Auckland 'best for expat mental health'

Auckland has emerged at the top of rankings of 40 cities across the world, assessed on what they offered expats in terms of mental wellbeing.

Auckland skyline on sunny day shared by a couple
Conducted by international health insurance company, the Expatriate Group, the analysis was based on eight different mental wellbeing markers: sunshine hours per year, fitness facilities, quality sleep, the amount of green space, work-life balance, happiness, friendliness to expats and healthcare.Auckland, which edged out second-place Sydney in the rankings, came in the top ten in seven of the eight categories.
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Mental wellness and quality of life

"Whilst the city may not have the most sunshine hours, expats are promised a good night’s sleep, a fantastic work life balance, and access to countless fitness facilities," said the report."It is also one of the cities expats feel most happy in, likely due to the fact Auckland ranked in seventh position for expat friendliness. As well as plenty of green spaces and healthcare, both featuring in the top 22% of all cities analysed, life for expats in Auckland offers the best for expat mental wellbeing."In terms of friendliness towards expats, however, Mexico City, Lisbon and Buenos Aires were placed in top three, while two Scandinavian cities - Stockholm and Copenhagen - were rated the best for work-life balance.

Softening the impact of culture shock

Lee Gerry, Expatriate Group Director, said: “It is no secret that moving to another country has its pitfalls, such as homesickness and culture shock. Add to this the stress caused by the pandemic (and) it became very apparent to us that some expatriates were struggling.“Highlighting the very best cities for expat mental wellbeing - and breaking them down into categories - hopefully encourages expats who want to improve their physical and mental wellbeing to perhaps venture to a new city."It was amazing to see from our research that both Stockholm and Copenhagen offer employee flexibility, specified rules, and shorter working weeks to encourage a happy and healthy workforce for nationals and expats alike.”

Increased openness about mental wellbeing

The study found that conversations around expatriates' mental health were slowly becoming more common, propelled by the pandemic and a subsequent rise in the number of people seeking support."Many factors can affect an individual’s mental wellbeing, and expats face a myriad of extra circumstances that can have an impact on their lives," concluded the report."There is no one definitive way to assess mental wellbeing. But when combined, the various environmental and emotional factors we have analysed can help us to understand what cities might be the best places for expats to live for better mental wellbeing."There is no perfect city for expats. Whilst New Zealand ranks top overall, it is in the bottom 50% for sunny days, meaning people could be more prone to SAD than other locations. However, on balance, the city should promote better health and wellbeing for its expat residents."

Top ten cities for expats' mental wellbeing

  1. Auckland
  2. Sydney
  3. Abu Dhabi
  4. Buenos Aires
  5. Vienna
  6. Toronto
  7. Helsinki
  8. Madrid
  9. Lisbon
  10. Dublin.
Wellbeing index by country
Full table of findings from Expatriate Health

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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