Ranked: best countries for expats 2021 (according to expats)

27th May 2021

Taiwan is the best country for expats

The best countries for expats have been ranked with Taiwan taking the top spot. We take a look at the rest of the results

Taiwan, Mexico, and Costa Rica are the best countries for expats with all three attracting foreign workers with their ease of settling in and good personal finances.

There are an estimated 57 million expatriates across the globe with the term ‘expat’ no longer limited to corporate employees relocating from a company’s headquarters.

Instead, more and more expats are moving overseas in search of a dream. Some have remote jobs and are now working from a location they love. InterNations’ latest survey looks at how expats’ motivations for moving are changing where they go.

Now in its eighth year, the Expat Insider survey is the largest of its kind. InterNations draws on its 4.1 million members and surveys over 12,000 expats from 174 nationalities living in 186 countries or territories.

InterNations uses its members’ answers to rank 59 destinations on how expat residents feel towards their home away from home.

The survey uses 37 individual factors that influence an expat’s experience of living in a foreign country including safety and security, family life, finances, travel and transport options, ease of settling in, average working hours and the impact Covid-19 has had on expat life.

“I can live independently. I feel safe wherever I go, and everything is convenient.”

A Canadian expat in Taiwan

For the first time since the Expat Insider survey was launched in 2014, more than 6,000 local residents — many former and future expats among them — also had the opportunity to respond to certain questions.

Most of these addressed the way the pandemic may have disrupted relocation plans or a recent stay abroad.

Best and worst countries for expats

Taiwan was placed first out of 59 countries for the third year in a row and has consistently ranked in the top five over the years.

The country performed well in terms of quality of life, job security and personal safety. Most expats were also satisfied with the state of the local economy (85% vs. 62% globally).

“I love the culture and friendliness of the local people.”

An American expat in Mexico

Mexico ranked second and performed particularly well in the Ease of Settling In Index with 85% of respondents finding it easy to settle down in Mexico (vs. 62% globally). 78% said they found it easy to make local friends (vs. 44% globally).

The best and worst countries for expats
InterNations The best and worst countries for expats

Costa Rica was third with 91% of expats describing the population as generally friendly (vs. 69% globally). Malaysia and Portugal round out the top five respectively.

For the seventh time in eight years, Kuwait was ranked in last place in the Expat Insider survey. 

The country also came last in the Quality of Life Index and scored poorly in the Leisure Options, Personal Happiness, and Travel & Transportation subcategories.

In 58th place, Italy is the second-worst country for expats. In the Personal Finance Index category, the Mediterranean country was last with 30% of expats saying they are dissatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 19% globally).

Mexico was voted the second best country for expats
Rubi Rodriguez Martinez/Shutterstock Mexico was voted the second best country for expats

South Africa, Russia and Egypt round out the bottom five respectively. Generally, among the poorer performing countries expats were particularly dissatisfied with their working life and financial aspects.

The UK continues to underperform after tumbling 21 places and dropping to 59th place in 2018 following Brexit. It has recovered somewhat to 45th position, although it’s worth remembering that five countries dropped out of the ranking because of an insufficient number of respondents.

Complete ranking

Participants were asked to assess up to 37 factors concerning various aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven.

The mean values were then calculated to create the below ranking of the best countries for expats.

RankCountry
1Taiwan
2Mexico
3Costa Rica
4Malaysia
5Portugal
6New Zealand
7Australia
8Ecuador
9Canada
10Vietnam
11Colombia
12Bahrain
13Singapore
14Thailand
15Czech Republic
16Spain
17Qatar
18UAE
19Panama
20Luxembourg
21Kenya
22China
23Austria
24Oman
25France
26Philippines
27Ukraine
28Estonia
29Ireland
30Switzerland
31Indonesia
32Romania
33Netherlands
34USA
35Brazil
36Germany
37Denmark
38Norway
39Finland
40Greece
41Belgium
42Saudi Arabia
43Poland
44Chile
45UK
46Hong Kong
47South Korea
48Hungary
49Sweden
50Malta
51India
52Turkey
53Cyprus
54Japan
55Egypt
56Russia
57South Africa
58Italy
59Kuwait

You can download the entire Expat Insider report here.

More rankings and articles can be found in our remote work area:

► Most dangerous countries in the world
► Countries with the best healthcare in the world
► World’s worst countries to drive in
► Most peaceful countries in the world
► Best countries for women
► Happiest countries in the world
► World’s most powerful passport
► Countries with the fastest internet
► Most stressed countries in the world
► Most expensive cities for expats
► World’s most democratic countries


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Lead image: NH/Shutterstock