When thinking about moving abroad, it can be easy to dream about relocating to a sunny coast loaded with palm trees and endless beaches, especially when you’re surrounded by winter’s short days and cold nights. For retirees as well, there is a particular draw to warmer climates for health and happiness factors. That being said, for anyone looking to migrate overseas, it’s essential to be educated and prepared for the seasons and day to day issues of living in a new climate.
As a general guide, countries closer to the Earth’s equator will have year-around tropical weather with very little variation in temperature or daylight length. They are defined as falling within the 23.5 degree north and south latitudes (also known as the Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn) from the equator and an average temperature above 18 degrees Celsius. The major parts of the world that fall within this climate are Southeast Asia, the northern part of Africa, Central America, much of India, Oceana, and northern South America.
Outside of this zone, most parts of the world will experience varying degrees of the four seasons depending on their distance from the equator. This is due to the Earth’s tilt as it orbits around the sun.
One thing to keep in mind is that no matter what general part of the world you decide to call home, radical microclimates can exist that will greatly affect daily life. For instance, even in the tropics mountainous areas are often surprisingly cold from their sea level counterparts. On average, the temperature will drop about one degree for every 100 meters of elevation increase. With the high humidity of tropical areas, every degree is felt more than in a temperate climate; five degrees can be the difference between comfortable and needing a jacket. Plus, the rainy season will typically be about five degrees cooler versus the dry season.
Another consideration is extreme weather. Natural disasters are a concern for people all over the world in every imaginable climate. However, understanding potentially dangerous weather patterns in your destination country could save you a lot of frustration. For example, the United States’ Midwest frequently receives tornados and many tropical coastlines regularly deal with hurricanes or typhoons.
As an expat, climate is a huge factor for long term pleasure. Listen to your body and mind in terms of what kind of environment you need. This, along with knowing what to expect ahead of time with extended research and travel throughout the area you want to live will allow you to make the most of your days overseas.