Valencia voted top city for expats

Cities on the Iberian Peninsula have emerged as the big winners in this year's Expat City Rankings, voted on by more than 15,000 members of the InterNations organisation.

Valencia, Alicante and Lisbon occupy the first three places in their appeal to expats, while Malaga and Madrid also make it into the top ten.However, InterNations - the world’s largest expat community with some four million members based around the globe - points out that this year's rankings come with an important caveat: expatriates voiced their opinions in March, just before Covid-19 turned into a global pandemic. Hence, says InterNations, one question is outstanding: "Will these cities still come out on top in a post-Covid world?"This year's rankings encompass 66 cities with each being assessed on the basis of information supplied by the expatriate community on areas including quality of urban living, getting settled, urban work life, finance and housing, and local cost of living.Two of the reasons Valencia took top spot stemmed from the fact expats were particularly happy with local healthcare and, not surprisingly, the climate. In fact, InterNations reported: "The Spanish city is among the top five in all topical indices but one. It even ranks first worldwide in both the quality of urban living and the local cost of living indices."The urban work life index is Valencia’s only sore point. In the job & career sub-category it only ranks 62nd, with 46 per cent of expats saying they are unhappy with their local career opportunities (versus 34 per cent globally)."Meanwhile, more than 80 per cent of expatriates living in second-placed Alicante felt at home in the city while Lisbon, in third place, scored particularly highly when it came to personal safety.All this might have changed since the collection of data as the Iberian Peninsula, and Spain in particular, has been disproportionately affected by the killer pandemic.
Panama City, described as "friendly, relaxed, and easy on the expat wallet", occupies fourth place mainly due to its performance in the finance and housing, and getting settled indices.Singapore rounds off the top five, scoring highly in nearly all areas and doing particularly well in terms of political stability and personal safety, where it ranks second best in the world behind only Tokyo.Perhaps the most surprising inclusion in the top ten was Buenos Aires in seventh place. But despite the economic and political instability in the country and higher-than-average concerns over personal safety, the city ranks highly for finance and housing, the cost of living and the ease of settling in and making new friends.At the other end of the rankings, the bottom three - with Kuwait's Salmiya (66th) just below Rome and Seoul - represent a geographically diverse trio.InterNations describes Salmiya as "a city of unhappy, overworked and homesick expats", adding: "It places last in two indices and ends up among the bottom 10 in every single index but one (finance and housing)."While bottom in the quality of urban living index, Salmiya’s "only redeeming aspect seems to be the safety and politics sub-category".Rome, meanwhile, scores especially badly in the urban work life index with only eight per cent of survey respondents rating their local career options positively, compared to a global average of 43 per cent.As for 64th place Seoul, expats found both work and private life were tough with the city ranking worst as far as getting settled was concerned. "Almost half the expats (47 per cent) say it is difficult to find new friends in Seoul and only 40 per cent feel at home in the local culture."Details of the 2020 Expat City Rankings can be seen at

Read more news and views from David Sapsted.

Subscribe to Relocate Extra, our monthly newsletter, to get all the latest international assignments and global mobility news.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Global Mobility Toolkit download factsheets resource centreAccess hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

Related Articles