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The 10 Best Countries for Boosting Your Career

Munich, 14 June 2017
Working in Romania, Vietnam, or Colombia offers great opportunities, while Scandinavia or Southern Europe may stall your career
  • Latin American countries Ecuador, Colombia, and Mexico are some of the best countries for expats hoping to build a career abroad.
  • Seven out of the ten worst-rated countries for career prospects are located in Europe, and with the UK, Romania, and Luxembourg, only three European destinations make it to the top 10.
  • Expats in Nordic countries find it hard to build a career, with Finland ranking 62nd, Sweden 54th, and Norway 53rd out of 67 destinations when it comes to career prospects.

Munich, 14 June 2017 — More than one in three expats (35 percent) mention their job or business as their most important reason for relocating: 15 percent moved abroad because they found a job on their own, 13 percent were sent abroad by their employer, 5 percent were recruited by a local company, and 3 percent moved because they wanted to start their own business abroad. Based on the insights of more than 14,000 expats given in the annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, compiled a so-far unpublished ranking of the countries with the best career prospects for expats.

Top 10 Countries with the Best Career Prospects

Interestingly, not all destinations where expats are particularly satisfied with their individual career options are rated just as positively for the state of the local economy. While countries such as Luxembourg, Taiwan, the UK, or the USA do well with regard to both factors, this is not necessarily the case for the top 10 career-boosting destinations featured below. For example, Colombia, Romania, and Ecuador are all featured among the best choices for career expats and overtake such major economies and important markets as China (12th), Germany (13th), Japan (32nd), Switzerland (36th), and France (58th).

1. United States of America

The United States wins the gold medal as the country with the best career prospects for expats, where 70 percent of respondents rate this factor positively. Seven in ten expats also judge the state of the local economy favorably, compared to a global average of 56 percent. Even though the USA is among the top 10 countries to start a new job and build a career, working expats pay a price if they choose to live and work in this country: the USA has poor rankings when it comes to work-life balance. In the respective category, it only ranks 51st out of 67 countries.

2. United Kingdom

The United Kingdom follows on second position for career opportunities, even surpassing the United States when it comes to working abroad in general. Over seven out of ten expats in the UK (71 percent) rate their overall job satisfaction positively. When it comes to their financial situation, 63 percent of expats give positive ratings for this factor too. Nevertheless, the UK only ranks 53rd out of 67 countries in the reverse Cost of Living Index, and over half of the respondents (51 percent) considered the local living expenses as a potential disadvantage before their move. Furthermore, one in four survey respondents thinks that their disposable income is not enough to cover all their expenses in the UK.

3. Taiwan

Taiwan offers great career opportunities and for all those who are thinking of moving abroad. This destination is second in the world in the overall Working Abroad Index and comes third for career prospects in particular. A high percentage of expats feel positive about their individual job satisfaction and their job security in Taiwan, with more than eight in ten survey respondents judging each of these factors favorably (81 percent positive ratings for job security and 82 percent for job satisfaction).

4. Ecuador

Ecuador makes it to the top five countries for career prospects, with nearly six out of ten working expats in this country (59 percent) feeling positively about their options. Ecuador is also considered one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries worldwide. More than eight in ten expats (84 percent) describe the local attitude towards expats as generally friendly. Maybe this friendliness extends to the workplace, too? A warm welcome at work might be among the potential reasons why 67 percent of expats in Ecuador express general satisfaction with their job.

5. Romania

Romania lands on a respectable fifth position for building a career abroad, thereby overtaking Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands, among others. In Romania, seven out of ten working expats rate their career options positively, and even more (74 percent) feel good about their overall job satisfaction. Moreover, nearly seven in ten expats (69 percent) considered the local cost of living as a potential benefit before moving there, compared to a global average of 43 percent. However, expats who are thinking about starting a career in Romania should keep in mind that it has rather long working hours for full-time workers, with an average of 49.2 hours per week. In terms of work-life balance, Romania ranks 34th out of 67 countries.

