Festive Fun Around the World: December at InterNations

Office Christmas parties have moved to Zoom, the guest list for in-person New Year’s parties has been severely curtailed, and the latke-to-person ratio at Hanukkah celebrations has improved significantly. The festive season certainly looks different this year!

All around the globe, members of our InterNations Communities have proven that this change does not have to be a bad thing. From theater-lovers lifting curtains on a festive play reading, to New Yorkers once again welcoming everyone to their city for a New Year’s party to remember, online events open doors to experiences beyond our own communities. Let’s take a look at how our members are celebrating the season of goodwill this year!

Virtual Connections — Bringing People Together Online

Our mobile phones, laptops, and tablets have become our best friends this year — or at least made it easier to stay connected with our best friends in the real world! As we move into the festive season, many of our communities are making the most of the opportunities that the internet provides for catching up with old friends, as well as making new ones.

On Saturday, 5 December, the Budapest Ibero-American Connections Group hosted an activity that approached Christmas from an international angle. With discussions on hot topics, such as why Santa’s robe is red, and what the candles on our Christmas trees represent, members were invited to share what Christmas looks like in their own countries. As people sat down to prepare for a visit from Papá Noel, Santa Claus, Viejito Pascuero, or San Nicolás, we are sure that they had a great evening, and learned something new! We would like to offer our thanks to activity hosts Charo Berjon and Judit Vinkler for organizing the event.

Over in Stockholm, members are invited to come clad in their best (or worst) Christmas jumpers, and meet up with their friends for a virtual Christmas party. This InterNations Official Event will take place on Thursday, 17 December, and promises to be a night of great festive fun for everyone. With music, games, and Christmas tales from all over the world, this seems like a great excuse for a glass of Glühwein (mulled wine). Thank you to our InterNations Ambassador in Stockholm, Johannes Joergensen, for hosting this celebration!

Many of us have found new talents and passions over the past year. For those who would like to take their monologuing outside of their bedroom walls and share the joy of acting with others, the Düsseldorf Performing Arts Passion Group has organized a virtual reading of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol. If you see yourself as something of a Scrooge or have simply been looking for the chance to say Humbug! to 2020, we are certain that this would be a great way to spend your Sunday afternoon. The event will take place on Sunday, 20 December, and will be hosted by our Consul, Qiao Zhang.

As we look forward to welcoming 2021, the New York Happy Hour Group will see in the countdown celebrations with members across the globe on Thursday, 31 December. Starting with communities in Moscow, Dubai, and Doha, the celebrations will then make their way through Europe, and finally to the west coast of the US, where members in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle will bid 2020 farewell along with anyone else still awake. This will be a very special ending to a very special year and a perfect representation of the community spirit that has helped us all through it. Thanks to the New York Happy Hour Group, as well as our Ambassadors and Consuls in communities everywhere, for your hard work in organizing this event!

Christmas Markets and Merriment

Festive in-person events have also been organized in communities where it is safe to do so. Friends have been reunited, as they celebrate the very best that their cities have to offer in this magical time of the year.

For the first time ever, there will be a German-style Christmas market taking place in Taipei City. The InterNations Taipei Community plans to visit the market on Saturday, 26 December, where they will be offered a taste of German Christmas by the holders of around 50 different stalls. From German-style sausages to delicious gingerbread, children’s toys, and gifts for all the family, there will be a huge range of things on offer to help you make the most of the festive period. We would like to thank host Sandra Fu for organizing this activity!

Over in Copenhagen, members of the New Vegan Friends Group met on Sunday, 13 December to check out the Christmas market scene. Members were encouraged to come along to a lesser-known part of the city and pick up some gløgg to keep them warm as they took in the various workshops and food offerings on offer in the Christiania district. This looks like it was great fun and an excellent opportunity to experience local Christmas tradition in Copenhagen!

Rather than the traditional street food that we expect to see on offer at Christmas markets, members of the Sydney DinnerNations Group are choosing to celebrate Christmas Eve in style this year, with a 5-star dining experience. After meeting in their finest clothes in an adjacent champagne bar, members will move on to the Sofitel in Darling Harbour, where they will enjoy excellent food in excellent company — a great way to spend Christmas Eve, in our opinion! Thanks to our activity host Max Modley for organizing this event.

As we move on to think about the New Year, and all that it might bring, members in some of our communities have organized events to see 2020 out with a bang. An InterNations Official Event taking place in our Guangzhou Community will see members meet in the Grand Hyatt Hotel for a countdown celebration. Included with your ticket to this event is a great range of drinks, a magic show, live band, and the opportunity to celebrate the New Year with your closest friends within your InterNations Community. We would like to thank our Ambassadors in Guangzhou, Gisèle JI and Felipe Rufino Atkocius, for organizing the event.

In Jakarta, members are saying an outdoor farewell to 2020 from the Liquid Exchange, a  wonderful bar and grill in the city. People will count down the final hours of this year in the company of friends and celebrate together as the clock strikes midnight. Thank you to Farida Ismanar, Anastasia Loblobly, and Adrian Irvananto for organizing this wonderful event!

Despite the uncertainty that has been present for much of the past year, we hope that all of our members find ways to stay connected with one another, and make the most of the opportunities provided by this very special season.

Be sure to check out the events calendar to see what’s going on in your own community — or worldwide, virtually — over the next few weeks!

The Best and Worst Cities for Expats Worldwide

The Expat City Ranking 2020 reveals the best and worst cities for expats around the world.

  • Out of 66 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2020, Valencia (1st), Alicante, Lisbon, Panama City, Singapore, Málaga, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, and Abu Dhabi (10th) are the top 10 cities in 2020 for expats to live in.  
  • On the other hand, expats consider Salmiya in Kuwait (66th), Rome, Seoul, Milan, Nairobi, Paris, Johannesburg, Santiago, Dublin, and Hong Kong (57th) the world’s worst cities to live in.  

The 10 Best Cities for Expats 

1. Valencia Is the Best City for Expats Worldwide  

Coming in 1st place out of 66 cities worldwide, Valencia is the best destination for expats, according to the Expat City Ranking 2020. The Spanish city is among the top 5 in all topical indices but one. It even ranks first worldwide in both the Quality of Urban Living and the Local Cost of Living Indices. In fact, 94% of expats rate the local cost of living positively (vs. 46% globally), and 91% consider healthcare easily available (vs. 74% globally). This places the city first in the Health & Environment subcategory. Expats are also very happy with the local climate and weather (2nd) and the leisure options (4th).   

With more than four in five expats (82%) saying that housing in Valencia is affordable (vs. 41% globally), it also comes first for this factor. Overall, the Spanish city ranks 3rd in the Finance & Housing Index. A US American expat lists “the quality of life and the cost of living” as their favorite things about Valencia. Apparently, it is also easy to get settled in Valencia, which comes 4th in this index. More than four in five expats (84%) find it easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 61% globally), and 91% say that the local residents are generally friendly (vs. 68% globally).  

The Urban Work Life Index (46th) is Valencia’s only sore point. In the Job & Career subcategory, it only ranks 62nd, with 46% of expats saying they are unhappy with their local career opportunities (vs. 34% globally). A French expat says that “finding employment has always been difficult” for them. Moreover, expats are not happy with the local economy: fewer than five in nine expats (54%) rate this aspect positively, which is nine percentage points below the global average (63%).  

2. Expats Receive a Warm Welcome in Alicante and Love the Sunny Climate  

Placing 2nd out of 66 destinations, Alicante is one of the best cities worldwide for expats, beaten only by neighboring Valencia (1st). The city ranks among the global top 3 in the Finance & Housing (2nd), the Local Cost of Living (2nd), and the Getting Settled (1st) Indices. In fact, 83% of expats feel at home there (vs. 64% globally), and 68% find it easy to make friends in Alicante (vs. 47% globally). A British expat appreciates the “easy way of life and the friendliness of people around me”. In terms of finance, 81% of expats are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 61% globally). Additionally, more than two in three survey respondents (68%) say that housing in Alicante is affordable (vs. 41% globally), and 82% rate the cost of living in general positively (vs. 46% globally).  

Similar to Valencia, Alicante shows a comparably weak performance in the Urban Work Life Index (39th). For example, 44% of expats rate their local career opportunities negatively (vs. 34% globally), putting the city into the bottom 10 worldwide for this factor (57th). In the Quality of Urban Living Index (19th), the city also receives lower results, which is partly due to public transportation (46th). On the other hand, Alicante receives great results for the availability of healthcare (89% satisfied vs. 74% globally), as well as the local climate and weather (97% satisfied vs. 64% globally).   

