After a stressful two years, 2022 might be the perfect time for a fresh start abroad. But where?
Have you ever wanted to leave everything behind and start anew somewhere totally different? To say goodbye to your physical and emotional baggage, revise your career path, and embrace the endless possibilities of life?
Admit it; after the 18 months we’ve all had, the idea sounds pretty appealing, don’t you think?
We think that the late chef and writer Anthony Bourdain had it right when he implored; “Open your mind, get up off the couch, move.”
He wasn’t talking about changing your life by signing up for a Couch to 5K programme, however. Oh, no. Instead, it was the power of travel and new experience he was eulogising.
‘’If I’m an advocate for anything, it’s to move. As far as you can, as much as you can. Across the ocean, or simply across the river. The extent to which you can walk in someone else’s shoes or at least eat their food, it’s a plus for everybody.”
By making a new, unfamiliar city your home, you can overhaul your life and re-write your narrative, gaining life experience, perspective and a whole new bunch of friends along the way.
Today, we’re considering five destinations that are ideal for fresh starts; welcoming, different, inspiring and diverse. Keep in mind, of course, that global travel conditions may make it impossible to enjoy a fresh start anywhere — but let’s operate on the assumption (and hope) that movement will be free enough by 2022 that you can plan a move. One can dream during these turbulent times, after all.
With that in mind, here are 5 cities you should consider for a fresh start in 2022.
As far as Canadian icons go, there’s one who towers above the rest; no, not Drake, silly. We’re talking about Wayne Gretzky, the NHL legend who dominated so utterly during his career that some of his many records still seem untouchable. Brantford, a city in the south of Ontario and an hours drive from Toronto, happens to be his hometown — but that isn’t why you should think about moving there.
No, what makes Brantford a great city for a fresh start is its strong combination of affordability and culture. Famed for being the birthplace of the telephone, the city features several highly-rated museums, including The Bell Homestead National Historic Site, where Alexander Graham Bell invented the phone. There’s also the Glenhyrst Art Gallery, featuring over 600 pieces both traditional and contemporary.
Brantford boasts several beautiful walking trails and community parks – the Brantford Conservation Area and the Waterworks Park – on the banks of the Grand River, which cuts a swatch through the city. If you’re a lover of both urban living and the great outdoors, this will be music to your ears.
With various annual festivals, such as the Brantford International Villages Festival, and a great transportation network to help you get around, it’s an incredibly liveable city.
It’s also a great place to buy property, for those looking for a more permanent switch. Consistently named in recent years as one of the top places to buy real estate, its robust economy pairs with fairly-priced housing to provide a tempting prospect for those looking to buy property abroad. Check with the local mortgage brokers Brantford has to offer, or find a Brantford mortgage broker online if you’re keen to get the ball rolling remotely, from the UK.
Though Denmark certainly isn’t a cheap place to live, you might say that you get what you pay for, with countless studies concluding that Denmark boasts the best quality of life in the world.
It’s also a sociable, inclusive place to live. Copenhagen was the first major city in the world to embrace the concept of co-housing, a system of residents having individual properties but frequently getting together to work on collaborative projects and enjoy one another’s company. For many, it’s the ideal solution to loneliness; introverts can have their privacy when they need it but always know they have people around them to provide them with support. Kinda ideal for making new friends, too…
Employers in the Danish capital offer outstanding working conditions with innovative flexibility. Though incredibly hard working, the Danes value their work/life balance deeply, and while taxes may be high, public services are accordingly top notch, with free healthcare and public childcare partially free, too.
Copenhagen is a compact, easily accessible city, with a welcoming vibe and English spoken everywhere. Public transport runs smoothly (though you’ll barely need it) and most of the key sites are easily walkable. And to top it all off, everything’s positioned to be reachable by bike.
One of the best parts of Copenhagen is, without doubt, the food, with the city considered one the world’s leading foodie destinations. Check out our guide to 5 of the best restaurants close to Tivoli Gardens (the second oldest theme park in the world and one of the city’s major attractions) for a flavour of what’s on offer.
And if you’re concerned about the cold, cold winters, fear not; the Danes have perfected the cosy comfort of being indoors, next to a roaring fire, better than any other nation on the planet.
GEORGE TOWN, MALAYSIA
George Town, the capital city of the Malaysian state of Penang and the country’s third most populous city, has so much going for it. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the city sees a fascinating convergence of Malaysian, Thai, Indian and Chinese influences, which leads to some truly gorgeous architecture and even more beautiful food.
The national dish of char koay teow (a smoking hot wok stir fry of seafood and noodles) is a must try here, and the Penang version of laksa known as assam also shouldn’t be missed. Each will set you back little more than a £1.
In fact, the cost of living in general in George Town is eminently reasonable for a city of such cultural and culinary clout; an apartment in the centre costs around £250 per month to rent, on average.
British nationals normally don’t need a visa (COVID restrictions aside – the situation is changing regularly) to visit Malaysia, and can stay for 3 months on arrival. After this, you can apply for a visa renewal (extensions aren’t permitted) either at the appropriate embassy or online.
Should you secure a job during this time, you can apply for an Employment Pass, which grants you the ability to live and work in the country for up to 60-months on a work contract. Though buying property here is complex, rentals are affordable.
Switzerland can be an expensive place to live, but it brings a lot to the table if you can afford it. One of its hallmarks is efficiency; famously neutral in matters of politics and global relations, the country prefers to concentrate on its own affairs and stays on top of them.
Zurich is the biggest economic hub in Switzerland, and it takes that efficiency to an extreme. Public transport is incredibly reliable, for instance, and streets are wonderfully clean at all times.
Switzerland does have strict immigration requirements, admittedly, so you may struggle to deal with those — but if you can manage it, you can bask in the glory of a city run like clockwork. And you shouldn’t need to worry about a language barrier, since most Swiss people speak English very capably.
CHIANG MAI, THAILAND
Chiang Mai (the ‘New City’) is Northern Thailand’s religious and cultural hub, and is considered the country’s Second City. It offers something quite different to Thailand’s sprawling, turbo-charged capital Bangkok, with a laid back, slow pace to life, a fairly compact city centre, and, whisper it, a fair amount of green space and shade.
Chiang Mai is one of the best places to live in the world for remote workers, with digital nomads able to get by comfortably on a modest wage. You can find gorgeous meals for as little as £1 in food markets and a one-bedroom apartment in the centre averages around £300 per month. So, what are you waiting for?
To get you in the mood, check out these 7 IDEAL things to eat in Chiang Mai. We’ll see you for a bowl of khao soi sometime next year? Here’s hoping!