Bahrain is the surprising winner of this year’s accolade as the best destination for expats.
After sifting the views of more than 12,500 expats across 188 countries, web site InterNations has announced the tiny island Gulf State topped the list of 65 countries.
The rankings were based on a range of factors, from family lifestyle to finances.
Bahrain just made the top 20 cut in last year’s survey at 19th, but leapt up the table this year.
Expats praised Bahrain as friendly and welcoming.
Opinions about careers were less enthusiastic, with concerns over the economy and job security.
“Bahrain excels in making expats feel at home,” says the InterNations report.
Nigeria bottom for third consecutive year
“It also comes first for being able to get by without learning the local language as everyone speaks English. A quarter of expats said they felt at home in Bahrain straight away, which is impressive as a third of them have never lived abroad before.”
Bahrain spreads over 30 islands on the Arabian Gulf with a population of 1.4 million, split roughly 50:50 between Bahrainis and expats. The largest expat community comprises around 300,000 Indians.
The economy relies on oil and gas exports, but has also diversified into financial services and tourism.
The Caribbean island of Costa Rica, which attracts many retirees from the USA, was rated the second-best destination, with Mexico, another US favourite, third.
At the other end of the table were Greece, Kuwait and Nigeria.
UK and USA drop out of favour
Expats in Greece complained that they did not have enough money to cover their outgoings. Kuwait was voted worst for quality of life and happiness, while Nigeria has hugged the bottom of the table for three years with expats concerns over health, transport and security.
Countries that improved their rankings included Malaysia, Norway and Portugal, while Australia, the UK and USA dropped their rankings.
“The overall country ranking is full of surprises this year,” says the report.
“None of last year’s best performing countries – Taiwan, Malta and Ecuador – made the top three.”
Egypt, Morocco, Mozambique and Tanzania lost their rankings due to a lack of response from expats about living in the countries, while Cambodia and Myanmar joined the listing.