The Cities Offering the Best (& Worst) Life Abroad
- #1 Valencia offers expats a great quality of life abroad.
- In #2 Dubai, expats find it easy to deal with admin topics.
- Getting settled couldn’t be easier in #3 Mexico.
- Johannesburg (#50), Frankfurt (#49), and Paris (#48) are the worst destinations in 2022.
The Top 10 Cities for Expats
- Mexico City
- Abu Dhabi
#1 Valencia: Livable, Friendly & Affordable
Valencia places 1st out of 50 in the Expat City Ranking 2022, as well as 1st in the Quality of Life Index. Expats describe public transportation as affordable (85% happy vs. 70% globally) and love the great opportunities for recreational sports (92% vs. 75% globally). And 92% of expats feel safe in Valencia (vs. 81% globally).
When it comes to the Ease of Settling In Index (3rd), expats feel at home there (74% vs. 62% worldwide) and are happy with their social life (72% vs. 56% globally). The city also ranks third in the Personal Finance Index, even placing first for cost of living: 83% of expats rate it positively (vs. 45% globally).
While Valencia performs well in the Expat Essentials Index (13th), the Working Abroad Index (41st) is by far its weakest point. It places last for Career Prospects (50th): 50% of expats rate the local job market negatively (vs. 27% globally), and 30% judge their own career opportunities unfavorably (vs. 22% globally).
#2 Dubai: Great for Both Work & Leisure
Dubai comes first worldwide in the Expat Essentials Index and its Admin Topics Subcategory. Expats report that it is easy to deal with the local authorities (66% vs. 40% globally), and 88% are happy with the availability of government services online (vs. 61% globally). However, 18% are unhappy with the access they have to online services (vs. 7% globally).
The Ease of Settling In Index (8th) — expats are happy with their social life (68% happy vs. 56% globally) and feel welcome in Dubai (81% vs. 66% globally) — and the Quality of Life Index (6th) are two more highlights. Nearly all expats (95%) are satisfied with the infrastructure for cars (vs. 75% globally), and they rank both the culture and nightlife (5th) and the culinary variety and dining options (3rd) highly.
Dubai comes sixth in the Working Abroad Index. Expats are happy with their job (70% happy vs. 64% globally) and report that the local business culture encourages creativity (78% vs. 51% globally).
#3 Mexico City: Friendly & Affordable but Unsafe
Mexico City ranks first worldwide in the Ease of Settling In Index. Expats feel at home (82% happy vs. 62% globally) and welcome (89% vs. 66% globally) there, and 87% describe the local residents as generally friendly (vs. 66% globally). The city performs equally well in the Personal Finance Index (1st). Expats there are the most satisfied with their financial situation (73% happy vs. 60% globally). Despite its average performance in the Working Abroad Index (24th), expats are happy with both their personal career opportunities (71% vs. 58% globally) and their jobs overall (73% vs. 64% globally).
In the Expat Essentials Index (30th), Admin Topics (44th) are an issue, but housing is both easy to find (9th) and to afford (6th). Lastly, Mexico City ends up in the bottom 10 of the Quality of Life Index (44th). Expats are especially disappointed with the Environment & Climate (41st) and the Safety & Security (47th) Subcategories. Over one in three (35%) are unhappy with their personal safety (vs. 9% globally).
The Bottom 10 Cities for Expats
- Hong Kong
- Frankfurt am Main
#50 Johannesburg: The World’s Worst Expat Destination
Johannesburg is the worst city for expats overall and in the Quality of Life Index (50th) in particular. Expats are unhappy with the affordability (25% unhappy vs. 15% globally) and the availability (39% vs. 17% globally) of public transportation, and they feel unsafe, too (62% vs. 9% globally). In the Working Abroad Index (49th), they rate the local job market (38% unhappy vs. 27% globally) and their personal career opportunities (29% vs. 22% globally) negatively.
Expats are also dissatisfied with their personal finances (41% unhappy vs. 21% globally), and 44% say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 28% globally). This puts the city in 47th place in the Personal Finance Index. At least housing is affordable (46% happy vs. 39% globally), which is one reason why Johannesburg still lands in 36th place in the Expat Essentials Index. On the other hand, expats rate the availability of government services online negatively (41% unhappy vs. 21% globally).
#49 Frankfurt: Struggling with Digital & Admin Topics
Frankfurt comes last in the Expat Essentials Index (50th) and ranks among the bottom 10 in all its subcategories: Digital Life (47th), Language (46th), Admin Topics (45th), and Housing (43rd). Close to two in five are unhappy with the administrative services available online (39% vs. 21% globally) and the options to pay without cash (37% vs. 8% globally), while housing is considered too expensive (70% unhappy vs. 43% globally). Expats are also unhappy with the general cost of living (51% vs. 35% globally), ranking the city 41st in the Personal Finance Index.
In the Ease of Settling In Index (48th), they have a hard time making local friends (55% unhappy vs. 37% globally) and find it difficult to get used to the local culture (30% vs. 19% globally). Frankfurt performs somewhat better, but still below average, in the Working Abroad (35th) and Quality of Life (31st) Indices. For example, while the city ranks well for its infrastructure for cars (10th), it is rated the worst worldwide for the affordability of public transportation (50th).
#48 Paris: A Top City for Culture — If You Can Afford It
Paris lands in the bottom 5 of the Expat Essentials Index (47th). Expats find it extremely hard to find housing (47th), and 71% say that housing costs are too high (vs. 43% globally). High expenses also impact the Personal Finance Index (48th): 62% consider the general cost of living too high (vs. 35% globally), and 35% are unhappy with their financial situation (vs. 21% globally).
Expats do not feel very welcome in Paris (45th), either, which is one of the reasons for its bottom 5 ranking in the Ease of Settling In Index (46th). They consider the Parisians unfriendly towards foreign residents (35% unhappy vs. 18% globally) and find it hard to make local friends (58% vs. 37% globally).
On the positive side, Paris ranks midfield for Quality of Life (30th). Expats appreciate, for example, the culinary variety and dining options (86% vs. 77% globally), as well as the culture and nightlife (78% vs. 67% globally). However, 23% worry about their personal safety (vs. 9% globally).
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at other years' results?
Check out the Expat Insider 2021!