Quality of Life: What Does It Mean to You?

does a cafe culture improve your quality of life?

A recurring expat theme revolves around quality of life. This is mostly subjective, and something you might perceive as positive which adds to your quality of life, might be a negative to me.

One example might be the proximity of bars and clubs. If you regularly enjoy the city’s nightlife, like to meet your friends or make new friends at clubs and dance until dawn, being close to such a great source of entertainment can contribute a lot to your enjoyment of life. But it’s not a scene I enjoy, and I’d just as soon be far away from it.

On the other hand, I love living in a place where I can do a lot of walking as I go about my daily business. When I can walk to the store, the post office, or the coffee shop, my quality of life is better. You might prefer to live someplace very different.

I would like to live where the pace is slow. I just heard about a young man who, unlike me, moved back to his native Hong Kong because the pace of life in Orlando, FL was not fast enough for him.

Some issues are important to most of us. Universally appealing are:

  • Low crime
  • safe food and drinking water
  • a stable government
  • low cost of living
  • affordable and accessible health care
  • quality education for our kids

Some of these are quantified and published in quality of life indexes. These can be helpful, but ultimately, quality of life is very subjective.

The Global Development Research Center has an extensive list of quality of life attributes, which is well worth a look. They define quality of life as “the product of the interplay among social, health, economic and environmental conditions which affect human and social development.”

Some quality of life hot buttons change over time. Twenty-five years ago, access to good schools was one of my highest priorities. Now that my youngest has finished college, it’s not even on my list. My three most important quality of life attributes right now are climate (I need sunshine and warm temperatures!), cost of living (so I can retire) and friends.

I’d love to hear what your quality of life hot buttons are. You can share them by clicking on the comment link below.


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  1. Klorgh Zossch says:

    Beautiful clean quiet natural environment, friendly cordial people, low cost of living, low crime, family values, age gap relationship acceptance and tolerance.

    • FutureExpat says:

      Nice list. We were surprised when we moved to Panama at how accepting everyone was. Somehow we had assumed that, being a predominantly Catholic country, there would be little tolerance for other lifestyles. We found just the opposite.

  2. Healthcare costs were our big motivating factor when we first started looking at early retirement and living out-of-the-country. We have consistently been surprised at the quality of the health and dental care we’ve received in Mexico, Central and South America and now Europe and the costs are a fraction of the US. Add that to a simpler and slower way of living as well as time to spend with new (unstressed) friends and there are very few downsides to life as expats!

  3. Great post. I purchased a book a book “Being stripped naked “, written by Adam Peirs. This book is really amazing, and I really enjoyed it. This book takes you through the expat life in Hong Kong during the time of 1997. http://bsn-books.com/

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