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The Best and Worst Destinations for Living and Working Abroad

Munich, 18 May 2021
The Expat Insider 2021 Survey Reveals: The Best and Worst Destinations for Living and Working
  • Taiwan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, Canada, and Vietnam are the best destinations for expats in 2021.  

  • The worst countries for expats are Kuwait (59th), Italy, South Africa, Russia, Egypt, Japan, Cyprus, Turkey, India, and Malta (50th).  

 

The Best Destinations for Living and Working in 2021

1. Taiwan 

Taiwan ranks 1st out of 59 destinations for the third year in a row in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. It also comes first in the Quality of Life and Working Abroad Indices: Most expats are satisfied with their job security (83% vs. 61% globally) and the state of the local economy (85% vs. 62% globally). Additionally, the majority is happy with their job (75% vs. 68% globally) and their life in general (80% vs. 75% globally). Furthermore, 96% of expats rate the quality of medical care positively (vs. 71% globally), and another 94% are satisfied with its affordability (vs. 61% globally). An expat from Chile shares: “The Taiwanese healthcare system truly considers people as human beings instead of mere numbers.” Moreover, not a single expat (0%) feels personally unsafe in Taiwan (vs. 8% globally). An expat from Canada shares: “I can live independently. I feel safe wherever I go, and everything is convenient.” 

Although Taiwan places slightly lower in the Ease of Settling In Index (13th), it is the best-ranking country worldwide in the Friendliness subcategory (1st). Most expats find it easy to make friends there (62% vs. 48% globally) and describe the Taiwanese population as friendly towards foreign residents (96% vs. 67% globally).  

 

2. Mexico 

Mexico ranks 2nd out of 59 destinations worldwide. It is even rated the best country for expats in the Ease of Settling In Index (1st): 85% find it easy to settle down in Mexico (vs. 62% globally), and 78% say it is easy to make local friends (vs. 44% globally). A US American expat says that “the culture and friendliness of the local people” is their favorite thing about living in Mexico.  

Mexico also does well in the Personal Finance (2nd) and Cost of Living (4th) Indices. In fact, four in five expats (80%) are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally), and 90% say their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to cover their living expenses (vs. 77% globally).  

Mexico performs slightly below average in the Quality of Life Index (31st). It comes in 42nd place in the Quality of the Environment subcategory, with 27% of expats being unhappy with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 12% globally). Additionally, Mexico even ends up among the bottom 10 of the Safety & Security subcategory (51st), with 20% of expats concerned about their personal safety (vs. 8% globally). Despite that, 89% of expats in Mexico are happy with their life in general (vs. 75% globally), placing the country first worldwide for personal happiness.  

 

3. Costa Rica 

Costa Rica places 3rd out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. It ranks among the top 5 in the Ease of Settling In Index (3rd), with 91% of expats describing the population as generally friendly (vs. 69% globally). Another 87% describe the local residents as generally friendly towards foreign ones (vs. 67% globally), and 70% find it easy to make local friends (vs. 44% globally). “I love the social life and culture,” shares a US American expat. Maybe this is why most survey respondents find it easy to get used to the local culture (82% vs. 65% globally) and feel at home in it too (80% vs. 63% globally).  

Costa Rica performs well in the Quality of Life Index (14th), coming in second place worldwide for personal happiness — just behind Mexico (1st). All things considered, 88% of expats in Costa Rica are happy with their life (vs. 75% globally). The country comes 10th in the Quality of the Environment subcategory, with the majority of expats rating the natural environment (96% vs. 84% globally) and the air quality (91% vs. 66% globally) positively. However, Costa Rica lands in the bottom 10 of the Travel & Transportation subcategory (52nd): 29% of expats are unhappy with the public transportation system (vs. 15% globally). A Canadian expat shares: “Traffic is terrible because of poor drivers, bad roads, and insufficient infrastructure.”  

On the upside, Costa Rica makes it into the top 10 of the Personal Finance Index (7th), with 84% of expats considering their disposable household income enough or more than enough to cover all expenses (vs. 77% globally).  

