Taiwan remains top pick among expats

For the third year running, Taiwan has been adjudged the world's best country for expats in an annual survey of more than 12,000 people living and working abroad. Which other countries are at the top of the list?

The 2021 Expat Insider survey, compiled by InterNations - the global expat community with more than four million members - also provides for the first time an analysis of how the Covid-19 pandemic has affected international mobility.Taiwan is rated top, followed by Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Portugal and New Zealand, in a survey that measures expats’ satisfaction with the quality of life, ease of settling in, working life, personal finance, and the cost of living.At the bottom of the table is Kuwait in 59th place, with Italy, South Africa, Russia, Egypt and Japan faring only slightly better.
Internations report - best and worst countries 2021

How has the Covid-19 pandemic affected expats?

However, local assessments aside, the clear message from this year's Expat Insider is the profound effect the pandemic has had on life abroad with 45% of respondents saying Covid-19 had impacted either their lives overseas or relocation plans.The biggest effects have been felt on peoples' work or businesses, their travel plans and their social lives."The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the lives of billions of people all over the globe, and expats are no exception here," reported InterNations. "Among all survey respondents, close to one in ten say they have moved or will move home earlier than originally intended due to Covid-19 — though 46% of them also plan to return to their life abroad within the year."The survey found that one in six people had to abandon or postpone plans to either relocate abroad or to move from one foreign country to another. But only 5% of existing expats said they wanted to return to their home countries earlier than planned because of the pandemic.

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"The expats who are planning to return home early are much more likely to give a feeling of loneliness and social isolation as their main reason for deciding not to stay abroad," said the report.Not surprisingly, perhaps, more than a third of respondents who have had to put their international relocation plans on hold due to the pandemic blamed travel restrictions in force across the world.Additionally, one in five of them said they simply did not feel comfortable moving to another country in such uncertain times, while 11% of those wanting to relocate could no longer find a job abroad.On the wider question of the best countries for expats, neither the US (34th) nor the UK (45th) emerge well from this year's survey, while India languishes in 51st place.

Taiwan - why is it ranked number one?

Taiwan, on the other hand, is once again rated No 1 with the country coming top in both the quality of life and working abroad categories. Job security, the state of the local economy, job satisfaction, quality of life and cost of living are all sub-categories that get the thumbs-up from respondents.And not a single expat in Taiwan reported fearing for their personal safety there, which no doubt contributed to the fact it is ranked the world's best in the friendliness sub-category.Meanwhile, Kuwait finds itself occupying last place in the table for the seventh time in the past eight years. "The country ranks last in the Quality of Life Index, with especially poor results in the Leisure Options, Personal Happiness, and Travel & Transportation sub-categories," InterNations found."In fact, 58% of expats in Kuwait are unhappy with the local leisure options and 50% rate the climate and weather negatively."For related news and features, visit our International Assignments section.

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

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