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Excessive costs and safety concerns are killing the American dream for expats

Lianna Brinded
Head of Finance, Yahoo Finance UK
US: No country for expats. Photo: Reuters

The top countries in the world to live as an expat does not include the United States.

For another year in a row in 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, shows that the US has slipped in the rankings as a desirable place to live.

The study by one of the world’s biggest networking groups InterNations 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. 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 mean values of all allowed InterNations to rank the overall 68 best countries in the world to live in as an expat.

The US ranked 47th in the overall ranking, way behind a number of Asian, European, and South American countries:

Table: InterNations

The study showed that “the USA does not appear to be living up to the notion of the ‘American Dream’ for a variety of reasons, although healthcare is a prime concern for expats. Only 19% rate the affordability of healthcare positively, which is 40 percentage points less than the global average. A Swedish expat cited in the report said their “difficulty understanding the healthcare system and the lack of available public transportation, which makes you very dependent on cars,” which affects their quality of living. Incidentally, that’s a key reason why the US ranks low in the major sub-index for quality of life.

Table: InterNations

Meanwhile, 67% of respondents rated their career prospects positively, with 45% saying they have a yearly household income of $100,000 or more, 38% rate the cost of living as poor.

Expat parents negatively rated the US when it comes to their children’s safety—only 17% of them think this is very good in the US, 27 percentage points less than the global average of 44%.