3. Lisbon: A Sunny, Safe, and Social Place for Expats  

Coming in 3rd place out of 66 cities in the Expat City Ranking, Lisbon performs well across the board. It does especially well in the Getting Settled Index (3rd), and 82% of expats feel at home in the city (vs. 64% globally). Another 79% are happy with their social life there (vs. 59% globally), placing the city 3rd worldwide for this factor as well. The Quality of Urban Living Index (4th) showcases how much expats like Lisbon, with the Portuguese capital coming 5th in the Leisure & Climate subcategory. In fact, 89% of expats are satisfied with the local leisure options (vs. 71% globally). A Brazilian expat likes to spend her leisure time “on the beach in the sun”. Moreover, 96% of expats are happy with Lisbon’s weather and climate (vs. 64% globally), and 56% even very much so (vs. 26% globally). A Canadian expat likes the “good weather and the safe environment”. Nearly all expats in Lisbon (99%) feel the same way about their personal safety (vs. 82% globally).  

While Lisbon also ranks a good 6th place in the Local Cost of Living Index, with 64% of expats being satisfied with this aspect (vs. 46% globally), it does not perform as well in the Finance & Housing Index (27th). Nearly three in eight expats (37%) find it difficult to find housing in Lisbon (vs. 27% globally). Lastly, they city gets mixed results in the Urban Work Life Index (23rd): Expats are very happy with their jobs in general (79% happy vs. 65% globally) and their personal work-life balance (83% happy vs. 64% globally). But they are unhappy with the local career opportunities (37% unhappy vs. 34% globally) and the state of the local economy (19% unhappy vs. 18% globally).  

4. Panama City — Friendly, Relaxed, and Easy on the Expat Wallet  

The Panamanian capital is not only the best-rated Latin American city in the Expat City Ranking 2020 but even makes it into the global top 5 (4th out of 66). This is mainly due to its performance in the Finance & Housing (6th) and Getting Settled (14th) Indices.  

Expats in Panama City are more than satisfied with their financial situation (72% positive responses vs. 61% globally). They also consider it easy to find housing (4th), and more than half (55%) describe the available housing as generally affordable (vs. 41% globally). In addition to this, about three in four expats (76%) also feel at home in Panama City (vs. 64% globally), and 44% even agree completely (vs. 27% globally). “I think there’s room for development for me as a person. I am ready to see what Panama has in store for me,” a female expat from Kenya comments.  

Panama City does just slightly worse in the Urban Work Life Index (18th). On the one hand, 70% of survey participants are satisfied with their jobs overall (vs. 65% globally), and 43% even say they could not be any happier (vs. 20% worldwide). However, it seems difficult to get a job in the first place: Panama City comes in 41st place for local career opportunities.  

The city’s weakest point is the local quality of life. Panama City only places 39th in the respective index, and expats are particularly dissatisfied with infrastructural factors such as public transportation (48th) and the urban environment (50th).  

5. Singapore Is the Second-Safest City Worldwide  

Singapore (5th out of 66 in the general ranking) scores high in nearly all areas of the Expat City Ranking 2020. It performs best in the Quality of Urban Living Index (9th), which is largely due to its excellent results in the Safety & Politics subcategory (2nd). A British expat living in Singapore describes it as “an amazing place to live and extremely safe”. In fact, nearly all expats in Singapore rate the political stability positively (90% vs. 61% globally) and feel personally safe there (97% vs. 82% globally). For personal safety, Singapore even ranks 2nd worldwide, only beaten by Tokyo (1st).   

Another area Singapore performs well in is the Finance & Housing Index (15th), with 63% of survey respondents saying that their disposable household income is more than they need to cover their expenses (vs. 51% globally). The city-state receives great results for this factor despite the fact that the cost of living seems to be very high, with Singapore coming in 50th place in this index. Nearly three in five expats (58%) rate the cost of living in Singapore negatively, compared to the global average of 36%. An expat from India says: “Living here is expensive, and as they say: ‘Everything comes with a price tag!’” This is also true when it comes to housing: while 80% say it is easy to find housing as an expat (vs. 55% globally), more than half (55%) say it is unaffordable (vs. 41% globally).   

Lastly, it seems to be easy to get settled in Singapore as an expat — it ranks 16th in the Getting Settled Index. Expats are particularly happy with the ease of making new friends (58% happy vs. 47% globally),and they find it easy to get used to the local culture (70% happy vs. 61% globally). Maybe this is why 76% also feel at home in Singapore (vs. 64% globally).   

6. Málaga Is Easy to Get Settled and Cheap to Live In  

Ranking 6th out of 66 destinations in the Expat City Ranking, the Spanish coastal city performs best in the Getting Settled Index (2nd), where only Alicante (1st) ranks even better. Málaga comes first in both the Friends & Socializing and the Feeling Welcome subcategories, with 87% of expats feeling at home there (vs. 64% globally). Additionally, 77% of survey respondents are happy with their social life in Málaga (vs. 59% globally). An expat from the UK lists “the raybet电竞投注 s as well as the happiness and friendliness of expats and locals” as their favorite things about life in Málaga. In fact, the vast majority of respondents rates the friendliness of the local population positively (88% vs. 68% globally). The city also performs very well in the Local Cost of Living (3rd) and the Finance & Housing (9th) Indices. Almost nine in ten expats (88%) are happy with the local cost of living (vs. 46% globally), and 79% are happy with their own financial situation as well (vs. 61% globally). Moreover, more than half the expats (54%) describe housing in Málaga as affordable (vs. 41% globally).   

Málaga lands among the top 15 in the Quality of Urban Life Index (14th), performing best in the Leisure & Climate subcategory (2nd). All expats (100%) are happy with the climate and weather in Málaga (vs. 64% globally), and 92% are satisfied with the availability of healthcare (vs. 74% globally). On the downside, Málaga receives rather weak results in the Urban Work Life Index (54th). It even ranks 65th for local career opportunities — only ahead of Rome — since just one in ten expats (10%) is happy with the local career options (vs. 43% globally).   

7. Buenos Aires — Great Ratings in Spite of Economic and Political Instability  

Ranking only three places below Panama City (4th), Buenos Aires (7th out of 66) is the other Latin American destination in the top 10 of the Expat City Ranking 2020. Overall, it gets some excellent results despite its poor performance in the Urban Work Life Index (47th). The latter is mainly due to expats worrying about Argentina’s unstable economy: nearly two in three (65%) rate this factor negatively (vs. 18% globally), which puts the city in last place worldwide for this factor.  

The lack of stability might also affect Buenos Aires’s ranking in the Quality of Urban Living Index (38th). While the city is praised for its leisure options (88% happy vs. 71% worldwide), its disappointing 61st place in the Safety & Security subcategory brings the ranking down: 62% of expats are unhappy with the political (in)stability (vs. 17% globally), and 19% feel personally unsafe (vs. 9% globally).  

However, expats rate Buenos Aires highly in both the Finance & Housing (11th) and the Local Cost of Living (15th) Indices. In fact, 57% rate the local living expenses positively (vs. 46% worldwide), and seven in ten (70%) are satisfied with their financial situation. “It’s a cheap place, with affordable private health insurance, if (!) you have US dollars,” according to an expat from the US.  

Getting settled in Buenos Aires is not a problem, either. The city ranks fifth in this index, even making it to first place for the ease of finding friends: 72% agree that it is easy to make new friends in Buenos Aires (vs. 47% globally). “I just love the people here!”, adds another US expat.  

8. Kuala Lumpur: Easy to Settle Down in on a Reasonable Budget  

Ranking 8th, Kuala Lumpur comes in the top 10 of the Expat City Ranking for the fourth year in a row. The city does particularly well in the Finance & Housing Index (1st). Exactly seven in ten expats in Kuala Lumpur (70%) say that housing is affordable (vs. 41% globally), and over four in five (84%) also say it is easy to find (vs. 55% globally). Moreover, more than three in four survey respondents are happy with their financial situation (76% vs. 61% globally) and the local cost of living (77% vs. 46% globally). A Swedish expat who lives in Kuala Lumpur agrees: “It is easy and affordable to live here.”   

