Expat City Ranking 2017 Reveals the Best and Worst Cities for Expats
- Manama, Prague, Madrid, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Basel, and Frankfurt are the best cities for expats.
- Expats experience the best career opportunities in the world in Amsterdam, London, Beijing, Prague, and Munich.
- About seven in ten expats living in Johannesburg, Muscat, Cape Town, Amsterdam, and Manama are happy with their social life.
Munich, 14 November 2017 — Manama takes first position out of 51 cities in this year’s Expat City Ranking. The small capital of the Arab monarchy Bahrain, as well as top-ranking Madrid (3rd) and Kuala Lumpur (4th), are highly appreciated for the ease of getting settled in these cities. Prague (2nd) rather attracts expats with its excellent work life, while Amsterdam (5th) manages to offer a good mixture of both. Other cities that offer above-average career opportunities are London, Beijing, and Munich, as the so-far unpublished Expat City Ranking 2017 reveals. The ranking is based on data collected in the annual Expat Insider survey, conducted by InterNations, the largest expat community worldwide. With nearly 13,000 respondents living and working abroad, Expat Insider 2017 is one of the most extensive expat studies worldwide. Apart from offering an in-depth analysis of expat life in 51 cities, the survey ranks them by a variety of factors from the areas quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, as well as finance and housing. According to all these rating factors, the top 10 cities for expats are Manama, Prague, Madrid, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Basel, and Frankfurt am Main.
Top 5 Cities Make It Easy for Expats to Get Settled and Enjoy a Great Work Life
Manama, Prague, Madrid, Kuala Lumpur, and Amsterdam top the list of the best cities for expats: while Prague lags behind on 35th place for getting settled, the other four cities receive good to excellent ratings in this respect. A South African expat living in Kuala Lumpur likes “the easy-going temperament and friendliness of the local people” while an expat from the Philippines appreciates the “very friendly and helpful locals” in Manama. The majority of expats rates the general friendliness towards foreign residents positively in Manama (84%), Amsterdam (83%), Kuala Lumpur (78%), and Madrid (74%), compared to a global average of 67 percent. Prague, however, performs below average here: only about half of expats living there (49%) are satisfied with this factor. Nonetheless, the capital of the Czech Republic is one of the top destinations for expats, particularly due to its outstanding ratings in terms of work: nearly seven in ten expats (68%) are satisfied with local career opportunities in Prague — 19 percentage points more than the global average.
Move to Amsterdam, London, Beijing, Prague, or Munich to Boost Your Career
The vast majority of expats in Amsterdam (78%), London (74%), Beijing (70%), Prague (68%), and Munich (66%) rates the local career opportunities positively, compared to a global average of only 49 percent. It seems to be fairly easy to pursue a career in these cities as an above-average share of expats cite finding a job on their own as their most important reason for moving abroad. However, some of them pay a high price for their career: while the European cities manage to combine expat jobs with a satisfying work-life balance, it is all work and no play for expats in Beijing. Only about half the expats in the Chinese capital (54%) are happy with their work-life balance, compared to about seven in ten, or more, in the four European destinations. “The work-life balance and the quality of work is really great”, says a Canadian expat living in Munich, and an Australian in Prague states that their “working conditions are excellent”.
Enjoying Social Life in Johannesburg, Muscat, Cape Town, Amsterdam, and Manama
For those who are looking for a fulfilling social life, Johannesburg, Muscat, Cape Town, Amsterdam, and Manama are the cities to keep in mind: about seven in ten expats living in these cities are happy with this aspect of life abroad. A Mauritian expat especially appreciates “the social events and places to go out to” in Amsterdam, while a British expat mentions “socializing” as one of the benefits of living in Cape Town. In all of these cities, making friends does not seem to be a problem, either. An above-average share of expats finds it easy to make new friends in Muscat (71%), Johannesburg (66%), Manama (65%), Amsterdam (56%), and Cape Town (54%). However, even though the majority of expats also finds the local residents friendly, they seem to prefer sticking together: only very few respondents in Amsterdam (8%), Cape Town (8%), and Muscat (2%) — and not a single respondent in Manama — report being mainly friends with local residents. Only in Johannesburg does this share reach the global average of 19 percent and outnumber the percentage stating that they are mainly friends with other expats (15%).
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About the Expat City Ranking 2017
For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked about 13,000 expatriates representing 166 nationalities and living in 188 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. In 2017, the fourth year the survey was conducted, respondents were also invited to share their opinions on the city they are currently living in.
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 as well as 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 51 cities worldwide. In 2017, the top 10 cities for expats are Manama, Prague, Madrid, Kuala Lumpur, Amsterdam, Barcelona, Johannesburg, Bangkok, Basel, and Frankfurt am Main.
For a city to be featured in the Expat City Ranking 2017, a sample size of at least 45 survey participants per city was required. In total, the responses used for the city ranking represent 7,985 expats living in 40 countries.
With more than 4.1 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and a source of information for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking and socializing, both online and face to face. At around 6,000 events and activities per month, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include discussion forums and helpful articles with personal expat experiences, tips, and information about life abroad. Membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust. InterNations is part of the New Work SE, a group of brands that offer products and services for a better working life.