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The 20 Best Places In the World for Expats to Live


There are quite a few reasons why American citizens live outside of their native country. Some are artisans who find inspiration in other locations, some are writers, journalists and the list goes on. Then you have the retirement crowd who have worked their entire lives to save enough to retire comfortably in countries outside of the US. Some countries are better than others when it comes to safety, the economy, location, diverse languages are spoken, and affordable living. We've put together a list of the 20 best places in the world for expats to live based on these criteria. If you're considering this lifestyle, you might want to check them out.

20. The Netherlands

Expats who prefer a healthy lifestyle and the outdoors may find The Netherlands an ideal locale. It's made for cyclists and this is one of the most popular ways to get around in parts of the country. It's a nation that cares about the environment, plus there are a lot of English speaking locals in most cities. The Netherlands offers a tax-free allowance that can add up to 30% if you understand the rules and meet the requirements. This makes it appealing on an economic level for some expats.

19. Germany

Germany is one of the most highly populated countries in Europe. If you're an expat, it's an inexpensive place to live. Those with families will discover that they have an amazing education system. The healthcare system in Germany maintains high standards. It's a popular country for expats with approximately a quarter of a million expats living within the borders and more are moving to the country annually. There are a lot of famous attractions in Germany so there is plenty to do while you're living there.

18. Dubai

Dubai is an attractive country for expats because of its warm climate, opulent lifestyle and tax-free salary options if you're still working. There is a large community of expats living in the country. If you're looking for a job, there are quite a few opportunities for employment within the tourism industry, banking, oil, and construction as the country is thriving within these arenas and the pay is generally handsome. The quality of life is high in Dubai and the social life is thriving, but it's expensive to live there. If you are a person with means and you enjoy the finer things in life then this could be an excellent choice.

17. Spain

The expatriate population in Spain is currently estimated to be at 14% of its entire population. The sun shines year-round in this country and the temperatures are high, making it a good choice for anyone who prefers to live in a warmer climate. If you're a resident of the EU then you won't need a visa to gain employment. There is a high demand for engineers, language teachers, customer service, and other skilled trades.

16. Japan

Japan maintains high standards for its education system making it a good choice for families with children who desire to live outside of their native country. There are rich cultural experiences adn in the larger cities, English is widely spoken. There is a demand for English speaking teachers in the country, especially in the larger cities. An estimated two million expats currently reside in Japan.

15. Switzerland

Switzerland has long held its place in the world as a neutral country. What makes this country so good for expats is that there is a high level of satisfaction with expats that are currently living there. You'll find ample job opportunities and a high satisfaction level with work-life balance. The culture is not difficult to adjust to, and most expats who live there are were polled share that they feel safe in the country, even at home. Healthcare is readily available and there are plenty of exciting attractions to see and activities to take part in.

14. Portugal

Portugal is a country that is popular with expats because there are ample job opportunities and in general, the culture is welcoming. Non-residents currently living in Portugal feel safe in teh country, healthcare is high in quality and readily available, and there are English speakers in the larger city. Satisfaction with available jobs and the work-life balance is highly rated by expats living in Portugal currently.

13. Canada

Canada is a country that is also welcoming to expats. There are plenty of jobs available and in a recent poll, the majority of expats report that their satisfaction with the work-life balance is high, and most feel at home while living in the country. Healthcare is available and it's considered to be a relatively safe country for foreigners in general. The culture has some noticeable differences from the United States, but there are a lot of aspects of life in Canada that are remarkably similar, making expats from the US comfortable in the country.

12. Singapore

Singapore is an excellent choice to live if you are looking for a country that offers a safe place to live in. Expats currently living there feel at home and very safe in Singapore. The healthcare system is available to non-residents and it gets high marks for both quality and availability. The culture is welcoming and it's not difficult to adjust. The work-life balance may not be as positive as in some other countries, but there are jobs available and most expats are satisfied with their jobs and the balance for home and work life.

11. Vietnam

Vietnam is another country that hosts a huge population of expats from a variety of different countries throughout the world. Nearly 80 percent of foreigners who live and work in the country report that they feel safe living there. More than half agree that the health care system is made available to them and is adequate to meet their needs. In general, job satisfaction is high and there is work available with a good work-life balance, and a culture that is easy to adjust to, particularly in the larger city of Ho Chi Minh.

