The Best & Worst Places for Expats


I came across this survey over the weekend doing some research on expats. this article is from the website and it is about the world through expats lives.  The Expat Insider took a bunch of surveys among expats throughout the world, and came up with this survey.

This survey is very good and I learned some things about expats around the world, and which countries are popular with expats.

Now take in mind, this is a survey of expats from around the world, not just USA and Canada.  I am sure if only expats from USA and Canada were taken in account, Mexico would even score higher on this survey.

Mahahual ligbhthouse and crusie ship pier in background.

The Best & Worst Places for Expats

Ecuador, Luxembourg, and Mexico emerge as clear winners while Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait fall behind.

To arrive at our ranking of the most and least popular expat destinations worldwide, the results of several sub-indices were averaged. These include the General Quality of Life Index, Ease of Settling In Index, Working Abroad Index, Family Life Index (where applicable), Personal Finance Index, as well as the results for the question: “how satisfied are you with life abroad in general?”. As this last factor is a single question, it carries disproportionate weight in the overall country ranking.

For each question in the survey, participants were asked to rate their own opinion or experience on a scale of one to seven, or one to five, in some cases. A sample size of at least 50 survey participants was necessary in order to feature in a specific ranking. The only exception to this was the Family Life Index, where a sample size of 30 respondents was required.



Ecuador: The Overall Winner
Ecuador emerges as a top destination in our expat survey. This can be explained by its high ranking in our various sub-indices, notably the Personal Finance Index. Here, the South American country ranks first, as expats are generally very pleased with their financial situation in Ecuador.

In the Ease of Settling In Index, Ecuador holds spot eight. It has the highest result of all survey countries for the ease of making friends. Over eight in ten expats (82%) find it easy to settle down and feel at home in Ecuador.

However, Ecuador has a less than average result when it comes to language difficulties. Over one-third (37%) agree that it is very difficult to live in this country without speaking Spanish. Luckily, one in three expats (30%) also think that learning the language is very easy.

Ecuador also comes in first place for personal happiness. A high 85% are satisfied with their relationship. In addition, nearly half the participants (44%) say they are “very happy” with their lives in general.

It is thus unsurprising that over nine out of ten expats (91%) report being satisfied with their life in Ecuador. As so many participants seem to be content with life there, it makes sense that almost half of the expats in Ecuador plan to stay there “possibly forever” (42%).

Most of the expats here report that they enjoy living abroad and that they moved here for a better quality of life. Although Ecuador ranks fifth in the Working Abroad Index, not many expats relocate to this country for work purposes. Ecuador has a high percentage of retirees (39%) and the average age of expats in Ecuador is 52.8, well above the global average of 39.5.

Luxembourg: Home of the Career Expat
The small, land-locked European country ranks second overall in our expat survey. This is primarily due to Luxembourg’s second-place ranking in the Working Abroad Index.

Indeed, two out of three expats (64%) report career opportunities – whether they found a job themselves, were sent by their employer, or were recruited – to be the most important reason for their move abroad. Two in five even found a job in Luxembourg on their own, a higher percentage than for any other country in the survey.

Only about one in three expats (28%) want to stay in Luxembourg for the long run, however. One-fifth of expats (21%) plan to complete an assignment of one to three years.

Luxembourg may be a good place to advance your career, but this alone does not apparently equal overall contentment. Luxembourg only comes in 50th out of 61 countries in the category personal happiness. Despite this, 89% say that they are satisfied with expat life in Luxembourg.

While Luxembourg provides an above-average infrastructure for travel and transport, as well as health and safety, the country only ranks 32nd out of 61 when it comes to the ease of settling in. Expats find it especially hard to make friends here, contributing to its ranking of 46th in this category. Only 9% report that it is very easy to make local friends.

Mexico: For Love or Money
In striking contrast to Luxembourg, Mexico is the clear winner in the Ease of Settling In Index. Its high ranking here helps account for its achieving third place overall in our expat survey.

Nine in ten expats (91%) are pleased with their expat life in Mexico, the same percentage as for the overall winner, Ecuador. Another measure of satisfaction is the high number of expats (44%) that would like to stay forever.

About one in three expats (28%) moved to Mexico for a job. Interestingly, the next highest percentage (19%) list love as their main motivation for moving to Mexico. They either moved in order to join their partner in Mexico or moved along with them.

Mexico ranks the lowest of our top three countries in the Working Abroad Index, coming in at 25th place out of 61. The lowest ranking was in the subcategory “job security” (32nd place).