 

4. Malaysia 

Ranking 4th out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Malaysia ranks above the global average in every index. The country does particularly well in the Ease of Settling In Index (2nd) — as a US American expat puts it: “It is easy to live here, and the people are wonderful.” In fact, most expats find it easy to settle down in Malaysia (77% vs. 62% globally) and to make new friends there (66% vs. 48% globally). It might help that Malaysia ranks first in the Language subcategory: 92% of expats find it easy to live there without speaking the local language (vs. 54% globally), while 45% also consider it easy to learn (vs. 39% globally).  

The country also does exceedingly well in the Cost of Living Index (2nd), where just Vietnam (1st) performs better. In fact, 82% of expats rate the cost of living in Malaysia positively (vs. 48% globally). With the destination ranking 9th in the Personal Finance Index, 73% of expats are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally), and 85% say their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to cover their expenses (vs. 77% globally).  

Malaysia does worst in the Working Abroad Index, but it still lands in a slightly above-average 25th place: 72% of expats are satisfied with their working hours (vs. 66% globally), and 69% are happy with their job in general (vs. 68% globally). 

 

5. Portugal 

Portugal ranks 5th out of 59 destinations in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, performing best in the Quality of Life Index (3rd) — just behind Taiwan (1st) and Austria (2nd). The country ranks third in the Personal Happiness subcategory of this index, with 84% of expats being happy with their life in general (vs. 75% globally). What is more, 87% of expats are satisfied with the local leisure options (vs. 72% globally), and 90% say the same about the climate and weather (vs. 66% globally). “I like the weather and the laid-back lifestyle,” says a French expat.  

Portugal also makes it into the top 10 of the Ease of Settling In Index (9th), coming sixth in the Friendliness subcategory. In fact, 87% of expats find the local residents generally friendly, compared to just 69% globally. Portugal even ranks second worldwide in the Feeling at Home subcategory, where just Mexico (1st) performs better. The majority of expats feels at home in the local culture (83% vs. 63% globally) and finds it easy to settle down in the country (84% vs. 62% globally).  

Portugal receives its worst — but still fairly average — results in the Working Abroad Index (36th). The destination places 44th in the Career Prospects & Satisfaction subcategory, though, with more than half the expats (51%) unsatisfied with the local career opportunities (vs. 33% globally). However, 70% of expats are at least happy with their work-life balance (vs. 66% globally).  

 

6. New Zealand 

New Zealand almost makes it into the global top 5 of the Expat Insider 2021 ranking, coming 6th out of 59 countries. It performs particularly well for working abroad (2nd): 81% of expats consider their job secure (vs. 61% globally), and 64% feel optimistic about local career options (vs. 45% globally). At the same time, expats enjoy a great work-life balance (83% satisfied vs. 66% globally).  

The country comes in 11th place in the Quality of Life Index, doing especially well in the Digital Life subcategory (5th): 98% are happy with the cashless payment options (vs. 83% globally), and 89% rate the availability of government services online favorably (vs. 63% globally). What is more, New Zealand has the best ratings worldwide for its natural environment (100% positive vs. 84% globally), coming in 6th place in the Quality of Environment subcategory. Last but not least, it is a very safe and stable country to settle down in: 95% of expats describe New Zealand as peaceful (vs. 80% globally), and not one single respondent rates its political stability negatively, compared to about one in six (16%) globally. “I love my peaceful, calm, and safe existence in New Zealand,” a US expat comments.  

The results for the ease of settling in are only slightly worse (16th). Expats find it easy to settle down in New Zealand (77% positive ratings vs. 62% globally), and 82% describe the local residents as friendly (vs. 69% globally).  

