Where Expats (Don’t) Have To Worry About Finances & Housing
Three Southeast Asian cities are at the top of the Finance & Housing Index in the Expat Insider survey report — while destinations in Western Europe do not do well.
The Finance & Housing Index measures expats’ satisfaction with the availability and affordability of housing abroad, as well as their financial situation and their disposable household income in relation to living expenses. Taking a closer look at the findings offers unique insights into life abroad in various destinations.
Kuala Lumpur ranks first in the Finance & Housing Index 2021, continuing its winning streak: the Malaysian capital also came first in 2020 and has consistently ranked in the top 3 of the index since 2017. The vast majority (91%) agrees that it’s easy to find housing in Kuala Lumpur as an expat (vs. 60% globally) — 60% even agree completely (vs. 24% globally). Housing is also regarded as affordable by an above-average share of 74% (vs. 42% globally). Another 29% — that’s more than twice the global average of 14% — even consider housing very affordable.
Costs in general don’t seem to be a problem: 64% say their disposable household income is more than they need to cover daily expenses (vs. 52% worldwide). An impressive four in five respondents in Kuala Lumpur (80%) are also satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally).
Vietnam’s largest city, Ho Chi Minh City, joins Kuala Lumpur on the podium, ranking second. Three in four expats (75%) agree that their disposable household income is more than enough to cover daily expenses (vs. 52% globally). Over a third (34%) also give the local cost of living the best possible rating (vs. 14% globally). Expats also praise how easy it is to find housing in Ho Chi Minh City (88% of positive answers vs. 60% globally) and how affordable it is (61% vs. 42% globally).
Like Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok has always done well in the Finance & Housing Index since 2017, even landing in third place in 2021. Close to half the respondents in Thailand’s capital (49%) agree completely that it is easy for expats to find housing (vs. 24% globally). And nearly two-thirds (64%) rate its affordability positively (vs. 42% worldwide). An above-average percentage(83%) also find that their disposable household income is sufficient or even more than enough to cover their daily expenses (vs. 77% globally).
The Worst-Ranked Destinations
In comparison, the situation for expats in several Western European cities looks unfortunately rather different. Dublin ranks last in the index for the fourth year in a row. Respondents are particularly dissatisfied with the local housing situation: 79% rate the affordability of housing negatively (vs. 39% globally). More than half (52%) even say it is very bad (vs. only 12% worldwide). Housing is also hard to come by for expats: over a quarter of respondents in the Irish capital (26%) do not agree at all that it’s easy to find housing (vs. 7% globally). Dublin does somewhat better in the Finance Subcategory of the index, but it still ends up in the bottom half of the ranking (39th out of 57 cities).
In second-to-last place, Munich receives results that are quite similar to Dublin’s. In fact, it is even the worst city worldwide when it comes to expats’ ease of finding housing: 72% rate this factor negatively, and close to a quarter (24%) even find that it is very difficult (vs. a global 23%and 7%, respectively). Over four in five (83%) also rate its affordability negatively, more than double the global average of 39%. Munich’s results in the Finance Subcategory are more average: 78% agree that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to pay for everything they need (vs. 77% globally).
Milan joins Dublin and Munich in the bottom 3. However, expats in Italy’s second-largest city are mostly dissatisfied with their financial situation: Milan ranks last for both factors of the Finance Subcategory. In fact, less than two in five expats in Milan (39%) are happy with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally), and the same share says that their disposable household income is not enough to cover all expenses (vs. 23% globally).
Find out more in the complete Expat Insider 2021 report.