Kuala Lumpur also performs well in the Getting Settled Index (7th). A Singaporean expat living in Kuala Lumpur shares: “Moving to Malaysia as a foreigner has been easy, and so has settling down here.” This can be largely attributed to the ease of living in the city without speaking the local language and the ease of making new friends. More than nine in ten expats (91%) say it is easy to live in Kuala Lumpur without speaking the local language, which is 37 percentage points above the global average (54%). What is more, the city ranks 8th in the Friends & Socializing subcategory, with 72% of expats being happy with their social life (vs. 59% globally) and 60% finding it easy to make new friends (vs. 47% globally).  

On the other hand, Kuala Lumpur narrowly escapes landing among the bottom 10 in the Quality of Urban Living Index, where it ranks 51st out of 66 cities. It does particularly poorly in the Safety & Politics subcategory, with just 68% of expats rating their personal safety positively (vs. 82% globally). Additionally, fewer than three in eight survey respondents (36%) are satisfied with the political stability (vs. 61% globally).  

9. Madrid: High Quality of Life at Low Costs for Expats   

Ranking 9th out of 66 destinations in the Expat City Ranking 2020, Madrid is the last Spanish city to make it into the top 10 — right after Málaga (6th), Alicante (2nd), and Valencia (1st). The Spanish capital does especially well in the Quality of Urban Living Index (6th), coming 8th in the Leisure & Climate subcategory: more than nine in ten expats (92%) are happy with its leisure options (vs. 71% globally), which puts Madrid in first place worldwide for this factor. “I really like the leisure and entertainment options here,” says a Venezuelan expat, and a US American also appreciates that there are “a lot of activities to do with friends”. Additionally, 89% are satisfied with the local climate and weather (vs. 64% globally).   

Madrid also receives very good results in the Local Cost of Living Index (9th), with 64% of expats rating this aspect positively (vs. 46% globally). An expat from Canada says that the “climate and cost of living” are their favorite things about life in Madrid. Despite the apparently low cost of living, finances are not great in Madrid. Madrid ranks 34th in the Finance & Housing Index and just 47th in the Finance subcategory. In fact, 30% say that their disposable household income is not enough to cover all expenses (vs. 21% globally).  

The Urban Work Life Index (41st) looks similarly grim: Madrid only ranks 46th in the Job Security subcategory, and 17% of expats are dissatisfied with the state of the local economy (vs. 18% globally). A US American expat shares: “The job market is horrendous, and salaries are stagnant — I do not see the opportunity here.” In fact, one in three expats (33%) is also dissatisfied with local career opportunities (vs. 34% globally).  

On the bright side, Madrid does rank well in the Getting Settled Index (13th). Most expats (83%) feel at home in the Spanish capital (vs. 64% globally), and 79% find it easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 61% globally).   

10. Abu Dhabi — Easy to Relocate to, Safe to Live In   

Among the Middle Eastern destinations in the Expat City Ranking 2020, Abu Dhabi is the best-rated one, ranking 10th out of 66. It performs especially well in the Getting Settled Index (17th). Expats in Abu Dhabi do not only find it easy to live there without speaking the local language (93% vs. 54% globally), but they also consider it easy to make new friends (57% vs. 47% worldwide). Moreover, they describe the local population as both friendly in general (17th) and friendly towards foreign residents in particular (16th).  

The Finance & Housing Index (23rd) is Abu Dhabi’s second-biggest strength. While 70% say it is easy to find housing (vs. 55% globally), only 28% find it affordable (vs. 41% globally). Nonetheless, 63% are satisfied with their financial situation, about the same as the global average (61%).  

The city’s results in the Quality of Urban Living (33rd) and Urban Work Life (36th) Indices are just about average. Abu Dhabi benefits from the easy availability of healthcare (10th) and the high degree of personal safety (6th) — 78% of expats feel completely safe there (vs. 45% globally). However, only 50% are happy with the local climate and weather (vs. 64% globally).  

In terms of working in Abu Dhabi, expats are dissatisfied with their job security (47th), their working hours (51st), and their work-life balance (52nd). “I dislike my very busy working schedule and not having the time to socialize with my friends,” says an expat from Uganda.  

The 10 Worst Cities for Expats 

66. Salmiya — A City of Unhappy, Overworked, and Homesick Expats  

Salmiya is the worst-rated destination in the Expat City Ranking 2020 (66th out of 66). It places last in two indices and ends up among the bottom 10 in every single index but one. “What I don’t like about local life? Oh, so many things — I could go on for hours!”, as an expat from Australia puts it.  

In the Quality of Urban Living Index (66th), Salmiya’s only redeeming aspect seems to be the Safety & Politics subcategory (47th). However, expats in Salmiya are unhappy with the local transportation (61st), with their health and the environment (66th), as well as with climate and leisure (66th). Nearly three in five (56%) dislike the local leisure options, for example (vs. 15% worldwide).  

In the Getting Settled Index (66th), expats do not feel at home (54% vs. 21% globally), they describe the local population as unfriendly (48% vs. 17% globally), and they are unhappy with their social life (56% vs. 24% globally).  

The city’s losing streak also continues in the Urban Work Life Index (65th), where it features among the global bottom 10 in all subcategories: Job & Career (64th), Work-Life Balance (64th), and Job Security (59th). For example, expats in Salmiya are the least happy with their work-life balance worldwide (41% unhappy vs. 18% globally).  

Things are looking up a little in the Finance & Housing Index (55th). However, even for its best-ranking factor in this index — the ease of finding housing — Salmiya still places 44th out of 66. 

65. Rome Is the Second-Worst City Worldwide for Expats  

Rome (65th) comes second to last in the overall Expat City Ranking 2020, ranking only ahead of Salmiya in Kuwait (66th) and slightly behind Milan (63rd). Rome comes in last place worldwide in the Urban Work Life Index (66th), with only 8% of survey respondents rating their local career options positively (vs. 43% globally). Three in ten expats (30%) are dissatisfied with their job in general (vs. 18% globally), and 37% feel their job is not secure (vs. 22% globally). More than three in five respondents (62%) are also concerned about the economy in the Italian capital (vs 18% globally), and 30% are unhappy with their work-life balance (vs. 18% globally). “I do not like the work-life balance and may have to consider moving away from Italy for work,” shares a Canadian expat. “On top of this, the weak economy makes career advancements difficult.”  

Rome performs just as poorly in the Quality of Urban Living Index (63rd): expats are dissatisfied with the public transportation system (64% vs. 24% globally), feel unsafe (20% vs. 9% globally), and are unhappy with the urban environment (46% vs. 21% globally). The city performs slightly better in the Getting Settled Index (44th), with more than three in five expats (62%) feeling at home in Rome (vs. 64% globally). Still, 30% of respondents find the local residents unfriendly (vs. 17% globally), and 34% are unhappy with their social life (vs. 24% globally). “Generally, I find the people rude,” says an expat from Mexico. While 34% of expats state that their household income is not enough to cover expenses (vs. 21% globally), Rome does do best in the Local Cost of Living Index (30th). However, this only means rather mediocre results, with 39% of expats expressing their dissatisfaction with the cost of living (vs. 36% globally).   

64. Both Work and Private Life Are Tough for Expats in Seoul   

Ranking 64th out of 66 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2020, Seoul lands among the bottom 3 worldwide, only ahead of Rome and Salmiya (Kuwait). Seoul performs worst in the Getting Settled Index (64th). Almost half the expats (47%) say it is difficult to find new friends in Seoul (vs. 33% globally), and only 48% feel at home in the city (vs. 64% globally). An expat from Germany says: “Korea does not seem ready to embrace the idea of ‘foreigners’ ever really becoming ‘Koreans’.” Work life does not look much better, with Seoul ranking 61st in the Urban Work Life Index: More than half the survey respondents (54%) rate their local career opportunities negatively (vs. 34% globally). Additionally, 37% are dissatisfied with their work-life balance (vs. 18% global average), and 38% rate their working hours negatively (vs. 17% globally). Seoul ranks last worldwide in the Work-Life Balance subcategory.   

Seoul does just a little better in the Finance & Housing (51st) and Local Cost of Living (45th) Indices. Only 19% of expats rate the local cost of living positively (vs. 46% globally), and over a third (35%) are dissatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 21% globally).  

On the bright side, Seoul performs best in the Quality of Urban Living Index (21st). The availability of healthcare (7th) and the public transportation system (9th) are particularly good. An expat from the Philippines says that they appreciate “the high standard of technology, good facilities in hospitals, as well as the transportation”. The majority of expats (92%) rates the availability of medical care positively (vs. 74% globally). “I like the accessible and affordable healthcare,” shares a US American expat. In fact, nearly nine in ten expats (88%) rate South Korea’s quality of medical care positively (vs. 69% globally).   

