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World’s friendliest countries for expat families

  • Published by Ozgur Tore

welcoming open handsA new survey tries to find out the most welcoming countries for families. Just about half of expats around the world (46 percent) have children of their own, but only 21 percent of all expatriates are currently raising their children abroad. So which countries are most friendly for families?

Based on the insights of more than 3,000 expat families given in the annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, has compiled a so far unpublished ranking of the friendliest countries for families.

Apart from exceling in this particular rating, Uganda also does well regarding children’s safety, while Israel impresses expat parents with the quality of education available. Taiwan attracts families with a high quality of life, whereas popular holiday destinations Costa Rica, Thailand, and Greece additionally offer good leisure opportunities for children.

Top 10 Friendliest Destinations for Families Living Abroad

1. Uganda
East African country Uganda tops the list as the friendliest destination for expat families. Every single parent rates the friendliness of the local population towards children positively, and seven out of ten (68 percent) are even completely satisfied with the warm attitude towards families, whereas the global average is only 39 percent. Expat parents do not only perceive this country as a friendly place to raise kids, but also as a fairly safe environment: 81 percent rate their children’s safety positively — more than, for example, in the US (75 percent). Additionally, more than nine out of ten parents (93 percent) rate their children’s general well-being positively. An expat parent from UK currently living in Uganda mentions “safety, friendliness, warmth, fun camping trips and nice food” among some of the best aspects of living in this country.

2. Israel
Israel is not only one of the most welcoming destinations for families, where 69 percent of all expat parents consider the local population to be extremely friendly towards children. It also ranks high with regard to education and health: overall, Israel places third among the most popular countries for expat families in general. Indeed, 84 percent of respondents with children feel positive about the quality of education, compared to fewer than two-thirds of expat parents worldwide (64 percent). When it comes to children’s health, Israel has an excellent evaluation, with 92 percent of parents rating this factor positively, compared to a global average of 74 percent. A US American expat parent living in Israel specifically praises “the weather, living close to the beach, affordable schools and the medical care that is available for children”.

3. Taiwan
In Taiwan, 97 percent of parents rate the general friendliness of local residents towards families with children positively. What is more, the country is also the most popular destination among expats around the world and has outstanding rankings for working abroad, quality of life, and personal finances. An impressive 85 percent of expats in Taiwan are satisfied with their financial situation, and 83 percent judge the local cost of living favorably, which expats who raise children in Taiwan can also benefit from. 

4. Costa Rica
Sunny Costa Rica has many perks besides its delightful weather. Apart from winning the gold medal as the country with the happiest expat population, it is also rated positively by a remarkable 91 percent of expat parents for a friendly attitude towards families. Additionally, seven out of ten parents (74 percent) are satisfied with the local leisure activities for their kids. Families will benefit from the great climate, too: 96 percent of all expats consider this to be an advantage of life abroad in Costa Rica.

5. Thailand
The Land of Smiles makes the top five of the most welcoming destinations for families, where 85 percent of respondents rate this factor positively. Moreover, expat parents will surely be happy to hear that the quality of medical care receives excellent ratings as well. Thus, it is no wonder that 76 percent of expat residents with kids feel positively about their children’s health. An even higher percentage of them (81 percent) rate their children’s general well-being positively.

6. Greece
While Greece secures the 6th position out of 45 countries worldwide for its friendliness towards families, it does not perform well in many other aspects. This destination ranks particularly low when it comes to the availability of education options, with 59 percent of parents rating this factor negatively. Half of the parents (49 percent) feel negatively about the cost of education too. As a result, Greece is one of the least popular countries for expat families overall, ranking 43rd out of 45 in the Family Life Index.

7. Australia
In addition to ranking among the ten most welcoming destinations for expat families, Australia has above-average results for work-life balance: seven out of ten expat residents (71 percent) appreciate this about life in Australia, and parents in particular will be glad to hear it. And their free time is well spent, as Down Under also offers a great variety of leisure activities for kids, with 94 percent of expat parents rating this factor positively.

8. Mexico
Mexicans do not only welcome families with a friendly attitude, but expats in general: The country ranks first worldwide for finding new friends abroad, second for making expats feel welcome and fourth for friendliness. This puts Mexico first in the global Ease of Settling In Index. As for the friendliness towards families in particular, an impressive 87 percent rate this factor positively, while only four percent give it a negative rating.

9. Turkey
Currently, Turkey ranks 60th for safety and security, partly due to its poor ratings for political stability: 62 percent of expats feel negatively about the latter — more than three times the global average of 18 percent. What is more, the country is rather unpopular among expat families specifically: owing to a poor performance with regard to key factors such as childcare or education, it merely places 41st out of 45 countries. Nonetheless, Turkey is considered one of the friendliest and most welcoming countries for expat families. Nine out of ten parents (89 percent) rate this factor positively and a mere four percent give it a negative rating.

10. Philippines
The Philippines just about make the top ten list, with 86 percent of respondents rating the friendliness of the population towards expat families positively — which is still slightly higher than the global average of 80 percent. Expat families with younger children might also be interested in the fact that the Philippines does very well when it comes to childcare costs: 39 percent of expat parents give this factor an excellent rating, as opposed to 14 percent worldwide.

Where Expat Families Cannot Expect a Warm Welcome
While Greece is the only European country that makes it to the top ten friendliest countries for expat families, European destinations take the inglorious lead when it comes to the least friendly ones — more than half of them are located on this continent. Apart from German-speaking countries Switzerland, Austria, and Germany, the local population in Italy, Russia, Belgium, and the Czech Republic is also perceived as having a rather negative attitude towards families with children.

Switzerland, Russia, and Austria appear to be the countries with the least friendly attitude towards families. However, while Switzerland has the lowest ranking in the world in this respect, over nine out of ten expat parents (94 percent) are satisfied with their children’s health and safety. Russia, coming in second to last for its lack of friendliness towards families, also ranks 59th out of 67 for friendliness in general and 56th for the general ease of settling in. Even though more than 80 percent of parents in Austria are satisfied with their children’s health, well-being, and quality of education, which makes it the fourth-most popular country among expat families, Austria still ranks rather badly (43rd out of 67) for friendliness of the local population towards families with kids.

Similarly, the Czech Republic ranks 36th out of 45 countries for friendliness towards families, and yet it still ends up ranking as the second-most popular country in the world for families living abroad. This success is partly due to the great availability of education and its low costs: 57 percent of parents think that education options are numerous and easy to get, compared to a global average of 49 percent; an impressive 74 percent also consider them affordable, compared to the global average of merely 45 percent.  

In expat parents’ eyes, Belgium has shown great improvements in many respects this year, such as regarding the quality of education, where it climbed from 15th to 7th place. With regard to the availability of childcare and education, it has even moved up 20 positions compared to last year’s ranking. Nonetheless, Belgium’s low ranking for friendliness towards families remains largely unchanged: it ranks only ranks 39th for this factor.

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