Poll of Expats Finds Best Countries for Assignments Abroad


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Are you considering moving overseas as an expat? If you want to be welcomed with open arms and have a great quality of life, consider heading to Ecuador or Singapore. And if you’re someone who worries about safety or finances, you might want to avoid Nigeria and Greece.

These are among the takeaways you’ll find in a new survey of nearly 14,400 expatriates by Internations, a global expat network based in Munich. The survey provides an insider’s guide to the joys and challenges of living abroad as an expat.

Now in its second year, the survey ranks a total of 64 countries from first to worst on a range of factors including quality of life, ease of settling in, and cost of living. 

Among the key findings of the survey: 

  • Ecuador is the top expat destination overall, as it achieved the highest marks in categories such as cost of living and personal finance. It was also number one in terms of meeting new friends and feeling welcome. Altogether, 92 percent of the respondents who live in Ecuador gave a positive view of their general happiness.
  • In terms of quality of life, Singapore came out on top as it scored highly in terms of personal safety, leisure options, and transport infrastructure. Nigeria finished at the bottom of this category, ranking lowest amongst all countries with regard to safety and transportation infrastructure.
  • The tiny island of Malta, near the boot of Italy, is the most beloved place to work abroad, owing largely to the high job satisfaction among survey respondents. Many of them are also generally happy with their career prospects, work-life balance, and working hours.
  • The best countries for job security are Luxembourg and Germany, while the worst are Portugal and Greece.
  • The survey respondents in Norway work 40.4 hours per week, the lowest in the survey. Respondents in Uganda work the most, averaging 50.8 hours per week.
  • Austria and Finland are the best countries for expat families, as they each scored highest in terms of quality of education and availability of child care.
  • Work-life balance is highest in Norway and Sweden, and lowest in Greece and India.
  • Incomes over $250,000 (the top end of the survey scale) are most common in Nigeria (12%), Hong Kong (10%), Switzerland (9%), Singapore (9%), and India (7%).
  • Kuwait finished last overall in the survey, achieving the lowest scores among all countries for leisure options, personal happiness, ease of settling in, friendliness and finding friends.

Given its wide scope and unique vantage point, the survey is a useful guide for employers with overseas staff. It is particularly helpful for companies with workers in countries at the bottom of the list, as they need to be particularly mindful of the difficulties their employees are likely to face.

Being candid with these individuals about the situation on the ground will help minimize any surprises they may experience upon arrival in the country. In addition, ongoing support and communication can be very useful in helping them tackle any obstacles they’ll encounter along the way.

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