The Top 20 Countries for Expats

It is a dream for many people to move abroad. They may want to take advantage of work opportunities, bring their children up in a better environment, live in a country with a history and culture that has always interested them, or retire to a country with a sunny climate. Whatever the reasons for the move, it is a big decision to move from one country to another and there are many things that people should take into consideration before making the move. The cost of living, the things there are to do in an area, the language spoken, and the different culture are all things to think about. Some countries are much more suitable than others to live in for ex-pats and lists are produced each year advising of the best of these.

The following list is based on information that InterNations have discovered from their annual survey. When deciding which are the best places to live for ex-pats, they take into account over 40 factors. These include job opportunities, the cost of living, how easy it is to settle for ex-pats, and many more elements of living in each country. Thousands of expatriates from 67 countries across the globe are included in the survey each year and the questions are about the ease of settling into a country, the cost of living, family life, and working abroad. There are sub-categories within each of these categories. Based on their findings, here are 20 of the top countries for ex-pats to live in 2017.

20. Norway

Last year, Norway was ranked only 43rd in terms of the best places for expatriates to live but it has now jumped dramatically into the top 20 list. Norway still finishes in the last place for the ease of settling but it has improved in all other areas. Therefore, although it may take a while to accustom yourself to living in this country, it is worth the effort to reap all the other benefits. Areas in which Norway ranked particularly highly was the friendliness towards foreigners and the health and wellbeing. Those living there say that healthcare is good and affordable.

19. Romania

The cost of living is just one reason why people choose to live in Romania as it is in 11th position in this sector of the survey. However, it only ranks 19th for personal finance. Another reason to choose Romania is that it is good for working abroad and finishes in 18th position on the overall list. It is 11th for work-life balance and 13th for job and career opportunities. What is not so good is job security as it is only in 43rd position. Romania is the 17th easiest place to settle in and ranks in the top 20 for feeling welcome, finding friends, and language.

18. Thailand

The beauty of Thailand and the fantastic culture are two of the big attractions of living in Thailand, but when people look into the more serious aspects of daily living in a foreign country, there are further reasons to consider Thailand. It is ranked 6th on the list of best countries for the cost of living and is also in the top 10 for personal finance. The climate is another huge attraction to this country.

17. Oman

Oman is one of the easiest places to settle in terms of being made to feel welcome and adapting to the local culture. There is also a high proportion of the population who speak English, so this removes language barriers and makes things simple. Overall, Oman ranks 6th on the ease of settling in section and it is for this reason why Oman ranks so highly on the overall list. Oman is also in the top 30 for the quality of life, working abroad, personal finance, and cost of living. The only sector where Oman is ranked lower than the top 30 is family life as it scores poorly for availability and costs of education and childcare.

16. Canada

Canada has dropped four positions on the overall list of best places for people to live abroad since 2016 but there are still many great reasons that attract ex-pats to this country. Canada attracts many people of working age as there are good employment opportunities in this country. It has gone up seven positions since 2016 and now ranks in 16th place for working abroad. Residents can expect a decent quality of life as Canada is in 13th position on the list. It is also a good choice for families as it is in 23rd position for family life. The healthcare is another benefit of living in Canada as most residents are happy with the availability, standard, and cost of healthcare in this country. One reason people once chose to live in this country was the familiarity of the culture and the ease of fitting in due to the lack of language barriers. However, Canada has dropped ten places in the ease of settling in section and is now in 23rd position.

15. Malaysia

Malaysia scores reasonably well on the financial sections of the survey as it is in 15th position for both cost of living and personal finance. One area in which Malaysia excels is the ease of settling in as this is something that many ex-pats have commented on. It is ranked the 9th easiest place to settle down and the 6th easiest place to adapt to the local culture. It is also the 13th best place to find friends and the 8th most welcoming country in the world. The language barrier isn’t a problem here as most people speak English and this has led to it being the 2nd country on the language list.

