Where to go for the best expat experience?

Panama has been rated as the best place for expats to live in, according to this year's worldwide survey of the globally mobile, conducted by the German-based InterNations organisation.

The 2024 Expat Insider poll, which drew responses from more than 12,500 expats based in 174 countries or territories, ranked Kuwait as the worst place for overseas inhabitants - the seventh time this has happened in the eleven surveys conducted by InterNations. In all, 53 nations were rated in this year's report, based on a minimum of 75 respondents in each country. The results were assessed across six indices: quality of life, including security, leisure options and environment; 'Expat Essentials', including housing, language and digital life; working abroad, covering areas such as salaries and career prospects; ease of settling in; personal finances; and general happiness.expat-insider-panama-2024The survey found that in Panama, which was ranked third last year's survey, 82 per cent of expat respondents there - almost a third of whom were retired - were happy with life, compared to the global average of 68 per cent.Almost three-quarters of respondents expressed satisfaction with their financial situation, too. "This is not only 20 percentage points more than the global average, but it also means the country ranks first for this factor and fourth in the Personal Finance Index as a whole," said InterNations.expat-insider-mexico-2024Mexico occupies second place in this year's table with virtually nine in ten expats - even more than in Panama - expressing contentment with their lives, even though only two-thirds said they felt safe there.This, though was offset by the 86 per cent who rated the general friendliness of the Mexican population favourably.“Mexico is a beautiful and very varied country, with nice, warm people. I like the history and culture, it’s a balance of traditions and modernism,” a French expat told InterNations.

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expat-insider-indonesia-2024Indonesia leapt ten places to come third in the rankings. "While there is certainly room for improvement in some areas, Indonesia delights with low costs, friendly people and a great work–life balance. Consequently, a total of 84 per cent of expats are happy with their life in Indonesia," said the report.On the plus side, Indonesia ranked first for expats’ overall job satisfaction and personal career opportunities, and was applauded for its comparatively low living costs, especially the affordability and availability of housing. On the downside, fewer than half of respondents were happy with healthcare and digital provision.Meanwhile, at the other end of the table, Kuwait continued to languish in last place, principally because of expatriate dissatisfaction with the quality of life, especially over healthcare, the weather, the ease of settling in, and social life.The report found that more than two-thirds of expats moved to Kuwait for job-related reasons but that only 43 per cent of respondents were satisfied with their working hours. Overall, the Gulf state was in last place when it came to work, culture and satisfaction.In 52nd place, Turkey also fared badly when it came to working abroad and expat happiness. "About a third of respondents don’t believe that moving to Turkey improved their career prospects, and an even higher share negatively rate their personal career opportunities," reported InterNations.Perhaps surprisingly, though, the nation rated the "biggest loser" in the survey was Finland in 51st place, with the number of expats expressing happiness with their lives dropping from 78 per cent to 51 per cent in just one year. "Despite shining in the environment & climate and digital life sub-categories, Finland’s rankings falter in the Ease of Settling In (50th), Working Abroad (46th), and Personal Finances (52nd) Indices," the survey said.expat-insider-country-rankings-reports-2024

The survey's observations on other nations in the report include:

France (38th) - Despite stellar healthcare and opportunities for travel, France presents expats with a laundry list of challenges.The country excels in some aspects of the Quality of Life (13th), making it an attractive destination for a decent standard of living — expats’ overall satisfaction with their lives there ranks 23rd. However, France performs lower than average for the other four indices, indicating potential challenges for expats in areas related to careers, social life, and administrative topics.India (32nd) - Expats in India are happy with their personal finances but struggle with quality of life, among other things.The country excels in the Personal Finance Index (6th) but presents challenges in other areas such as Work & Leisure (47th), Admin Topics (46th), and Digital Life (41st). The worst news, though: expats are very dissatisfied with the Quality of Life in India (52nd).South Africa (29th) - Expats’ happiness with their life in South Africa may have improved in 2024, but they still face several issues.South Africa does best in the Personal Finances Index (18th) as well as the Housing (9th) and Leisure Options (10th) sub-categories. Compared to 2023, the country gained 19 spots in the overall rankings, climbing out of the bottom 10 after spending four years in a row there. This gain was spurred on by improvements across all five indices. However, major challenges remain in terms of Safety & Security (53rd) and Travel & Transit (52nd).Spain (4th) - It’s no surprise expats are happy with their life in Spain — the country claims the top spot in the Quality of Life Index for the third year running.Despite not scoring in the top 10 in four of the five indices, Spain still ranks fourth overall, with 84 per cent of expats saying they are happy there (versus 68 per cent globally). The country is a top choice for those looking to relocate or spend an extended period of time abroad, as the climate, healthcare, and cost of living keep expats satisfied amid minor challenges.UAE (9th) - After narrowly missing out on a place in the top 10 in 2023, the UAE is back among the ten best destinations for expats in 2024 — but only just.Expat satisfaction in the Emirates is very high in three of the five indices used to map out life abroad: Quality of Life (3rd), Working Abroad (6th), and Expat Essentials (1st). A respectable 16th rank for Ease of Settling In complements the positive experience, while a mediocre result in the Personal Finance Index (33rd) is a clear downer. UK (44th) - Professional opportunities can’t make up for the unsatisfying quality of life and high cost of living in the UK.Since leaving behind the bottom 10 in 2021, the United Kingdom has never fully escaped its pull and is now back in the roster of worst-ranked performers. Although expats are happy Working Abroad (24th) in the UK, they are dissatisfied with their Quality of Life (41st), struggle with the Ease of Settling In (42nd), and rank the UK in the bottom three for Personal Finance (51st).USA (35th) - Expats find that the American Dream comes at a steep cost, with expensive housing, healthcare, and transportation.Despite shining in certain areas of the Expat Essentials (14th) and Working Abroad (22nd) indices — clinching top five positions for both the local job market (5th) and improved career prospects for expats (4th) — the Personal Finance Index (41st) poses a challenge, with more than half of expats expressing dissatisfaction with the overall cost of living.

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