Expats reveal the best (and worst) places for starting out

Today, the largest global community of expats InterNations published its Expat Essentials Index, revealing the 52 countries that make life abroad easiest – and the ones that make it the most difficult. The Expat Essentials Index is made up of four key factors that influence the ease with which one can integrate themselves into a new country. These factors are Digital Life, Housing, Administration and Language.

The availability of administrative services online, the unrestricted access to online services the ease of obtaining high-speed internet access at home, and the ease of paying without cash all fall under the Digital Life category.

The affordability and the ease of finding housing for expats falls under Housing, and the ease of dealing with local bureaucracy, opening a bank account or obtaining a visa influence Administration.

Finally, the ease of living abroad without speaking the local language and how easy it is to learn the local language impact Language, the last category of the Expat Essentials Index.

Expats can most easily get started in Bahrain.

According to the EEI, Bahrain is “the ideal place for easy beginnings”. InterNations concluded this after finding that 67% of expats find it easy to deal with local authorities. This percentage stands out when considering that the global average is only 40%.

Bahrain also performed well in the Digital Life category, securing 8th place for the availability of digital government services. Taking this further, 70% of people claimed that it easy to get a visa and 82% said that it is also easy to find housing. Again, this is impressive when noting that the global average sits at 56% and 54%, respectively.

Most importantly, a whopping 82% reported that it easy to live in Bahrain without speaking the local language (versus 51% globally).

This factor of the Expat Essentials Index proved to be one of the most important, as it was found to be one of the main reasons why the UAE and Singapore secured 2nd and 3rd place. In addition to offering no language barriers, these two countries also offer minimal bureaucratic issues.

The top 10 countries that allow expats an easy start were found to be:

  1. Bahrain
  2. UAE
  3. Singapore
  4. Estonia
  5. Oman
  6. Indonesia
  7. Saudi Arabia
  8. Qatar
  9. Kenya
  10. Canada

Which destinations rank lowest?

Of the 52 countries featured in the Expat Essential Index, Germany ranked lowest.

59% of expats pointed to the difficulty of affording housing (compared to 43% globally) and 56% reported that it was difficult to find housing (compared to only 27% globally). In addition to ranking low in the Housing category, Germany also fared poorly in the remaining three categories.

More specifically, 46% of expats shared that it is challenging to get by without speaking German, and 55% described the language as difficult to learn. Going further, the surveyed expats revealed that Germany is lacking in digitalisation, with 27% feeling frustrated at the lack of cashless payment options (compared to 8% globally).

Germany also ranked relatively poorly in the Administration category, as 52% of expats reported that they find it difficult to deal with local authorities (compared to 39% globally). Pairing this with the lack of digitalisation, an expat from the UK told InterNations: “I really hate German bureaucracy. Especially the fact that nothing is digitised! It takes forever to get in touch with any of the local government offices to discuss residence permits and the likes.”

The destinations where expats initially struggle most were found to be:

  1. Germany
  2. Japan
  3. China
  4. Kuwait
  5. Italy
  6. Greece
  7. Vietnam
  8. Czechia
  9. France
  10. Malta

Source: InterNations

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