Country Ranking Factors
The Expat Insider 2021 survey was conducted by InterNations and ran from 7 to 31 January 2021. The online survey was promoted through the InterNations community, the company’s newsletter, and its social media profiles. The target audience included all kinds of expats, from foreign assignees — i.e., employees sent on a corporate assignment abroad — and international hires to self-made expats relocating for a better quality of life and a variety of other reasons. Responses were not limited to members of the InterNations community. However, for the first time, some questions could also be answered by local residents. This applies mostly to the topic of recent stays abroad and/or future relocation plans that have been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A total of 12,420 expats participated in the survey, representing 174 nationalities and living in 186 countries or territories. The survey results are published in this report in the form of an overall ranking of popular expat destinations, as well as additional information on four topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, and Personal Finance. For a country to be listed in any of the indices and in the overall ranking, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per destination is required. In 2021, 59 destinations fulfilled this requirement. However, in many countries the sample size exceeded 75 or even 100 participants. In Germany, for instance, around 950 expats took part in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. In addition to this, 6,334 local residents — many of them future or former expats — answered selected questions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced some respondents to postpone their move or to return to their home country earlier than planned.
For the rankings themselves, respondents were asked to rate up to 37 different factors related to various aspects of expat life on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasizes the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these factors and considers both emotional topics (e.g., getting used to the local culture) and more factual aspects (e.g., transportation infrastructure) with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were bundled in various combinations for a total of 14 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up the four topical indices cited above. (Please note: Unlike previous editions of the Expat Insider survey, the 2021 ranking no longer includes either a separate Family Life Index or individual rating factors aimed only at expat parents.)
The four indices, as well as the responses to the question “How satisfied are you with life abroad in general?”, were then averaged to arrive at the overall country ranking. The Cost of Living Index, while providing some insight into expats’ perception of living expenses in their current country of residence, does not factor into the overall ranking.