Expat destinations: which countries rank highest?

The newly released InterNations survey has revealed some surprise changes among the top countries for relocating expats. Bahrain has jumped eight places to top the rankings.

Bahrain won the top spot for expat destinations in 2017
Bahrain has leapt to the top of the rankings of favourite countries for expatriates to live, according to latest survey by InterNations.

UK and US slide down the rankings

The annual Expat Insider survey, based on the views of more than 12,000 members of InterNations across the world, also saw the US and UK tumble down the list of 65 countries as a result of uncertainties over the Trump presidency and Brexit. They now occupy 43rd and 54th place, respectively.“Our country rankings list the best (and worst) among 65 destinations across the globe, focusing on essential topics: quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, family life, personal finance, and cost of living. This year we are taking a closer look at the Ease of Settling In Index, from local friendships and expat bubbles to feeling (un)welcome in a country and its culture,” said InterNations.Bahrain, which only occupied 19th place in last year's rankings, surged to top spot after recording improvements across all the indices in the survey.“Bahrain really excels in making expats feel at home, and the country tops the Ease of Settling In Index,” reported InterNations. “It also comes first for being able to get by without learning the local language. In fact, a quarter of expats in Bahrain say they started feeling at home almost straight away. This is particularly impressive given that a third of respondents in Bahrain have never lived abroad before.”Bahrain also ranks second in the job and career sub-category, and in the work-life balance ratings. Malte Zeeck, InterNations founder and CEO, said, “We were all surprised to find Bahrain at the top of the league table this year, as it ranked only 19th last year. “But expats find it easy to settle in, they think it is easy to feel at home in the local culture, and they can easily live there without speaking the local language.”

Expats attracted to friendly regions

Costa Rica is second in the overall list and ranks first in the 'finding friends' sub-category – an important factor as about a third of Costa Rica expats responding to the survey described themselves as retired. The country is also in the top ten for quality of life, ease of settling in and quality of family life.
Related stories:
Mexico in third place is consistently ranked in the top five of the survey. It is highly rated for ease of settling in, personal finance, and cost of living.“A significant number of respondents say they primarily moved to Mexico for a better quality of life,” said InterNations. “Though healthcare and safety damage its overall ranking in the Quality of Life Index, it ranks first in the personal happiness sub-category and does well in the leisure options subcategory, ranking first for socialising and leisure activities.”At the other end of the rankings sit Kuwait, Greece and Nigeria. “Finances and family life are causing headaches for expats in Greece...Kuwait comes last for leisure options and personal happiness...quality of life is also an issue for expats in Nigeria, and the country is in last place for three of the five sub-categories in this index - travel, health & wellbeing, and safety & security.”Expat Insider top 10:
  1. Bahrain
  2. Costa Rica
  3. Mexico
  4. Taiwan
  5. Portugal
  6. New Zealand
  7. Malta
  8. Colombia
  9. Singapore
  10. Spain
For related news and features, visit our International Assignments section.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory  Get access to our free Global Mobility Toolkit Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centre

Related Articles