 

7. Australia 

In the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Australia (7th out of 59) lands among the top 10 destinations worldwide. While it ranks sixth in the Quality of Life Index overall, it comes first worldwide for its local leisure activities (87% positive ratings vs. 72% globally). An impressive 97% of respondents also praise the natural environment (vs. 84% globally). “Living in close proximity to nature — close to the beach and the rainforest — is so amazing!”, says a US expat. Lastly, it ranks very well in the Digital Life subcategory (8th) as, for instance, 89% of expats appreciate the availability of government services online (vs. 63% worldwide). However, opinions are divided on the topic of healthcare in Australia: while 88% of expats are satisfied with its quality (vs. 71% globally), just 68% consider it affordable (vs. 61% globally).  

Australia does well in the Working Abroad Index (10th). Expats are especially satisfied with their local career opportunities (60% positive ratings vs. 45% globally) and their work-life balance (76% positive responses vs. 66% globally). Even Australia’s somewhat worse results in the Ease of Settling In Index (18th) still place it in the top 20. Expats find it especially easy to get used to the local culture (76% positive responses vs. 65% globally) and to settle down in Australia (74% vs. 62% worldwide). However, only a slightly above-average 54% find it easy to make new friends there (vs. 48% globally).  

 

8. Ecuador  

Coming in 8th place out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Ecuador performs best in the Personal Finance Index (5th). Close to three in four expats (73%) are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally). Moreover, 91% describe their disposable household income as enough or more than enough to cover their expenses (vs. 77% globally). This places the country third for this factor, just behind India (2nd) and Vietnam (1st). Ecuador also lands among the top 10 in the Cost of Living Index (7th), with 78% of expats rating this aspect of life abroad positively (vs. 48% globally).  

In the Ease of Settling In Index (10th), the country ranks sixth in the Feeling at Home subcategory. The majority of expats (82%) finds it easy to settle down in Ecuador (vs. 62% globally), 80% feel at home in the local culture (vs. 63% globally), and 68% find it easy to make new friends in general (vs. 48% globally).  

Ecuador shows a slightly weaker performance in the Quality of Life Index (24th). Still, nearly all expats (96%) rate the country’s natural environment positively (vs. 84% globally), and 85% are satisfied with their socializing and leisure activities (vs. 67% globally). “The nature and scenery are great,” shares a Venezuelan expat. However, in the Digital Life subcategory (45th), Ecuador comes last worldwide (59th) for cashless payment options, with 37% rating this factor negatively (vs. 9% globally).  

 

9. Canada 

Making it into the top 10 out of 59 destinations, Canada (9th overall) performs well in most indices of the Expat Insider 2021 survey. The country ranks best in the Quality of Life Index (5th), with the majority of expats finding it easy to get high speed internet at home (92% vs. 79% globally) and to pay without cash (96% vs. 83% globally). Additionally, 86% are happy with the availability of government services online, compared to 63% globally. Most expats are also satisfied with the affordability of healthcare in Canada (85% vs. 61% globally) and the country’s political stability (90% vs. 64% globally). “Healthcare is a basic right, and the quality of life is very good in Canada,” says a US American expat.  

Canada also performs well in the Working Abroad and Ease of Settling In Indices (12th for both). It even lands in the top 10 of the Feeling at Home subcategory (7th), with 73% of survey respondents feeling at home in the local culture (vs. 63% globally). In terms of work, close to two out of three expats (64%) rate the career opportunities positively (vs. 45% globally).  

On the other hand, Canada ends up among the bottom 10 of the Personal Finance Index (50th). Nearly a third of expats (32%) say their disposable income is not enough to cover all their living expenses (vs. 23% globally). An expat from Mexico shares that “the best cities are really expensive. It is hard to become a homeowner with an average income.”  

 

10. Vietnam  

Coming in 10th place out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Vietnam ranks first in both the Personal Finance and Cost of Living Indices. The majority of expats (85%) rates the cost of living positively (vs. 48% globally), and 78% are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally).  

Vietnam also does well in the Working Abroad Index (9th), with the vast majority of expats (86%) expressing overall job satisfaction (vs. 68% globally). Placing 25th in the Ease of Settling In Index, Vietnam does especially well in the Finding Friends subcategory (9th). According to 63% of expats, making local friends is easy (vs. 44% globally), and another 67% find it easy to make new friends in general (vs. 48% globally). What is more, the majority (81%) considers the local residents generally friendly (vs. 69% globally).  

