February 23, 2019
We share the safest countries for expats – essential information for those who roam abroad.
Whether for love, money, adventure or escape, moving abroad is fraught with uncertainty. Not only are there life-changing decisions to make (Where shall I go? Will I be safe? Is this the right thing for me?), there are countless logistical problems to solve: arranging visas, securing accommodation, organising utilities and booking travel medical insurance.
To help you answer the big questions, we list below the safest countries for expats, based on InterNations’ annual Expat Insider survey.
This and our list of the world’s most expensive cities for expats should give you a well-rounded idea of where might be right for you. One thing to remember in taking the leap is that it doesn’t have to be forever.
You can sample a place for a while and settle long-term if you like it. In fact, there is a growing number of products designed specifically for digital nomads who may move from place to place.
SafetyWing is one such example. Backed by Silicon Valley’s Y Combinator, it focuses specifically on flexible travel medical insurance at an affordable price. Unlike traditional policies, it works like a subscription: you can choose your start date and cancel any time, there is no cap on the duration of a trip and, crucially, you don’t need to know how long you will be travelling in advance.
SafetyWing also covers you in your home country for 30 days every three months (or 15 days for US residents), so you can take a break from your travels and catch up with friends and family without worries.
Flexible options like this allow digital nomads and expats to try new places without getting locked in, leaving you free to roam and find the best country for you.
Identifying the safest countries
Now in its fifth year, the Expat Insider survey is the largest of its kind. InterNations draws on its 3.2 million members and surveys over 18,000 expats from 178 nationalities living in 187 countries or territories.
One key focus of InterNations’ survey is the Safety & Security category. Members are asked questions on how they feel about personal safety, political stability, and peacefulness in their country of residence.
Their answers are used to create three subcategory indices, which are compiled to create an overall ranking of the safest countries for expats.
The minimum sample size per country is 75 respondents making it possible to rank 65 countries by where expats feel safest.
Luxembourg is ranked as the safest country for expats, displacing Switzerland which took the top spot last year. Switzerland and Norway are second and third respectively with New Zealand and Finland rounding out the top five safest countries for expats.
Turkey, Peru, Kenya, South Africa and Brazil make up the bottom five with Brazil ranked as the least safe country for expats; 56% of respondents there rated their personal safety negatively – more than six times the global average (9%).
Leading up to Brexit, the UK remains divided. Personal safety and political stability for expats is appearing to suffer as a result: the UK ranks 49th out of 68 in the Safety & Security subcategory.
Safest countries for expats ranked
The survey data was collected in February and March 2018. Therefore, results do not reflect any events which have occurred since.
You can download the full Expat Insider report here.