An InterNations survey report from 2014 titled “The World Through Expat Eyes” reveals the top countries for expats based on the responses of nearly 14,000 members of this international community of people living and working abroad. Surprisingly, Ecuador is the overall winner.
The survey was motivated by a desire to find out why expats relocate, how happy they are and how life is for expats abroad.
The rankings of 61 countries are based on many different categories, including quality of life index, ease of settling in index, the best countries for making friends, the most welcoming countries, working abroad index, family life index, personal finance and cost of living index among others.
The Top 10 Countries
These are the overall results of the most popular countries for expats in 2014, based on rankings across all the individual indices.
10. Hong Kong
The Winners and Losers Explained
The survey found Ecuador to be the clear overall winner in terms of the most popular place for expats, because of its low cost of living and ease of making new friends. It also ranks high on the Personal Finance index, and around 82 percent of expats find it easy to settle down in this South American country.
Luxembourg is the next in line, popular among career-oriented people. Career opportunities were found to be a priority of 64 percent expats who moved abroad. Luxembourg was found to be one of the easiest destinations to find a job on your own, with two in five (40 percent) expats managing to get employed without the help of employers or through recruitment. This is the highest percentage for any other country in the survey. On the flip side, Luxembourg doesn't rank very high (ranking 32) when it comes to the ease of settling in or ease of making friends (ranking 46).
Mexico is also among the top countries, ranking high for the personal happiness and friendliness categories. 91 percent of expats are happy with their expat life in this country, and 44 percent of expats (the highest number across countries surveyed) would like to stay forever in Mexico.
Switzerland ranks fourth for its top spot in a number of categories including the general quality of life, travel and transport, and health, safety and well-being.
The countries at the bottom also need a mention. Greece, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are the least popular destinations for expats. Greece suffers low rankings in the Working Abroad index because of its recent economic crisis, low job security and poor ranking on the personal finance index. Saudi Arabia is number 60 on the list, because of its poor quality of life as well as leisure and activities rankings. Kuwait is right at the bottom of the list, largely due to the difficulty of settling in and making friends. Only 5 percent of respondents felt at home in the country and only 7 percent found it easy to make local friends.