Despite its great performance in the overall ranking, Vietnam ends up among the bottom 10 in the Quality of Life Index (53rd). More than three in five expats (63%) rate the air quality in Vietnam negatively (vs. 20% globally), and 42% are unhappy with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 12% globally). A Swiss expat shares: “Plastic pollution is a major problem, especially along the coast.” However, 85% of expats in Vietnam are still generally happy with their life (vs. 75% globally).  

 

The Worst Destinations for Living and Working in 2021 

59. Kuwait 

For the seventh time in eight years, Kuwait (59th out of 59 countries) comes in last place in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. The country ranks last in the Quality of Life Index (59th), with especially poor results in the Leisure Options, Personal Happiness, and Travel & Transportation subcategories (59th for all). In fact, 58% of expats in Kuwait are unhappy with the local leisure options (vs. 14% globally), and 50% rate the climate and weather negatively (vs. 17% globally). Additionally, 29% state that they are generally unhappy (vs. 10% globally).  

Kuwait comes last in the Ease of Settling In Index (59th), with 46% of expats not feeling at home in the local culture (vs. 20% globally) and 45% finding it difficult to settle down in this country (vs. 22% globally). Moreover, 51% have trouble finding new friends (vs. 32% globally), and 62% find it difficult to make local friends in particular (vs. 36% globally). The country ranks last for friendliness (59th) as well: 36% of expats rate the general friendliness of the population negatively (vs. 16% globally), while another 44% describe the people as unfriendly towards foreign residents (vs. 18% globally).  

Placing 56th in the Working Abroad Index, Kuwait performs poorly in both the Work & Leisure (58th) and the Career Prospects & Satisfaction (57th) subcategories. More than three in ten respondents (31%) are dissatisfied with their job in general (vs. 16% globally), and 34% are unhappy with their work-life balance (vs. 17% globally).  

 

58. Italy 

Coming in 58th place in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Italy is the second-worst country for expats — ranking only ahead of Kuwait (59th). In the Personal Finance Index (59th), the Southern European country even lands in last place worldwide: 30% of expats are dissatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 19% globally), 14% even very much so, twice the share of the global average (7%). Furthermore, one in three expats (33%) says their disposable household income is not enough to cover their expenses (vs. 23% globally).  

Italy also performs poorly in the Working Abroad Index (58th), only ahead of Turkey (59th), coming last in the Career Prospects & Satisfaction subcategory (59th). More than half the expats (56%) rate their local career opportunities negatively (vs. 33% globally), and 31% are dissatisfied with their job (vs. 16% globally). An Iranian expat shares: “Finding a job is not easy for foreigners, not even for the well-educated ones.”  

Within the Quality of Life Index (42nd), Italy ranks worst in the Digital Life subcategory (51st): 23% of expats find it difficult to get high-speed internet access at home (vs. 12% globally), 18% consider it difficult to pay without cash (vs. 9% globally), and 40% are unhappy with the availability of government services online (vs. 21% globally). Overall, there are only few upsides about expat life in Italy, such as the climate and weather (71% happy vs. 66% globally) and the travel opportunities (88% happy vs. 84% globally). 

 

57. South Africa 

Coming in 57th place out of 59 destinations in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, South Africa ends up in the bottom 3 — only ahead of Italy (58th) and Kuwait (59th). It performs worst in the Personal Finance Index (55th): over one-third of expats in South Africa (34%) do not consider their disposable household income enough to cover all their expenses (vs. 24% globally), and just 57% of expats in South Africa are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally).  

South Africa also ends up among the bottom 10 of the Working Abroad Index (54th), coming last worldwide in the Economy & Job Security subcategory (59th). Only 47% of expats are satisfied with their job security (vs. 61% globally), and less than a third (31%) are happy with the state of the local economy — exactly half the global average (62%).  