Mexico’s results in the Quality of Life Index are somewhat mixed. On the bright side, Mexico ranks fourth for personal happiness, and the general satisfaction with the local climate and weather also adds to the quality of living. Only 61% of expats, however, are satisfied with Mexico’s transportation infrastructure. Not even two-thirds (62%) are pleased with their level of personal safety.

The Bottom Three: Greece, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait
The economic crisis in Greece and the resulting very low rankings in the Working Abroad Index help explain its third to last place overall. Greece holds last place in the “job and career” category and has the lowest score for job security by a large margin. Greece also fares poorly in the Personal Finance Index with another last place ranking.

Saudi Arabia holds the 60th place in the overall country ranking. This is primarily due to the country’s poor results in the Quality of Life Index (59th place). Saudi Arabia comes in last place in the “leisure activities” subcategory. A majority (54%) of participants are dissatisfied with the availability of leisure activities in the country.

Kuwait ranks last in the overall country ranking. This is largely due to its low results for personal happiness and in the Ease of Settling In Index. Expats in Kuwait do not think it is easy to settle down there, make friends, or feel at home. Only 5% of survey participants feel completely at home there, and only 7% find it very easy to make local friends.

Sunny and welcoming Mexico makes it to
the top of our Ease of Settling In Index.
Spain and New Zealand receive glowing
ratings as well.

Mexico is the friendliest country, Spain welcomes expats with open arms despite the economic crisis, and New Zealand also makes expats feel at home.

The Ease of Settling In Index combines
several “soft topics” – such as how welcome
expats feel in their host country, how
friendly the local population is, how easy it
is for expatriates to make new friends, and
how easy and important it is to learn the
local language. Survey participants were
asked to evaluate these factors on a scale
of one to seven. Each country required a
sample size of at least 50 survey participants
to be featured in the ranking.

Friendly Mexico
Mexico ranks first place overall in the Ease
of Settling In Index. In terms of friendliness,
this Latin American country clearly takes
the lead: An unrivalled 97% of participants
answer positively when asked about the
general friendliness of the population, and
94% agree that the local population has a
friendly attitude towards foreign residents.
Our survey respondents are also impressed
by the welcome they received in Mexico.
Four out of five (80%) expats in Mexico
feel at home in the local culture. A similar number of expats respond that it’s easy to
settle down in Mexico (78%) and get used
to the Mexican culture (76%).
Mexico comes in second place for the ease
of making friends, whether among locals or
expats. Only Ecuador beats Mexico in this
category. Over two-thirds of expats (69%)
find it easy to make local friends in Mexico.
Ecuador only slightly exceeds this result
with 70%.
Mexico ranks a bit lower when it comes to
how easy and important expats think it is to learn the local language. Luckily, around
70% agree that it is easy to learn Spanish, as
half the survey participants (51%) also think
that life in Mexico is difficult for those who
cannot speak Spanish.
Only 15%, however, say that learning the
local language poses problems for them.
Indeed, around 83% of the respondents
living in Mexico report having Spanish
language skills.

Happiness in a Relationship
There are various factors which influence
a relationship and which might determine
its success. After all, a move abroad can
take quite a toll on a relationship as one or
both partners experience frustration and
alienation, as well as other symptoms of
culture shock.
Thus, the ease of settling in (of finding friends,
learning the local language, and feeling
welcome) in their country of residence may play a big role when it comes to satisfaction
with one’s relationship. Mexico tops our
Ease of Settling In Index, mostly for its high
positive results for making friends (23%)
and friendliness (58%). One can easily
imagine that this explains why so many
of our respondents in Mexico met their
significant other after moving abroad.

To sum up this survey, Mexico ranks third in the world among all expats as the best place to live outside your own country.  Mexico ranks number one in friendly people and ease of settling in and starting a new life of all expats around the world.mexico

I can attest to that, I had no problem with settling in when I first got to Mexico, and the Mexican people have always been friendly to me.

Also you have to take into account that this survey includes all of the expats in Mexico.  I am sure if the survey was just concentrated on Quintana Roo and the Mexican Caribbean, Mexico would score even higher.

So if you are looking to live or retire, and want to stay close to the USA and Canada, Mexico is your best bet by far.  Beautiful beaches, low cost of living, safety, and friendly people are some of the reasons expats are finding Costa Maya and Mahahual desireable.

Thanks for reading,

Stewart Rogers USA-South Carolina





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