63. Milan Ranks Poorly across the Board   

Coming in 63rd place in the overall Expat City Ranking 2020, Milan ends up among the bottom 10 for the fourth year in a row; it comes only ahead of Seoul (64th), Rome (65th), and Salmiya (66th) in 2020. Milan performs particularly poorly in the Finance & Housing (61st) and the Urban Work Life (57th) Indices. Just 46% of expats are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 61% globally), and 34% say that their household income is not enough to cover their expenses in Milan (vs. 21% globally). More than three in five expats (62%) also rate the affordability of housing negatively (vs. 41% globally). “It is difficult to find an apartment as an expat — a nightmare,” says an expat from Ukraine. When it comes to their working life, 32% of survey respondents are concerned about the local economy (vs. 18% globally). Maybe this is why only 33% rate their career opportunities positively (vs. 43% globally) and why another 23% are dissatisfied with their jobs (vs. 18% globally).   

The Getting Settled Index (31st) is Milan’s strongest point, with 66% of expats finding it easy to get used to the local culture (vs. 61% globally). A US American expat says: “I like the food and the general culture, which strives towards a healthy lifestyle.” However, 19% of respondents say that the local residents are generally unfriendly (vs. 17% globally), and one-fifth (20%) states that people in Milan are not friendly towards foreign residents (vs. 18% globally). Lastly, while 43% find it difficult to live in Milan without speaking Italian (vs. 30% globally), 53% consider it at least an easy language to learn (vs. 37% globally).   

62. Nairobi Has the Worst Public Transportation System Worldwide  

Overall, Nairobi comes 62nd in the Expat City Ranking 2020, placing among the bottom 5 destinations. The city ranks especially low in the Quality of Urban Living Index (65th), just ahead of Salmiya in Kuwait (66th). Kenya’s capital even ranks last for its public transportation system (66th), with 71% rating this factor negatively (vs. 24% globally). A British expat points out: “The road infrastructure is not good in Nairobi, so getting around can be difficult.” Nairobi also loses points for personal safety (64th), which 46% of survey respondents are dissatisfied with (vs. 9% globally). “Your personal safety is not always guaranteed,” says a Dutch expat. Additionally, close to one in four expats (24%) are unhappy with the availability of healthcare in Nairobi (vs. 13% globally), and 45% rate the urban environment negatively (vs. 21% globally).  

In the Quality of Urban Living Index Nairobi only stands out — in a positive way — for the local climate and weather (93% happy vs. 64% globally). An Indian expat names “the weather and the warm friendly people” as the highlights of his life in Nairobi. In fact, the city performs well in the Getting Settled Index (20th). Nearly three in five respondents (58%) find it easy to make new friends (vs. 47% globally). Nairobi also performs above the global average in the Finance & Housing Index (20th), with about six in seven expats (85%) saying that it is easy to find housing (vs. 55% globally). 

However, Kenya’s capital performs very poorly in the Urban Work Life Index (62nd), with only 48% of respondents rating their job security positively (vs. 59% globally). Moreover, over half the expats are dissatisfied with the local career opportunities (53% vs. 34% globally) and the state of the local economy (55% vs. 18% globally). 

61. Paris Is One of The Worst Cities Worldwide for Expats  

Paris ranks 61st out of 66 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2020, performing especially poorly in the Finance & Housing Index (62nd). About three in ten expats (29%) are dissatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 21% globally), and only 19% of expats say it is easy to find housing (vs. 55% globally). Additionally, 70% of expats describe housing in Paris as unaffordable (vs. 41% globally). “Rents are too high, especially in comparison to the low salaries,” says an expat from Bulgaria. 

Paris performs better in the Urban Work Life Index (32nd): 59% of expats are happy with their local career opportunities (vs. 43% globally). With two in three expats (67%) rating the local economy positively (vs. 63% globally), Paris also performs slightly above the average in this regard. An expat from the US shares: “My job is fantastic, and I like the employee rights, as well as the relaxed work environment, in France.  

However, Paris nearly lands among the bottom 10 in the Getting Settled Index (55th), with two in five expats (40%) saying that the local residents are not friendly (vs. 17% globally). Well over half the expats (56%) find it difficult to make new friends in Paris (vs. 33% globally). “In general, Parisians are angry, complain too much, and smile too little. It is difficult to make local friends here, “ explains a Brazilian expat. This might be why just 53% of expats are happy with their social life in Paris (vs. 59% globally).   

60. Beautiful Weather in Johannesburg but Low Degree of Personal Safety  

Placing 60th out of 66 cities, Johannesburg performs worst in the Quality of Urban Living Index (64th). With the city coming last in the Safety & Politics subcategory (66th), 70% of expats rate their feelings of personal safety negatively (vs. only 9% globally). Additionally, the city comes 65th for transportation — just ahead of Nairobi (66th). Only 28% of expats view public transportation in Johannesburg positively (vs. 66% globally), and a Norwegian expat says that “there is not a lot of local transportation”. The South African city also performs poorly in the Urban Work Life Index (58th). Johannesburg comes in at 64th place for the state of the local economy, and more than three in five survey respondents (62%) rate its economy negatively (vs. 18% globally).   

However, Johannesburg lands in the top 15 of the Finance & Housing Index (13th). In fact, 75% of expats say it is easy to find housing (vs. 55% globally), and 47% find the housing affordable (vs. 41% globally). Another upside that comes with living in this city is a factor in the Quality of Urban Living Index: 91% of expats are happy with Johannesburg’s local climate (vs. 64% globally). A German expat even thinks that “Johannesburg has the best weather in the world”.   

59. Santiago de Chile — The Only Latin American City Listed in the Bottom 10  

Coming in a disappointing 59th place out of 66 in the Expat City Ranking 2020, Santiago de Chile is the only Latin American destination among the bottom 10.  

The Chilean capital performs worst in the Quality of Urban Living Index (54th), mainly because of its poor performance in the Health & Environment (58th) and Safety & Politics (59th) subcategories. Expats in Santiago are particularly worried about political stability, which 57% rate negatively (vs. 17% worldwide). “There are riots, protests, and social unrest everywhere,” a Venezuelan expat complains. Moreover, respondents are concerned about the availability of healthcare (30% unhappy vs. 17% globally), as well as its affordability (62% unhappy vs. 21% globally).  

The Urban Work Life Index (52nd) is Santiago’s second-weakest point. While 58% of expats rate their job security favorably — about the same as the global average (59%) — less than half (46%) judge the local economy positively (vs. 63% worldwide). They are also dissatisfied with their working conditions: nearly three in ten (29%) complain about their work-life balance (vs. 18% globally).  

Santiago de Chile lags behind in the Getting Settled Index (45th), too. Only 50% of expats feel at home there (vs. 64% globally), and 36% describe the residents as unfriendly (vs. 17% worldwide). Lastly, while it ranks 28th in the Finance & Housing Index, it only comes 53rd for the local cost of living. Among the expats in Santiago, 68% are unhappy with the latter (vs. 36% globally).  

58. Dublin Is Good for Your Career as an Expat, but Bad for Your Wallet  

Dublin ranks 58th out of 66 in the Expat City Ranking 2020, coming last in the Finance & Housing Index (66th) and also performing very poorly in the Local Cost of Living Index (64th). More than three in four expats (76%) say it is difficult to find housing (vs. 27% globally), and 88% find local housing unaffordable (vs. 41% globally). Additional, 26% are dissatisfied with their financial situation (vs. 21% globally). A Portuguese expat explains that they only see “extremely bad-quality housing or unaffordable prices, even for normal apartments”.  

The Quality of Urban Living Index is another area where Dublin performs poorly (61st), in particular in the Health & Environment (65th) and the Leisure & Climate (62nd) subcategories. In fact, 38% of survey respondents rate the availability of healthcare negatively (vs. 13% globally), and 46% think that medical care in Dublin is of low quality (vs. 16% globally). A Russian expat explains: “To receive a good healthcare treatment, the best option as an expat is leaving to get it elsewhere — not here!”   

On the bright side, Dublin ranks 18th in the Getting Settled Index: the majority of respondents says that the local residents are generally friendly (90% vs. 68% globally) and warm towards foreign residents (86% vs. 66% globally). Expats also find it easy to get used to the local culture (71% satisfied vs. 61% globally). However, it is the Urban Work Life Index (7th) that Dublin really excels in. Expats rank the city first worldwide for local career opportunities — 82% are happy with this factor (vs. 43% globally). Dublin also performs well in the Job Security and Work-Life Balance subcategories (15th for both), which might be among the reasons why 69% of expats are satisfied with their jobs in general (vs. 65% globally).   

