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The countries with the best quality of life in the world for expats

Lianna Brinded
Head of Finance, Yahoo Finance UK
Life’s a beach. Photo: Reuters

Moving abroad for work, even for a year or two, is a life-changing decision. And while many people look to move as part of their career trajectory for the company they work for, some are looking at opportunities abroad that present a better quality of life—whether for better standards of living, more money in their pockets, or even just for safety and security.

Every year one of the world’s biggest networking groups InterNations conducts one of the most comprehensive surveys on expats, which are defined as people who live and work abroad as part of a professional corporate assignment. It surveyed 18,000 people, representing 178 nationalities and living in 187 countries or territories. It asked them to rate 48 different aspects of life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The mean values of all allowed InterNations to rank the overall 68 best countries in the world to live in as an expat. For countries to be included in the overall tables, they had to have at least 75 respondents per destination, meaning only the most common countries to travel and live as an expat are included.

The major-sub index, which consists of rankings on health and wellbeing, travel and transport, personal happiness, leisure options, safety and security, as well as digital life, gave a fascinating insight into where expats think are the best places to live for a better quality of living.

Taipei, Taiwan: healthcare and security makes the country a top favourite for expats. Photo: Reuters

It showed that Taiwan reclaimed the top spot, thanks to its affordable healthcare, which 96% rated highly and 92% said the quality of medical care was incredible. The survey pointed out that Taiwan’s medical ecosystem gave the biggest impression on expats from countries that have personally expensive and complex healthcare systems like the US. Personal safety in Taiwan was also a major factor for its top poll position.

Portugal came in second place, with expats impressed with the quality of the environment (96%), and the local climate and weather (94%). Like Taiwan, Portugal scored highly on safety & security. The report said one US expat highlighted how Portugal had a “peaceful, safe, and family-centred” environment while a Brazilian survey respondent said that she came to Portugal in search of security.

Chart: InterNations

Meanwhile, the US and UK were no where near the top of the table. Among the reasons for why this is, expats moving to the US say that they struggle with understanding and affording the healthcare system and parents fear for their children’s safety. Meanwhile, expats say the UK has a high cost of living and the local population is particularly unfriendly.