Expats have revealed the best and worst places in the world to move to, according to a survey.

Around 12,000 expats living in 181 countries were surveyed by expat forum Internations about their quality of life and experiences abroad.

After sifting through the data, a list of 52 countries was ranked with two popular expat destinations rooted in the bottom spots.

Kuwait was unanimously the worst destination, scoring the fewest points in all categories.

One of the main metrics where the Gulf state failed was freedom of speech, as 57% of expats feared speaking their minds, compared to a global average of 18%.

Expats also found Kuwaitis unfriendly and unhappy with their work/life balance.

Regardless of how bad expats viewed their social life in Kuwait, 76% felt the money outweighed the inconvenience.

But only 37% were satisfied with living in Kuwait.

Kuwait is the only Gulf state not to make the top ten.

Boost for New Zealand

New Zealand is doing almost as badly as Kuwait, ranked 51st out of 52 nations. New Zealand is the sixth most popular destination for British expats, with 215,000 people moving.

Expats have complained that the country has a poor quality of life, mainly due to high transport costs and a lack of culture. On the positive side, expats voted in favor of New Zealand for outdoor activities and ease of settling down.

But money is a problem for many expats, who negatively assess the cost of living and their personal finances. A whopping 32 percent thought they weren’t paid enough, compared to 20 percent globally.

One in seven considers their job useless and one in four dislikes their job.

Overall, one in three expats were satisfied with their life in New Zealand.

Hong Kong horror

Hearing about expat life experiences in Hong Kong in recent years is depressing, with a ranking that dropped the city to 50th worst place for expats.

The once-bustling financial hub is criticized for its high cost of living, scores poorly as a good place to work, and is bemoaned as a creative business hub.

Quality of life is poor, with expats citing financial worries, lack of freedom of expression and civil unrest as concerns.

The final count for Hong Kong revealed that 60% of expats were satisfied with their life in the city.

Nonetheless, Hong Kong has the dubious honor of appearing in both the worst quality of living rankings and the most expensive places to live.

The worst places for expats

The 10 worst places for expats were:

52 – Kuwait

51 – New Zealand

50 – Hong Kong

49 – Cyprus

48 – Luxemburg

47 – Japan

46 – South Africa

45 – Turkey

44 – Italy

45 – Malta

Mexico was rated the best place to live by expats, scoring high on personal finance and ease of settling in. The other top five were Indonesia, Taiwan, Portugal and Spain.

Australia is the country where most British expats are looking for a new life. Almost 1.5 million Britons have already moved Down Under.

Expats rank Australia ninth best place in the world to live, with three in four admitting they are satisfied with their lives.

Australia boosted by work-life balance

Only Denmark ranked higher for careers and jobs. In Australia, two-thirds are satisfied with their job prospects and the local job market. The work/life balance is also highly valued, as is the ease of settling in and the friendliness of the residents.

The other favorite destination among the ten worst places for expats is South Africa.

South Africa is ashamed that expats regard the country as the worst place in the world for personal safety – highlighted by a recent gang war that killed nearly 40 people.

In general, expats were concerned about soaring crime rates, inequality and the extreme poverty that some South Africans suffer from.

Bermuda is the most expensive place for expats

Nonetheless, South Africa has strong ties to the UK and is home to 212,000 British expatriates – the seventh highest number in the world.

Although the Internations study ranks New Zealand top for cost of living, separate expat research by numerical computing website Numbeo tells a different story.

Bermuda takes the crown as the place with the worst inflation – 40% more expensive than New York and double that of New Zealand.

The sunny Caribbean islands of Barbados and the Bahamas take third and fourth place in the rankings with a cost of living 12 times cheaper than New York.

Switzerland ranks second with a cost of living 10% more expensive than New York.

Top 10 most expensive countries

  • Bermuda
  • Swiss
  • The Bahamas
  • Barbados
  • Iceland
  • Norway
  • Jersey
  • Singapore
  • Israel
  • hong kong

Cheapest places for expats

The cheapest places for expats to live out of 137 countries are all on the Indian subcontinent – ​​India, Sri Lanka and Pakistan.

128 – Kyrgyzstan

129 – Syria

130 – Tunisia

131 – Colombia


133 – Algeria

134 – Libya

135 – India

136 – Sri Lankan


Best and Worst Destinations for Expats FAQ

Why is Mexico the number one destination for expatriates?

Mexico may not be popular with expats in Europe, but hordes of Americans are crossing the border to enjoy a cheaper lifestyle. Expats find settling in Mexico easy and welcoming, while the low cost of living puts financial worries to rest.

Do expats really value where they live?

Internations and Numbeo are proud that their data is provided by expats living in the locations reviewed. Both studies exclude countries and cities with sample sizes too small to discourage poor results.

Where are the cheapest and most expensive Asian destinations?

Singapore tops the charts for Asia as the most expensive place to live for expats. Cheapest in Pakistan. Nevertheless, Singapore still ranks 20% cheaper than New York.

Where are the cheapest and most expensive African destinations?

Zimbabwe is the most expensive place in Africa with a cost of living half that of New York. The North African countries ranked as the cheapest are Libya, Algeria and Tunisia, in that order.

How many British expats live abroad?

The government estimates that 5.5 million Britons are expats, around one in ten.

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