57. Hong Kong Is the Worst City in the World for the Cost of Living and Political Stability   

Ranking 57th out of 66 cities in total, Hong Kong lands in the bottom 10 of the Expat City Ranking 2020.It is even voted the worst city in the world for the local cost of living, with an expat from Denmark explaining: “There are extremely high costs of living, for example, for schooling and groceries.” In fact,80% of expats in Hong Kong are unhappy with the local cost of living, compared to just 36% of survey respondents worldwide. This result is also reflected in the Finance & Housing Index (45th), where Hong Kong ranks second-to-last worldwide for the affordability of housing (65th). Only Dublin (66th) is rated worse. More than nine in ten expats (94%) find housing in Hong Kong unaffordable (vs. 41% globally). The Urban Work Life Index (59th) is another sore point, particularly when it comes to the Work-Life Balance subcategory (61st): more than one in three expats in Hong Kong (34%) are unhappy with their working hours, which is twice the global average (17%). Moreover, 43% are dissatisfied with the state of the local economy (vs. 18% globally).   

While Hong Kong has an average performance in the Quality of Urban Living Index (45th) in general, safety and security seem to be a real concern: the city is rated worst in the world for political stability, with 69% of expats being worried about this factor (vs. 17% globally). The city performs best in the Getting Settled Index (40th), though still below average. It comes in 26th place in the Friends & Socializing subcategory: almost half the expats (49%) say it is easy to find new friends (vs. 47% globally),and 63% are happy with their social life in Hong Kong (vs. 59% globally).  

About the Expat City Ranking 2020 

The Expat City Ranking is based on the annual Expat Insider survey by InterNations. For the survey, more than 15,000 expatriates representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries or territories provided information on various aspects of expat life. In addition to their satisfaction with life in their host country, respondents were also invited to share their opinions on the city they are currently living in.  

Participants were asked to rate more than 25 different aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects, considering both emotional topics and more factual aspects with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 13 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up four topical indices: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, and Finance & Housing. These were further averaged in order to rank 66 cities worldwide. In 2020, the top 10 cities for expats are Valencia, Alicante, Lisbon, Panama City, Singapore, Málaga, Buenos Aires, Kuala Lumpur, Madrid, and Abu Dhabi. The survey also includes a Local Cost of Living Index, which does, however, not factor into the overall ranking to avoid overrepresenting financial aspects. 

For a city to be featured in the Expat City Ranking 2020, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per city was required.  

Celebrating Our Cities, Traditions, and Each Other: November at InterNations

Here at InterNations, November has been a month spent showing appreciation for our homes and communities abroad. Ambassadors and Consuls have thought of many ways to show the rest of the world just how special their communities are. From favorite spots and hidden gems, to discovering the history and culture of a city, there is always more for expats and global minds to learn.

The past month has also been one filled with light across our communities, as people around the globe come together to celebrate the beginning of the festive season. From Diwali candles, to the warmth found in gratitude as our communities celebrate Thanksgiving, let’s take a look at how our members have adapted to the unique circumstances of 2020, and found ways to spread their cheer.

Celebrating Our Cities Abroad

Encouraging people to feel at home, wherever they are in the world, lies at the very heart of InterNations. To celebrate the release of this year’s City Ranking on 26 November 2020, we asked our Ambassadors and Consuls to think creative ways to show off the amazing places that they call home. Between favorite coffee spots, local markets, or secret hideaways, let’s see how our members across the globe celebrated their cities over the past month.

In Copenhagen, members of the Contemporary Art Group met on Saturday, 7 November for a guided bike tour. The tour took members past some of the most impressive works of contemporary art that the city has to offer, from the opera house (which is one of the most modern opera houses in the world!), to CopenHill — a clean energy plant in the city, complete with an artificial ski slope and hiking area. We would like to thank our Consuls, Lila Malventi, Erica Bazzini, and Edd McMullin for organizing this event, which looks as though it was a fantastic way to celebrate Copenhagen’s incredible art scene!

Tours like this can be a great way to get to know a new city, or to discover spots you would never have found on your own! On Saturday, 5 December, members of our community in Sydney will meet at Central Park, and walk from there to Barangaroo, taking in the sights as they go. From architectural wonders, to spots of natural beauty, we are certain that this tour will be great for anyone looking to develop their appreciation for their home abroad. Thank you, Florence Berchten, for organizing this activity!

While in-person events remain difficult to organize in many of our communities, our members have not let this stop them from celebrating their cities!

The Brussels Beer Group organized an event for Friday, 27 November, where members will meet over Zoom to discuss their favorite hidden gems, breweries, and bars in Brussels, as well as surrounding villages and towns. The evening will conclude with the activity host and InterNations Consul, Liselot Caura, sharing her own list of top picks with the group. We would like to thank her for the time and effort that she has put into the activity!

Members in Atlanta are still looking forward to the day when they will be able to see each other again face-to-face. In the meantime, they met online on Saturday, 21 November to discuss their favorite outdoor spots in the city. Activity host David Bernal encouraged people to share stories, memories, and recommendations, showing their appreciation for their fantastic city even while it is difficult to enjoy it fully.

Do you have a great idea on how to celebrate what makes your city so special? As an Albatross Member, you can create and host activities yourself, both online and in person. Simply organize the city-related get-together you have in mind, using the phrase “Celebrate Our City” in the title before 6 December. We are looking forward to what you come up with!

Family, Friends, and Festivities

In many parts of the world, the month of November is one meant for celebration. From lighting up their houses with Diwali lanterns, to tucking into a tasty turkey meal for Thanksgiving, our members have found safe ways to enjoy this special time of the year.

In Doha, the Indian Desi Culture Group organized an in-person Diwali celebration, with members enjoying some delicious Indian Rajasthani cuisine on Wednesday, 11 November. Influenced by the traditions of Rajasthan, the ”Land of the Kings”, the group played games over dinner, and enjoyed time spent in each other’s company. Thanks to our Consul Ankit Agarwal for organizing the activity!

In Bangalore, the Music, Arts, and Culture Group met over Zoom on Sunday, 8 November, to learn how to make paper Diyas. This calming activity left participants with beautiful decorations for their Diwali displays, and was a great way for members to catch up with one another from the safety of their homes while preparing for the festivities. We would like to thank the host, Hritika Bhagat, for organizing the activity! Take a look at some examples of the beautiful decorations below.

Another major event taking place across our communities this month is Thanksgiving (or Friendsgiving). Typically, a time of big get-togethers and celebrations, our members are determined to ensure that this year will be no different, finding safe ways to celebrate all over the world.

Over in Australia, American and Australian culture will be truly brought together on Saturday, 28 November with the Brisbane Sunshine Group’s plan for Thanksgiving at the Beach. On a day spent sunbathing by the sea with an array of cold beverages on hand, we are certain that members here will find something to be thankful for. We ourselves would like to thank Consul Kimberley Lynch for organizing what we are sure will be a fantastic activity.

The New York Connect Group has ensured that no one will miss out on the chance of festive cheer, having moved their Annual “Friendsgiving” Party online this year! The event taking place on Wednesday, 25 November, will be filled with food and fun activities, from scavenger hunts to trivia games, with prizes for the winners. This sounds like a great evening, and we would like to thank Kamilla Khasanova and Paul Mitchell for putting it all together!

The Ho Chi Minh City DinnerNations Group is celebrating Thanksgiving with a traditional turkey dinner this Wednesday, 25 November. Members will meet at the impressive Chanh Bistro Rooftop for turkey with all the trimmings, followed by some delicious pumpkin pie. We are certain that this will be a fantastic way to celebrate and would like to thank Consuls Jeffrey Intel and Alan Murray for organizing this get-together.

Meanwhile, members of the Hong Kong Wine Tasting Group are asking the important questions this Thursday, 26 November — specifically, which wines should be paired with turkey? The group will meet virtually to discuss their opinions and catch up with friends on this special day. Thanks Kim Hansen and Minnie Wong, our Consuls who organized the event!

Despite the uncertainty that has been present for much of the past year, we hope that all of our members find ways to stay connected with one another, and make the most of the opportunities provided by the festive season to come.

We look forward to hearing more about how people have stayed connected and shown their appreciation from our communities all across the globe. Remember, Albatross Members can organize their own activities, so sign up if there’s a certain way you would like to celebrate or become a Consul yourself.

