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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Countries That Go Easy on the Expat Wallet

Expats in Ecuador still get the most for their dollar, in Luxembourg high incomes match the steep cost of living, and life in Mexico is affordable even with a modest paycheck.


This year a total of 64 countries are featured in the Personal Finance Index. Expats were asked to rate their satisfaction with their personal financial situation and to answer if they feel like their disposable income is enough for their daily life. For the ranking, the first question was given double the weight of the second. A minimum sample size of 50 participants was necessary to be featured in this index, with over 40 countries having over 100 respondents. Questions were rated on a scale of one to seven.

Personal Finance Index

Personal Finance & Cost of Living Indices 2015
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Comparisons with Expat Insider 2014

There was a shake-up in this year's Personal Finance Index. While Ecuador stayed in first place, the second and third place winners rose way up the ranks. Luxembourg and Mexico didn't even make the top ten ranking last year, but they hold second and third place this year. Nigeria, which was ranked second last year, moved down to tenth place this year. Kazakhstan, at third place in 2014, fell to 14th place this year. This change might also be due to the fact that the satisfaction with personal finances was assigned more weight in this year's methodology. In this single factor ranking in 2015, Nigeria and Kazakhstan only make it to 8th and 20th place, respectively.

Ecuador: Still the Most Bang for Your Buck

Ecuador has held onto its first place ranking in the Personal Finance Index in this year's survey. In terms of satisfaction with one's personal financial situation, not one expat in Ecuador is completely dissatisfied. Just over one-quarter (26%) are completely satisfied, compared to a global average of 15%. Eight in ten are generally pleased with their financial situation, whereas only 65% are worldwide. In Ecuador, only 9% of expats feel that their disposable income isn't enough (global average: 23%). Whereas among all participants worldwide only around half (47%) rate their disposable income positively, in Ecuador, 63% are generally satisfied in this regard.

Expats in Ecuador are very satisfied with their financial situation, despite the fact that the highest percentage of survey respondents has a gross yearly household income of between 12,000 and 25,000 USD (38%). A further 17% even have an income of less than 12,000 USD per year. This rather low figure is probably in part due to the high number of retirees living in this country (36%). Ecuador's ranking in the separate (reverse) Cost of Living Index also helps explain these results. As Ecuador ranks first here as well, it seems that life is rather affordable in this country. Not a single person says the cost of living is very bad and only 3% give it any negative rating.

Luxembourg: High Incomes for a Pricey Location

Luxembourg has risen up to 2nd place from 13th place. Fewer than one in ten participants (9%) are generally dissatisfied with their financial situation (overall average: 17%). In contrast, 83% are generally happy with their finances, and 22% are even completely satisfied. When asked about their disposable income, 56% of respondents in Luxembourg say that it is more than enough (global average: 47%). A further three in ten expats think their amount of disposable income is just about right.

Although it does quite well in terms of personal finance, Luxembourg only ranks 53rd in the separate (reverse) Cost of Living Index. This stands in stark contrast to Ecuador. Instead of four in ten expats very pleased with the cost of living, in Luxembourg only 2% are completely satisfied in this regard. Only Hong Kong, Mozambique, and Nigeria have lower percentages of expats who think the local cost of living is very good.

Expats in Luxembourg may be displeased with the cost of living, but their high incomes keep them satisfied with their overall personal finances. In this small European country, 28% of respondents have a yearly gross household income of between 75,000 USD and 100,000 USD. Nearly one-quarter of respondents (23%) even have an income of over 100,000 USD per year.

Mexico: High Satisfaction for a Modest Income

Mexico has climbed up the charts from 15th place to 3rd place in this year's Personal Finance Index. Only 12% of respondents are generally dissatisfied with their financial situation, a bit lower than the global average of 17%. Three-quarters (76%), however, are generally satisfied with their finances. Just over one-quarter (26%) is even completely satisfied, considerably more than the global average (15%). Nearly six in ten expats in Mexico (58%) think their disposable income is more than they need to get by. One-sixth of respondents (17%) even state that their disposable income is considerably more than enough.

The third place ranking in the Personal Finance Index is despite the fact that the highest percentage of expats in Mexico (33%) has a gross yearly household income of between 25,000 USD and 50,000 USD. A further 31% even have an income of 25,000 USD or less per year. Only 16% earn more than 100,000 USD per annum (globally: 23%).

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