InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with more than 4.8 million members, has published the latest results of its annual Expat Insider survey, with four Southeast Asian countries making it into top ten.
On top is Malaysia, ranked 4th best expat destination. Taiwan comes in as 5th best place for expats. Thailand has been ranked 6th out of 53 destinations and Philippines 8th.
The survey is based on 12,000 respondents. This makes it one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad. It provides insights into expat life in 53 destinations, surrounding five indicators: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and the Expat Essentials Index.
Cost of living plays a huge role
Malaysia’s top ranking is due to the country performing exceptionally well in the Personal Finance Index, where the country is ranked 5th best place overall. Expats in Malaysia generally agrees, that their disposable household income is sufficient to lead a comfortable life.
Taiwan has been ranked in top five since the country made its first appearance back in 2016. This is mainly due to healthcare-related factors. The expats show appreciation for both the affordability (91% vs. 62% globally) and the quality (86% vs. 70% globally). This has resulted in Taiwan being ranked 1st in the overall Healthcare subcategory.
Thailand ranks 6th out of 53 destinations. Cost-conscious expats appreciate Thailand for its easily available and affordable housing as well as the affordable lifestyle the country generally offers. Thailand ranks 4th overall in the Personal Finance Index. Overall, 86% say that they are happy with their life in Thailand, compared to 72% globally.
Last but not least are the Philippines, that likewise excels in the personal Finance Index (3rd). Like Malaysia, expats in The Philippines are happy with their disposable household income and 75% of the questioned says they are happy about their financial situation compared to 58% worldwide.
Unfriendly and expensive
On the other side of the spectrum is Norway, which is ranked 52 of the 53 destinations. 62% of the respondents rate the cost of living in Norway negatively. 37% say, that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life vs. 27% worldwide. Besides the economic strains many of the questioned expats likewise agree, that there are some social challenges to be faced in the country as well. In the category Ease of Settling in Index, Norway is ranked 48th. 32% describes the locals as unfriendly towards foreigners, compared to 18% globally. They also struggle to make local friends, and 38% are unhappy with their social life.
Out of the four Scandinavian countries, Finland is the best ranked at 16th place. Sweden is ranked 24th and Denmark 41st. All four shows a lot of similarities in many of the categories. All are in top 10 when it comes to air quality in the Quality-of-Life Index, while all four are likewise in the bottom 10 when it comes to culinary variety as well as culture and nightlife.
Except for Finland, the Scandinavian countries rank among the ten worst destinations in the Ease of settling Index. Expats find Scandinavians unfriendly and many have a hard time trying to make friends. Denmark is even ranked last in the world in the subcategory “Finding Friends.”
Still, the overall happiness level in Scandinavia is about the average, with expats being the happiest in Finland (78%) followed by 74% in Sweden. Expats in Denmark are a little below the average of 72% with only 70% saying they are happy in the Nordic country, whereas the overall happiness level in Norway is only 61%.