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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Of Sun, Safety, Sports & More: The Quality of Life Index

The destinations with the best quality of life in 2022 offer good healthcare and transportation, among other factors, while the bottom 3 leave expats dissatisfied across the board.

Top Findings

  • #1 Spain only misses out on a top 10 rank in one of the five subcategories.
  • #2 Taiwan is the undisputed winner when it comes to Health & Well-Being.
  • Expats love #3 Austria, particularly in matters of Travel & Transit.
  • #52 Kuwait, #51 India, and #50 the Philippines make up the bottom 3.
  • The bottom 10 are geographically diverse, but Europe and Asia dominate the top 10.

The Top 10

Methodology

The Quality of Life Index 2022 covers 21 rating factors across five different subcategories: Travel & Transit, Environment & Climate, Leisure Options, Health & Well-Being, and Safety & Security. Expats rated the factors on a scale from one (very bad) to seven (very good). This resulted in a ranking of 52 destinations with a minimum of 50 respondents each.

Loving Life in Spain

Spain ranks 1st out of 52 in the Quality of Life Index, and no other place offers better Leisure Options (1st). Expats appreciate the opportunities for recreational sports (90% happy vs. 75% globally), as well as the culture and nightlife (85% vs. 67%). A Mexican respondent points out “the availability of cultural events … there’s always something very interesting to do.” More than nine in ten (91%) also praise the culinary variety and dining options (vs. 77% globally).

However, it’s not just the food and the sun — 66% love the climate and weather (vs. 28% globally)! — which delight expats in Spain. They also point out the availability (82% happy vs. 73% globally), affordability (79% vs. 61%), and quality (84% vs. 72%) of healthcare.

Spain’s results in the Travel & Transit (8th) and Environment & Climate (7th) Subcategories are slightly more mixed, though still well above average. Expats enjoy the travel opportunities (93% happy vs. 82% globally) and natural environment (91% vs. 83%). “I appreciate the easy availability of the beach, mountains, and airport!” says a respondent from the US. There’s also a good infrastructure for cars (87% vs. 75%) and for those traveling on foot or by bike (89% vs. 77%).

Overall, Spain only misses out on the top 10 in one of the subcategories. Even then, its 17th place for Safety & Security is not caused by safety concerns (90% happy vs. 81% globally) but rather Spain’s below-average results for political stability (31st).

Taiwan’s Healthcare Can’t Be Beat

Taiwan (2nd) is the undisputed winner for Health & Well-Being (1st), ranking first for all four rating factors. Not a single respondent is unhappy with the affordability of healthcare (vs. 21% globally), and 98% praise its availability (vs. 73% globally).

Similarly, expats feel perfectly safe in Taiwan (no negative ratings). Another 76% agree that they can openly express themselves (vs. 64% globally). However, due to some worries over political stability (61% happy vs. 64% globally), Taiwan misses out on the top 10 for Safety & Security (13th).

That is not the case for Travel & Transit (7th). Expats highlight the great availability (8th) and affordability (5th) of public transportation — 73% even give the latter the best possible rating (vs. 39% globally)!

Oh, definitely the food and nature,” a Hungarian respondent replies when asked what they like best about Taiwan. Others agree, rating Taiwan tenth for culinary variety and dining options. Well over nine in ten (94%) also like the natural environment (vs. 83% globally). Still, Taiwan receives its worst results in this index for the Environment & Climate (21st), mostly due to its air quality (41st).

Out & About in Lovely Austria

Expats love Austria (3th) particularly in matters of Travel & Transit (2nd) — only Singapore does better here! They highlight the affordability (10th) and availability (10th) of public transportation. A US expat even names “the ability to get around with public transportation” as one of their favorite things about life in Austria. The ease of getting around on foot or by bike (8th) is similarly appreciated. Plus, expats love the opportunity to travel (94% happy vs. 82% globally).

Like Taiwan, Austria also stands out for Health & Well-Being (3rd): more than half give the best rating to the availability (52% vs. 37% globally) and affordability (51% vs. 33%) of local healthcare. Expats also have easy access to all kinds of healthcare services (8th) and praise the quality of medical care (10th).

Clean air (10th) and the availability of green goods and services (3rd) help when it comes to living a healthy life. In Austria, 85% of expats rate the urban environment positively (vs. 67% globally), and 77% are very happy with the natural environment (vs. 55% globally). A similar share (78%) agrees that the government’s policies aim to protect the environment (vs. 61% globally).

Austria’s results in the Leisure Options (21st) and Safety & Security (21st) Subcategories are not as striking, though still above average. The majority is happy with sporting opportunities (88% vs. 75%) and feels safe in Austria (93% vs. 81% globally). However, ratings for the culinary offering (74% vs. 77% globally) and the political stability (67% vs. 64%) are a little less enthusiastic.

