Ranked: best cities for expats 2022 (according to expats)

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1st December 2021
Kuala Lumpur is the best city for expats of 2022

The best cities for expats have been ranked, with Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia taking the top spot. We take a look at the rest of the results

With more than 4.1 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and a source of information for people who live and work abroad.

Their annual expat city ranking draws on data from a survey of over 15,000 expats representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries or territories. Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia has been named the best city for expats in a ranking of 57 cities.

Expats were asked a series of questions about their current city of residence including: Does it have a convenient public transportation system? What is the local housing market like? How do they view their career opportunities? How would they rate their social life?

Expats in Kuala Lumpur described the city as welcoming and affordable and said they were particularly satisfied with how easy it was to get settled in the city. The city also performed well in the 'Finance & Housing' category. However, when it came to the 'Urban Work Life' and 'Quality of Urban Living' categories, Kuala Lumpur performed less favourably.

Málaga in Spain ranked second with expats again saying they were pleased with how easy it was to settle in. Málaga also received great results in both the 'Cost of Living' and the 'Finance & Housing' categories and, unsurprisingly, performed well when it came to the 'Leisure & Climate' subcategory.

Malaga in Spain was voted the second-best city for expats
Pabkov/Shutterstock Malaga in Spain was voted the second-best city for expats

Dubai in the UAE rounded out the top three with expats seemingly content with how easy it was to settle in as well as the lack of a language barrier. Furthermore, expats described the local people as friendly towards foreigners and broadly stated that it is easy to acclimatise to the local culture.

Notable insights

  • Expats in Kuala Lumpur are particularly happy with the cost of living and housing situation.
  • Expats in Málaga are pleased with the healthcare and climate.
  • Nairobi (12) in Kenya is the highest-ranked African country, while Johannesburg (55) in South Africa is the lowest.
  • Mexico's capital Mexico City (8) is the only Latin American city in the top 10.
  • New York (48) in the US is the lowest-ranked North American city and the only one in the bottom 10.
  • There are four cities from the Asia-Pacific region in the top 10: Kuala Lumpur (1), Sydney (4) in Australia, Singapore (5) and Ho Chi Minh City (6) in Vietnam.
  • Tokyo (53) in Japan is the lowest-ranked Asian country.
  • There are four European cities in the top 10: Málaga (2) in Spain, Prague (7) in Czech Republic, Basel (9) in Switzerland and the Spanish capial Madrid (10).
  • Contrastly, there are also six European cities in the bottom 10.
  • Notably, it is two Italian cities – Milan (56) and Rome (57) – ranked second from bottom and bottom.
Dubai skyline at night
RED87PUTRA/SHUTTERSTOCK Dubai in the UAE was ranked third

Best cities for expats

Participants were asked to rate 25 aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven.

The respondents’ ratings were then consolidated to create 13 subcategories and four topical indices: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life and Finance & Housing. These were then aggregated in order to rank all 57 cities. 

  1. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  2. Málaga, Spain
  3. Dubai, UAE
  4. Sydney, Australia
  5. Singapore, Singapore
  6. Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
  7. Praque, Czech republic
  8. Mexico City, Mexico
  9. Basel, Switzerland
  10. Madrid, Spain

  1. Bangkok, Thailand
  2. Nairobi, Kenya
  3. Shanghai, China
  4. Vienna, Austria
  5. Doha, Qatar
  6. Abu Dhabi, UAE
  7. Muscat, Oman
  8. Lisbon, Portugal
  9. The Hague, The Netherlands
  10. Aachen, Germany

  1. Lausanne, Switzerland
  2. Tallinn, Estonia
  3. Brussels, Belgium
  4. Melbourne, Australia
  5. Vancouver, Canada
  6. Frankfurt, Germany
  7. Toronto, Canada
  8. Rotterdam, The Netherlands
  9. Barcelona, Spain
  10. Copenhagen, Denmark

  1. Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  2. Budapest, Hungary
  3. Santiago, Chile
  4. Zurich, Switzerland
  5. Munich, Germany
  6. Luxembourg City
  7. Warsaw, Poland
  8. London, UK
  9. Berlin, Germany
  10. Dusseldorf, Germany

  1. Cape Town, South Africa
  2. Hamburg, Germany
  3. Stockholm, Sweden
  4. Riadh, Saudi Arabia
  5. Dublin, Ireland
  6. Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR
  7. Geneva, Switzerland
  8. New York, USA
  9. Moscow, Russia
  10. Maastricht, The Netherlands

  1. Paris, France
  2. Cairo, Egypt
  3. Tokyo, Japan
  4. Istanbul, Turkey
  5. Johannesburg, South Africa
  6. Milan, Italy
  7. Rome, Italy

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Lead image: Patrick Foto/Shutterstock