Please don’t be shocked. I will speak the truth and be blunt. I’ve had wonderful experiences and good times in all the countries I’ve lived in, except for one – but where I live now made my life better!
To clarify: to “live” in a country means you must have spent at least 6 months there permanently.
I’ve moved around a lot for family and business reasons and lifestyle choices.
Contrary to what a reader previously suggested, I did not leave or have to leave a country because I had problems.
Living in 7 counties and traveling the world for work, as an athlete, and (sometimes) for pleasure for over 5 decades has given me a deep understanding of life, people, cultures, and the dark side of places.
This article aims to highlight each country’s best and worst and rate them from 1 to 10.
Life in Austria
I start with Austria as I moved there with my family in 1976 when I was 7. Before that, I was in the UK but I can’t remember anything about that period.
I spent 25 years in Austria, grew up, went to school, became a professional ski racer, and then a businessman. I spent a significant and defining chunk of my time in Austria.
I finally left in 1999 because I had had enough of it.
Austria is a beautiful country with stunning mountains, lakes, rivers, old towns, architecture, wine, and great food.
The weather is ok, with short and hot summers and long but nice and active winters.
In general, Austrian people are amicable and helpful. But they also suffer from a “small country syndrome” I call arrogance.
Austrians firmly believe their country is the best in the world, which is quite funny considering it’s tiny and only has a population of 8.5 million.
You can have great times in Austria in the mountains and bars, but living there is so-so.
The authorities are demanding and challenging to deal with. They will bully you into doing what they order you to, and if you don’t, you get fined.
Fines, fees, and taxes are rampant.
The police are one of the worst I’ve encountered worldwide — unfriendly, aggressive, and rude, like an army of occupation.
Sorry Austria, your rating from me is a 5.
Life in France
I mostly loved living in France. After all, I lived in the south, Saint Tropez, for 10 years. That was the most fun but also the craziest part of my life.
France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It boasts fantastic mountain ranges, lakes, beaches, the Mediterranean Sea, restaurants to die for, and incredible food wherever you go.
The people are generally friendly if you speak French. If not, I’d say semi-friendly.
The wine, as we all know, is near unbeatable, as is their cheese.
The French are proud people and treat life and their food as a delicacy.
The French can be rude, arrogant, and self-centered — they also believe France is the best country in the world.
They might not be far from the truth with that one if only the country were not full of French people! Sorry, my dear French friends, I really love you all.
The authorities are hard but generally fair. The same goes for the police. They are firm but primarily friendly and don’t treat folks aggressively.
I know well — I got arrested there for driving over the limit, and considering I was such an ass, they treated me decently and put up with my drunken stupidity until they released me the following day.
France is expensive, but it’s worth it, particularly if you speak French.
My rating for France is an 8.
Life in The United Kingdom of Great Britain
The name of the country says it all. Britain is great — we are great. At least, that’s what most Brits think about themselves and the good old UK.
I’m British, but I only lived there for 2 years after a 1-year stint in New York City, where I witnessed the twin towers come down.
I can’t say much about my country as I didn’t live there long and when I did, in London, I didn’t enjoy it much.
London is a fantastic city, with tons to see and do. But it’s also astronomically expensive. I don’t understand how most people manage unless they are wealthy bankers or Russians who own half the place anyway.
You can find friendly people, but I’d say in day-to-day life, folks are mostly cold and keep to themselves.
You can find great food in restaurants and pubs and fantastic beer. The party is always on, so there’s never a shortage of a good time.
Of course, you can’t beat the Premier League, which many people’s lives revolve around. Rugby, Cricket, and Wimbledon Tennis are big winners too.
The countryside, the Lake District area, Wales, and Scotland have tons to see and are beautiful to explore.
The weather generally sucks. Most summers, you’ll only get a few warm and sunny days, with rain the rest of the time. Winters are dark, dreary, wet, rainy, and cold. Miserable, in other words.
This summer, 2022, was one of the big exceptions, blamed on global warming! But the UK saw bloody hot summers before, don’t worry.
I’ve witnessed the worst road rage on the M25 circular motorway around London. Once, I was close to being rammed off the road by an angry van driver.
I’ve also seen the worst bar and street fights in the UK.
My rating for my life in the UK is a 6.
Life in Barcelona, Spain
I was in and out of Barcelona often as I lived there during my 10 years in France. But for over 1-year, I spent most of my time running a business there or partying, if I’m honest.
I know Barcelona and the Balearic Islands of Majorca and Ibiza very well.
These are 3 fantastic places to live if you want to burn the candle on both ends fast.
