Forbes India 15th Anniversary Special

The best countries to live in ranked according to expats

Any guesses? Here's a list of 53 countries based on the report by InterNations, which polled nearly 12,000 expats based on various factors

Published: Jul 21, 2023 03:28:36 PM IST
Updated: Jul 21, 2023 04:25:15 PM IST

The best countries to live in ranked according to expatsMexico; Image: Getty Images

For those seeking to embrace new cultures and create unforgettable experiences, here is a peek into some of the best countries to live in ranked according to expats. 

InterNations, an expat community, polled nearly 12,000 expats representing 171 nationalities and living in 172 countries based on a range of factors. These include quality of life, ease of settling in, personal finance, and more.  

While India ranks 37th on the list of 53 best countries to live in, expats praised the vibrant and culturally rich environment the country has to offer. Additionally, the warmth and hospitality of the locals were also appreciated by expats. They also noted that their cost of living decreased upon moving to the country, which contributed to a positive sense of belonging. Indian cuisine also stood out for expats.  

One of the major challenges was air pollution and the impact of poor air quality on their health and well-being. Many expats also cited traffic congestion as a significant issue, in addition to access to quality medical care in remote areas being a challenge. They also perceived bureaucratic processes in India as a complex and time-consuming issue when dealing with official documents and administrative matters.  

For those seeking new horizons, here are the top five most sought-after destinations: 

1. Mexico

Since the survey was first conducted in 2014, Mexico has ranked in the top five spots. The country has always ranked among the best in the ease of settling in index and expats also find it to be friendly, especially towards foreign residents. They also say that is easy to get used to the Mexican culture. When it comes to housing, expats say that it is not only easy to find accommodation, but it is also affordable. Overall, they are happy with the cost of living, and their financial situation.

They also feel that the country provides enough career opportunities, fair pay, and work-life balance. An additional positive is the number of leisure options.  

On the negative side are the country’s political instability, and safety. Eighteen percent said that they don’t feel safe, more than double the global average of 8 percent.  
All in all, 90 percent of expats are happy with their life in Mexico, compared to 72 percent globally.

Also read: Top luxury destinations in the world in 2023

2. Spain

The best countries to live in ranked according to expatsSpain; Image: Shutterstock

Spain has always ranked in the top 10 of the quality of life index since the first survey. It has consistently featured among the best worldwide for leisure options, bagging the first position again in 2023. A majority of expats enjoy the culture and nightlife in Spain and are happy with the opportunities for recreational sports. The country’s climate and weather add to its appeal.  

However, less than half of the expats agree that moving there has improved their career prospects, and a part of them are unhappy with the local job market.  

It does score well on the work-life balance index, though. Expats are also happy with the cost of living and think that homes are affordable. Overall, 87 percent of expats expressed that they were happy with their life in Spain, compared to 72 percent globally.  

3. Panama

The best countries to live in ranked according to expatsPanama; Image: Shutterstock

Of the 53 countries on the list, Panama has bagged the third position. Expats think it is easy to settle in, find friends, and relate to the culture, they feel welcome and at home. They also like the climate and weather, the air quality, and how well they can manage their finances. It is also easy to find and afford housing, they add.  

According to the expats, the not-so-good parts are the career prospects it offers. The local job market and the lack of job security are a concern among expats.  

Also read: Top ocean cruise lines of 2023

4. Malaysia  

The best countries to live in ranked according to expatsMalaysia; Image: Shutterstock

Expats in Malaysia reported a generally warm and welcoming atmosphere, praising the friendly and hospitable locals. They also highlighted the country’s cost-effectiveness, and low cost of living, including housing, transportation, and daily expenses. It also scored well on leisure and social activities. The expats also praised the healthcare facilities with affordable and accessible medical services available across major cities.  
However, safety was a concerning factor for some expatriates. Expats expressed occasional worries about theft and petty crime. The country also received mixed reviews in terms of career prospects and job satisfaction for expats. Some reported limited opportunities, especially for non-professional roles. The language barrier also seemed to be a challenge for expats.  

5. Taiwan

The best countries to live in ranked according to expatsTaiwan; Image: Shutterstock

Expats in Taiwan were highly satisfied with the country’s healthcare system, and the safety and security experienced with a low crime rate. The country also offers a positive work-life balance. Additionally, they also highlighted the friendliness of the locals in Taiwan. The language barrier seemed to be one of the challenges leading to difficulties experienced in making friends or finding jobs. Some expats also expressed that the social scene might be less vibrant compared to other destinations, which could be a factor for those seeking more active nightlife and entertainment options.

The best places to live in ranked according to expats

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

Source: Expat Insider 2023, by InterNations