Looking for a change of scenery?
If you plan to head abroad, expatriate networking membership site InterNations has released its latest annual Expat Insider survey, which ranks the best and worst countries for expats. The survey that used responses from 12,000 people takes into account quality of life, how easy it is to settle in once you get there, whether you can find work in the country, personal finances and what’s called the Expat Essentials Index. The index includes such items as housing, administration, digital life and language.
Here are the top countries to live and work abroad, according to InterNations.
According to InterNations, Portugal is one of the easiest countries to settle into, with a high score for being welcoming. However, even though the CIA Factbook points out that it has a fast-growing economy, the local job market isn’t as attractive to expats, with InterNations pointing out that good-paying jobs can be hard to find. Portugal’s immigration website offers a variety of options for gaining residency with different jobs, including teaching and self-employment.
Survey respondents think that Bahrain is one of the best places for social expats to make friends, which might be explained by the fact that about 45% of the country is made up of immigrants. However, the CIA Factbook also points out that there’s a low-paid workforce, which can make it challenging for those who expect to find local work after moving to the country. InterNations also points out that home affordability can be a challenge.
Expats living in the Philippines say they can easily afford to live a comfortable life. U.S. citizens can visit the Philippines without a visa, but they need a tourist visa for visits of 30 days or longer. Once your stay exceeds 59 days, you must apply for an extension of an authorized stay. Settling in is considered easy, according to the InterNations survey, but it’s also important to note that the CIA Factbook cites some potential international tensions.
7. Costa Rica
Even though the CIA Factbook points out that Costa Rica is looking at potential liquidity issues, it has identified the country as a leader when it comes to a green economy. InterNations respondents find it easy to settle in and make friends in the country but bemoan the lack of nightlife and extensive infrastructure for cars as well as the difficulty in finding a local job.
Thailand is considered one of the most financially friendly countries to settle in, according to expats who responded to the survey It’s possible to get a visa that allows you to stay 90 days in the country, and then you must submit an application for an extension. You can use a non-immigrant visa to start the process. The CIA Factbook points out that there’s extensive infrastructure, and InterNations mentions that expats rank it high for leisure options.
For expats with concerns about health care, Taiwan gets high marks in the InterNations survey. Both the quality and affordability of health care in Taiwan are considered selling points by respondents. Additionally, the infrastructure is considered good, and the country offers access to high-speed internet access. However, Taiwan remains involved in international disputes, and there are concerns about China’s stance toward Taiwan.
Malaysia is considered a very affordable country, with InterNations reporting that many respondents feel their income allows them to live comfortably and provides access to travel opportunities and a variety of food options. The CIA Factbook notes the country has an upper-middle income economy and high productivity. However, survey respondents cite concerns about safety, and the CIA Factbook also points out that there are human trafficking concerns.
Even though the InterNations survey gave Panama a low ranking on local job prospects, expats are generally happy with their personal finances and ability to access affordable housing. One point that U.S. expats might like is the fact that Panama uses the U.S. dollar as its legal tender. There is no special requirement to enter the country beyond having a U.S. passport, but you must get a visa to extend your stay beyond three months.
InterNations points out that, since the Expat Insider survey’s inception in 2014, Spain has consistently appeared near the top of the list for quality of life. Additionally, the survey found that expats consider Spain relatively affordable, including for housing. For those wishing to live long-term in Spain, the country sets forth very clear regulations if you want to stay for more than five years and become a permanent resident.
Mexico has consistently ranked high for expats moving out of the United States, according to InterNations. The country garners a high score for the ease of settling in, and Mexico is also considered highly affordable, with high marks in personal finances and housing. The CIA Factbook points out that Mexico has a relatively strong economy although there are concerns due to drug cartel violence.