The Spanish people can be a little rude, but they don’t really mean it.
They warm up to you after a few minutes. In general, they are fun-loving people.
Spain is a gorgeous country with so much to offer, much like France.
In my opinion, the food, wine, and parties are the best in Europe — some of the world’s best Chefs hail from Spain.
Spanish wine is delicious and affordable. The cost of living in Spain is significantly lower than in France or the UK.
The spring, summer, and autumn times are beautiful, and the winters are short.
The authorities aren’t hard to deal with; they just take forever to get anything done which can benefit you.
The police I ran into seemed to be reasonable and not aggressive.
As far as I know, taxes and fees aren’t that bad, unlike other European countries.
Spain can be dangerous, especially at night — people are mugged and even stabbed for money on Las Ramblas, the central Boulevard in Barcelona.
I had the pleasure. Walking home from a night out partying at 2 am one morning, I was jumped from behind by 2 guys trying to grab my phone and wallet from my front pocket.
Instinctively, I struck them both — they ran away, not getting my stuff. That’s when I passed out.
3-hours later, I woke up in the hospital with 36 stitches to the back of my head. They hit me with a crowbar on the head.
That wasn’t fun and marked my last day in Spain.
My rating for Spain as a country to live in is a 7.
Life in The USA
Well, I lived in the USA for around 5 years, and to make a long story short, I didn’t enjoy my experiences or life there.
Ultimately, I busted out of there hurriedly to save my sanity and life!
Please read the full story about that chapter in my article, “Leaving The USA To Live in a Tropical Country Was The Best Decision I Made.”
To live, I rate the USA with a 5.
Life in Bali, Indonesia
I spent 4 years in Bali. At first, I felt it is paradise and where I’ll live for the rest of my life.
Bali has a lot to offer: amazing beaches, volcanos, jungles, waterfalls, and stunning countryside with endless temples, rice fields, caves, lakes, and more.
Generally, the people are friendly and honest. That applies mainly to the older folks in the villages.
It’s not so much the case in the hot-spot tourist areas and with anything to do with money.
Doing business in Bali is risky, and that’s putting it mildly. Everyone is out for themselves and always looking to gain from someone else.
Many ex-pats are unsavory and aggressive dropouts who spend most of their days and nights in cheap bars getting drunk and rowdy.
The Balinese are generally good people, but you’ll run into the backstabbing user type in no time — caution is advised.
The police and immigration officers are among the worst I’ve encountered. They are corrupt, rude, threatening, and often plain nasty.
If you speak up against a local, disagree, or have an argument, the first thing they’ll do is threaten to report you to immigration and have you deported.
In other words, they use dirty tactics to force their hand on foreigners.
Bali is one of the most beautiful islands on the planet.
You’re relatively free to do what you like and can mostly steer clear of trouble. Life is carefree and easy until you have a problem.
The cost of living is low, as are taxes and fees. In addition, there are no road traffic or parking fines, which I loved!
Locals and ex-pats can be aggressive.
There’s a lot of corruption. Strongarm boy threats are a regular everyday practice for some folks to get what they want from others.
I feel that the locals don’t really like foreigners — they only see us as money bags and ATMs. Their intentions with foreigners are often not what they seem to be.
It can be a dangerous place. There are bar and street fights and dangerous drug dealer rings, which you must do your best to avoid.
Recently a daylight kidnapping by a gang of Russian mobsters occurred in the main tourist resort of Canggu.
Bali has a dark underbelly to it. It’s all shiny happy people on the surface, but it can be rough and brutal underneath — that may be happening closer to you than you think.
After spending 4 years there, Bali gets a rating of 7.
Life in Cambodia
I’ve been in Cambodia for almost 18 months. I’ve had the best time I can remember for a long time.
Cambodia is chilled, the people are lovely, the food is fantastic, and the immigration and police are easy and friendly.
Simply put, Cambodia is a no-nonsense and no-hassle country.
Please read my full story about why I love Cambodia so much in my article, “Here’s Why Cambodia is The Best Place to Live If You Want Real Freedom, Peace, and Happiness.”
You will find all my pros in the article. So far, I haven’t discovered any cons.
To live, Cambodia wins the top spot and a rating of 10.
Of course, we all experience life, travel, countries, people, and cultures differently. You may hate Cambodia and love Bali or the UK instead.
After many years of traveling and living in several countries, these are the conclusions I’ve come to. I will continue to explore and look for good things while trying to avoid the bad wherever I go.
For now, I’m hanging my hat in Cambodia for a while.