The Bottom 3: Kuwait, India & the Philippines

Kuwait offers the worst Quality of Life (52nd). It places last for three out of five subcategories — Leisure Options, Travel & Transit, and Environment & Climate — and ends up in the bottom 5 for Health & Well-Being (51st) and Safety & Security (49th).

Expats feel mostly safe in Kuwait (79% vs. 81% globally), but there’s a “poor infrastructure and the country is “not eco-friendly”, according to a British expat. Not even a third (31%) rate the availability of green goods and services favorably, for example (vs. 64% globally). And 22% give the availability of public transportation the worst possible rating (vs. 5% globally).

In comparison, India at least receives good results for Health & Well-Being (19th). However, with a bottom 10 spot for all other subcategories, this result does not save it from ranking 51st. Expats are mostly happy with the affordability (8th) and availability (22nd) of healthcare, but also rate India the worst country worldwide for air quality (52nd).

They are also dissatisfied with their safety, both in general (48th) and when trying to get around on foot or by bike (51st). A third (33%) rate the availability of public transit options negatively (vs. 17% globally), and 55% are dissatisfied with the infrastructure for cars (vs. 13% globally).

Respondents in the Philippines (50th) are also disappointed with the roads (50th), as well as their travel opportunities (48th). While the country gets a few good results — e.g., for the climate and weather (76% happy vs. 62% globally) — these do not save it from landing in the bottom 10 of every subcategory.

In fact, the Philippines ranks 51st for Leisure Options and 49th for Health & Well-Being. Over a third (34%) also give the political stability a negative rating (vs. 15% globally), and just 40% feel they can openly express their opinions (vs. 64% globally).

Trends in the Top 10

  1. Spain
  2. Taiwan
  3. Austria
  4. Portugal
  5. UAE
  6. Switzerland
  7. Finland
  8. Denmark
  9. South Korea
  10. Singapore

Neighboring Portugal (4th) joins Spain among the top 10. Like in Spain, expats are particularly happy with the Environment & Climate (3rd) and the Leisure Options (7th), though less satisfied when it comes to Health & Well-Being (22nd). Portugal places fifth for Safety & Security, though.

The UAE (5th) is the only Middle Eastern destination in the top 10. Expats particularly appreciate its Leisure Options (3rd) and Travel & Transit (5th), but the country also receives good results for nearly all factors. The natural environment is the only exception (65% happy vs. 83% globally).

Like Austria, Switzerland (6th) does well for Environment & Climate (2nd) and Travel & Transit (6th) and performs worst for Leisure Options (41st). It only receives a mediocre 25th place for Health & Well-Being, mainly due to the lack of affordable healthcare (48th). However, Switzerland places second for Safety & Security and is viewed as the politically most stable country (1st).

Finland (7th) and Denmark (8th) both receive below-average results for Leisure Options (42nd and 36th, respectively). However, they make up for it by getting top grades for many other factors. Both rank among the top 3 for Safety & Security (1st Denmark, 3rd Finland). Expats also couldn’t be any happier with the air quality in Finland (1st) and the availability of green goods and services in Denmark (1st).

With South Korea (9th) and Singapore (10th), two other Tiger States join Taiwan (2nd) in the top 10. All three do well for Travel & Transit — Singapore even ranks first — but expats appreciate the Environment & Climate in Singapore (17th) much more than in South Korea (38th). However, South Korea is only beaten by Taiwan for Health & Well-Being (2nd).

Trends in the Bottom 10

  1. Kuwait
  2. India
  3. Philippines
  4. Malta
  5. Vietnam
  6. Egypt
  7. Ireland
  8. Kenya
  9. Malaysia
  10. South Africa

Next to India (51st) and the Philippines (50th), there are two more Asian destinations in the bottom 10: Vietnam (48th) and Malaysia (44th). Their results are fairly similar to those of India and the Philippines, for example, in the Environment & Climate Subcategory — Malaysia’s 41st place is the “best” result here. At least, expats are more satisfied with the Leisure Options (Vietnam 29th; Malaysia 28th).

With Egypt (47th), Kenya (45th), and South Africa (43rd), all three African countries featured in the survey are among the bottom 10. Expats are particularly concerned about Safety & Security — Egypt (42nd) nearly ends up in the bottom 10 of this subcategory, followed by Kenya (43rd) and South Africa (51st).

Travel & Transit is an issue for expats in Malta (49th in the index) and Ireland (46th), the two European destinations among the ten worst-rated ones. Both end up in the bottom 10 for this subcategory, as well as for Leisure Options. And while Ireland is rated the worst country worldwide for Health & Well-Being (52nd), Malta loses out in regard to the Environment & Climate (50th).

Further Reading

Full Ranking