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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Where Expats Breathe Easy

Singapore is popular for its travel and transport options, while Austria scores with the quality of its environment and healthcare. But the happiest people live in Ecuador.


The Quality of Life Index includes 64 countries, ranked according to different factors such as leisure, personal happiness, travel and transport, as well as health, safety, and well-being. The minimum sample size per country was 50 respondents, and the majority of the countries that were included in the ranking even had more than 100 respondents.

This year, a few new questions were included in the survey: aside from other aspects, survey participants were asked to rate "affordable healthcare" and "quality of environment" on a scale of one to seven. Moreover, "political stability" and "peacefulness" were considered as individual aspects rather than one combined factor.

Quality of Life Index

Quality of Life Index 2015
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The Top Three in the Quality of Life Index

Singapore, Ecuador, and Austria occupy the top three ranks of this year's Quality of Life Index. Austria, the number three in this ranking, managed to keep its position on the podium, compared to 2014. However, this is not the case for last year's "winners" Switzerland and Spain. The tiny country in the Alps lost its first place and dropped to a respectable fourth place, while Spain, which made it to second place in 2014, only holds sixth place in this year's ranking.

Singapore, on the other hand, improved from sixth place in 2014 to first place this year. Ecuador, which ranked 18th last year, made an even bigger jump to second place.

Singapore: The Asian Tiger Scores with Travel and Safety

In 2015, Singapore tops the Quality of Life Index. It particularly owes this position to the respondents' satisfaction with travel and transport in Singapore. With 78% of respondents very satisfied with the opportunities to travel that Singapore offers, the country occupies pole position in this respect. This could be due to the state's ideal location between Indonesia and Malaysia and its close proximity to other Asian countries.

But it is also the transport infrastructure that survey participants are satisfied with. All in all, 78% of respondents considered it very good, compared to a global average of 33%. This is also reflected in the competitiveness ranking by the World Economic Forum, in which transport infrastructure scored 6.5 out of 7 points.

Moreover, the city-state is highly valued for its personal safety (90% of respondents rate this as very good), political stability (69% very good ratings), and peacefulness (71%). The quality of medical care is also well above the global average of 60%, with 79% positive ratings. However, Singapore is somewhat lacking in terms of affordability of medical care, with 33% unhappy respondents testifying to the high medical costs in Singapore.

In terms of leisure options, Singapore makes another rather positive impression: it receives a slightly higher than average rating for leisure options in general, with 84% positive ratings. In terms of socializing and leisure activities, it also ranks above the global average, with 80% positive responses.

Ecuador: The Country of Good Living

In 2015, Ecuador occupies first place for personal happiness, just like in last year's survey. When asked about their general happiness with life, 92% of the survey participants in Ecuador give a positive answer, with 31% saying they are very happy. Moreover, expats in Ecuador are content with their relationships (87%), 54% of them very much so. The results are not surprising, as Ecuador values the contentment of its residents highly and operates under the motto "ama la vida" (love life). It even has a State Secretary for Good Living (Secretaría del Buen Vivir) for this purpose.

This might also be the reason why the country improved in the Leisure Options subcategory and climbed from 28th to 4th place. All in all, 94% of survey respondents are satisfied with the available leisure options in Ecuador, far more than the global average of 75%.

The country's results also improved in terms of travel and transport, as well as health, safety, and well-being. For instance, Ecuador ranks fourth for the opportunity to travel, with 61% considering it very good, but only 20th for transport infrastructure. Many expats also value Ecuador for the affordability of its medical care, with 85% positive responses, but the country performs rather poorly in terms of personal safety.

Austria: Clean Air in the Alps

Austria's strengths lie in the health, safety, and well-being of its expat residents, as well as the available travel and transport infrastructure. Survey respondents value the small European country particularly for clean air and clear waters, which is reflected in the 95% of positive responses regarding the country's quality of environment. This number is far above the global average of 64%. Moreover, 84% are satisfied with the quality of medical care in Austria, while 80% give its affordability a positive rating.

Much like Singapore, Austria is also popular for its transport infrastructure and the resulting opportunity to travel. It's safe to say that its close proximity to Germany, Italy, and various Central and East European countries is one of the reasons why 94% of survey respondents rate the opportunity to travel favorably, exceeding the global average of 83%. On top of that, an impressive 97% are satisfied with the country's transport infrastructure.

Although expatriates in Austria are also very happy with available leisure options in general, with 92% positive responses, they are not the happiest campers. The country only ranks 38th for general happiness with life and 43rd when it comes to being satisfied with one's romantic relationship.

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