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The Best Destinations to Live and Work in 2019

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For the sixth year, InterNations, the world’s largest expat community revealed the latest best destinations for expats to live and work. With more than 20,000 respondents, it is one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, sharing insights into expat life in 64 destinations.

The survey offers in-depth information about expats’ satisfaction with the quality of life, ease of settling in, working life, personal finance, cost of living, and family life in their respective country of residence.

According to the Expat Insider 2019 survey results, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Portugal are the best expat destinations: all of them attract expats with their ease of settling in and good personal finances. While expats in Taiwan and Portugal are also extremely satisfied with the quality of life, those in Vietnam appreciate their great work life. At the other end of the ranking, Kuwait (64th out of 64), Italy, and Nigeria are the worst destinations for expats in 2019. While Kuwait is the country where expats find it hardest to settle in, Italy offers the worst work-life, and Nigeria the worst quality of life in the world.

Top 10 Destinations for Expats in 2019

1. Taiwan

Coming 1st out of 64 countries and territories in the Expat Insider 2019 survey, Taiwan stands out for its great quality of life (3rd place). Taiwan is rated best in the world for the affordability of healthcare, with almost nine in ten respondents (89%) satisfied with this factor (vs. 55% globally). Expats in Taiwan are also happy with the quality of medical care (92% vs. 65% globally) and their personal safety (96% vs. 81% globally). In addition to that, 78% agree that it easy to settle down there (vs. 59% globally), and 88% find the locals generally friendly (vs. 68% globally). A Canadian expat summarizes: “I have found my home in Taiwan. On this friendly island, I have found peace, love, and health.” Taiwan also ranks among the top 10 destinations regarding expats’ personal finance (6th) and working abroad (8th). It even comes in second for career prospects, which are rated positively by 65% of respondents (vs. 55% globally). The only obstacle for expats settling in Taiwan seems to be learning the local language: more than half (52%) struggle with it (vs. 45% globally).

2. Vietnam

After ranking 14th out of 68 destinations in 2018, Vietnam has voted the second-best country for expats in 2019. Expats there are particularly happy with their career prospects (68% satisfied vs. 55% globally) and their jobs in general (74% satisfied vs. 64% globally). However, Vietnam is not only the highest-ranking country when it comes to working abroad, it is also the best destination for personal finance (1st out of 64). In fact, 81% of expats are happy with their financial situation (vs. 64% worldwide), and 75% state that their disposable household income is more than they need to cover daily costs (vs. 49% globally). This might be partially because living in Vietnam is also considered affordable: 86% of expats rate the cost of living positively (vs. 47% globally). An Australian expat appreciates that “it is a very inexpensive country, and the people are nice and simple”. On the other hand, Vietnam lags behind in terms of digital life (51st), as, for example, just about half the expats (52%) find it easy to pay without cash (vs. 79% globally). Another dissatisfying factor is the quality of the environment, which is rated negatively by 57% (vs. 20% globally).

3. Portugal

According to the Expat Insider 2019 survey, Portugal offers an excellent quality of life (1st worldwide) and a “relaxed lifestyle”, as a British expat highlights. It is one of the world’s best countries for leisure options (2nd): more than four in five expats (83%) are happy with the socializing and leisure activities available to them (vs. 65% globally), and almost every expat (95%) rates the climate and weather positively (vs. 61% globally). Moreover, Portugal ranks among the top 5 expat destinations where it is easy to settle in for the third year in a row (4th in 2019). Within this index, it even comes first in the Feeling at Home subcategory, with 83% finding it easy to settle down in this country (vs. 59% globally). It may help that 91% of expats find the Portuguese generally friendly (vs. 68% globally). While Portugal also secures its spot in the top 10 countries in the Cost of Living Index (8th; 83% satisfied vs. 47% globally), it is not a top scorer when it comes to working abroad (35th). Expats are unhappy with their career prospects (50th) and their job security (47th), with only around half the respondents (46% and 51%) rating the respective factors positively (vs. 55% and 59% globally).

4. Mexico

Mexico is the world’s easiest country to settle in as an expat, and more than four in five expats (84%) feel at home in the local culture (vs. 60% globally). Expats do not only consider Mexicans to be very friendly (92% vs. 68% globally), they also find it easy to make friends with them (80% vs. 42% globally). Mexico also ranks first in the world for socializing and leisure activities (84% positive ratings vs. 65% globally). “People like to ask me questions about my life,” shares an expat from the USA, “I do not feel alone here.” Regarding personal finance, Mexico ranks fourth worldwide, with 78% being satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally). On the other hand, the country performs poorly in the Safety & Security subcategory (54th), with expats’ personal safety being a main concern: three times the global average report negative feelings about this factor (27% vs. 9% globally). The same is true for expats raising children in Mexico: 36% are worried about their children’s safety, four times the global average (9%). However, overall, Mexico has improved its performance in the Family Life Index to rank 16th out of 36 destinations in 2019. This is mainly due to better ratings for the availability of childcare and education (6th), the cost of childcare and education (12th), and the quality of education (13th).

5. Spain

In the Expat Insider 2019 survey, Spain secures its spot among the best countries for quality of life (2nd place out of 64). Two of Spain’s best features are its climate and weather as well as the availability of leisure options (1st and 2nd, respectively). Spain also performs well when it comes to health and well-being (3rd): more than four in five respondents (82%) find healthcare in Spain affordable (vs. 55% globally), and 86% are satisfied with the quality of medical care (vs. 65% globally). Living in Spain, however, generally seems to come with “affordable costs”, as a Turkish expat highlights. In fact, the country ranks in ninth place in the Cost of Living Index. Moreover, Spain is a great destination for families with children, ranking 5th out of 36 destinations in the Family Life Index. It even comes in second worldwide for family’s well-being, with more than nine in ten expat parents (93%) happy with the Spaniards’ friendly attitude towards families with children (vs. 81% globally). These excellent results help the country compensate for its comparatively poor performance in the Working Abroad Index (37th), where the main concerns for expats seems to be their career prospects (45th) and the country’s economy (43rd).