6. Australia

Australia does not only rank well for career prospects, but also for work-life balance: Almost seven in ten expats working in Australia (69 percent) rate their working hours positively. Average working hours for expats with full-time jobs are 43.6 hours per week, slightly below the global average of 44.6. However, not everything is fine and dandy down under — 10 percent of expats in Australia think that their disposable income is not nearly enough to cover daily expenses and 52 percent of them are unhappy with the cost of living.

7. Vietnam

Vietnam does not only stand out when it comes to career prospects for expats, but also in terms of cost of living and personal finance. In the respective indices, it ranks 4th and 5th out of 67 countries. Nearly eight out of ten expats (79 percent) considered the cost of living in Vietnam as a potential benefit prior to moving there, compared to a global average of 43 percent. Over seven out of ten (72 percent) now rate their financial situation in Vietnam positively. Interestingly enough, Vietnam seems to attract an above-average number of teachers, academics, and researchers (16 percent versus 8 percent globally), as well as freelancers and entrepreneurs (17 percent versus 13 percent worldwide).

8. Colombia

Colombia has gained some significant advances when it comes to working abroad and is now featured among the best options for those who want to build a career in a foreign country. Moving up ten spots in the Working Abroad Index compared to last year’s results (from 39th to 29th place), Colombia has drastically improved its results for job satisfaction and career opportunities, jumping from 47th to 15th place in the respective category. One in five expats considers their career options excellent (versus 13 percent worldwide), and two-thirds are satisfied with their job.  A US American expat sums up the positive aspects of working in Colombia as “a social atmosphere at work, where there is no stress and where I get to choose the projects that I want to work on”.

9. Luxembourg

It is no surprise that Luxembourg is among the top 10 countries with the best-rated career options for expats. In the overall Working Abroad Index it is even the worldwide number one. About eight out of ten expats are generally happy with their work-life balance (79 percent), job security (81 percent), and overall job satisfaction (76 percent). Two-thirds also give their career prospects a favorable rating. The financial sector seems to be the most popular industry among expats in Luxembourg: 31 percent chose this employment option as opposed to only 8 percent worldwide.

10. Mexico

With three out of four respondents rating their overall job satisfaction positively and 60 percent feeling satisfied with their career prospects, this destination has many perks to offer to working expats. An Italian expat living in Mexico states that “there is the possibility to grow as a professional” there. On the one hand, Mexico attracts quite a few self-employed expats — professionals like doctors or lawyers, freelancers, and entrepreneurs, who account for 23 percent of all survey respondents. On the other hand, it is also a veritable paradise for retirees, with 26 percent of respondents having already retired, and 76 percent of them having moved there to spend their golden years in the Mexican sun.   

Worst Countries to Build a Career Abroad

The worst-rated choices for career-minded expats are all located in Europe. Portugal, Italy and Greece might be great for your vacation, but they are the worst destinations to pursue a career abroad. Up to 59 percent of the expats living in these countries rate their career prospects negatively, compared to a global average of a mere 24 percent. The state of the economy may account for this perception: over half the respondents in Portugal and Italy (51 percent each) rate this factor negatively, compared to a global average of 23 percent. The results for Greece are even more worrying: nine out of ten expats have a negative view of its economy, and 44 percent even consider it very bad.

Finland, Sweden, and Norway do very badly, too, when it comes to career prospects. Ranking 62nd, 54th and 53rd out of 67 countries overall, these Nordic countries do not seem to offer satisfying career options for working expats. Only 41 percent in Finland, 43 percent in Norway, and 50 percent in Sweden rate their career prospects in these countries positively, fewer than the global average (55 percent). Despite this, Norway and Sweden are still among the countries with the best work-life balance and high job security. 

About InterNations

With more than 5.3 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.

Find more information about InterNations on our press page or in our magazine.

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