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Expats Choose Best And Worst Places To Live

Expats have revealed the best and worst places in the world to move to, according to a survey.

Around 12,000 expats living in 181 countries were asked by expat forum Internations about their quality of life and experiences overseas.

After sifting through the data, a list of 52 countries were ranked with two popular expat destinations rooted to the bottom places.

Kuwait was the unanimous worst destination, scoring the least in every category.

One key metric where the Gulf State failed was freedom of expression, as 57 per cent of expats feared voicing their opinions, compared to a global average of 18 per cent.

Expats also found Kuwaitis unfriendly and were unhappy with their work/life balance.

However bad expats considered their social life in Kuwait, 76 per cent felt money made up for the downside.

But only 37 per cent were happy with living in Kuwait.

Kuwait is the only Gulf State not to take a top ten place.

Thumbs Down For New Zealand

Faring almost as badly as Kuwait is New Zealand – rated 51st out of 52 nations. New Zealand is the sixth most popular destination for British expats, with 215,000 having made the move.

Expats complained the country has a poor quality of life, mainly blamed on high transport costs and a lack of culture. On the plus side, expats voted New Zealand high for outside activities and ease of settling in.

But money is a problem for many expats, who rated the cost of living and their personal finances negatively. A huge 32 per cent believed they were not paid enough, compared with a global 20 per cent.

One in seven consider their work pointless, and one in four do not enjoy their jobs.

Overall, one in three expats were happy with their lives in New Zealand.

Hong Kong Horror

Hearing about expat experiences of life in Hong Kong in recent years is depressing, with a ranking that has dropped the city to 50th in the worst places for expats ratings.

The once bustling financial centre is criticised for its high cost of living, scores low as a good place to work and is lamented as a creative business hub.

Quality of life is poor, with expats citing financial worries, lack of freedom of expression and civil unrest as concerns.

The final tally for Hong Kong found that 60 per cent of expats were happy with their lives in the city.

Nevertheless, Hong Kong has the dubious honour of appearing on both the worst quality of life ranking and most expensive places to live.

Worst Places For Expats

The bottom 10 worst places for expats were:

52 – Kuwait

51 – New Zealand

50 – Hong Kong

49 – Cyprus

48 – Luxembourg

47 – Japan

46 – South Africa

45 – Turkey

44 – Italy

45 – Malta

Mexico was ranked the best place to live by expats, scoring high for personal finance and the ease of settling in. THe remaining top five were Indonesia, Taiwan, Portugal, and Spain.

Australia is the country where most British expats seek a new life. Nearly 1.5 million Brits have already made the move Down Under.

Expats rate Australia as the ninth best place in the world to live, with three out four admitting they are happy with their lives.

Australia Boosted By Work/Life Balance

Only Denmark rated better for careers and jobs. In Australia, two thirds are happy about their job prospects and local employment market. Work/Life balance is also highly-rated, as is ease of settling in and friendliness of locals.

The other favoured destination in the bottom ten worst places for expats is South Africa.

South Africa has the shame of expats rating the country as the worst place in the world for personal security – highlighted by some recent gang warfare that has killed almost 40 people.

Generally, expats were concerned about soaring crime rates, inequality, and extreme poverty suffered by some South Africans.

Bermuda Is Most Expensive Expat Location

Nevertheless, South Africa has strong ties with the UK and is home to 212,000 British expats – the seventh highest number in the world.

Although the Internations study ranks New Zealand high for cost of living, separate expat research by number crunching website Numbeo tells a different story.

Bermuda takes the crown as the place with the worst inflation – 40 per cent more expensive than New York and double that in New Zealand.

The Caribbean sunshine isles of Barbados and the Bahamas take third and fourth places in the rankings with a cost of living 12 times cheaper than New York.

Switzerland slots into second with a cost of living of 10 per cent more expensive than New York.

Top ten most expensive countries

  • Bermuda
  • Switzerland
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Jersey
  • Singapore
  • Israel
  • Hong Kong

Cheapest Places For Expats

The cheapest places for expats to live out of 137 countries are all on the Indian sub-continent – India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

128 – Kyrgyzstan

129 – Syria

130 – Tunisia

131 – Colombia

132 – Kosovo

133 – Algeria

134 – Libya

135 – India

136 – Sri Lanka

137 – Pakistan

Best And Worst Destinations For Expats FAQ

Why is Mexico the top expat destination?

Mexico may not rate highly for expats in Europe, but hordes of Americans cross the border to enjoy a cheaper lifestyle. Expats find settling in Mexico easy and welcoming, while the low cost of living stops financial worries.

Do expats really rate where they live?

Both Internations and Numbeo are proud that their data is provided by expats living in the places under review. Both studies exclude countries and cities with too small samples to discourage poor results.

Where are the cheapest and most expensive Asian locations?

Singapore tops the ratings for Asia as the most expensive place for expats to live. The cheapest in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Singapore still ranks 20 per cent cheaper than New York.

Where are the cheapest and most expensive African locations?

Zimbabwe is the most expensive place in Africa with a cost of living less than half of that in New York. The North African countries ranked as cheapest are LIbya, ALgeria and Tunisia, in that order.

How many British expats live abroad?

The government estimates 5.5 million Brits are expats – about one in ten of the population.

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