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Valencia Named Best City for Expats

Valencia

InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with more than 4.5 million members, publishes its Expat City Ranking 2022.

This year, 11,970 expats participated in the survey.

In 2022, 50 cities around the globe are analyzed in the Expat City Ranking, offering in-depth information about five areas of expat life: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance, and the new Expat Essentials, which covers digital life, admin topics, housing, and language.

Out of 50 cities in the Expat City Ranking 2022, Valencia (1st), Dubai, Mexico City, Lisbon, Madrid, Bangkok, Basel, Melbourne, Abu Dhabi, and Singapore (10th) are the top 10 cities for expats to live in 2022. On the other hand, expats consider Johannesburg (50th), Frankfurt, Paris, Istanbul, Hong Kong, Hamburg, Milan, Vancouver, Tokyo, and Rome (41st) the world’s worst cities to live in.

Top 3 Cities for Expats in 2022

1. Valencia: Livable, Friendly & Affordable 

Valencia places 1st out of 50 in the Expat City Ranking 2022, as well as 1st in the Quality of Life Index. Expats describe public transportation as affordable (85% happy vs. 70% globally) and love the great opportunities for recreational sports (92% vs. 75% globally). And 92% of expats feel safe in Valencia (vs. 81% globally). When it comes to the Ease of Settling In Index (3rd), expats feel at home there (74% vs. 62% worldwide) and are happy with their social life (72% vs. 56% globally). The city also ranks third in the Personal Finance Index, even placing first for cost of living: 83% of expats rate it positively (vs. 45% globally). While Valencia performs well in the Expat Essentials Index (13th), the Working Abroad Index (41st) is by far its weakest point. It places last for Career Prospects (50th): 50% of expats rate the local job market negatively (vs. 27% globally), and 30% judge their own career opportunities unfavorably (vs. 22% globally). 

2. Dubai: Great for Both Work & Leisure 

Dubai comes first worldwide in the Expat Essentials Index and its Admin Topics Subcategory. Expats report that it is easy to deal with the local authorities (66% vs. 40% globally), and 88% are happy with the availability of government services online (vs. 61% globally). However, 18% are unhappy with the access they have to online services (vs. 7% globally). The Ease of Settling In Index (8th) — expats are happy with their social life (68% happy vs. 56% globally) and feel welcome in Dubai (81% vs. 66% globally) — and the Quality of Life Index (6th) are two more highlights. Nearly all expats (95%) are satisfied with the infrastructure for cars (vs. 75% globally), and they rank both the culture and nightlife (5th) and the culinary variety and dining options (3rd) highly. Dubai comes sixth in the Working Abroad Index. Expats are happy with their job (70% happy vs. 64% globally) and report that the local business culture encourages creativity (78% vs. 51% globally). 

3. Mexico City: Friendly & Affordable but Unsafe 

Mexico City ranks first worldwide in the Ease of Settling In Index. Expats feel at home (82% happy vs. 62% globally) and welcome (89% vs. 66% globally) there, and 87% describe the local residents as generally friendly (vs. 66% globally). The city performs equally well in the Personal Finance Index (1st). Expats there are the most satisfied with their financial situation (73% happy vs. 60% globally). Despite its average performance in the Working Abroad Index (24th), expats are happy with both their personal career opportunities (71% vs. 58% globally) and their jobs overall (73% vs. 64% globally). In the Expat Essentials Index (30th), Admin Topics (44th) are an issue, but housing is both easy to find (9th) and to afford (6th). Lastly, Mexico City ends up in the bottom 10 of the Quality of Life Index (44th). Expats are especially disappointed with the Environment & Climate (41st) and the Safety & Security (47th) Subcategories. Over one in three (35%) are unhappy with their personal safety (vs. 9% globally). 

4. Lisbon: Amazing Climate & Quality of Life, but Mediocre Work Options 

Lisbon is one of the best-rated cities in the Quality of Life Index (5th). Among other things, expats appreciate the climate and weather (98% happy vs. 62% globally), the culture and nightlife (87% vs. 67% globally), and feel safe there (94% vs. 81% globally). Lisbon also ranks fifth in the Ease of Settling In Index — expats find it easy to get used to the local culture (81% vs. 62% globally) and are happy with their social life (69% vs. 59% globally) — and the Personal Finance Index. This is mainly due to expats’ high satisfaction with the cost of living (69% happy vs. 45% globally). However, just 71% say that their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 72% globally). This might be related to the fact that 27% do not feel paid fairly for their work (vs. 20% globally). Since they also find that moving to Lisbon has not improved their career prospects (28% vs. 18% globally), Lisbon only places 36th in the Working Abroad Index overall. 

5. Madrid: Great Leisure Activities & a Welcoming Culture 

Madrid performs best in the Quality of Life Index (4th). Expats love the climate and weather (88% happy vs. 62% globally), their travel opportunities (95% vs. 82% globally), and the available culture and nightlife (90% vs. 67% globally). In the Ease of Settling In Index (7th), Madrid also shines, particularly in the Culture & Welcome Subcategory (4th). Expats find it easy to get used to the local culture (77% happy vs. 62% globally) and feel welcome in Madrid (77% vs. 66% globally). The Personal Finance Index (10th) is another highlight, which is mainly due to the cost of living (7th), rated positively by 69% (vs. 45% globally). Madrid comes in an above-average 20th place in the Expat Essentials Index and performs worst in the Working Abroad Index (38th). Among other things, expats do not believe that the local business culture promotes flat hierarchies (36% unhappy vs. 28% globally) and are worried about their job security (27% vs. 20% globally). 

