The (Un)Friendliest Countries For Expats in 2023
Mexico is the most welcoming destination for expats, Kuwait the least, according to an Expat Insider survey.
A warm welcome in Mexico
For the fifth year in a row, Mexico ranks 1st in the Ease of Settling In Index.
It’s been regularly found in the top 3 since 2014. Expats in Mexico very much feel at home (82% vs. 62% globally) and feel welcome there (89% vs. 67%). And over nine in ten (91%) rate the general friendliness of the local residents positively (vs. 67% globally).
Almost three-quarters (74%) are happy with their social life (vs. 56% globally). The same share (74%) say that making local friends is easy in Mexico (vs. 43% globally). In fact, they are less likely to be friends with just other expats: 31% say that their friends are mostly local residents, which is almost double the global average (17%).
Finding friends a breeze in Brazil
Brazil ranks 2nd in the Ease of Settling In Index in 2023.
The country even beats Mexico when it comes to people being friendly towards foreign residents (1st) and the ease of making local friends (1st). In fact, around three-quarters of expats say finding friends is easy (73% vs. 43% globally) and are happy with their social life (71% vs. 56% globally).
Brazil also ranks 4th in the Culture & Welcome Subcategory, with 88% feeling welcome there, compared to 67% globally. According to 77%, it is also easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 62% globally).
Good news for the higher-than-average share who plan to stay possibly forever (47% vs. 35% globally).
Friendly people in the Philippines
The Philippines rounds out the top 3 of the Ease of Settling In Index in 2023, defending its position of the previous year.
It also ranks 3rd in the Local Friendliness and Culture & Welcome Subcategories and comes in 5th for Finding Friends. In fact, 44% share that their friends are mainly locals (vs. 17% globally).
Nearly nine in ten expats (86%) rate the general friendliness of the local residents positively, close to 20 percentage points more than the global average of 67%. It’s hardly surprising then that feel at home (79% vs. 62% globally) and welcome (88% vs. 67%) in the Philippines. “What I like best about life in the Philippines are the friendly people and the relaxed lifestyle,” says a US American expat.
Kuwait, no home away from home
Kuwait is the worst country worldwide when it comes to the ease of settling in, ranking 53rd out of 53 places.
It can consistently be found at the bottom of this index, from the first year of the survey in 2014 to today. It ranks in the bottom 3 for all the underlying subcategories — the worst result a last place for Culture & Welcome (53rd). More than twice the global average don’t feel welcome in Kuwait (35% vs. 15% globally), and over a third of expats (36%) find it difficult to get used to the local culture (vs. 18% globally).
Expats struggle to make local friends (just 23% happy vs. 43% globally) and don’t have a personal support network (32% unhappy vs. 24% globally). In fact, they are mostly friends with other expats (58% vs. 33% globally).
Few friendly greetings in Austria
Austria — ranking 52nd out of 53 in this index — is the worst destination worldwide in the Local Friendliness Subcategory (53rd). Only a third of expats in Austria (33%) agree that the people there are friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 65% globally). Close to a quarter (24%) even disagree completely (vs. 6% globally).
The country also joins Kuwait in the bottom 3 for most other subcategories. A third (33%) also don’t feel welcome in Austria, more than double the global average of 15%. And a similar share (32%) find it difficult to get used to the Austrian culture (vs. 18% globally). Expats also struggle with making friends (51% vs. 29% globally), the language barrier (38% vs. 22% globally), and not having enough socializing opportunities (27% vs. 25% globally).
Sticking to the expat bubble in Denmark
Denmark has never performed well in the Ease of Settling In Index and even ranks last for the Finding Friends Subcategory (53rd) in 2023.Only two in five expats (40%) are happy with their social life (vs. 56% globally). Expats are very likely to be friends mostly just with other expats (52% vs. 33% globally). This is hardly surprising, seeing as close to two-thirds (66%) disagree that it is easy to make Danish friends — which is 30 percentage points more than the global average (36%).Less than half (47%) find that the Danish are friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 65% globally). Similarly, just 53% view the general friendliness of the local residents positively (vs. 67% globally). This might be one reason why expats there are less likely to feel at home in Denmark (51% vs. 62% globally). Close to three in ten (29%) don’t even feel welcome there (vs. 15% globally).Find out how your country did in the Expat Insider 2023 report.