The Cheapest Countries for Expats
Munich, 23 March 2016 — For all those who are dreaming of living in a foreign country, but are on a tight budget, the members of social expat network InterNations have identified the most affordable places around the world. Luckily, first-placed Ecuador is not only the cheapest, but also the most popular destination for expats around the world. Following closely in second and third position are the Central European countries Poland and Czech Republic, which are especially popular among expatriates from the United Kingdom and the United States of America.
Moving Abroad: Not Only For the Wealthy
In order to find the cheapest destinations for expats, InterNations asked more than 14,000 expats from almost 200 countries to rate the cost of living in their new home. They rated their daily spending on a scale from one to seven, which is from “very bad” to very good”.
Foreigners rated Ecuador, Poland and the Czech Republic as the countries with the lowest cost of living. Ecuador was also ranked first for personal finances for the second year in a row: Not only are the costs of living considered the lowest in the world, but more than a quarter of expats in Ecuador (26 per cent) are completely satisfied with their financial situation, compared to 15 percent globally. The reason why expatriates in Ecuador are especially happy with their financial gains is not on account of their income though: More than half of the survey respondents there who disclosed their income status have a gross yearly household income of less than 25,000 USD. Second-placed Poland on the other hand, scores with affordable housing and great job and career opportunities, ranking fourth and sixth in the respective category, out of 64 countries overall. The Czech Republic, however, is not a destination for career-oriented expats — instead, it is perfect for those who are looking for a better quality of living. In the Quality of Life Index, it ranks in place eight. And just like Poland, the country offers very good housing opportunities for expats, ranking sixth with regard to affordable housing.
Saudi Arabia — An Exception That Proves the Rule
The countries with the lowest costs of living are mainly located in South America, Central Europe and Asia. The only surprising exception is Saudi Arabia, which ranked ninth after Romania and before Indonesia: More than three-fourths are generally satisfied with the cost of living in the country, while globally only about half of the expats say the same about their new home. In fact, 68 percent of expats in Saudi Arabia are overall satisfied with their financial situation, and 85 percent feel that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to get by. Therefore it comes as no surprise that financial reasons are the main motivation for relocating to Saudi Arabia (26 percent), followed by finding a job on one’s own (25 percent) and being recruited by a local company (10 percent).
Where Cost of Living Is The Highest
On the other end of the spectrum, expats encountered the highest living costs in Mozambique, Nigeria and Brazil. Mozambique and Nigeria also rank in the top five for the most expensive housing around the world.
Hashim Zein, an American engineer for OLG in Nigeria and the local representative for InterNations, explains: “The neighborhoods where expats live are usually more secure and more premium, thus the costs directly reflect this. Food items typical of Western, South Asian and Far East cuisines, for example, are imported and naturally cost more as they differ somewhat from local tastes”.
Despite the high cost of living, expats in these countries generally feel that they have enough disposable income. Among those survey respondents in Nigeria who chose to share information on their household income, 12 percent of expats in Nigeria have an annual income of more than 250, 000 USD. Those who moved to Nigeria for job-related reasons were also reimbursed their relocation costs (38 per cent) or receive free or sponsored healthcare from their employer (53 per cent). An astounding 85 percent of expats in Nigeria also report that their company provided them with housing, with 44 percent in Mozambique and 38 percent in Brazil saying the same.
As Zein observes: “Housing is often included in expat remuneration packages and the higher risk pay expats enjoy in Nigeria means more expandable income in spite of the high living costs”.
With more than 3.5 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations (http://www.internations.org) is the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking both online and face-to-face at more than 6,000 monthly events and activities. Online services include country and city guides created by a team of professional writers, guest contributions about life abroad, and forums to help members with topics such as local housing and searching for jobs. InterNations is primarily a community for expats, but also global minds. As a community of trust, membership is by application only.