Does moving abroad improve quality of life? Well, that depends.

But for me, the answer is yes. 

Not because I had a crappy life back in the US, quite the contrary. We loved the fabulous life we created in Chicago. We just knew there were other options out there. 

According to the State Department, in 2016, more than 9 million Americans were living abroad (not including the military). I wonder what that number would be now given the current political climate. 

9 million people can’t be wrong, right? 

We might just be on to something.

I think many Americans don’t realize they can live a full and happy life elsewhere, let alone enhance their quality of life by moving abroad.

Below are the reasons why moving abroad has increased the quality of my life.

Affordable AND High-Quality Healthcare 

love your life neon sign on striped wall

One of the things that improve quality of life is access to affordable and good healthcare, and we’ve got it in spades. You won’t go into debt for a doctor’s appointment or a hospital stay. It’s first-class healthcare for pennies on the dollar. 

As an American, I always assumed good healthcare was exorbitant. It certainly is in the US. 

However, I’ve honestly been amazed by the quality of healthcare in Malaysia, a so-called developing nation. Not only is it affordable, but the doctors are every bit as good as they were in America. It’s why we originally started a medical tourism business.

Every doctor I’ve ever been to has been trained in the US, UK, or Australia. These aren’t some bush doctors who shake a coconut and give me a potion to drink. These are first-rate docs in extremely modern hospitals. 

It’s not just the quality of the doctors and hospitals that are different; it’s the whole system. If you need to see a specialist, you don’t need a referral. You just go and wait for your turn, which can take a few hours, but you’ll get to see the doctor of your choice on the day of your choice. 

If you need tests, they will happen on the same day too. The nurse will walk you to the next doctor where you’ll wait for the test, x-ray, scan, whatever. And most of the time, you’ll be able to get your results that day or in a few days. No waiting months for an answer  

Malaysia isn’t the only country with outstanding healthcare. Medical tourism is booming in a lot of countries – Thailand, Panama, Mexico, India, Coast Rica, you get my point.

Affordable AND Gorgeous Housing

If I am going to write about things to improve quality of life, living in a fantastic home is one of them. I mean, just having a roof over your head will improve your quality of life, but having a beautiful home that makes you feel happy to wake up in it every day, tops off my list. 

We lived in a beautiful condo in Chicago with a rooftop deck and a perfect skyline view. It was centrally located with a 10-minute drive from downtown and the beach. We had 1800 square feet with 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. When we moved in 2013, we rented it out for $3000 (USD). The same condo here would cost under $500. 

It’s not just about the money. Because I wouldn’t be improving anything if I lived in a cheap sh!thole. My home is my happy place, and it makes me even more thrilled that the apartment we live in overlooks the ocean. 

It’s more spacious than our Chicago abode, not as modern, but we have a pool and are surrounded by jungle. We only pay $656. 

So let’s see, a spacious oceanfront apartment, with more amenities than we need, for 1/5 the price. 

That combo is a pu-pu platter of happiness that increases my quality of life on the reg.   

Inexpensive Luxuries 

me with umbrella on edge of pool: improve quality of life

Things that are costly in America are reasonable here, hell some are downright cheap, comparatively. Things like massages, facials, manicures, pedicures, all kinds of self-care are low priced.  

Taking care of myself has never been so cheap and easy.

It’s totally normal to go for a massage… weekly if you want. Or have a masseuse come to you for a few hours. It’s no biggie. 

We have a cleaning lady who comes weekly and is THE BEST! She walks around singing and smiling and working away. For four hours, we pay her $19USD. If I remember correctly, our cleaning crew who would come in once a month for a couple of hours cost us $80. 

I never realized how much going out for dinner was a luxury until we went into lockdown, and we were forced to cook daily. In Malaysia, going out for dinner or having a date night can be a white tablecloth affair, and still, it won’t cost as much as a nice restaurant in Chicago. 

Even at the fanciest places. 

Back in the US, we’d go out for dinner once a week, maybe. Here, we eat out multiple times a week, because we can. 

Having all these little luxuries at my fingertips def improves my quality of life.

Work-Life Balance

Americans aren’t known for their work-life balance. 

Honestly, I think it is practically impossible to have that in the US. Most people are wholly consumed by their jobs, we certainly were. Owning two businesses meant we never had time off unless we left the country, and even then, we checked in with work. 

One of the most significant benefits of living in a more affordable country with a high-quality lifestyle is finding that balance.

It is def something that I still struggle with here, but that is entirely on me. Old habits die hard, I guess. Also, I like writing, designing websites, managing social media accounts. So spending hours behind my computer isn’t a hassle. It’s a joy… for the most part. 

However, since life isn’t as costly here, we don’t have to make a zillion dollars to live. Living abroad usually comes with fewer financial obligations because we own less, need less, and have less. 

Don’t get me wrong, I still want to make good money, and I work hard for it. But we don’t HAVE to just to pay the bills. Knowing that eases the stress levels and certainly improves our quality of life. 

My Final Thoughts

brilliant orange sunsets can improve quality of life

There are so many ways to improve quality of life. It is all subjective. For me, moving abroad was beneficial and certainly enhanced mine. But it isn’t for everyone. 

Affordability is def an underlying thread here, but it takes other things besides money to better your lifestyle. The thing about moving overseas from the US is that pretty much everything is more affordable. Does a cheaper cost of living provide a better quality of life? Not necessarily, and I wouldn’t sacrifice quality for price. 

We live in a beautiful country, with all the things we need to make a happy home, for ¼ less. We do not want for anything. That makes sense to us.

It’s why retiring abroad is becoming so much more common and widely accepted these days. If you know you could live in a different country on a fixed budget and not have to scrimp, why wouldn’t you? For a lot of people, it is a no brainer. 

Tell me in the comments below… Are you ready to join the 9 million? Do you think moving abroad would increase your quality of life? And for my expat friends, did moving abroad improve yours?

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