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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

City Ranking Factors

In 2020, more than 15,000 expats in took part in the survey, representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries or territories.


To identify the best and worst cities for expats, survey participants were asked to rate more than 25 different aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects and considered both emotional topics and more factual aspects with equal weight.

The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 13 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up four topical indices: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, and Finance & Housing. These were further averaged in order to rank all cities worldwide that had the required number of participants for our minimum sample size (see below).

In addition to the four topical indices listed above, the survey also includes a Local Cost of Living Index. However, this index does not factor into the overall ranking to avoid overrepresenting financial aspects.

For a city to be featured in the Expat City Ranking 2020, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per city was required. In 2020, 66 cities meet this requirement, with the top 10 cities for expats being Valencia (1st), Alicante, Lisbon, Panama City, Singapore, Málaga, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, and Abu Dhabi (10th).