Be sure to check out the events calendar to see what’s going on in your own community — or worldwide, virtually — over the next few weeks!

Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog — Ringing In the Spooky Season at InterNations

As the end of this year is within sight, members of our communities across the globe are finding ways to prepare for the holiday season in style. From Halloween bike rides in fancy dress, to meeting up online to write scary stories, let’s take a look at what our members have been planning for this month!

Frightful Fun Across Our Communities

For many people, the month of October means just one thing — it’s time to carve your pumpkins and prepare for Halloween.

This Wednesday, 21 October, the Wrocław Arts and Crafts Group combined their love of the spooky season with a great opportunity to relax and unwind. The group met for a Halloween-themed art therapy session, in which members had the opportunity to paint mugs, bowls, plates, or decorative items and then fire them up in the kiln. With coffee and tea provided by the venue, this seems like the perfect way to spend a chilly October evening among friends or family members. Thank you to our activity hosts Anna S and Alan Townend for organizing this event!

For those members looking for a way to go outside and lift their spirits, the Singapore Cycling Group will be completing their Halloween Ride on Friday, 30 October. It’s not every day that you get to see a pack of werewolves, vampires, and ghosts out for a bike ride — so, come dressed in your finest scary outfit and join the fun! We would like to thank our Consul, Joyce Leong, for organizing such a great event.

The frightful fun is not limited to in-person events either, as demonstrated by the InterNations Dubai Community. On Thursday, 15 October, members from across the UAE were told to park their broomsticks and meet online for an evening of Halloween quizzes and costume competitions in The Official Spooky Online Special. It seems that everyone had a ghoulishly great evening, put together by our Ambassadors Naourez Jelassi, Cristina Caringal, Electra MD, Rima Mekkawi, Sulaiman Shaqsi, and Debra Basson.

Members of the São Paulo Writers Group are using Halloween as a reason to get their creative juices flowing, this time following the lead of the likes of Stephen King, as they pick up their pens to write a scary story. There’s no denying that we all love a good ghost story and writing one with friends from across the globe seems like a great way to get ready for Halloween. The event will take place online on Tuesday, 27 October, and will be hosted by InterNations Consul and writer Karmen Spiljak.

Over in Chicago, members have two exciting events planned for the coming weeks in preparation for Halloween. The Coffee Lovers Group met on Wednesday, 21 October for an evening spent learning to make Halloween party snacks to accompany the festivities of the coming weeks. Thanks to Consul Cecile Bouheraoua for hosting the event!

On Friday, 30 October, members are invited to bring along their creepy creations to the Eat, Drink, and Be Scary Event, hosted by the Chicago Ambassadors. With witch’s brew, finger food, and a Halloween-themed scavenger hunt on the agenda, this online event promises to be a great evening, which members can enjoy in their very best costumes. Attendees will also have the opportunity to see the very best Halloween decorations that the city has to offer, with hosts setting up break-out rooms to show videos of people’s homes turned into haunted houses. We hope that everyone has a great evening!

Staying stateside, the witches, wizards, orcs, and elves of Boston are invited to the community’s Online Official Event for Halloween, which will take place on Saturday, 31 October. We hope that everyone will enjoy an evening connecting with their costumed friends and soaking up the spooky atmosphere. Thanks to the event hosts Kaslong Nda, Marçeza P, Vaso Lykourinou, and Susan Theus!

We hope that all of our members find ways to stay connected with one another, and make the most of the opportunities provided by this year’s Halloween.

Be sure to check out the events calendar to see what’s going on in your own community — or worldwide, virtually — over the next few weeks!

The Best and Worst Destinations For the Sustainable Expat

  • Finland (1st), Sweden, Norway, Austria, and Switzerland (5th) are the best countries for the sustainable expat. India (60th), Kuwait, Egypt, Indonesia, and Vietnam (56th) come last.
  • The Environment & Sustainability Ranking is based on the Expat Insider 2020 survey, one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad.

The Top 10 Destinations for the Sustainable Expat

1. Finland

Coming in at the very top of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, Finland ranks 1st out of 60 countries worldwide. The Nordic country is also voted best in the Quality of Environment subcategory, with almost all expats rating the natural environment (98% vs. 82% globally) and the water and sanitation positively (96% vs. 72% globally). Another factor Finland scores well in is air quality (95% positive ratings vs. 62% globally). In fact, a South Korean expat specifically mentions “nature, clean water, and air” as what she likes most about life in Finland. 

The country comes second in both the Products & Policies and the Policies & People subcategories, only beaten by Sweden. Showing that the government’s attitude towards the environment is key, 89% of expats in Finland agree that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally). Finally, 90% of expats are happy with the local waste management and recycling efforts (vs. 60% globally).  

2. Sweden

Sweden comes in second place overall in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. It even takes first place in the Product & Utilities subcategory, with 93% of expats rating the availability of clean energy and the ability to save energy positively (vs. 62% globally). Another 93% are satisfied with the local waste management and recycling measures (vs. 60% globally). Additionally, nearly nine in ten expats (88%) are happy with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 63% globally).

The country is also first in the Policies & People subcategory: not only do expats agree that the government supports policies to protect the environment (80% vs. 55% globally), but they also think that the local population is very interested in environmental issues (84% vs. 48% globally).

A US American expat specifically mentions the “environmental awareness” as something she likes about living in Sweden. However, the country comes fourth — therefore performing slightly worse than Finland (1st out of 60) — in the Quality of Environment subcategory, where its weakest factor is the natural environment (9th). Still, 95% of expats are happy with the country’s natural environment, compared to 82% worldwide.

3.  Norway

Ranking third worldwide in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, Norway performs best in the Quality of Environment subcategory (2nd out of 60). This is due to expats’ satisfaction with the air quality (93% happy vs. 62% globally), as well as water and sanitation (97% happy vs. 72% globally). A Ukrainian expat says that “the beautiful nature, the clean air and tap water, and the focus on the environment” are what she enjoys most about life in Norway.

The country places fifth worldwide in the Policies & People subcategory, with almost nine in ten expats (89%) agreeing that the Norwegian government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally). Norway also comes in at fifth place in the Products & Utilities subcategory, with its weakest factor being the local availability of green goods and services (11th). However, 76% of expats are still happy with these services, which is not enough for Norway to lead the ranking, but still 13 percentage points above the global average (63%). 

4. Austria

Coming in 4th place overall in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, Austria is the first non-Nordic country among the global top 10. There is not a single factor for which Austria does not rank in the top 10 worldwide. It comes in third place for the Products & Utilities subcategory, even ranking first globally for the availability of green goods and services: 90% of expats rate this factor positively (vs. 63% worldwide). What is more, expats are also happy with Austria’s energy supply (90% vs. 62% globally), as well as the country’s waste management and recycling efforts (91% vs. 60% globally).

In the Quality of the Environment subcategory (5th), most expats (95%) rate the factor water and sanitation positively (vs. 72% globally), and 97% like the natural environment (vs. 82% globally). A British respondent — like several other expats — mentions the “environment and the mountains” as things he especially likes about living in Austria.

Lastly, the country ranks sixth in the Policies & People subcategory: More than three in four expats (78%) agree that the population is very interested in environmental issues (vs. 48% globally), with more than one quarter (26%) agreeing completely. A Philippine expat even says that Austria is “the most organized, the most environmentally friendly, and the most beautiful country” he has lived in so far.

5. Switzerland

Just like its neighbor Austria (4th), Switzerland (5th) also features in the global top 10 for every single factor of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. The country even comes in first place for its natural environment, with an almost perfect rating (98% positive responses vs. 82% globally) — including 83% of expats who are very happy with the natural environment.

The majority of expats is also satisfied with the factor water and sanitation (95% vs. 72% globally), as well as the air quality in Switzerland (91% vs. 62% globally). This results in Switzerland’s third place in the Quality of the Environment subcategory, right after Finland and Norway. A US American expat living in Zug especially likes the “beautiful nature that is easy to access”, and a Malaysian respondent in Geneva mentions “the parks, lakes, and air quality” as Switzerland’s best features.

The country also does well in the Products & Utilities subcategory (6th), with 88% of expats rating the energy supply positively (vs. 62% globally) and 83% being happy with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 63% globally). Switzerland ranks lowest in the Policies & People subcategory; however, it still comes in an excellent 7th place. Exactly five in six expats (83%) agree that the Swiss government supports policies to protect the environment, which is significantly higher than the global average of 55%.

