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Living In A Tourist Town As An Expat

Living permanently in a tourist hotspot presents the opportunity to live a unique lifestyle. It allows you to experience a watered down version of a country, with the ever present option of heading just a few miles into more authentic towns.

With so much english spoken you won’t feel a rush to learn the local language, and culture shock won’t be too bad. Living in a town with an international vibe can be very interesting.

So have you ever considered living in a tourist town? If so, take some time to consider whether it’s for you. You’ll probably either love it or hate it. Here are some aspects to think about.


A Beautiful Environment

By their very nature, tourist towns are nice places. They’re usually situated in beautiful settings with lots of nature to see and enjoy. It’s likely that a lot of money will have been put into making a tourist town look good. Of course it’s done to appeal to tourists but you too can benefit. Life is lively, interesting, and it’s easy to meet all sorts of people from different countries.

You’ll also likely have better infrastructure and maintenance of roads than you might get elsewhere. Poverty and violent crime are usually low, and the worst you’re likely to encounter is pickpocketing.

Convenience And Amenities

Due to all the economic activity from tourists, there will be plenty of money spent on providing amenities and entertainment. You’ll likely see more bank branches, ATMs and other facilities than in an ordinary town.

Tourist locations tend to have an abundance of shops, cafes, restaurants and entertainment venues, so there’s always something nice to see or do, and it’s all on your doorstep.

Getting Around

Since tourists like to get around and explore nearby places of interest, your options for public transport will be plentiful.

An international airport is sure to be close by, so if you want to get away, see friends or visit your home country it should be quite easy. You’ll probably be well connected to many major cities and other destinations.

And if you have friends or relatives that you want to catch up with, there’s the possibility that they may want to come and see you in your nice location, saving you money.

Crowds And Annoyances

On the downside, popular tourist spots attract crowds. Worst case scenario you could be spending your days dodging street vendors, “tour guides” and all kinds of scammers. Rowdy parties, noise, litter, traffic, it could all become a real nuisance after a while.

People on vacation tend to let their hair down and not care so much about bothering others. If there’s a noise issue it might be hard to get people to keep it down as all they want to do is party. They’re unlikely to want to let anyone ruin their fun.

It Can Be Expensive

Since they exist to appeal to outsiders who presumably have plenty of money to spend, tourist spots can be expensive, at least for certain things. Although there’s usually something for all budgets, it can be expensive depending on what you want.

In many countries it’s not unusual for foreigners to be charged more. Even if you’re living abroad as a permanent expat, if you look foreign you may sometimes have to pay a “foreigner tax” for goods and services. You could also be taken advantage of or ripped off.

Depending on the season, prices can fluctuate, and during some months certain businesses might shut their doors altogether.

Less Community And Authenticity

Although you’ll certainly see locals living and working, many of the people you’ll see and encounter throughout your day will be tourists and travelers. A highly transient population doesn’t make for much of a community, and usually the local population isn’t as high as in a normal town.

Tourist towns do have small local communities, but if you stand out as a foreigner it could become hard to integrate. If you look similar to the locals you may get away with passing as one. But if not, you may sometimes find yourself being seen as an outsider even if you’ve been living there a long time. Learning the language helps to an extent but you’ll always be the foreigner.

Also everything is set up to attract visitors rather than portray the real culture, so you’re not going to get the real experience of the country.

 A beautiful environment with lots to do, or a crowded, expensive town with little community. It’s up to you how you choose to view it, but you’ll almost certainly see all sides to living in a tourist town. Not all of these pros and cons will apply to every spot, but they are common.

Keep in mind that there will most likely be an expat community that sticks together and helps each other. You don’t have to spend all your time in an expat bubble but it’s there if you want it, and it can provide comfort and familiarity.

And no matter how touristy a town may be, you won’t have to travel far to find yourself in the real culture of your chosen country.

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