Mexico ranks second in the categories of Top Expat Destinations and Most Welcoming Countries in a recent survey of 14,000 respondents in 195 countries conducted by InterNations, a leading social network and information site for people who live and work abroad.
In the 2015 survey, the top 10 Expat Destinations were Ecuador, Mexico, Malta, Singapore, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Thailand, Panama, Canada, and Australia.
In the Most Welcoming Country category, the top 10 were Myanmar, Mexico, Portugal, Ireland, Colombia, Ecuador, Oman, Philippines, Indonesia and Brazil.
While the political future of Myanmar is on everyone’s mind and ethnic tensions continue to rise, foreigners living in Myanmar appreciate the friendliness of the local population more than anywhere else in the world, according to the survey. Myanmar comes in only 48th out of 64 expat destinations overall, but the friendliness of the local population receives the highest rating in the world.
Based on the survey results, most expats living in Myanmar (63 percent) are male and 21 percent of them are teachers, academic staff or researchers, which is more than double the global average of 9 percent. In addition, a higher than average percentage of the expat population in Myanmar works in the (tele-) communications industry, 14 percent as compared to the 3 percent of expats around the world who find employment in the same sector. US Americans make up the largest percentage of the expat population (18 percent), followed closely by Indians (17 percent).
Despite the friendliness of the local population, only 3 percent of expats in Myanmar report having a friend group composed mostly of locals. The difficulty of the language may be one of the factors preventing foreigners from making local friends — nine out of ten expats in Myanmar say that they know the local language just a little or not at all, compared to the global average of 42 percent of expats around the world who report the same.
Myanmar is also a top choice for those in pursuit of happiness: the country ranks 8th out of 64 in the Personal Happiness category and 88 percent of expats in Myanmar are happy with their life in general. Political stability is still a concern for many though, with 46 percent rating the political stability of the country negatively, compared to a global average of 15 percent.
Where Foreigners Do Not Feel Welcome
On the opposite end of the scale, the local populations in Czech Republic and Saudi Arabia are considered to be very unfriendly towards those from other countries, and Kuwait even finds itself at the very bottom of the ranking: 13 percent of the expats find the general friendliness of the local population here to be very bad; overall 53 percent rate it negatively. A similar sentiment emerges among expats in Kuwait when it comes to the friendliness towards foreigners in particular, with 55 percent rating this negatively. Kuwait does a bit better when it comes to the attitude of the locals towards families with children, yet 36 percent of expats still rate this factor negatively. The unfriendliness of the local population might be one of the factors explaining why 61 percent of expats here describe their personal circle of friends as consisting mostly of other expats.
Malte Zeeck, InterNations Founder & Co-CEO, explains why numerous expats still decide to move to Kuwait, despite potential difficulties with finding friends: “The financial benefits of living in Kuwait are a draw for many expats. In fact, 41 percent of the foreigners surveyed in Kuwait say that their income is a lot higher there than it is back home, whereas only 24 percent globally say the same.”
Who Expats Are Friends With
Only 16 percent of foreigners report having primarily local residents as friends. Foreigners living in South America have the highest tendency for socializing mostly with locals, particularly in Peru (39 percent) and Argentina (33 percent), whereas the Arab Gulf states and Luxembourg are the countries where expats are the least likely to have local residents as friends.
Malte Zeeck describes: “Expats having friend groups consisting mostly of other expats in Luxembourg and the Arab Gulf states is not surprising considering that almost 44 percent of the population in Luxembourg and an overwhelming 80 percent of the UAE’s population are foreign-born residents.”
Of those who claim to have mostly expat friends or a mix of expat and local friends, 36 percent say that they have a fairly diverse group of expat friends. Younger expatriates under the age of 26 are more likely to have expat friends from countries other than their own and who have a different native language or cultural background. This seems to lessen with age as only 14 percent of expats over the age of 50 primarily have friends who fit this description.
Find more rankings, reports and infographics on www.internations.org/expat-insider.
About the InterNations Expat Insider 2015 Survey
For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked more than 14,300 expatriates representing 170 nationalities and living in 195 countries or territories to rate and provide information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. The ratings of the individual factors were then used to draw up topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living. These were further averaged in order to rank 64 expatriate destinations around the world. In 2015 the top ten were Ecuador, Mexico, Malta, Singapore, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Thailand, Panama, Canada, and Australia.
With 1.9 million members in 390 cities around the world, InterNations (http://www.internations.org) is the largest global network and information site for people who live and work abroad.