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Destination Danger: 7 Countries Expats Should Steer Clear Of

6 min read

Destination Danger: 7 Countries Expats Should Steer Clear Of

In an increasingly interconnected world, the prospect of living abroad as an expat is an increasingly enticing one. Whether it’s for career opportunities, adventure, or a change of scenery, more individuals than ever are living outside their country of origin. However, while the allure of living in a foreign country is undeniable, it’s essential to recognize that not all destinations are equally suitable for expats. 

While there are countless countries that warmly welcome expats and offer enriching experiences, there are also those that present significant challenges, ranging from safety concerns to economic instability and cultural clashes. Here, we highlight seven countries that expats would be wise to consider avoiding altogether.

 

View of The Avila National Park, Caracas, Venezuela

View of The Avila National Park, Caracas, Venezuela

7. VENEZUELA

Venezuela finds itself ensnared in a vortex of economic upheaval and political tumult, grappling with a crisis of unprecedented magnitude. Hyperinflation, chronic shortages of essential goods, and rampant poverty have become defining features of the country's landscape, plunging its populace into a state of despair and desperation. The unravelling of Venezuela's economy has precipitated widespread social unrest and political turmoil, exacerbating an already precarious situation and rendering the nation an unpredictable and daunting environment for expats attempting to navigate its tumultuous waters.

Amidst the chaos and uncertainty plaguing Venezuela, expats confront a myriad of challenges and dangers that threaten their safety and well-being. The country's soaring crime rate, characterized by incidents of robbery, kidnapping, and violent crime, casts a dark shadow over daily life, instilling fear and apprehension among residents and expats alike. The pervasive atmosphere of lawlessness and insecurity further compounds the hardships faced by expats attempting to carve out a semblance of normalcy amidst the turmoil, forcing them to contend with the constant spectre of danger lurking at every turn. 

In the face of such formidable obstacles, Venezuelans find themselves grappling with the harsh realities of life in a nation teetering on the brink of collapse, navigating treacherous terrain fraught with peril and uncertainty. This is a country expats should stay well away from.

 

Arch of Reunification, North Korea

Arch of Reunification, North Korea

6. NORTH KOREA

The reclusive regime of North Korea operates under a veil of strict authoritarianism, characterized by pervasive censorship, draconian controls, and an unwavering commitment to isolationism. Government surveillance is omnipresent, with citizens and expats alike subject to constant monitoring and scrutiny, further stifling any semblance of individual autonomy or dissent.

The North Korean regime's iron-fisted grip on power leaves little room for personal liberties or basic human rights, as individuals are compelled to conform to the dictates of the state under the constant threat of reprisal. Moreover, the country's isolation from the international community exacerbates the challenges faced by expats, who grapple with limited access to information, resources, and support networks. In such an oppressive environment, the prospect of life as an expat in North Korea is fraught with peril, with the constant spectre of government repression and political persecution looming large over every aspect of daily existence.

While I myself have visited North Korea, and it’s possible to do so safely following strict government guidelines, this is no place for expats. There is no opportunity in this country whatsoever in regard to freedom, wealth protection, or just basic human rights. You should stay away from this country.

 

Aerial view to Hargeisa, biggest city of Somaliland, Somalia

Aerial view of Hargeisa, the biggest city of Somaliland, Somalia

5. SOMALIA

Somalia stands as a tragic testament to the devastating toll of conflict and instability, its shores marred by a relentless cycle of violence, lawlessness, and piracy. The absence of effective governance has left the nation mired in a state of perpetual chaos, with rival armed groups vying for control and civilians caught in the crossfire. Particularly in coastal regions, the spectre of piracy looms large, posing a grave threat to maritime security and global trade routes. Against this backdrop of turmoil and uncertainty, expats in Somalia confront a host of formidable challenges, grappling with significant security risks and a dearth of essential services and infrastructure.

Somalia represents a perilous landscape fraught with danger as the country's volatile security situation exposes its citizens to a myriad of threats, including the ever-present risk of terrorism, kidnapping, and violent crime. The pervasive atmosphere of lawlessness and instability compounds makes this country inhospitable for expats, who are typically looking for quite the opposite experience in a new country to call home.

Moreover, the limited availability of basic amenities and infrastructure further exacerbates the challenges of daily life, forcing Somalis to contend with the harsh realities of living in a country grappling with the ravages of conflict and insecurity. In the face of such daunting obstacles, expats should want nothing to do with Somalia. 

 

Yemen

Yemen

4. YEMEN

Yemen, embroiled in a protracted civil war and plagued by the scourge of terrorism and political instability, has become synonymous with turmoil and humanitarian crises. The relentless conflict has ravaged the nation, unleashing widespread violence, displacement, and untold suffering among its populace. Humanitarian agencies struggle to cope with the incessant demands of providing aid amid frequent outbreaks of disease and chronic shortages of food and essential supplies. Against this backdrop of chaos and despair, expats in Yemen find themselves navigating a perilous landscape fraught with grave safety risks and constant uncertainty.

The spectre of danger looms large for expats residing in Yemen, as the country's volatile security situation exposes them to a myriad of threats, including the ever-present risk of kidnapping, terrorism, and indiscriminate violence. The pervasive insecurity, fueled by competing factions vying for control and influence, casts a dark shadow over daily life, leaving expats vulnerable and apprehensive about their safety and well-being. Despite the valiant efforts of humanitarian organizations and diplomatic missions to provide assistance and support, the inherent risks associated with living in Yemen remain daunting.  Stay safe, and stay away from the war-torn country of Yemen.

