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Expat Insider - The World Through Expat Eyes

It Is Easy for Expats to Find Their Place in Bahrain

Expats find it easy to connect with others but struggle with their finances.

Ranking 15th out of 52 destinations overall, Bahrain comes out on top in the new Expat Essentials Index (1st). Dealing with administrative issues can be a pain when you move abroad, but expats in Bahrain have no trouble with such topics, voting the country second in this subcategory. Expats find it easy to open a local bank account (85% vs. 64% globally), deal with local bureaucracy (67% vs. 40% globally), and obtain a visa before moving there (70% vs. 56% globally).

The Housing (10th) and Language (4th) Subcategories are further highlights in this index. Over four in five expats (82%) report that it is easy to find housing in Bahrain (vs. 54% globally), and the same share finds it easy to live there without speaking the local language (vs. 51% globally). That is helpful, since just 28% of expats find the latter easy to learn (vs. 41% globally).

Getting Connected

The Ease of Settling In Index (12th) is another high point for expats in Bahrain. The majority feels that making local friends is easy (57% vs. 42% globally). Respondents describe the local population as generally friendly towards foreign residents (77% vs. 65% globally), helping place Bahrain tenth in the Local Friendliness Subcategory. However, just 4% of expats are mainly friends with local residents (vs. 17% globally). Another 60% describe their friends and acquaintances as a fairly mixed group (vs. 49% globally), and 37% mainly spend time with other expats (vs. 33% globally). An expat from Kyrgyzstan says that “meeting with people around Bahrain and sharing each other’s experiences” is a highlight of her life abroad.

Bahrain only narrowly misses out on a top 10 spot in the Culture & Welcome Subcategory (11th). And indeed, 75% of expats say that it is easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 62% globally), and 70% feel welcome in Bahrain (vs. 66% globally). “It is very easy to integrate,” says an expat from Malaysia. “I do not feel like a stranger here.

Environmental Concerns

When it comes to the Quality of Life Index (23rd), Bahrain receives mixed results, particularly in the Environment & Climate Subcategory (39th). Expats rank the country in the bottom 10 (49th) for the natural environment (aspects such as nature, scenery, and wildlife). It also ranks below average for the urban environment, as over one in four (27%) are unhappy with this factor (vs. 17% globally). However, 70% believe that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 61% globally).

Other than that, expats especially appreciate the culinary variety and dining options (7th), as well as the easy access to all the kinds of healthcare services they need (4th). In fact, 80% rate the latter factor positively (vs. 67% globally), and 51% even say that it could not be any better (vs. 32% globally).

A Lack of Job Security & Financial Struggles

About one in three expats (33%) were recruited internationally to come to Bahrain, and 26% found a job there on their own. However, more than one in four (28%) are now dissatisfied with their job security, compared to 20% globally, and 17% do not see a purpose in their work (vs. 9% globally).

While the share of those working full time is a lot higher than the global average (95% vs. 83% globally), and their average working hours per week are longer (44.3 hours vs. 40.2 hours globally), expats in Bahrain also earn less than those in other destinations: there is a particularly high share of expats in Bahrain with a gross yearly income of less than 12,000 USD (26% vs. 18% globally). On the other hand, only 11% of respondents in Bahrain earn more than 100,000 USD per year, which is about half the global average (21%).

This is also reflected in the Personal Finance Index (46th). Three in ten expats (30%) state that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 28% globally), and one in four (25%) is unsatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 21% globally). The country ranks 51st for this factor, only ahead of South Africa.

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