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The Surprising Top Expat Destinations of 2017

Posted by on September 6th, 2017.

Expat Destinations

InterNation’s 2017 Expat Insider survey is here, and the results are rather unexpected…

The Expat Insider’s 2017 survey, an online survey of some 13,000 expats that assesses and ranks destinations based on variables like quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, family life and personal finance, has revealed some startling information about 2017’s best expat destinations.

Recent dramatic changes in British politics, financial concerns and ongoing issues of safety in parts of Europe have wrought havoc on the rankings this year, with previously well-ranked destinations rapidly conceding their positions. Despite the upheaval, however, one thing remains the same; Brits like the sun, and they’re still flocking abroad to find it.

The Best Places for Expats in 2017

The most surprising revelations were this year’s top 3 destinations; Bahrain, Costa Rica and Mexico.

#1 Bahrain


Bahrain has seen significant improvement across all indices, particularly excelling at making expats feel at home, with a high score on the ‘ease of settling in’ index. If you’re perhaps anxious about the language barrier then worry not; it also ranks first place for expats being able to get by without actively learning the local language (lots of people speak English there).

Career prospects can make or break a move, and in this regard Bahrain does not disappoint, ranking third in the world in the ‘working abroad’ index.

Ultimately Bahrain has blossomed as of late, massively outranking its neighbours in the Persian Gulf like Saudi Arabia and Qatar because of its thriving oil industry, low prices and a massive shift in focus to the tourist and services sectors.

#2 Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Costa Rica! The ‘rich coast’ came in 6th place last year, but because of the affordable cost of living, the high standard of life and absolutely stunning landscapes it has also seen an explosion in popularity. In the survey Costa Rica ranked in the top 10 in three of the five indices, including quality of life, ease of settling in and family life. It also featured notable jumps in things like quality of education and availability of childcare, along with huge improvements in the personal finance index, which jumped from 43rd place to 24th (seven out of ten respondents were satisfied with their financial situation).

#3 Mexico


Whilst Mexico might not immediately spring to mind when you’re considering moving abroad, it remains a consistent favourite, repeatedly being placed in the top 5 every year.

Mexico succeeded most in indices like ease of settling in, personal finance and cost of living, which remains very low compared to the quality of life that can be gained. Indeed, some 80% claimed that when considering moving, the cheap cost of living was regarded as a potential benefit, with 74% of expats claiming that they’re satisfied overall with their financial situation in Mexico. Ultimately, however, much like Bahrain and Costa Rica, Mexico’s welcoming and friendly population helped shift it into the top three.

Founder and Co-CEO of InterNations Malte Zeeck echoed this sentiment:

‘It is interesting to see that the quality of life does not seem to be the most important thing that counts when expats rate their life abroad. This year’s top destinations for expats do not necessarily offer a high quality of life, but what they all seem to have in common is a friendly and welcoming population’.

The Worst Places for Expats 2017

At the very bottom of the rankings in 2017 sits Greece, continually encumbered by the country’s economic woes, as well as Kuwait and Nigeria, which both struggle to maintain a decent quality of life (some two-in-ten expats in Kuwait are unhappy with their life as a whole) and notably, ongoing issues of safety and security.

Whilst the UK is by no means the worst ranked, (sitting 54th) it has dropped due to a slide in standing for expat satisfaction and political stability. Indeed, in 2016 77% of respondents surveyed considered the UK politically stable, a figure that has now dropped to 47% in the wake of ongoing uncertainty regarding the nation’s future. This is, in part, due to the nature of how fragmentary the Brexit negotiations have proved, but also the dramatic shift in the value of the Pound, which has made the UK appear even more unaffordable.

But where do British Expats Go?

Expat ratings are all well and good, but where are the Brits actually going? It should come as no surprise that whilst Spain wasn’t the highest ranked, it continues to top the list in terms of the sheer number of Britons that choose to expatriate there, especially when it often features some 300 days of sun per year. In terms of numbers, that’s almost one in ten expats from the UK that choose Spain, with seven in ten pointing to the weather as one of the main advantages.

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