14. Luxembourg

Luxembourg ranks in the top spot for job security, so it is a great choice of country for those who are not yet at retirement age. Similarly, it is in the top 20 for job and career opportunities. It may only rank in 60th position for cost of living, but it is the 17th best country to live in for personal finance. It ranks 4th overall for working abroad. Luxembourg also scores above average for family life and is ranked in 20th position on the overall list. It is in 17th place for family well-being and 22nd place for quality of education. However, it ranks well for availability of childcare and education, landing in 27th position. It is also let down by the cost of childcare and education as it is only in 24th position on the list.

13. Netherlands

The Netherlands has a lot to offer for those who move from abroad and not least is the work situation in this country. It offers good job security and ranks 4th on the list. It is also in the top 20 for work-life balance and jobs and careers. The Netherlands may also appeal to families who are considering moving abroad as it ranks 3rd for the quality of education and 2nd in family well-being. Overall, the Netherlands is 9th in the category of family life.

12. Vietnam

Vietnam is a stunning country that offers excellent cuisine, friendly locals, and a diverse culture. However, it is in the employment category where Vietnam did particularly well on the survey. It was ranked in first position in the job and career subcategory and in 18th position on the work-life balance section. It also earned 17th place in terms of job security. The cost of living and personal finances are a major contributing factor for many people when it comes to choosing where they will move abroad. This is one of the biggest reasons why Vietnam ranks so highly on this list. It is in first position for both the cost of living and personal finance. This means that those who live here can enjoy their life with little concern over their financial situation.

11. Czech Republic

The Czech Republic has become an increasingly popular place for ex-pats to live and one possible reason for this is the employment opportunities. The working abroad section is where this country has particularly excelled ranking 4th in both work-life balance and jobs and careers. It also ranked 11th in job security. The Czech Republic ranks in decent positions in the family life section of the survey, particularly in the affordability of childcare and education where it ranks in 5th position. IN terms of family well-being, the Czech Republic is in 7th position, it is in 9th place for the availability of childcare and education, and in 12th place for the quality of education. It is the 5th best country to live in terms of cost of living.

10. Spain

As a popular tourist destination, Spain has always attracted expatriates. People go on holiday there and have such a good time they want to make it their permanent home. Spain has consistently ranked in the top 20 countries for expatriates and currently sits in 10th position on the list. It ranked the highest in leisure options. The amazing climate, the friendliness of the locals, and the high-percentage of people who speak English are all factors that attract people to live in Spain. Healthcare is rated favourably as are international travel and local transport. The one area in which Spain falls down is security and safety as the political situation in Spain has created a lack of confidence in this area.

9. Singapore

As one of the countries that is making the biggest developments in the technology and engineering industries, Singapore has long been a destination chosen by people who are moving abroad to advance their careers. However, according to the survey results, there are many more advantages to choosing a new life in Singapore. It is ranked the second highest for both the availability of childcare and education and also the quality of education. It is in 4th position for family well-being. These factors combined mean that this is a great choice for family life. Unfortunately, Singapore scores poorly on the cost of childcare and education as it is ranked in 35th position.

8. Colombia

One of the areas in which Colombia scores highly is the ease of settling in for expatriates. It is in the top 10 countries for feeling welcome, friendliness, and finding friends. The one subcategory which lets it down is language where it is ranked in only 39th position. Overall, it is ranked 15th for ease fo settling in. Financial motivations are some of the biggest influencing factors for those who move to Colombia. It is ranked third on the cost of living list and is in second position for countries that offer the most personal financial stability.

7. Malta

Malta has consistently ranked highly on the list of best places for expatriates to live for many reasons and is particularly popular amongst those of retirement age. It offers a relaxed and tranquil way of live in stunning surroundings with a pleasant climate. It is a country where people find it easy to settle and is good for finding friends. In fact, it is 2nd in terms of settling in and 6th position for feeling at home. Malta is also 9th for getting used to the local culture. Malta is lower than average in terms of the cost of living as it is 22nd on the list and in 21st position for personal finance. Malta is a fairly good country to consider for families as it is in 18th position overall. It ranks so highly mainly due to the availability of childcare and education and also the low cost of these. Malta is in fifth position for working abroad as it ranks highly in each of the sub-categories.