 

Kabul, Afghanistan

Kabul, Afghanistan

3. AFGHANISTAN

Afghanistan's tumultuous history is marred by decades of conflict and political turmoil, perpetuating a cycle of violence and instability that continues to ravage the nation. The landscape is marked by ongoing clashes between government forces, insurgent factions, and terrorist groups, creating a volatile environment fraught with danger. Against this backdrop of perpetual unrest, foreigners in Afghanistan confront grave safety risks, navigating a precarious existence amidst the constant threat of violence, kidnapping, and armed conflict.

The security situation in Afghanistan remains deeply precarious, with frequent attacks, bombings, and targeted violence perpetrated against civilians by various warring factions. Living in or even travelling through this country can, unfortunately, see you caught in the crossfire of this protracted conflict, your safety and well-being constantly jeopardized by the pervasive atmosphere of insecurity and instability. The threat of terrorism looms large, with insurgent groups launching brazen attacks on civilian targets, government installations, and international organizations with alarming regularity. Moreover, the risk of kidnapping for ransom remains a constant concern, as criminal syndicates and extremist elements exploit the chaos and lawlessness to perpetrate acts of violence and extortion against foreigners and locals alike.

In the face of such formidable security and safety risks, expats should veer far away from Afghanistan.

 

Syria

Syria

2. SYRIA

Syria's prolonged civil war has inflicted untold suffering upon its populace, plunging the nation into a maelstrom of violence, political upheaval, and humanitarian catastrophe. The conflict, which has persisted for years, has exacted a heavy toll on Syria's infrastructure, leaving vast swaths of the country in ruins and depriving its citizens of essential services such as electricity, clean water, and healthcare. Moreover, the constant threat of violence and insecurity looms large, exacerbating the already dire situation and making life untenable for both residents and expats alike.

Against this backdrop of turmoil and devastation, Syria has become an inhospitable and unsafe environment for expats seeking to establish roots or pursue opportunities within its borders. The ongoing conflict has disrupted normalcy, shattered communities, and fueled a mass exodus of refugees fleeing the violence and instability. Expats residing in Syria face daily risks to their safety and well-being, with the threat of indiscriminate bombings, armed conflict, and extremist violence ever-present. As a result, the prospect of living and working in Syria has become untenable for most expats, who seek refuge and stability elsewhere in the world.

 

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq_ main square, Shar Park

Erbil, Kurdistan, Iraq

1. IRAQ

Iraq remains ensnared in a quagmire of sectarian strife, terrorism, and political unrest, stubbornly resisting efforts to rebuild and establish stability in the wake of years of conflict and upheaval. The country's landscape is scarred by the persistent clash between government forces, insurgent factions, and terrorist organizations, perpetuating a cycle of violence that has exacted a heavy toll on its populace. Widespread violence, displacement, and humanitarian crises continue to afflict Iraq, underscoring the deep-seated challenges that persist despite attempts at reconstruction and reconciliation.

Expats in Iraq would be faced with the treacherous terrain of this conflict-ridden nation, confronting significant security risks and navigating a landscape fraught with danger. The threat of kidnapping, terrorism, and targeted violence looms large as extremist groups and criminal syndicates exploit the volatile environment to perpetrate acts of violence and intimidation against foreigners and locals alike. Despite efforts to bolster security and stabilize the country, the pervasive atmosphere of insecurity and instability casts a pall over daily life, forcing expats to contend with the constant spectre of danger and uncertainty. In the face of such formidable challenges, expats should not even consider venturing into Iraq.

 

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, the allure of living abroad holds undeniable appeal, offering the promise of new experiences, cultural immersion, and personal growth. However, it is paramount for expats to approach the decision with caution and diligence, particularly when considering destinations fraught with challenges such as those outlined above. Whether grappling with security concerns, political instability, or economic crises, each country mentioned presents unique risks that demand careful consideration.

Expats must prioritize their safety and well-being above all else when selecting a destination to call home. Conducting thorough research, seeking advice from reliable sources, and carefully assessing the potential risks and benefits are essential steps in making an informed decision. Ultimately, expats should gravitate toward destinations that offer stability, security, and a welcoming environment where they can thrive and pursue their aspirations without compromising their safety or peace of mind. 

While it may be tempting to be able to tell friends you did a “tour” in Iraq or Afghanistan as an expat or argued with a real-life Venezuelan communist, the dangerous reality of the situation on the ground isn’t worth it.

 


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Mikkel Thorup

Written by Mikkel Thorup

Mikkel Thorup is the world’s most sought-after expat consultant. He focuses on helping high-net-worth private clients to legally mitigate tax liabilities, obtain a second residency and citizenship, and assemble a portfolio of foreign investments including international real estate, timber plantations, agricultural land and other hard-money tangible assets. Mikkel is the Founder and CEO at Expat Money®, a private consulting firm started in 2017. He hosts the popular weekly podcast, the Expat Money Show, and wrote the definitive #1-Best Selling book Expat Secrets - How To Pay Zero Taxes, Live Overseas And Make Giant Piles Of Money, and his second book: Expats Guide On Moving To Mexico.

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