2022 Best Worst Cities

Top 5 Worst Cities for Expats in 2022

50. Johannesburg: The World’s Worst Expat Destination 

Johannesburg is the worst city for expats overall and in the Quality of Life Index (50th) in particular. Expats are unhappy with the affordability (25% unhappy vs. 15% globally) and the availability (39% vs. 17% globally) of public transportation, and they feel unsafe, too (62% vs. 9% globally). In the Working Abroad Index (49th), they rate the local job market (38% unhappy vs. 27% globally) and their personal career opportunities (29% vs. 22% globally) negatively. Expats are also dissatisfied with their personal finances (41% unhappy vs. 21% globally), and 44% say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 28% globally). This puts the city in 47th place in the Personal Finance Index. At least housing is affordable (46% happy vs. 39% globally), which is one reason why Johannesburg still lands in 36th place in the Expat Essentials Index. On the other hand, expats rate the availability of government services online negatively (41% unhappy vs. 21% globally). 

49. Frankfurt: Where Expats Struggle Most with Digitalization, Administration & Language 

Frankfurt comes last in the Expat Essentials Index (50th) and ranks among the bottom 10 in all its subcategories: Digital Life (47th), Language (46th), Admin Topics (45th), and Housing (43rd). Close to two in five are unhappy with the administrative services available online (39% vs. 21% globally) and the options to pay without cash (37% vs. 8% globally), while housing is considered too expensive (70% unhappy vs. 43% globally). Expats are also unhappy with the general cost of living (51% vs. 35% globally), ranking the city 41st in the Personal Finance Index. In the Ease of Settling In Index (48th), they have a hard time making local friends (55% unhappy vs. 37% globally) and find it difficult to get used to the local culture (30% vs. 19% globally). Frankfurt performs somewhat better, but still below average, in the Working Abroad (35th) and Quality of Life (31st) Indices. For example, while the city ranks well for its infrastructure for cars (10th), it is rated the worst worldwide for the affordability of public transportation (50th). 

48. Paris: A Top Destination for Culture & Cuisine — If You Can Afford It 

Paris lands in the bottom 5 of the Expat Essentials Index (47th). Expats find it extremely hard to find housing (47th), and 71% say that housing costs are too high (vs. 43% globally). High expenses also impact the Personal Finance Index (48th): 62% consider the general cost of living too high (vs. 35% globally), and 35% are unhappy with their financial situation (vs. 21% globally). Expats do not feel very welcome in Paris (45th), either, which is one of the reasons for its bottom 5 ranking in the Ease of Settling In Index (46th). They consider the Parisians unfriendly towards foreign residents (35% unhappy vs. 18% globally) and find it hard to make local friends (58% vs. 37% globally). On the positive side, Paris ranks midfield for Quality of Life (30th). Expats appreciate, for example, the culinary variety and dining options (86% vs. 77% globally), as well as the culture and nightlife (78% vs. 67% globally). However, 23% worry about their personal safety (vs. 9% globally). 

47 | Istanbul: The Worst City for Working Abroad 

Istanbul ranks last worldwide in the Working Abroad Index (50th). Expats are unhappy with their working hours (28% unhappy vs. 17% globally) and their work-life balance (30% vs. 19% globally). Another 52% rate the state of the economy negatively (vs. 17% globally), and 26% feel paid unfairly for their work (vs. 20% globally). This is reflected in the Personal Finance Index (40th), with 38% feeling that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life (vs. 28% globally). Istanbul also ranks 40th in the Quality of Life Index, with particularly poor results in the Safety & Security Subcategory (44th). 

Expats rate the political stability negatively (28% unhappy vs. 15% globally), and 30% think they cannot openly express themselves and their opinions (vs. 18% globally). Istanbul also lands in the bottom 10 for its opportunities for recreational sports (46th), infrastructure for cars (43rd), urban environment (41st), and the availability of green goods and services (41st). 

46. Hong Kong: Environmental & Work-Life Factors Frustrate Expats 

Hong Kong is the city where expats are overall unhappiest with their life abroad (32% unhappy vs. 13% globally). One reason for this could be its low performance in the Quality of Life Index (46th). Expats are unhappy with the local air quality (56% unhappy vs. 19% globally) and feel that the government does not support policies to protect the environment (42% vs. 18% globally). In the Working Abroad Index (43rd), they are especially disappointed with the Work & Leisure (48th), Salary & Job Security (43rd), and Work Culture & Satisfaction (44th) Subcategories. They find that the business culture does not encourage flexibility (28% unhappy vs. 19% globally) or creativity (46% vs. 26% globally). While the city ranks midfield in the Ease of Settling In Index (25th), it receives mixed results in the Expat Essentials Index (35th). Nearly two in three (66%) consider it easy to find housing in Hong Kong (vs. 54% globally), but 89% find it unaffordable (vs. 43% globally). 

45. Hamburg: Where Expats Are Unhappiest & Have the Hardest Time Making Friends 

Hamburg ranks 49th in the Ease of Settling In Index and 50th in the Finding Friends Subcategory. Only 19% find it easy to make local friends (vs. 42% globally), and 39% do not feel at home there (vs. 21% globally). Together with Munich (49th) and Frankfurt (50th), Hamburg (48th) ends up in the bottom 3 of the Expat Essentials Index. For example, 66% have a hard time finding accommodation in Hamburg (vs. 27% globally). In the Quality of Life Index (24th), the city does poorly for climate and weather (49th) but performs very well for the availability of green goods and services (3rd). And while 28% are unhappy with the affordability of public transportation (vs. 15% globally), 95% are happy with its availability (vs. 73% globally). Hamburg ranks midfield in the Working Abroad Index (25th) since expats appreciate their job security and the state of the local economy (10th for both), as well as their working hours (9th). However, 15% do not see a purpose in their work (vs. 9% globally). 

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