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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

The Best & Worst Places for Expats in 2022

In the top destinations of 2022, expats especially appreciate the ease of settling in and their finances. The same cannot be said about the bottom 3, which include some surprises.

Top Findings

  • #1 Mexico delights with more than just its food.
  • Expats in #2 Indonesia face few struggles when it comes to housing.
  • #3 Taiwan can’t be beat when it comes to healthcare.
  • While their results vary, #52 Kuwait, #51 New Zealand, and #50 Hong Kong all lose ground due to high costs of living.

The Top 10 Expat Destinations

  1. Mexico
  2. Indonesia
  3. Taiwan
  4. Portugal
  5. Spain
  6. UAE
  7. Vietnam
  8. Thailand
  9. Australia
  10. Singapore

Settling In Made Easy in Mexico

Expats in Mexico are happy with their Personal Finance (2nd) and the Ease of Settling In (1st). In fact, the country comes first in the Local Friendliness, Finding Friends, and Culture & Welcome Subcategories. Expats describe the local residents as friendly (90% vs. 66% globally) and find it easy to make friends among them (75% vs. 42% globally).

The country narrowly misses out on a top 10 spot in the Expat Essentials Index (11th). While 64% of expats found it easy to get a visa in order to move to Mexico (vs. 56% globally), 53% struggle with the local bureaucracy (vs. 39% globally).

Mexico performs worst, but still well, in the Working Abroad (17th) and Quality of Life (24th) Indices. Expats love, for example, the culinary variety and dining options (92% vs. 77% globally) and the natural environment (90% vs. 83% globally), but they are unhappy with the local air quality (36% vs. 19% globally). Overall, 91% of expats are happy with their life in Mexico.

Money Goes a Long Way in Indonesia

Indonesia performs best in the Ease of Settling In (1st) and Personal Finance (3rd) Indices: close to two in three expats (64%) say that their disposable household income is more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 45% globally).

The country also ranks among the best worldwide in the Expat Essentials Index (6th), which is mainly due to the Language (6th) and Housing (2nd) Subcategories. Housing in Indonesia is easy to find (84% vs. 54% globally) and to afford (74% vs. 39% globally).

While its performance in the Working Abroad Index (28th) is rather mediocre, it receives its worst results in the Quality of Life Index (41st). Expats are unhappy with the quality of medical care (28% vs. 14% globally), the availability of green goods and services (35% vs. 17% globally), and the infrastructure for cars (40% vs. 13% globally). Overall, 91% of expats are happy with their life in Indonesia.

Safe & Financially Stable in Taiwan

Taiwan ranks best in the Quality of Life Index (2nd). Expats find healthcare affordable (100% vs. 61% globally) and widely available (98% vs. 73% globally), and they generally feel safe there (98% vs. 81% globally). Taiwan also ranks among the top 10 for the Ease of Settling In (6th) and Personal Finance (8th) Indices. In fact, 70% are satisfied with their financial situation, compared to 60% globally.

While 85% also feel fairly paid for their work (vs. 62% globally), Taiwan still has more of an average performance in the Working Abroad Index (22nd). This is due to a lack of flexibility (41% unhappy vs. 19% globally), creativity (41% unhappy vs. 26% globally), and flat hierarchies (46% unhappy vs. 28% globally) in the local business culture. Lastly, it also gets a mediocre result in the Expat Essentials Index (23rd). Overall, 76% of expats are happy with their life in Taiwan.

The Bottom 10 Expat Destinations

  1. Kuwait
  2. New Zealand
  3. Hong Kong
  4. Cyprus
  5. Luxembourg
  6. Japan
  7. South Africa
  8. Turkey
  9. Italy
  10. Malta

Struggling to Find Friends in Kuwait

Kuwait not only ranks last in the Expat Insider 2022 survey overall, but also in the bottom 10 of each index. It is rated worst in terms of Quality of Life and Ease of Settling In (52nd for each): for example, expats are unhappy with the natural environment (65% vs. 8% globally) and feel that they cannot openly express their opinions (57% vs. 18% globally). They also perceive the local residents as unfriendly (44% vs. 17% globally) and rate their social life negatively (50% vs. 26% globally).

The Working Abroad Index (51st) does not look much better. Expats are unhappy with their career opportunities (39% vs. 22% globally) and their work-life balance (37% vs. 19% globally).

While Kuwait ranks 49th in the Expat Essentials Index, it performs best for Personal Finance (45th): 76% of expats feel that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally). Overall, 37% of expats are happy with their life in Kuwait.

New Zealand Proves Too Expensive

Expats in New Zealand struggle the most with their Personal Finance (52nd): they rate the general cost of living (75% vs. 35% globally) and their financial situation (30% vs. 21% globally) negatively. It might play a role that 32% do not feel fairly paid for their work (vs. 20% globally). Since 15% also do not see a purpose in their work (vs. 9% globally) and 26% do not like their working hours (vs. 17% globally), New Zealand only ranks 42nd in the Working Abroad Index.

New Zealand has a mediocre performance in the Expat Essentials and Quality of Life Indices (39th for each). The latter is mainly due to the high transportation costs (36% vs. 17% globally) and a lack of culture and nightlife (40% vs. 16% globally). But expats love the natural environment (95% vs. 83% globally) and the opportunities for recreational sports (84% vs. 75% globally). Lastly, the country ranks 34th for the Ease of Settling In. Overall, 60% of expats are happy with their life in New Zealand.

Hong Kong Offers No Room for Creativity

Expats rank Hong Kong among the bottom 10 in the Personal Finance Index (44th), and 68% are unhappy with the general cost of living (vs. 35% globally). The destination narrowly escapes the bottom 10 in the Working Abroad Index (41st): 46% miss creativity in the local business culture (vs. 26% globally), but moving to Hong Kong has indeed improved their career prospects (70% vs. 60% globally).

Things do not look much better in the Quality of Life Index (40th). While the availability (96% vs. 73% globally) and affordability (93% vs. 70% globally) of public transportation is a highlight, expats feel that they cannot openly express themselves and their opinions (56% vs. 18% globally). They are also unhappy with the urban environment (33% vs. 17% globally). Hong Kong does best, but still not very well, in the Expat Essentials (35th) and Ease of Settling In (33rd) Indices. Overall, 56% of expats are happy with their life in Hong Kong.

Further Reading