Ranking among the bottom 10 in the Quality of Life Index (52nd), South Africa ranks last worldwide in the Safety & Security subcategory (59th). More than one-third of expats (34%) do not consider South Africa a peaceful country (vs. 9% globally) and just about one in four (24%) feel safe there (vs. 84% globally). An Ethiopian expat even says: “You are not able to walk around safely.” However, South Africa does well in the Leisure Options subcategory (15th), with 87% of expats rating the climate and weather favorably (vs. 66% globally). The majority (95%) is also satisfied with the natural environment (vs. 84% globally). “I like the climate, the diverse coastlines, and South Africa’s natural beauty,” summarizes a German expat. 

 

56. Russia 

Out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Russia (56th) lands in the bottom 10. It performs worst in the Working Abroad Index (52nd): Close to one in four expats (24% each) rate the state of the local economy negatively (vs. 19% globally) and are unhappy with their job security (vs. 20% globally).  

Narrowly escaping the bottom 10 in the Quality of Life Index (49th), Russia performs especially poorly in the Quality of the Environment subcategory (49th). Expats are unhappy with the air quality (31% vs. 20% globally), the water and sanitation infrastructure (21% vs. 12% globally), and the natural environment (14% vs. 8% globally). “I do not like the lack of any meaningful efforts or policies to reduce environmental pollution and to support basic recycling,” shares a US American expat.  

With Russia coming in 48th place in the Ease of Settling In Index, 29% of respondents find it difficult to settle down in this country (vs. 22% globally). What is more, Russia ends up in the bottom 10 of the Language subcategory (58th), only ahead of Japan (59th). Nearly half the expats (48%) find it difficult to live in Russia’s cities without speaking the local language (vs. 29% globally), and two-thirds (67%) find it difficult to learn Russian (vs. 42% globally). Russia receives its best result in the Cost of Living Index (25th): 49% of expats rate the cost of living positively, which is, however, still just one percentage point above the global average (48%). 

 

55. Egypt  

Egypt (55th out of 59) also ranks the bottom 10 of the Expat Insider 2021 survey. The country performs worst in the Quality of Life Index (57th), where only India (58th) and Kuwait (59th) do worse. In fact, 39% of expats in Egypt rate the water and sanitation infrastructure negatively (vs. 12% globally), and 48% give the air quality a negative rating (vs. 20% globally). “The air quality is bad, and there are only few green spaces,” shares an Afghan expat. Landing at the very bottom, Egypt performs even worse in the Digital Life subcategory (59th). Exactly three in five expats (60%) rate the availability of government services online negatively (vs. 21% globally), 34% find it difficult to get high-speed internet access at home (vs. 12% globally), and 32% consider it hard to pay without cash (% vs. 9% globally).  

Also ending up among the bottom 10 of the Working Abroad Index (53rd), Egypt receives extremely poor results in the Career Prospects & Satisfaction (55th) and Economy & Job Security (53rd) subcategories. A quarter of expats (25%) are dissatisfied with their job in general (vs. 16% globally), and 46% rate the local career opportunities negatively (vs. 33% globally).  

The country performs better in the Cost of Living (19th) and Ease of Settling In (30th) Indices: 61% of expats rate the cost of living positively (vs. 48% globally) and 57% find it easy to make local friends (vs. 44% globally).  

 

54. Japan 

Japan ranks 54th out of 59 countries featured in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. Performing particularly poorly in the Ease of Settling In Index (58th), Japan only ranks better than Kuwait (59th). Just 36% of expats find it easy to settle down in Japan (vs. 62% globally), and a mere 45% feel at home in the local culture (vs. 63% globally).  

In the Working Abroad Index (50th), 30% of expats are unhappy with their work-life balance (vs. 17% globally). A US American expat living in Hashimoto even says that “the work-life balance here is atrocious”. Japan also receives poor results in the Personal Finance Index (54th), with 26% of expats dissatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 19% globally).  

