What are the safest countries in the world for expats?

What are the factors that make certain countries the safest places in the world to live as an expat?

English-speaking social media is lighting up at the moment, flashing with an increasing number of messages from Americans, which say “We want to live in a country where we don’t have to fear for our children’s lives. Where can we go?”Some people who seek to resettle to a foreign country look to which country has the best weather, best career opportunities, low living costs, and easy-to-no language assimilation. But given the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, politics, war, or domestic policies which are out of kilter with the potential expats own personal moral compass, many people have added safety to the top of their list of what to look for as an expatriate.

William Russell: Which countries are the safest to live in for expats? 

According to William Russell, an international company providing international health, life and income protection insurance, the top 10 safest countries for expats are:
  • Austria: 95% of expats feel safe in Austria.
  • Canada with its relatively low level of crime.
  • Denmark has a low crime rate and there’s almost no risk of natural disaster.
  • Iceland has a very low level of crime, and high levels of equality.
  • Finland: 99% of expats feel safe there—that compares with 84% globally.
  • Japan: crimes targeting foreigners are uncommon, according to security organisation OSAC.
  • New Zealand currently has extremely strict rules on entry due to COVID-19.
  • Portugal ranks highly for safety–and expats are exceptionally content there.
  • Singapore: crime is clamped down on hard here, and firearms are strictly controlled.
  • Switzerland boasts a low crime rate, a law-abiding population and high levels of equality.
  • Taiwan: crime against foreigners is rare here.
  • UAE: expats rate this country high for safety.
William Russell looked at several studies and league tables before producing the list of top 10 safest countries for expats.They note that safety factors and perception can vary within a country, with Sydney being fourth in The Economists Safe Cities Index of 2021, while Australia itself is not high on the list. The William Russell research says that these countries are the safest because more than just crime rates. Factors can include 
  • levels of civil unrest
  • political stability
  • personal safety
  • public health
  • safety of transport
  • digital security

Expat Insider 2021 — The Year of Uncertainty

InterNations has been providing extensive surveys for the expat community since at least 2014. Perhaps unsurprisingly they have found that 2021 is the Year of Uncertainty.More than 12,000 expat respondents from across the globe took part in the 2021 Expat Insider survey, representing a total of 174 nationalities from186 countries or territories around the world. For the first time since the Expat Insider survey was launched in 2014, more than 6,000 local residents had the opportunity to respond to selected questions, mostly addressing the way the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic might have disrupted relocation plans or a recent stay abroad.

Top Findings

  • In #1 Taiwan, not a single expat feels personally unsafe. 
  • #2 Mexico places first worldwide for personal happiness. 
  • In #3 Costa Rica, over nine in ten expats describe the population as generally friendly. 
  • South Africa (#57) joins Kuwait (#59) and Italy (#58) in the bottom 3.
Internations report - best and worst countries 2021
Read more about the Internations 2021 survey:

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."

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