to move, but who are restricted by a budget. It secures third place on our list for both cost of living and cost of buying, with the average property costing £2,521 per square metre. Also working in its favour are its glorious weather – 2,799 hours of sunshine to be exact. Plus, there’s a great work life balance, and given Portugal ranks second on our list for alcohol consumption – it’s a brilliant choice for those who place socialising at the top of their overseas wish-list. Portugal is also a safe, forward-thinking country, and flying back to the UK is easy, with daily flights available from Lisbon, Porto, Faro and Madeira. Portugal loses points when it comes to life satisfaction, civil engagement and social capital.
5 – France
For great work-life balance in beautiful surroundings, France secures both number one spots. France came second only to Switzerland on the EPI Natural Environment Index, so no wonder they spend so little time in work, according to the OECD who ranked them highly for enjoying life.
Being just across the Channel, visiting and being visited by friends and family is nice and simple. Although you may struggle to find fluent English speakers in some corners of France, doesn’t English sound so much sexier in a French accent?
France is very gay friendly, according to data from the Pew Research Centre. France also boasts the highest number of single households in our rankings, so when you get there do pop round the neighbours with a plate of madeleines and you may well be invited in.
No surprise that given all its incredible wine, the French love a drink, which might play a role in how engaged people are in their local communities!
To top it off, rent is affordable – £667 per month on average for a one-bed apartment. France ranks relatively poorly for sunshine hours, although Paris’s 1,662 per sunshine hours per year easily beat London’s 1,410. Anyway, you can soon push that number higher simply by choosing to relocate to the south of the country. And anyway, not everyone loves the summer heat of southern Spain or Italy.
The biggest downside to France is the cost of property, although, again, it’s still cheaper than the UK.
You CAN buy and move to France after Brexit – find out how in free guide, How to Live in France After Brexit.
As for the local dating scene, accept the typical French forthrightness. As our writer Penny explains, “If you’re a British man seeking your French lady-love, you may need to drop a little of your traditional reserve. French men are quite direct in their flirtatious approaches, and so it’s a good idea to be unambiguously keen if someone catches your eye.
“And ladies – there’s no need to be shy. Equality between the sexes is de rigueur in France when it comes to dating. What’s more, according to Sandra (68) who moved to France 10 years ago, whereas English guys seem to look for younger women, across the channel they appreciate women in all their life stages and she is frequently asked out by significantly younger men, so be adventurous!”
4 – United Kingdom
Just because you fancy moving somewhere new as a single person doesn’t mean you have to relocate thousands of miles away. The UK has plenty going for it, too.
Sure, we may have the least amount of sunshine on the list, but we love a pub, we’re gay friendly and our natural environment earns us some serious points. While cost of living and cost of buying is high, the average cost of renting a one-bed outside of a city is just £437 per month. We also perform well for safety and, as mentioned above, for having a high number of single person households.
3 – Australia
As we enter the top three, no surprise that our big-hearted, sport-loving, occasionally Pommie-bashing cousins Down Under score so well. Australia’s biggest city, Sydney, enjoys 2,800 sunshine hours per year, twice as much as London.
You want another reason? Okay…. well they like to enjoy a cold beer in the sun too, coming top for alcohol consumption. And you’ll be able to chat over a beer too, since they not only speak English – more or less – but like to get out and about and make friends. The Legatum Prosperity Index ranked Australia second only to New Zealand for “social capital”, which “measures the strength of personal relationships, social network support, social norms and civic participation in a country.”
Australia scores well for environmental control and care, making it a perfect place to get outside into their beautiful natural environment. Australia is a gay friendly place, full of residents who are engaged in their communities, who enjoy close personal relationships, and are pretty happy about life. Fair dinkum!
Aussie ranks third on our list for life satisfaction. Cost of living and renting is high over in Oz, but the wages do tend to take that into account, which is great news if you plan on moving for a job opportunity, of which there are plenty.
Get yourself fully prepped for your move to Australia by downloading your free Emigration Guide today!
2 – Canada
The best option for those looking to relocate outside of Europe is Canada – an English-speaking, gay friendly, safe country, where people are in touch with their communities and life satisfaction is the highest in our rankings. In terms of work-life balance, Canadians seem to have it nailed, and cost of living is very affordable, ranking fifth overall out of our 12 countries. The nation also performs well in terms of sunshine hours, with a thoroughly decent 2,084 hours of sunshine per year, perfect for getting out into their sensational nature. Renting a one-bed apartment will set you back £582 per month, which is entirely doable on a single salary. Canada’s only real drawback appears to be the distance from the UK.
And the winner of the best place to move as a single person, 2020, is….
1 – Spain
Spain has long been a favourite with expats, whether attached or unattached. And I should know – I’ve been living here on my own for almost two years. So what makes it such a winner for the onesomes?
Firstly, the weather. You can expect between 2,500 and 3,000 sunshine hours per year (twice as much as the UK). Nothing makes you feel better about yourself and your appearance than a bit of a tan and a nice summer dress – even in winter! Of course not everywhere is hot all year, but another great feature of life in Spain is the variety. Why not ski in the morning and sail in the afternoon?
People in Spain like to get out, to see and be seen. So stake your place at the pavement cafe, order a fino and a patatas bravas and enjoy the free show; people watching!
There is so much opportunity to make friends here, and Spain also scored top for “feeling safe”, based on data from the OECD. Spain is super-welcoming of alternative lifestyles, with a lively LGBT scene. The OECD also rated it second only to France for work-life balance. Well, who’s going to work all day when the beach is beckoning?
You will, of course, have no problem finding people to speak English on the coasts, but even inland and off the beaten track you’ll always find someone for a chat. Oh yes, Spain has an awful lot of bars! And yet it’s only mid-table for alcohol consumption, suggesting you can enjoy a drink in your local without a leering drunk making you feel all on your lonesome.
But can you afford to enjoy yourself? Yes! The cost of living is low, with accommodation prices cheaper than France and Italy.
You may be single, but if you have friends you won’t be alone. With plenty of flights from every corner of the UK to every corner of Spain, friends can visit easily. You’re only ever a couple of hours from your Mum and Dad if you fancy nipping home.