There’s no denying that it’s easier to adapt to a new life overseas when you move with a spouse or partner. It’s more of a challenge to move abroad on your own, and it can be even more intimidating for single women than it is for single men.
That’s why it’s understandable that some of our most frequently asked questions have to do with the suitability of various destinations for single women moving abroad. After dozens of discussions with women considering moving abroad, we’ve noticed common concerns: English-speaking expats; walkability; an active social life; personal safety; rich cultural experience; and opportunities for volunteering. These are the criteria we’ve kept in mind for the following list.
Single and looking for somewhere to mingle? Whether you’re looking for love or not, the following destinations offer safe surroundings and easy ways to connect with the local community.
1. Álamos, Mexico
In more than 15 years of scouting the world’s best retirement havens, Álamos, Mexico, is unquestionably the best place we’ve seen for a woman moving abroad on her own.
Álamos is a very walkable town, plus it offers a cohesive and active English-speaking expat community, a super-active social culture on top of an authentic Mexican culture and lots of varied opportunities for volunteering. It’s easy to make friends here, and you won’t want for things to do. Expats join together for evening cocktail hours and girls’ nights out. There are plenty of day and night activities to do, ranging from walking groups to happy hours. In Álamos, single women don’t have to worry about “fitting in”–in fact, they’re the ones at the core of the community.
Perhaps above all else, it’s safe. It’s safe to walk the streets alone, day and night, and you won’t hear a single complaint about crime or safety among the expats living here.
2. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Margaritaville brought to life, this happening little boardwalk-beach town is a great option for a single lady. With plenty of activities (either solo or in groups), ways to integrate with the community (including plenty of volunteer groups), lots of English spoken, and a safe environment at all hours, it would be easy to settle in here. One of the reasons single ladies like Mexico in retirement is the easy access to North America—it’d be easy to go back home to visit family and friends from most of Mexico.
3. San Miguel de Allende, Mexico
Another good choice close to the U.S., San Miguel is perfect for the “artsy” type. With a super-active university culture, tons of artists and musicians in residence, and a strong colonial history, this historical town is a treat not just for the mind, but also for the eyes: It’s an objectively beautiful city. Plus, there’s no shortage of ways to give back in your new home. The one downside here might be the less-than-modern local infrastructure, as the cobblestone streets aren’t easy on the legs (but certainly are on the eyes).
4. Cuenca, Ecuador
These days, Cuenca is home to many, many single ladies among its 5,000-strong expat population. One of the most time-tested and popular expat havens in the world, you’d integrate immediately with the local society. Plus, this is a pleasantly cool, mountain haven. With countless meet-up and interest groups, volunteering organizations, and a low cost of living, it’s no surprise so many have chosen Cuenca as their home overseas going back decades.
5. Las Terrenas, Dominican Republic
This enchanting little corner of the Dominican Republic makes it easy to make friends; the eclectic (mainly European) expat community here is highly active. There’s no shortage of charming beach town restaurants in which to while away the hours chatting with new neighbors.
Even amongst the so-called “mysterious” deaths that have been covered by the national media, the Dominican Republic appears to be as safe a place to live and visit as it’s ever been. The U.S. State Department said it has seen no unusual spike in deaths reported from the country.
6. Madrid, Spain
This city checks most boxes on the single-lady requirement list. As a capital city, you won’t run out of things to do, the city is walkable and offers excellent public transport, volunteering opportunities are countless, and this may arguably be the most “authentically Spanish” part of Spain (those are likely fighting words to many non-Madrid Spaniards… forgive us). Plus, the city has a refreshingly low crime rate for a densely populated, urban capital city.
Full-time Madrid expat Melanie Veah, tells us, “As a single female of a certain age,’ it is both empowering and overwhelming to be here starting a new life abroad. From doing my research and having visited Madrid several times before (thanks for the push, Live and Invest Overseas), I felt comfortable moving to the heart of the city. Handgun crime is almost unheard of, and Madrid is very safe in general.”
7. Seoul, South Korea
South Korean culture is very respectful, so wolf-whistling is very rare (unlike throughout Latin America). There is a lot to do in this capital city, and, although the government is trying to put an end to it, shops and restaurants are open 24 hours a day at the moment. Choose from a multitude of cultural activities (e.g., museums offering wine nights), plenty of day trips outside the city and the great night life that caters to anyone’s tastes. Ask a local if it’s safe for a single woman to hail a cab late at night alone, and they’ll stare blankly in confusion. Why would you ask such an odd question? Of course it is!
8. Stockholm, Sweden
Public transport in this city is excellent and safe for women to use, even alone and late at night. Local women have even commented on the joys of going abroad and receiving more male attention—that’s how respected women are here. Again, as with any big city, there is plenty to do, and plenty of people to make friends with. There’s been some talk in recent years of unsafe areas of the city (which, to be fair, is true of every city in the world), but Stockholm is so on top of this issue, that the zones are clearly defined on maps and listed by local police each year, making them easy to sidestep.
9. Auckland, New Zealand
With very modern values and little chauvinism, Auckland is super-safe for women. Plus, with English as the native language, it’ll be easy to make friends. Orewa, a town in New Zealand’s North Island, provides nearly two miles of white-sand relaxation, along with the natural thermal springs at the Waiwera Thermal Resort. Being very raw in places, New Zealand gives women plenty of opportunities to connect with Mother Moon and enjoy the natural landscape.
Kat Kalashian is editor of Live and Invest Overseas. She grew up living and working in Ireland, France and Panama. She currently calls Paris her home.