6. Denmark

Denmark comes in 6th place overall, doing best in the Policies & People subcategory (3rd). Expats agree that the local population is very much interested in environmental issues (83% vs. 48% globally) and also think that the government supports policies to protect the environment (84% vs. 55% globally).

A South African expat notes that “the Danish are environmentally conscious. Organic food and products are easily available, and they are good with recycling.” In fact, Denmark ranks 4th out of 60 countries in the Products & Utilities subcategory, with 89% of expats being satisfied with the waste management and recycling efforts (vs. 60% globally), the availability of green goods and services (vs. 63% globally), and the energy supply (vs. 62% globally).

The country ranks just a little lower in the Quality of the Environment subcategory (10th), where the ranking is affected by the natural environment (38th). Yet, 87% of expats still rate this factor positively, five percentage points above the global average (82%). What is more, most expats are happy with Denmark’s air quality (94% vs. 62% globally), as well as water and sanitation (93% vs. 72% globally). 

7. New Zealand

Ranking 7th out of 60 countries, New Zealand lands among the global top 10 countries in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. This is especially due to its great performance in the Policies & People subcategory (4th): 85% of the expats in New Zealand agree that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally), and 79% agree the population is very interested in environmental issues (vs. 48% globally). “New Zealand values the environment”, summarizes a US American expat. After Sweden (1st), Denmark (2nd), and Finland (3rd), New Zealand is voted the best non-Nordic country in this regard.

The country also features in the top 10 worldwide for the Quality of Environment subcategory (6th), with the natural environment (3rd) as the highest-ranking factor: 96% of the survey participants are satisfied with it (vs. 82% globally). “The environment is the best,” a Taiwanese expat agrees. Even though water and sanitation (17th) affect the overall ranking of this subcategory slightly negatively, five in six expats (83%) are still satisfied with this factor (vs. 72% globally) — 49% even very much so (vs. 34% globally). What is more, New Zealand ranks 12th for Products & Utilities, with 79% of expats satisfied with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 63% globally), as well as the energy supply (vs. 62% globally).

8. Germany

Germany ranks 8th out of 60 countries in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, coming in seventh place worldwide for the Products & Utilities subcategory. Expats in Germany are really satisfied with the availability of green goods and services (86% vs. 63% globally), with the country ranking among the global top 5, behind Finland (4th), Denmark (3rd), Sweden (2nd), and Austria (1st). Moreover, expats are happy with Germany’s energy supply (83% vs. 62% globally), as well as its waste management and recycling efforts (85% vs. 60% globally).

The country also ranks among the top 10 in the Policies & People subcategory (9th): Three in four expats (75%) agree that the population is very interested in environmental issues — compared to 48% globally. A Colombian expat specifies: “I enjoy the rising awareness about environmental issues and the alternatives the government and society are developing.” In fact, 80% of respondents in Germany also agree that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally).

Germany performs worst — though still above average — in the Quality of the Environment subcategory (14th), which is mainly due to the natural environment (28th). Even so, nine in ten expats are happy with the natural environment (vs. 82% globally), and 90% rate the factor water and sanitation positively (vs. 72% globally).

9. Canada

Coming 9th out of 60 destinations worldwide, Canada is the only North American country in the top 10 of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. It ranks especially high in the Quality of Environment subcategory (8th), with 96% of expats rating the natural environment positively (vs. 82% globally) and 74% even saying it could not be any better (vs. 49% globally).

Expats are also satisfied with the factor water and sanitation (90% vs. 72% globally). A Russian expat mentions “clean water and air” as some of her favorite things about Canada. With an excellent availability of green goods and services (80% vs. 63% globally) and 81% of survey respondents satisfied with the energy supply (vs. 62% globally), the country ranks 11th in the Products & Utilities subcategory.

In the Policies & People subcategory (13th), 71% of respondents state that the Canadian population seems to be very much interested in environmental issues (vs. 48% globally). This also seems to be the case for the Canadian government, as 76% of expats think that it supports an environmental agenda, 19 percentage points more than the global average (55%).

10. Luxembourg

Luxembourg places 10th out of 60 countries worldwide in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, as well as in the Products & Utilities subcategory (10th). Exactly four in five expats (80%) rate the country’s energy supply positively (vs. 62% globally), and another 84% are satisfied with the waste management and recycling infrastructure (vs. 60% globally).

Luxembourg also does well in the Policies & People subcategory (11th); 83% of expats agree that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally). And the majority of expats (70%) also thinks that the local population is very interested in environmental issues (vs. 48% globally). Luxembourg’s lowest-ranking subcategory is the quality of environment (13th); however, it still ranks in the global top 20 here.

A Belgian expat especially likes “the green and lush scenery”, and a US American also points out the “access to nature for hiking and bicycling” as a clear benefit of living in Luxembourg. In fact, 92% of respondents like the natural environment (vs. 82% globally). Moreover, almost nine in ten expats (89%) rank the quality of water and sanitation in Luxembourg positively, 17 percentage points above the global average (72%), and 78% of expats are happy with the air quality (vs. 62% globally).

The Bottom 10 Destinations for the Sustainable Expat

60. India

India is the worst-performing country overall and comes last in all three subcategories of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking as well. Moreover, the South Asian country comes in last place for six out of the eight rating factors featured in the survey. With regard to the Products & Utilities subcategory (60th out of 60 destinations worldwide), almost nine in ten expats (87%) are dissatisfied with the waste management and recycling efforts (vs. 28% globally), and nearly three in five respondents (59%) rate the availability of green goods and services negatively (vs. 21% globally).

Regarding the Policies and People subcategory (60th), 62% of expats do not agree that India’s government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 25% globally). What is more, 59% think that the local population is not very interested in environmental issues either (vs. 30% globally). This is, however, one factor for which India actually ranks ahead of other destinations — i.e. Egypt (59th) and Kuwait (60th). The other one is the natural environment, for which India ranks 59th and Kuwait comes in 60th place.

Nevertheless, India still comes last worldwide in the Quality of the Environment subcategory (60th), as 82% of expats rate the air quality poorly (vs. 24% globally), with 55% even saying that it is very bad (vs. 7% globally). A South African expat mentions the “pollution and poor air quality” as what she does not like about living in India. Additionally, 69% of expats in India are unhappy with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 15% globally).

59. Kuwait

Coming in 59th place out of 60 destinations in total, Kuwait only ranks ahead of India (60th) in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. It lands in the bottom 10 worldwide for all rating factors featured in the survey — except for one: energy (e.g. availability of sustainable energy and saving energy), for which it comes in 50th place. Even so, 38% of expats are unhappy with this factor, far more than the global average (18%).

Additionally, expats are unsatisfied with the availability of green goods and services (23% happy vs. 63% globally) and the local waste management and recycling infrastructure (17% vs. 60% globally). This results in Kuwait’s low 57th rank in the Products & Utilities subcategory. The results look even worse regarding the Policies & People and the Quality of the Environment subcategories, with Kuwait ranking 59th in both.

The country performs worst worldwide for its natural environment (60th), which only 12% of the respondents are satisfied with (vs. 82% globally). On top of that, 36% of expats rate the local water and sanitation infrastructure negatively (vs.15% globally). An Australian expat points out that the ‘’poor sanitation and inept waste management’’ are among the worst things in Kuwait. Finally, the results look similarly grim in the Policies & People subcategory, with nearly three out of four respondents (74%) considering the population not very interested in environmental issues (vs. 30% globally). Additionally, only 28% think that the government supports policies to protect the environment, which is 27 percentage points less than the global average of 55%.  

58. Egypt

Coming 58th out of 60 countries in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, Egypt ends up among the bottom 3 worldwide in all subcategories of the survey. In the Products & Utilities subcategory, only India (60th) ranks worse than Egypt (59th). Not even a fifth of the survey participants (18%) rate the local waste management and recycling efforts positively (vs. 60% globally), and just 21% are satisfied with the country’s energy supply (vs. 62% globally).

There seems to be “no care for the environment”, a Polish expats remarks. In fact, only 22% of expats think the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally), and even fewer respondents (13%) agree that the population is very interested in environmental issues (vs. 48% globally). Only Kuwait (60th) ranks even worse for the latter factor (60th). Lastly, Egypt comes 58th in the Quality of the Environment subcategory: Only 34% of expats rate the water and sanitation infrastructure positively (vs. 72% globally), and more than half the respondents (52%) are unhappy with the air quality in Egypt. This is 28 percentage points above the global average (24%). Moreover, fewer than half of the respondents (49%) are satisfied with the natural environment (vs. 82% globally). A US American expat describes the ‘’dirtiness of the environment’’ as one of the worst aspects of life in Egypt.  