On the upside, Japan has an above-average performance in the Quality of Life Index (21st). With the country coming 12th for the quality of the environment, 94% of expats rank the water and sanitation infrastructure positively, compared to 77% globally. Additionally, nearly all expats rate Japan positively for personal safety (97% vs. 84% globally) and peacefulness (95% vs. 80% globally). A Brazilian expat shares: “In Japan, there is a low crime rate throughout the country. It is very safe to walk on the streets at any time.” And a South African expat says: “Japan offers a safe environment, and most things are done properly with respect for others in mind.”  

 

53. Cyprus 

Cyprus lands in the bottom 10 overall, coming 53rd out of 59 destinations in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. It places 57th in the Working Abroad Index — just ahead of Turkey (59th) and Italy (58th). Close to half the expats (49%) are dissatisfied with the local career opportunities (vs. 33% globally), and more than a third (34%) rate the job security negatively (vs. 20% globally). A Nepalese expat shares: “It is difficult to find work, so I cannot afford college or my living expenses.” In fact, Cyprus also places in the bottom 10 of the Personal Finance Index (57th) and comes last for the disposable household income (59th). Close to two in five expats (39%) say their disposable household income is not enough to cover their expenses abroad (vs. 23% globally).  

Cyprus performs best in the Ease of Settling In Index (28th), with 66% feeling at home in the local culture (vs. 63% globally) and 70% describing the local population as generally friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 67% globally). Furthermore, 80% of expats find it easy to get around without knowing the local language(s) (vs. 54% globally).  

With Cyprus placing 34th in the Quality of Life Index, the majority of expats (89%) is happy with the local climate and weather (vs. 66% globally) — ranking the destination 5th worldwide for this factor. However, while 70% of respondents are happy with the air quality in Cyprus (vs. 66% globally), 14% rate the water and sanitation negatively (vs. 12% globally).  

 

52. Turkey 

Overall, Turkey (52nd out of 59) lands among the bottom 10 destinations in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. Ranking last worldwide in the Working Abroad Index (59th), Turkey ends up in the bottom 10 for every single subcategory: Career Prospects & Satisfaction (56th), Economy & Job Security (58th), and Work & Leisure (59th). In fact, expats in Turkey are dissatisfied with their working hours (32% vs. 16% globally), their job in general (29% vs. 16% globally), and their job security (30% vs. 20% globally). A British expat shares that “for expats, it is extremely difficult to get a work permit”.  

Turkey places 32nd in the Ease of Settling In Index, with more than half the expats (53%) finding it easy to make local friends (vs. 44% globally). Most expats consider the local residents to be friendly towards foreign ones (72% vs. 67% globally), and they are happy with the general friendliness of the population too (72% vs. 69% globally). “There is a general warmth and hospitality among the people around me,” shares a Russian expat.  

Coming in 35th place in the Quality of Life Index, Turkey ranks among the bottom 10 in the Digital Life subcategory (50th), though: 16% of expats find it difficult to get a local mobile phone number (vs. 7% globally), and 21% have trouble getting high-speed internet at home (vs. 12% globally). The country also lands in the bottom 10 for political stability (54th), with more than a third of expats (35%) rating this factor negatively (vs. 16% globally).  

 

51. India 

Coming in 51st place out of 59 countries, India also ranks among the bottom 10 of the Expat Insider 2021 survey. Despite the poor result overall, the country ranks fourth worldwide in the Personal Finance Index: 82% of expats in India are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally), and 89% say their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to cover their expenses (vs. 77% globally). Additionally, India places 13th in the Cost of Living Index (69% positive ratings vs. 48% globally).  

India performs slightly below average in the Ease of Settling In Index (34th). More than three in five expats (62%) feel at home in the local culture (vs. 63% globally), and 79% say the local population is generally friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 67% globally). However, over half the expats (51%) find it difficult to settle down in India, compared to 22% globally.  

India receives the second-worst results worldwide in the Quality of Life Index (58th) — only ahead of Kuwait (59th) — and performs worst in the Quality of Environment subcategory (59th): 67% of expats rate the air quality negatively (vs. 20% globally), and more than half (54%) are unhappy with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 12% globally). The overall quality of life is also lowered by India’s poor performance in the Safety & Security subcategory (56th). Just 29% are satisfied with the country’s political stability (vs. 64% globally) and just 72% feel safe in India’s cities (vs. 84% globally). 

