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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

A Closer Look at North America

9.      Canada

Coming 9th out of 60 destinations worldwide, Canada is the only North American country in the top 10 of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. It ranks especially high in the Quality of Environment subcategory (8th), with 96% of expats rating the natural environment positively (vs. 82% globally) and 74% even saying it could not be any better (vs. 49% globally). Expats are also satisfied with the factor water and sanitation (90% vs. 72% globally). A Russian expat mentions “clean water and air” as some of her favorite things about Canada. With an excellent availability of green goods and services (80% vs. 63% globally) and 81% of survey respondents satisfied with the energy supply (vs. 62% globally), the country ranks 11th in the Products & Utilities subcategory. In the Policies & People subcategory (13th), 71% of respondents state that the Canadian population seems to be very much interested in environmental issues (vs. 48% globally). This also seems to be the case for the Canadian government, as 76% of expats think that it supports an environmental agenda, 19 percentage points more than the global average (55%).

15.  Costa Rica

Coming 15th overall, Costa Rica performs particularly well in the Policies & People subcategory (10th). This is due to more than four in five expats (82%) describing the government as supportive of environmental policies (vs. 55% globally). More than two-thirds of the survey respondents (67%) also think the population is very much interested in protecting the environment (vs. 48% globally). “This country is committed to environmental conservation, clean energy, and a positive impact on the planet,” an expat from the United States observes. “It is easy to live a healthy lifestyle with regard to the food, climate, clean air, and water.” In fact, Costa Rica also ranks high for the quality of its environment (12th): 97% of expats rate the natural environment positively (vs. 82% globally), and nearly nine in ten (87%) are happy with the local air quality (vs. 62% globally). Finally, expats in Costa Rica are also satisfied with the country’s energy supply (79% satisfied vs. 62% globally). Only the ratings for waste management and recycling could be a lot better (49% happy vs. 60% globally), placing the country on 23rd position in the Products & Utilities subcategory.

30. USA

The United States lands right in the middle of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, coming in 30th place out of 60 destinations worldwide. It performs worst in the Policies & People subcategory (41st), ranking even among the bottom 10 worldwide when it comes to the government supporting policies to protect the environment (51st). In fact, just 33% of expats think the US government cares about such issues (vs. 55% globally). On top of that, the population does not seem to be “environmentally conscious, and a little too unreliable in matters of recycling,” according to a South African expat. Only 43% of expats agree that the local population is very interested in environmental issues (vs. 48% globally). On the upside, the United States seems to offer a decent range of green goods and services, according to 72% of expats (vs. 63% globally). However, only five in nine expats (56%) are satisfied with the energy supply in the United States (vs. 62% globally). This leads to the country ranking 27th in the Products & Utilities subcategory. And when it comes to the Quality of Environment subcategory (27th), the majority of expats (80%) is satisfied with the factor water and sanitation (vs. 72% globally). A Venezuelan respondent shares: “I like that the basic services for living are guaranteed, such as access to clean water”. Respondents are also fairly pleased with the air quality in the US, rating it two percentage points above the global average (64% vs. 62% globally).

31. Panama

Following right behind the United States, Panama receives mixed results in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. It does best in the Quality of Environment subcategory (18th), with 94% of expats being happy with the natural environment (vs. 82% globally) and 81% being satisfied with the air quality (vs. 62% globally). A Canadian expat specifically lists “jungle, ocean, and nature” as some of the things she likes most about Panama. However, the country does not perform so well in terms of waste management and recycling (48th), with only 37% of expats satisfied with this factor (vs. 60% globally). Moreover, expats are not happy with the availability of green goods and services (39th). It could be that there is no big demand for such services yet, as only 34% of expats describe the local population as very interested in the environment (vs. 48% globally). A South African living in Panama City notes: “The city is quite noisy, and there is a lot of litter on the streets and in the ocean. People should be more environmentally aware and concerned.” Expats also agree that government support for policies to protect the environment is just about average (56% happy vs. 55% globally), which puts the country on 31st place in the Policies & People subcategory.

43. Mexico

Coming in 43rd place in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, Mexico is the worst-ranking country out of the North American destinations featured in the report. It ranks in the bottom half for all the rating factors — and even in the bottom 10 worldwide for water and sanitation (51st). More than one in three expats (35%) rate this factor negatively (vs. 15% globally). According to a US American expat, the “lack of clean and operational public restrooms” is what makes Mexico less likeable. Additionally, 37% of the survey participants are not satisfied with the local air quality (vs. 24% globally), which leads to a low 45th rank for Mexico in the Quality of Environment subcategory. Mexico also ranks rather low in both the Policies & People and the Products & Utilities subcategories (42nd each). Fewer than one in three expats (31%) think that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally), and almost half (47%) rate the country’s waste management and recycling measures negatively (vs. 28% globally) — 18% even think that the latter could not be any worse (vs. 9% globally). A Canadian expat points out that there is “not enough recycling,” and an Italian expat finds that “it could be cleaner outdoors”. On the upside, more than three in five expats (61%) are happy with the availability of green goods and services in Mexico, which is, however, still slightly below the global average (63%).