Expats enthuse about settling in Gulf states

Gulf states occupy five of the top ten places in the world where expatriates find it easiest to settle, according to a new index from InterNations.

Internations article 3.23

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Bahrain is in first place in the 'Expat Essentials Index' and is joined in the top ten by the UAE in second place, Oman (5th), Saudi Arabia (7th) and Qatar (8th).The index was compiled by InterNations, the world's largest expat community with more than 4.5 million members across the globe, based on information from the 2022 'Expat Insider' survey.

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Ease of settling in to local life

It looks at four main categories: digital life, including online availability and internet speeds; housing affordability; administrative affairs, including banking, visas and local bureaucracy; and language barriers.InterNations said that all top three destinations - Bahrain, the UAE and third-placed Singapore - "offer easy communication with the lack of a language barrier, while also posing minimal bureaucratic issues".Meanwhile, the bottom three in the 52-nation table - last-placed Germany, just below Japan and China - were found to be places where expats "struggle with the local language and a lack of modern digitalization".The UK came in at 17th in the table and was described as "mediocre" in most categories, while the US fared slightly better, coming in at 13th. However, it is tenth-placed Canada that ranks as the highest-ranking English-speaking nation, despite the high cost of housing.But it is Bahrain that emerges as "the ideal place for easy beginnings" for expats, scoring highly on admin topics with more than two-thirds of respondents reporting ease in dealing with the authorities. Globally, an average of only 40 per cent found this to be the case.

Language barriers weigh on the Index

And like most of the other Gulf states, more than four-fifths of expats said that an inability to speak the local language did not prove a problem.This was in stark contrast to the bottom three in the table, where language problems were keenly felt. Germany was also ranked the hardest place to get started as an expat because of expensive and hard-to-find housing, and because of a lack of digitalisation, including problems with getting high-speed internet access at home and shortcomings in digital infrastructure.Expats were also found to "struggle" with the language in bottom-but-one Japan, with 70 per cent reporting difficulties. "And unfortunately," said InterNations, "learning the language does not seem to be something they can do without."There were similar problems in 50th-placed China, where digital life difficulties, especially accessing the internet, and a cumbersome bureaucracy were also keenly felt by expats.At the other end of the index, perhaps the most surprising nation in the top ten was fourth-placed Estonia, an "outstanding" ranking, according to InterNations, mainly due its strong performances in both the admin and digital life categories."Sorting out the basics of expat life in this Baltic state is easy in many ways. For example, 80 per cent of expats in Estonia found it easy to obtain their visa for moving there, compared to a worldwide average of 56 per cent."A British expat living there said: “I really like how easy it is to live here. Services are usually (though not always) free of bureaucratic difficulties and demand less paperwork than in the UK.”

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