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Mexico, Indonesia, and Taiwan are the best places to live abroad in, 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. Covering key areas such as working abroad, the ease of settling in, quality of life, personal finances, and expat essentials, the findings are a must-read for anyone interested in living abroad.
Mexico was rated the best country for expats in 2022. Expats particularly appreciate their Personal Finances (2nd) and the Ease of Settling In (1st). “Mexicans are very friendly people and eager to help when you have a problem,” states an expat from Armenia. In fact, three-quarters of respondents (75%) agree that it easy to make friends, compared to just 42% of expats worldwide.
The country also only narrowly misses out on a top 10 spot in the Expat Essentials Index (11th). While the local bureaucracy can be a struggle (53% negative ratings vs. 39% globally) and administrative services are not readily available online (33% unhappy vs. 21% globally), expats at least find it easy to get a visa in order to move to Mexico (64% vs. 56% globally).
The country performs worst, but still well, in the Working Abroad (17th) and Quality of Life (24th) Indices. Expats appreciate, for example, the culture and nightlife (84% happy vs. 67% globally) and the local food and dining options (92% vs. 77% globally). However, safety remains an issue: 20% feel unsafe (vs. 9% globally), and Mexico only ranks 49th out of 52 places for this factor.
Still, 91% of expats are generally happy with their life in Mexico.
In second place, Indonesia (2nd) finds its biggest strengths in the Ease of Settling In (2nd) and Personal Finance (3rd) Indices. Expats are happy with the general cost of living (73% vs. 45% globally) and agree that their disposable household income is more than enough to lead a comfortable life (64% vs. 45% globally). Housing in Indonesia is also easy to afford (74% vs. 39% globally) and to find (84% vs. 54% globally), though the country performs less well when it comes to Admin Topics (30th), including the local bureaucracy (57% unhappy vs. 39% globally).
Indonesia’s worst results are found in the Quality of Life Index (41st). While Indonesia has a lot of Leisure Options (12th), these can’t make up for its bad results in regard to Health & Well-Being (48th) as well as Environment & Climate (42nd). A third of respondents (33%) is, for example, unhappy with the air quality (vs. 19% globally).
Taiwan (3rd) is no stranger among the best expat destinations. In 2022, it receives its best results in the Quality of Life Index (2nd), where it is only beaten by Spain. Taiwan ranks first in the Health & Well-Being Subcategory and even first for all the contributing factors. Expats find, for example, healthcare both affordable (100% vs. 61% globally) and widely available (98% vs. 73% globally). Further highlights about life in Taiwan include Travel & Transit (7th) and Leisure Options (16th).
Expats also give Taiwan good grades in the Ease of Settling In (6th) and Personal Finance (8th) Indices. In fact, over three-quarters (78%) say they feel welcome there (vs. 66% globally), and another 70% are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 60% globally). However, while the vast majority (85%) feels paid fairly for their work (vs. 62% globally), expats attest to a local business culture that lacks creativity (41% unhappy vs. 26% globally), flexibility (41% unhappy vs. 19% globally), as well as flat hierarchies (46% unhappy vs. 28% globally).
The Worst-Ranked Destinations
Ranking last overall, Kuwait finds itself in the bottom 10 of each index and even ranks last in the Quality of Life and Ease of Settling In Indices (52nd out of 52, respectively). Expats are unhappy with their social life (50% vs. 26% globally) and perceive the local residents as unfriendly (44% vs. 17% globally). Things do not look much better when it comes to the Working Abroad Index (51st). Close to two in four expats are unhappy with their work-life balance (37% vs. 19% globally) and career opportunities (39% vs. 22% globally).
Kuwait performs best in the Personal Finance Index (45th): an above-average share of expats feel that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (76% vs. 72% globally). However, their opinions on the underlying factors of the Expat Essentials Index are less positive, bringing it to a 49th place out of 52 destinations.
While expats love the recreational sports opportunities (84% vs. 75% globally) and natural environment (95% vs. 83% globally) in New Zealand, the island state cannot escape the bottom 3 overall (51st). In large part, this is due to its abysmal performance in the Personal Finance Index (52nd): three-quarters of expats (75%) rate the local cost of living negatively (vs. 35% globally)! The country also only sees mediocre results in the Working Abroad (42nd), Expat Essentials (39th), and Quality of Life (39th) Indices.
Similar to New Zealand, Hong Kong also owes its rank in the bottom 3 (50th) in large part to expats’ dissatisfaction with their Personal Finances (44th). Close to double the global average giving the local cost of living a negative rating (68% vs. 35% globally). And while they are rather happy with the affordability of public transportation (93% satisfied vs. 70% globally), the same cannot be said for housing costs (89% unhappy vs. 43% globally).
Hong Kong narrowly escapes a spot in the bottom 10 in the Working Abroad Index (41st) despite placing 50th for working hours — expats report working an average of 44.4 hours per week (vs. 40.2 hours globally). Results in the Quality of Life (40th), Expat Essentials (35th), and Ease of Settling In (33rd) Indices are somewhat better but still below average.
Find out more in the complete Expat Insider 2022 report.