6. Singapore

Expats in Singapore continue to be very happy with their quality of life, ranking the city-state fourth in this index for the third year in a row. Almost every expat in Singapore (95%) finds it easy to get high-speed internet access at home (vs. 75% globally), ranking the city-state first in the world for this factor. Expats living in Singapore also feel well connected through transportation (98% satisfied vs. 68% globally) and are happy with the opportunity to travel (96% vs. 82% globally). In addition, every respondent in Singapore (100%) feels safe (vs. 81% globally), making it the best country for personal safety. Looking at the Ease of Settling In Index, 82% agree that it is easy to settle down in the country (vs. 59% globally), and 78% find it easy to live there without speaking the local language (vs. 45% globally). “English is spoken here as a universal language,” explains an expat from China. However, Singapore shows poor results when it comes to costs: it ranks among the worst countries regarding the affordability of healthcare (59th out of 64), childcare and education (28th out of 36), and cost of living in general (53rd out of 64).

7. Bahrain

After a first place in the Expat Insider survey in 2018 and 2017, Bahrain loses six places in 2019 (7th out of 64). These results may be affected by its sudden drop of 17 places in the Working Abroad Index (from 1st to 18th). While Bahrain is still in the top 10 countries for career prospects and job satisfaction (10th), expats seem to be less satisfied with their working hours (3rd in 2018 to 27th in 2019) and their job security (5th to 19th). An Indian expat dislikes “the economy’s instability and the fact that there is no growth”. In fact, 62% are happy with the state of the economy, which is just about the global average (63%). Expat parents are also slightly less happy, ranking Bahrain 13th out of 36 countries in the Family Life Index (vs. 7th out of 50 countries in 2018). Still, more than nine in ten parents (93%) rate the friendly attitude towards families with children positively (vs. 81% globally), and expats keep having no issues with settling in in their new country (2nd): more than four in five respondents (82%) say it is easy to settle down in Bahrain (vs. 59% globally). They find it easy to make friends (68% vs. 54% globally) and to live in the country without speaking the local language (94% vs. 45% globally).

8. Ecuador

Expats in Ecuador are the happiest in the world: nearly nine in ten (86%) are generally happy with their life (vs. 74% globally). “Life is just simpler and more enjoyable,” explains an expat from the USA. Finding friends seems to particularly please expats living in Ecuador (3rd), with 73% agreeing that it is easy (vs. 54% globally). Ecuador also comes third in terms of cost of living, with 85% of respondents being satisfied with this factor (vs. 47% globally). Additionally, healthcare is considered affordable by 78% of expats (vs. 55% globally). However, two of the biggest challenges for expats in Ecuador are digital life (47th) and work (45th). The country is voted worst in the world regarding cashless payments options: more than two in five expats (43%) find it hard to pay without cash (vs. 13% globally). In terms of working abroad, Ecuador even dropped 34 places (11th in 2018), drastically losing ground in the Career Prospects & Satisfaction (5th in 2018 to 48th in 2019) and Work & Leisure (4th to 35th) subcategories. More than three in ten respondents (31%) are unhappy with their career prospects in 2019 (vs. 24% worldwide).

9. Malaysia

Affording a good life in Malaysia does not seem to be hard for expats: the country comes in 7th place out of 64 countries in the Cost of Living Index, with 82% of expats rating costs positively (vs. 47% globally). As a British expat highlights, there are “earning opportunities compared to very reasonable cost of living”. In fact, Malaysia scores another seventh place when it comes to personal finance, and 62% report that their household income is more than enough to cover daily costs (vs. 49% globally). What is more, Malaysia is one of the best countries in the Ease of Settling In Index, ranking third only after Mexico (1st) and Bahrain (2nd). Expats in the country find it easy to settle down (76% vs. 59% globally) and make new friends (64% vs. 54% globally). Maybe it helps that expats are also happy with the socializing and leisure activities available in Malaysia (8th out of 64). As a Philippine expat points out: “There are many places to visit, and you will never run out of things to do.” However, Malaysia is an average destination for working abroad (27th), with just around half the expats (52%) being satisfied with their career prospects (vs. 55% worldwide).

10. Czechia

Czechia ranks second in the world in the Working Abroad Index, only beaten by Vietnam. Its best results can be found in the Career Prospects & Satisfaction (2nd) and Economy & Job Security (3rd) subcategories, though it ranks in the top 10 for all factors of this index. More than four in five expats (84%) rate, for instance, the state of the economy positively (vs. 63% globally). Czechia is also a great destination for families (4th): 90% of expat parents are satisfied with their family life in general (vs. 79% globally), and 93% are particularly happy with the leisure activities available for their children (vs. 75% globally). With regard to quality of life, Czechia comes in 7th place out of 64 countries and stands out in particular for its good results in the Travel & Transportation subcategory (3rd). Nearly every expat enjoys the opportunities to travel (96% vs. 82% globally) and is satisfied with the country’s transportation infrastructure (95% vs. 68% globally). A Chilean respondent also describes Czechia as an “affordable country”, and more than three-quarters are happy with the general cost of living (76% vs. 47% globally) and the cost of healthcare (77% vs. 55% globally). On the other hand, settling in seems to be a challenge (53rd). More than a third of expats (35%) find the population generally unfriendly (vs. 16% globally), and 77% struggle to learn the local language (vs. 45% globally).





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