The 10 Best Places to Live and Work, According to Expats

Woman before the Auckland city skyline in New Zealand
Maridav / Shutterstock.com

After working and playing in one’s native land, some folks opt for a change of scenery by relocating to another country. And among those who have made the transition, certain nations earn especially high marks as great places to live and work.

Recently, HSBC surveyed 20,000 people who live and work abroad as part of the 14th annual Expat Explorer Survey. Nearly two-thirds of these expats — 65% — feel optimistic about the year ahead, and many rave about their new home countries.

Following are the places that earned the highest marks as places to live and work in 2021.

10. Qatar

A souq in Doha, Qatar
Faris AlAli Photography / Shutterstock.com

This country in the Middle East is known for having an expat community that is friendly and welcoming. Mild winters also are a huge plus for many.

However, get ready for oppressive summers. As Expat Arrivals notes, from June to August, the heat can be unbearable, and it can be difficult to find things to do — even in Doha, the country’s biggest city.

9. Singapore

Jaromir Chalabala / Shutterstock.com

If you relocate to Singapore, you won’t be alone. Expatriates make up nearly 29% of the nation’s population.

Singapore can be a great choice for those who are still working. It has a reputation for being among the best in the world when it comes to business.

The biggest downside here might be cost, however. A 2020 report from the Economist ranked the city of Singapore — which shares the name of the country in which it resides — as the fourth most expensive in the world.

8. Bahrain

Manama, Bahrain
PREJU SURESH / Shutterstock.com

This is another nation where expats arrive in large numbers. About half of the population comes from somewhere else, including almost 70% of the workforce, according to ExpatFocus. The fact that Bahrain does not impose personal taxes draws in ambitious people from around the world.

Some might find the nation’s conservative nature to be a negative, however. Immodest dress and public displays of affection do not go down well here.

7. Isle of Man

Peel castle in the Isle of Man
ParrySuwanitch / Shutterstock.com

Looking to really get away from it all? In the Irish Sea, you will find the Isle of Man, a hideaway with easy access to England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland. About 40% of the land is not habitable, and most of the island’s 80,000 residents live in the capital of Douglas, according to Expat Intelligence.

However, don’t expect this island to be exactly sunny and tropical. You will get a fair bit of rain, and winters can be windy.

6. Jersey

Skyline of Saint Helier, Jersey, Channel Islands
Allard One / Shutterstock.com

Not far off the coast of northwest France sits Jersey, the largest of the Channel Islands. The tax rate here is among the lowest in Europe, and the weather is far better than on mainland England, according to Expat Intelligence.

However, if you want to become a new resident, you will need to be determined. Relocating to Jersey is “incredibly difficult,” according to Expat Intelligence. It says the local government tries to keep the population at around 85,000, fearing larger numbers of residents will stress resources and infrastructure.

5. Guernsey

The Old Quarter in Guernsey, Channel Islands
jax10289 / Shutterstock.com

Another Channel Island, Guernsey is a “hidden gem” for those searching for a new home, according to ExpatBriefing.com.

Located off the coast of Normandy, France, with a population of around 66,000, Guernsey shares Jersey’s nice weather and favorable tax system, including no capital gains, inheritance or value-added taxes.

However, because the island is small, housing stock is limited and tightly controlled.

4. UAE

United Arab Emirates
S-F / Shutterstock.com

The top finisher among Middle Eastern nations on this list, the United Arab Emirates is a nation of “balanced contradictions,” according to Expatica. The traditional and modern live side by side, and expatriates dominate the population, making up 88% of those in the UAE.

Expatica lauds the country for “high salaries, a luxurious lifestyle, fun outdoor activities and more.”

The sticking point for some might be the country’s conservatism. Sex before marriage, gay relationships and pregnancy outside of marriage are all illegal here.

3. New Zealand

New Zealand
Ruklay Pousajja / Shutterstock.com

The government of New Zealand is ready to welcome Americans with open arms. At the official New Zealand Now website, you learn that the U.S. and New Zealand have a lot in common — the same language, similar popular culture and great scenery.

So, why move to New Zealand? As the Kiwi government says:

“Where we’re different is our pace of life. Many US expats find New Zealand is quieter and gentler with a great work/life balance.”

But before you rush to put down roots in the island nation, note some of the negatives Expat Arrivals highlights, including:

  • Isolation from the rest of the world
  • Expensive housing and dental treatment
  • An abundance of mosquitos and sandflies

2. Australia

Taras Vyshnya / Shutterstock.com

If you want room to roam — and plenty of it — Australia may be the place for you. This nation of just 21 million people stretches out for more than 3 million square miles, Expat Info Desk notes. The website also praises Australia’s high life expectancy and low rate of stress.

However, the cost of living may be higher than what you are used to in the U.S. And if you have pets, you might want to think twice: Pets entering Australia remain in quarantine for up to 120 days. Some dog breeds are not welcome at all.

1. Switzerland

Swiss flag on the top of Mannlichen (Jungfrau region near Bern, Switzerland).
Natali Glado / Shutterstock.com

In some ways, Switzerland has it all — “spectacular mountain scenery, highly sophisticated cities, excellent financial opportunities and a great quality of life,” as HSBC notes. The work-life balance is excellent, and salaries remain high, too.

However, as with Singapore, the pricey cost of living can be a big drawback. The Economist says Zurich is tied for the most expensive city in the world in which to live.

Disclosure: The information you read here is always objective. However, we sometimes receive compensation when you click links within our stories.