6. New Zealand

As an English-speaking country with spectacular and diverse landscapes, there are obvious reasons why people would want to live in New Zealand. However, another big influence is the potential to work in this country. It is ranked fifth in the work-life balance category, 8th in the jobs and careers section, and 9th for job security. Another area in which this country ranks highly is the welcome abroad. It is the 5th best place to feel at home in the local culture, the 7th best place to settle and the 8th best place to adapt to local life.

5. Portugal

Portugal has climbed an impressive 23 places since 2016 from 28th to 5th on the list. Of all the Mediterranean nations included on the list, it is Portugal that has made the most improvements within the quality of living category. A fantastic 89% of expatriates living in Portugal are happy with their life there. Political stability has improved in this country and this has contributed to the improvement in the safety and security rankings. Expatriates who have chosen Portugal as their new home say that settling in is easy and they are made to feel welcome by friendly locals. The culture is relaxed and there is year-round warm weather to enjoy and these are two other benefits to living in this country. A further reason why people choose Portugal is that it ranks 4th in cost of living and is the cheapest place to live of the Mediterranean countries.

4. Taiwan

Although Taiwan has dropped one position over the last year, it still earns itself one of the top spots on the list and ranks highly in many areas that are part of the InterNations survey. The biggest downfall for Taiwan is the environment as it is suffering from the effects of industrialization. However, it more than makes up for this in other areas. The majority of ex-pats are more than satisfied with the quality, availability and cost of healthcare. It is a convenient and efficient country in which to live with transportation being one of the major advantages in this country. It has a safety and security rating that is above global average and performs well in the leisure category. Taiwan is one of the cheaper places on the list as it ranks in 10th position of the cost of living list.

3. Mexico

Mexico is one of the most consistent of the countries on this last as it ranks in the top five every year and remains in third place from 2016. The climate is a huge attraction to living in Mexico, but it has plenty of other things going for it, too. It is in the top five in three major areas including cost of living, personal finance, and ease of settling in. This means that those who move there can enjoy financial stability while establishing themselves in their new home. Mexicans are friendly with ex-pats and this adds to the enjoyment of living in this country. The cost of living and the quality of life are two of the biggest draws to living in Mexico. The only aspects of quality of life where this country scores poorly is safety and healthcare. On the other hand, the leisure activities and opportunities for socializing are two of the best features in relation to quality of life.

2. Costa Rica

It is the ‘pura vida’ vibe that has helped Costa Rica rise up the ranks into second position and it excelled in the category of friendliness. Most people find it easy to make friends quickly in Costa Rica and have a mix of local and expatriate friends. The beauty of the country and the fantastic climate are what initially attract people to live in this part of the world but there are many other factors that make them stay. In fact, this country ranks in the top three for ease of settling in, family life, and quality of life. The availability and quality of childcare and education have improved, and this has certainly contributed to Costa Rica achieving second place. Personal finance also saw improvements and ranked highly and most of those surveyed are happy with their financial situation and feel they have enough to live on. A surprising 48% of people who have moved to this country can imagine themselves living there forever.

1. Bahrain

To sit in the top spot, Bahrain has seen one of the biggest jumps on the list as last year, it finished in 19th place. This is because it has seen improvements in all indices. One of the areas in which Bahrain -particularly exceeds is the ease of settling in. Those who have moved there say they felt at home almost straight away and it helps that almost everyone speaks English in this country. Bahrain also scored highly in the employment category as there are career opportunities and a good work-life balance. It finished 28th overall in the cost of living index which is almost the same as in the previous year. However, may expats earn more than they did before living in this country and personal finance ranks highly. It is also good for family life as there is a good attitude towards children and Bahrain has improved in both the quality of education and the availability of childcare. One thing that many people commented on about living in Bahrain is that it is culturally diverse and this makes it an interesting place to live.


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