57. Indonesia

In the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, Indonesia comes in at 57th place out of 60 destinations worldwide. The Southeast Asian country comes 58th for the Products & Utilities subcategory, with three out of four expats (75%) rating the local waste management and recycling efforts negatively (vs. 28% globally).

A German expat claims: “There is no waste management. All rubbish is going to the rivers and into the ocean.” Additionally, over two in five expats (43%) are unhappy with the energy supply in Indonesia (vs. 18% globally). In the Policies & People subcategory, Indonesia ranks 57th out of 60, with as many as 62% of expats agreeing that the population is just not very interested in environmental issues (vs. 30% globally).

Indonesia performs best in the Quality of Environment subcategory (55th). While half of the survey participants (50%) are dissatisfied with the local water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 15% globally), the ranking is boosted a little by more than three-quarters (76%) rating the natural environment positively. However, this is still six percentage points below the global average (82%).

56. Vietnam

Vietnam ranks 56th out of 60 countries in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking overall. This includes a disappointing 57th place in the Quality of Environment subcategory, the country’s weakest point. Almost seven in ten expats (69%) have a negative opinion of the air quality in Vietnam (vs. 24% globally), and only 38% are happy with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 72% globally). Vietnam ranks best for its natural environment, but it still ends up in 50th place out of 60 worldwide, with its share of negative ratings twice as large as the global average (18% vs. 9% globally).

The country comes 54th for the Policies & People subcategory, with only 26% of expats agreeing that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally). A Dutch expat mentions “air pollution, noise, bad waste management, and rodents” as things he does not like about living in Vietnam. In the Products & Utilities subcategory, Vietnam comes in at 55th place. Almost half the expats (47%) are dissatisfied with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 21% globally), and 37% rate the energy supply negatively (vs. 18% globally).

55. Thailand

Just like the Philippines, Thailand (55th) also ranks among the bottom 10 worldwide in each subcategory. The country performs best in the Products & Utilities subcategory (53rd), ranking 52nd out of 60 for both the energy supply and the waste management and recycling measures.

An Australian expat mentions “the filth and garbage left lying around” as things they dislike about living in Thailand. The country also seems to lag behind when it comes to sustainable products: three in seven expats (43%) are dissatisfied with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 21% globally), and 10% even rate it as very bad (vs. 5% globally). Thailand comes in at 56th place in both the Policies & People and Quality of Environment subcategories. The latter features the only factor for which Thailand does not land among the bottom 10: natural environment (48th).

Almost two-fifths of the respondents (37%) are not satisfied with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 15% globally), and two-thirds (67%) are unhappy with the air quality (vs. 24% globally). A US American lists the “air pollution and the government’s inability to enforce air pollution laws” as their least favorite aspect of expat life in Thailand. In fact, over half the respondents (53%) agree that the government is not supportive of policies to protect the environment, more than double the global average of 25%. Another 54% of expats consider the population not to be very interested in environmental issues (vs. 30% globally).   

54. Philippines

Ranking in 54th place out of 60 countries worldwide, the Philippines places in the bottom 10 for each subcategory. It performs worst for products and utilities (56th) — only Kuwait (57th), Indonesia (58th), Egypt (59th), and India (60th) rank even lower. Four in nine expats (44%) are dissatisfied with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 21% globally), and 16% even rate it as very bad (vs. 5% globally).

Expats are not happy with the energy supply (56th) and the waste management and recycling infrastructure (55th) either. An Australian expat thinks that there is “no sense of stopping rubbish”. The Quality of Environment subcategory (53rd) includes the only two factors that are not in the bottom 10: natural environment (47th) and air quality (48th). But the water and sanitation infrastructure (57th) lowers the subcategory’s general ranking: 37% of expats are not satisfied with this factor (15% globally) — only Kenya (58th), Indonesia (59th), and India (60th) perform worse.

When it comes to the Policies & People subcategory (52nd), 45% of expats think that the government does not support policies to protect the environment (vs. 25% globally), and half the expats (50%) agree that the population is not very interested in environmental issues (vs. 30% globally). A British expat claims that there is “no environmental care”.

53. Kenya

Coming in 53rd place out of 60 countries, Kenya lands in the bottom 10 of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, with its worst performance in the Products & Utilities subcategory (54th). In fact, almost three-quarters of the expats in Kenya (72%) are unsatisfied with the country’s waste management and recycling efforts (vs. 28% globally) — only Kuwait (57th), Egypt (58th), Indonesia (59th), and India (60th) perform worse in the expat ranking. Kenya does not do a lot better in the Policies & People subcategory (50th) either: only 31% of expats agree that the government supports policies to protect the environment (vs. 55% globally), and fewer than one-quarter (23%) believe that the population is very interested in environmental issues, which is even less than half the global average (48%).  

Kenya performs best in the Quality of Environment subcategory, although it comes only in 47th place out of 60 countries. The natural environment (17th) is Kenya’s strongest factor, 28 ranks 9 higher than its next best ranking — air quality (45th). Like many other respondents, a Greek expat mentions the “nature and wildlife” as what she likes most about the country. In addition to air quality, the factor water and sanitation makes Kenya lose several ranks: 50% of expats are unhappy with this factor (vs. 15% globally), placing Kenya once again among the bottom 10 worldwide (58th).  

52. Malta

Coming in at 52nd place out of 60 countries, Malta is the only European country in the bottom 10 of the Environment & Sustainability Ranking. The country performs poorly in every subcategory, with its weakest point being the Policies & People subcategory (55th). In fact, 67% of expats think that the Maltese government does not support policies to protect the environment (vs. 25% globally), with 24% even stating they do not agree at all (vs. 8% globally) — only Brazil (59th) and India (60th) perform even worse for this factor.

Additionally, more than half the expats (52%) also believe that the local population is not very interested in environmental issues (vs. 30% globally). One British summarizes: “It is a shame that they have not embraced environmental issues as much as they could. For example, wind farms and electric buses would be a good idea.” Malta also ranks in the bottom 10 for the Quality of Environment subcategory (51st), with 28% of respondents dissatisfied with the natural environment. This is 19 percentage points more than the global average (9%).

Malta does best in the Products & Utilities subcategory, but still only manages to come in at 46th place. Four in nine expats (44%) are not satisfied with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 21% globally), and 40% are unhappy with the energy supply (vs. 18% globally). A Portuguese expat points out the “lack of greenery, the air pollution, and the lack of environmentally friendly transportation options” as the worst part about living in Malta. The factor for which Malta ranks highest is waste management and recycling (32nd), with 61% of expats rating it favorably, about the same as the global average (60%).  

51. Hong Kong

The first to place in the bottom 10, Hong Kong ranks 51st out of 60 destinations worldwide, performing poorly across the board. It does best in the Quality of Environment subcategory (48th), which includes the two highest-ranking factors: the natural environment (37th) and the water and sanitation infrastructure (37th). More than two in three expats (68%) rate the latter positively — this is, however, still below the global average of 72%. Hong Kong performs a lot worse for air quality (55th), which results in a lower ranking for the entire subcategory: 69% of expats rate the air quality negatively, compared to 24% globally.

When it comes to the Products & Utilities subcategory (50th), 36% of expats are not pleased with the availability of green goods and services (vs. 21% globally), and two in seven (29%) rate the energy supply negatively (vs. 18% globally). Hong Kong narrowly misses the bottom 10 for waste management and recycling (50th). A Hungarian expat comments: “The government does not do anything for the environment. Instead, they still have landfill sites. And food waste is also a huge problem.”

Hong Kong does rank among the bottom 10 worldwide in the Policies & People subcategory (51st), performing even worse with regard to the population’s interest in environmental issues (55th). Moreover, 45% of expats think that the local government is not supportive of policies the environment (vs. 25% globally).

About the Environment & Sustainability Report

To identify the best and worst countries for a sustainable life abroad, survey participants of the Expat Insider 2020 survey were asked to rate their personal satisfaction with the following factors on a scale of one to seven: air quality, the natural environment, water and sanitation, the availability of green goods and services, energy supply, and the local waste management and recycling infrastructure. The rating factors also include their perception of how strongly the government supports policies to protect the environment and how interested the local population is when it comes to environmental issues.

For a country to be featured in the Environment & Sustainability Ranking, a sample size of at least 75 survey respondents per country was necessary. In 2020, 60 destinations met this requirement, with more than 15,000 expats in total taking part in the survey, representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries or territories.