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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

Kuwait Turns Up the Heat in More Ways than One

Expats in Kuwait battle with the heat and integrating into the culture for a strong economy and currency.

Kuwait comes in last in the Expat Insider 2024 survey for the seventh time in a row, ranking 53rd out of 53 countries. From career prospects to quality of life and settling in, Kuwait’s poor performance indicates that it may not be the easiest destination for those considering a move abroad. Explore the rankings to uncover the challenges that await expats in this sunny Gulf State.

How Expats Rate Life in Kuwait

Poor Travel Infrastructure under the Sun’s Glare

Kuwait’s position at the bottom of the Quality of Life Index (53rd out of 53) underscores significant challenges. The country ranks in the bottom 5 for each of the index’s underlying subcategories.

This includes a 50th place in the Travel & Transit Subcategory. While the affordability (40th) and availability (43rd) of public transportation could be even worse, only 53% of respondents rate the affordability as good (vs. 70% globally). The same share (53%) regard the opportunity to travel favorably — 30 percentage points lower than the global average of 83%, resulting in Kuwait’s last place for this factor.

The Environment & Climate Subcategory also fares poorly, ranking 53rd. Expats find themselves grappling with the weather (53rd for climate & weather) and don't enjoy the natural environment (53rd). Moreover, only 18% of expats rate the urban environment as good (vs. 66% globally).

“In summer, the heat can go above 50 °C.” – Austrian expat

Mediocre Medical Care & Personal Freedom

Healthcare, crucial for a high quality of life, is ranked 51st. Expats don’t agree that it’s easy to get equal access to all kinds of healthcare services (53rd), and close to three in ten (29%) rate the quality of medical care negatively (vs. 17% globally).

Another poorly performing subcategory is Safety & Security (50th). Only 18% of expats agree that they can express themselves and their opinion freely (vs. 62% globally). But on the bright side, 72% of expats rate their personal safety favorably (vs. 80% globally).

Unsatisfying Costs of Living

Kuwait’s “best” result for an index is 44th place for Personal Finance — though expats are not satisfied with their financial situation (48th). Just two in five (40%) are happy with their finances (vs. 54% globally), while 43% disagree that their disposable household income is enough to lead a comfortable life in Kuwait (vs. 30% globally). Moreover, with the general cost of living in 35th place, only 27% of respondents positively rate the living expenses as good (vs. 40% globally).

Struggling to Settle In

Expats face considerable challenges when it comes to the Ease of Settling In (53rd). Kuwait ranks last across all three subcategories of this index. Only 28% of expats agree that they have a personal support system (vs. 55% globally), and even fewer (22%) are satisfied with their social life (vs. 52%).

The local population may not always extend the warmest of welcomes, either. Less than three in ten expats (26%) agree that people are generally friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 61% globally), and fewer (17%) find it easy to make local friends (vs. 38% globally).

More Challenges in the Workplace

Although over two-thirds of expats (68%) moved to Kuwait for job-related reasons (vs. 35% globally), its 50th place in the Working Abroad Index doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

Kuwait ranks 50th in the Work & Leisure Subcategory, with only 43% of respondents satisfied with their working hours (vs. 62% globally) — on average, expats in a full-time position in Kuwait work 47.8 hours a week, over five hours more than the global average of 42.5 hours.

Work Culture & Satisfaction rank even lower, in 53rd place, suggesting that overall job satisfaction (51st) and flexibility in the workplace (52nd) might not meet expectations for many expats. In fact, a third (33%) aren't happy with their jobs (vs. 19% globally).

However, there is a silver lining in the Salary & Job Security Subcategory (38th). Expats regard the state of the economy very positively (11th): close to three-quarters (73%) rate it favorably, compared to a global average of just 59%.

“If you are skilled worker and have a good job and salary, your life is set. You can travel and live your life comfortably.” – Indian expat

Be Prepared for Red Tape

Finding accommodation, at least, isn't a struggle for expats in Kuwait. Not quite half (46%) agree it’s easy to find housing, which is in line with the global average of 45%. Its affordability, on the other hand, isn't viewed quite as favorably (38th).

This isn't expats’ biggest struggle when it comes to the Expat Essentials Index (46th). Rather, they point to how difficult it is to get a visa in the first place (53rd), deal with local bureaucracy in general (49th), and handle administrative tasks online (44th). Only about half (51%) find that access to online services (e.g. social media) is unrestricted (vs. 82% globally).

The Typical Expat in Kuwait

Further Reading