10. Malaysia

Malaysia is home to a growing community of foreigners who are living in the country for work and career opportunities. The culture is friendly and not difficult for most to get used to and most report that they feel safe in the country, and they are made to feel at home. Health care ratings are high for expats living in the country with good availability and quality of care.

9. Belize

Belize is a popular expat destination with the numbers growing annually. The tropical climate is a huge drawing card for many who feel that parts of this country are much like living in paradise. There are several languages spoken in Belize including English, Creole, Spanish, and some dialects of the Mayan language. Recreational opportunities abound in the more than 200 islands that are distributed along with coastline of Belize with turquoise water that is crystal clear, a host of beautiful and unique marine life, and a laid back culture for those who want to kick back and enjoy the good life.

8. Panama

Panama is a popular choice for expats. It's a country that has a good feeling that is hard to put into words. It's a modern country that is home to a destination hotspot, it's capital, Panama City. The official language is Spanish but approximately 14 percent of the population are English speakers and a good share of Panamanians are bilingual in English and Spanish. The geographical features of the country are diverse and the highway systems are well-maintained. Currency used in Panama is the US dollar which makes it easier for expats from the United States.

7. Costa Rica

Expats love the year-round beautiful climate of Costa Rica. The landscape is nothing short of amazing with dense jungles, vast expanses of beaches that have not yet been developed. The jungles are filled with exotic plants and wildlife, there are multiple rivers and lakes with crystal-clear waters, lush valleys and tall mountains with a few volcanoes. The environment in Costa Rica is laid back and friendly and many expats have no problem adjusting to the easy-going lifestyle.

6. Ecuador

Ecuador is a South American country that is experiencing a growing community of foreigners who come to the country either to work or for retirement. The climate is temperate and the country offers some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, but the biggest drawing card is the cost of living. It doesn't cost much to live in the country and to do so in style. Even retirees with a modest budget have no problem making it work in Ecuador.

5. Russia

Russia may not be top-notch when it comes to their government or politics for foreigners, but there are still a lot of American expats living in the country who just overlook the negativity they hear. Public services including electricity and water supply are occasionally issues, but it's still popular with those who enjoy social life. It's not hard to make local friends in certain places in the country. The expats who live there cite it as being a fun country to live in.

4. Hong Kong

Hong Kong has its own set of laws and currency, and for the most part, is independent of mainland China. Expats love the high salaries that they earn in the country, along with the highly active social scene. Travel in the region is also easy, but there are a few words of caution. the population is dense, hard work is required unless you're retired, and because of the high numbers of people, there isn't a lot of space. It's a country that provides excellent opportunities for expats who are geared towards hard work, long hours and making a ton of money.

3. Mexico

Mexico is high on our list as a great place to retire if you have a decent amount of savings put back. It's common knowledge that your money will take you a lot further in this country than it would in most others, including Canada and the United States. Two-thirds of the expat population in the country are retirees. The cost of living is low, the quality of affordable homes is high, and there is a lot to do in certain areas of Mexico. It's not rated as being that safe, adn there are other drawbacks but most expats can easily compensate for these because goods and services are so cheap.

2. Malaysia

Expats living in Malaysia report that they love the culture and most things about the country. The culture is fascinating and very welcoming. The economy of the country makes it one of the most affordable places to live. Most foreigners living in Malaysia report that they have more disposable income available because the taxes are lower in Malaysia and so is the cost of living. If you have children, you'll quickly realize that the one expensive aspect of living in the country is that education is expensive and although the system is rated as okay, it isn't that great.

1. Indonesia

Expats love living in Indonesia for a lot of reasons. The economics of the country isn't one of them, but if you're an entrepreneur, this is one of the most highly rated countries in the world for starting a new business. Coming in behind this reason is that the local culture is fascinating for most foreigners and it's easy to integrate with the locals and to become a part of the community. Most expats feel safe as well as at home while living in the country and there is a lot to see and do when you're there. Few have difficulty getting used to the culture.

Liz Flynn

Written by Liz Flynn

Liz Flynn has worked as a full-time writer since 2010 after leaving a career in education. She finds almost all topics she writes about interesting, but her favorite subjects are travel and food. Liz loves the process of researching information, learning new things, and putting into words what others who share her interests might like to read. Although she spends most of her time writing, she also enjoys spending time with her husband and four children, watching films, cooking, dining out, reading, motorsports, gaming, and walking along the beach next to her house with her dog.

Read more posts by Liz Flynn

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