From Visas to Housing: Where the Basics of Life Abroad Are Easy to Handle
Bahrain, the UAE, and Singapore are the best destinations when it comes to sorting out the basics, according to findings in the Expat Insider survey.
Global expat community InterNations conducts one of the biggest annual surveys on life abroad, Expat Insider. In 2022, close to 12,000 expats representing 177 nationalities took part and shared their thoughts on life abroad.
As part of the survey, the Expat Essentials Index takes a closer look at admin topics, language considerations, the affordability and availability of housing, as well as digital life — from cashless payment options to high-speed internet.
There’s Little Red Tape in Bahrain
Bahrain ranks 1st in the Expat Essentials Index, thanks in large parts to its great results regarding Admin Topics (2nd) and Language (4th). With internationals making up a large share of the population, this might simply be due to the fact that Bahrain is probably used to addressing the needs of expats.
For example, seven in ten of those who needed a visa (70%) say it was easy to get (vs. 56% globally). Two-thirds (67%) also had little trouble with the local bureaucracy (vs. 40% globally). And 79% are happy with the availability of government services online (vs. 61% globally). What’s more, there doesn’t seem to be much of a language barrier: 82% find they don’t necessarily need local language skills to live in Bahrain (vs. 51% globally).
Expats also have few difficulties in finding accommodation (82% happy vs. 54% globally). And while 30% say housing is expensive, that is still a better result than the global average of 43%. All in all, Bahrain ranks 10th for Housing.
There Are Few Language Barriers in the UAE
Second-placed UAE has a lot in common with Bahrain and also excels for Language (2nd). A vast majority of respondents (85%) find it easy to live in the UAE without speaking the local language (vs. 51% globally), ranking the Emirates first for this factor.
The UAE also performs admirably when it comes to Admin Topics (3rd). It’s the top destination for the ease of getting a visa, which 83% rate positively (vs. 56% globally). An above-average share agree that it is easy to deal with local authorities (61% vs. 40% globally) or handle admin tasks online (86% vs. 61% globally), too.
Accommodations are also easy to find, according to three-quarters of respondents (75% vs. 54% globally). However, over a third (36%) say it’s not affordable enough (vs. 43% globally), resulting in a 14th place for the UAE when it comes to Housing.
Top Marks for Singapore’s Digital Life
With Singapore in 3rd place, another expat hub makes it onto the podium. The city-state even places first for Language — most likely because English is one of its official languages.
Singapore is also the best-rated country for high-speed internet access at home (97% satisfied vs. 79% globally). A similar share agree that there are plenty of cashless payment options (97% vs. 84% globally). And only Estonia (1st) beats Singapore (2nd) when it comes to the availability of government services online. Over nine in ten expats (91%) rate this factor positively (vs. 61% globally).
Expats in Singapore generally find it easy to deal with the local bureaucracy (63% happy vs. 40% globally), and 81% had no difficulties opening a bank account (vs. 64% globally). However, getting a visa is not quite as easy as in the UAE (58% positive ratings vs. 83% in the UAE and 56% globally).
The only downside is accommodations, with Singapore ranking 34th out of 52 destinations in the Housing Subcategory. This is mostly down to costs: 71% find housing hard to afford (vs. 43% globally), even if a similar share (73%) say it is not difficult to find (vs. 54% globally).Find out more in the Expat Insider 2022 report.