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Expat Flow Bonus: Know before you go – research your dream country like a secret agent with crowdsourcing, science, and, well, secret agents


This post is one of the free bonus chapters that go together with my eBook “Expat Flow”. You can get the book here.


I remember sitting at the dining room table with my significant other, trying to decide whether our next move would be a good idea. (Hint: it was.) If I had to do it again today, I’d bring more data to make this conversation easier. What are the online resources that can help you plan your life abroad? And how best to access these expat planning tools? Here are my three top choices.

Crowdsourced wisdom: Numbeo

(Click here to visit Numbeo)

If you’re in an expensive place like London, you will love to hate this tool. It can compare data relating to various places in the world – and basically tell you which cities offer cheaper cost of living (again, if you’re in London, that’s most of them). The good thing about Numbeo is that it doesn’t just give you a graph and some percentages: the screenshot below shows you how easy it is to see the numbers in context with Numbeo’s real-life examples.

You can ue this to plan a good route, or find a sweet spot – although you would need to be careful with some places where there aren’t enough recent additions to the data. Still, a great nifty website. Now excuse me while I cry into my overpriced London paper tissue.

Numbeo. It’s great for knowing life is cheaper elsewhere.

Google on steroids: Wolfram Alpha

(Click here to visit Wolfram Alpha)

Switching from Google to DuckDuckGo was full of nice surprises. One of them, at one point, was discovering Wolfram Alpha, which DDG sometimes directed me to.

Wolfram Alpha has more data than you can shake a stick at. It is perfect for people who want numbers, and know what to do with them – with Wolfram Alpha, you can take the data you need and make it into a computable part of your research project. This, for me, is more than I’m capable of – but I can imagine, for example, an automatically updated online tracker that tells you about the cities where the jobless rate, currency exchange, and air temperature reach an optimal point…

If you are convinced, satisfied, comforted by data, look at the screenshot below and embrace Wolfram Alpha in your expat planning.

“My god, it’s full of stats…” Wolfram Alpha.

Secret agents’ worst-kept secret: CIA World Factbook

(Click here to visit the CIA World Factbook)

You don’t get to be a world-famous, loved-or-despised, super-empire representative without learning a bit about the countries you’re out to infiltrate. The World Factbook is probably like the CIA’s version of a Lonely Planet guidebook. But despite its obvious political origins, it does deserve recognition and a mention here, for at least one reason.

The World Factbook has freely available information on just about every place in the world you can think of. It relies on figures and numbers just as much a

s the websites above – but it also manages to provide well-written, clear and accessible descriptions of the countries in question.

This is a great website for those countries for which few other reliable sources can be found. A good place to start your research, too – because of the matter-of-fact, big-picture descriptions, you are unlikely to be immediately biased one way or another when it comes to a place. See the screenshot below for a sample of what I have in mind.

(Challenge: read the above in the voice of Agent Smith from the Matrix.) CIA World Factbook.

Any other good sources for planning your expat lives? Tell us on the social media, as always.


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