 

50. Malta 

Malta comes in 50th place out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, performing worst in the Quality of Life Index (54th). It ends up among the bottom 10 in the Quality of the Environment and Travel & Transportation subcategories (56th for both). More than half the expats in Malta (51%) are unhappy with the transportation infrastructure (vs. 15% globally), and 11% rate their travel opportunities negatively (vs. 7% globally). “There is no nature at all, no green spaces, poor infrastructure for children, and too much traffic and pollution,” shares an Italian expat. In fact, 38% of expats in Malta are unhappy with the natural environment (vs. 8% globally). Moreover, 35% rate the air quality negatively (vs. 20% globally), and 25% are dissatisfied with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 12% globally). On the upside, Malta ranks 7th worldwide for its local climate and weather (92% positive ratings vs. 66% globally).  

Malta receives below-average results in the Cost of Living and Ease of Settling In Indices (35th for both). In fact, 20% of expats rate the friendliness of the local population towards foreign residents negatively (vs. 18% globally). Additionally, 37% of expats find it difficult to make local friends in Malta (vs. 36% globally).  

 

Expat Life during the COVID-19 Pandemic 

On a global scale, 45% of survey respondents say that COVID-19 had an impact on their current stay abroad or their relocation plans: the share of expats who say so (37%) either decided to not move back home in the near future (18%), planned to move to another country but had to change these plans (8%), will move to another country due to the pandemic (6%), or will move back home sooner than originally planned (5%).  

The share of local respondents whose relocation plans were affected by COVID-19 (61%) is a lot higher: some of them were living abroad but moved home sooner than planned (18%), others were planning to move abroad but had to change their plans (35%), and about one in ten have now decided to move abroad because of the pandemic (9%).  

 

The Pandemic’s Impact on Everyday Life 

Of course, COVID-19 has not only disrupted the relocation plans of expats worldwide. When asked where they see the biggest impact of the pandemic on their personal life right now, the survey respondents point out its effects on personal travel (25%), social life (23%), and their work or business (16%) in particular. In the long run, respondents are still concerned about the impact of COVID-19 on their social life (17% of all respondents), and there are also considerable worries regarding personal travel (22%).  

 

How Expats Stay Informed on COVID-19 

Expats across the world mostly rely on official government channels (48%), local news (47%), and social media (40%) for news on the COVID-19 situation and the related regulations in their country of residence. Considering the importance of government channels, just how satisfied are expats with the official communication regarding COVID-19 and related regulations? Worldwide, not quite two-thirds (66%) rate this factor positively, with close to a quarter (24%) saying they are completely satisfied. The main complaint among expats who are not satisfied with the official communication on the pandemic is that the information is unclear, confusing, and/or contradictory (67%).  

For further information on the global impact of COVID-19 on expat life, please take a look at the full press release in the download center of our e-mail.  

 

About the InterNations Expat Insider 2021 Survey  

For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked 12,420 expats representing 174 nationalities and living in 59 countries or territories to provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate up to 37 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects, considering both emotional topics and 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 five topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living. The first four of these indices were further averaged together with expats' general satisfaction with their life in order to rank 59 expat destinations around the world. In 2021, the top 10 are Taiwan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, Canada, and Vietnam. Moreover, expats were asked about how COVID-19 has impacted their life abroad; however, these responses did not influence the overall ranking.  

For a country to be featured in the indices and consequently in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per destination was necessary. 

   

 

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About InterNations

With more than 4.2 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, in our company blog, or in our magazine.

Press Contact

Caroline Harsch
Public Relations
InterNations GmbH
Schwanthalerstrasse 39
80336 Munich, Germany
Email: press@internations.org
Homepage: www.internations.org

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Country-specific versions are available in different languages in the download section at the end of each press release and upon request.