The Top Cities for Expats, Ranked

The Top Cities for Expats, Ranked

The InterNation Index polled nearly 12,000 expats to find out their favorite international cities to live abroad.

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More expats are moving around the world and ranked their top 10 cities
Image: Christopher Furlong (Getty Images)

If you’re itching to relocate for that digital nomad life, play, or just a change of scenery, you might want to check out what some expats are saying. The InterNation Index conducted a poll of nearly 12,000 expats earlier this year on their experiences living and working abroad.

Those who weighed in on this list represent 177 nationalities and live in 181 countries or territories. They found Valencia, Spain to be the No. 1 best place to live for overall quality of life while Johannesburg, South Africa came in last in the No. 50 spot.

While there’s pros and cons to every city, click through to browse some of the best.

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10. Singapore

10. Singapore

Singapore
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Reaching the final city in the top 10, Singapore is great for upward career mobility, although 40%of expats reported they were unhappy with the work culture.

Work culture aside, Singapore is ranked No.1 for the best healthcare and is the 9th safest country in the world and the safest country in Asia, according to the 2022 Global Peace Index.

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9. Abu Dhabi, UAE

9. Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abu Dhabi, UAE
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Abu Dhabi comes in ninth for its excellent healthcare and its worry-free bureaucracy with three in four expats saying moving to the city increased their career prospects, according to the index.

Both healthcare and personal safety are highly valued in Abu Dhabi and about three in four expats described the locals as friendly towards foreign residents.

One British expat said in the index report:

“The local Emiratis are welcoming, helpful, and friendly.”

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8. Melbourne, Australia

8. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne, Australia
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Although Melbourne, Australia ranks as one of the most expensive places to live, it reaches No. 8 for its high quality of life.

It stays in the top 10 for its great leisure activities, air quality, and local culture, with 72% of expats ranking the residents as generally friendly.

With its easy access to transport, job opportunities, low crime rates, and great arts and culture scene, Melbourne is ranked as an ideal place to live.

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7. Basel, Switzerland

7. Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland
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Expats in Basel say they’re most satisfied with their job security, financial stability, and overall quality of life. The index found that 80% of people said they have enough disposable income to lead a comfortable and fulfilled life and 98% said they’re pleased with the natural environment.

One Venezuelan expat said in the index report:

“The environment is great, and you can enjoy outdoor life around the year. It is easy to get around the country and abroad with public transportation or by car.”

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6. Bangkok, Thailand

6. Bangkok, Thailand

Bangkok, Thailand
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Bangkok offers expats an overall friendly lifestyle, quality of life, and a low cost of living, the index reports.

While 79% of expats ranked the housing in Bangkok as increasingly affordable, more than two in five reported they were unhappy with the government’s availability, saying there was limited access to online services.

On the back end, expats said the environmental awareness in Bangkok is disappointing, with 43% saying the city does not support friendly environmental policies and 67% saying they are unhappy with the air quality.

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5. Madrid, Spain

5. Madrid, Spain

Madrid, Spain
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As the art Capital of Spain, Madrid is known for its world-renowned art museums including The Prado, Reina Sofia, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza. All three are located in the area known as the Golden Triangle of Art.

Approximately seven in ten expats reported feeling at home in Madrid while 71% said they found an excellent support network there.

Madrid appeals to expats for its outstanding nightlife, job opportunities, and global transport connections.

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4. Lisbon, Portugal

4. Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon, Portugal
Image: Paulo Zimmermann (Shutterstock)

Lisbon is rich in art and culture from its Baroque-period architecture, to its castles, museums, and eateries.

The city is one of the best-ranked for its quality of life, with 86 percent of expats reporting they are happy with their life abroad and nearly all are happy with the climate which sees 300 days of sunshine each year.

A U.S. American expat reported in the index:

“I love the hospitable, patient, and easy-going Portuguese people. They are helpful, kind, and polite.”

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3. Mexico City, Mexico

3. Mexico City, Mexico

Mexico City, Mexico
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Mexico City ranked No. 3 for its friendly culture and affordability, with the caveat that expats residing there often feel unsafe. According to the index, 82% of expats say they feel at home and 71% reported they’re happy with their career opportunities.

There is a wide range of food and dining options and the city plays host to a diverse population, welcoming people from all over the world.

However, one in three people reported feeling unhappy with their personal safety.

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2. Dubai, UAE

2. Dubai, UAE

Dubai, UAE
Photo: Tom Dulat (Getty Images)

Dubai reached the No. 2 spot for its high quality of work, leisure, and affordability. It is known for its vibrant nightlife with 68% of expats saying they’re happy with their social life.

The city boasts low living costs, allowing residents to live comfortably, however, the city ranked poorly for its transport, climate, and environment.

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1. Valencia, Spain

1. Valencia, Spain

Valencia, Spain
Photo: Rrrainbow (Shutterstock)

Reaching the number one spot, is Valencia, the third largest city in Spain and known to be the safest. This quaint Spanish city is affordable and offers vibrant nightlife, an urban environment, access to travel, and an ideal climate.

Valencia also ranks No. 1 for the happiest expats worldwide. The InterNation Index analysis revealed 85% are happy with their overall quality of life and 76% are happy with their work-life balance.

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