Valencia, Alicante and Lisbon are the best countries in the world for expats to live in.
That is according to the annual Expat Insider 2020 report by InterNations, which surveyed more than 15,000 expatriates representing 173 nationalities and living in 181 countries. For a city to be featured in the Expat ranking 2020, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per city was required.
An expat is an employee sent abroad on a corporate assignment or a new international hire. Therefore, the opinions of the survey respondents may differ from the overall population.
Respondents were asked to rate 25 different factors, which fall into 13 subcategories, related to life abroad. Those 13 subcategories were then put into four indices – Quality of Urban Life, Finance and Housing and Urban Work Life, which were used to rank 66 cities worldwide.
The survey also includes a Local Cost of Living Index, which did not factor into the overall ranking.
With the survey being carried out in early March, the responses are a good snapshot of just before the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report's authors noted: "It needs to be kept in mind, however, that the survey data for the ranking was collected in march 2020, just before COVID-19 turned into a global pandemic.
"Since then, living conditions have changed rather rapidly in some destinations. As such, these results may not always reflect what expat life in all of these cities will be like in a post-COVID world."
Valencia came first worldwide in both the Quality of Urban Living and the Local Cost of Living indices. In fact, nine in 10 expats rate the local cost of living positively (94%) and consider healthcare easily available (91%).
Expats are also very happy with the local climate and weather and the leisure options, ranking them second and fourth in the world, respectively.
With more than four in five (82%) saying housing in Valencia is affordable, it also comes first for this factor. Overall, the Spanish city ranks third in the Finance & Housing Index.
It is also easy to get settled in Valencia.
However, nearly half (46%) are unhappy with their local career opportunities, and just over half (54%) rate the economy positively.
Alicante comes second in Finance and Housing, and the Local Cost of Living indices.
It's the easiest city to settle in. Four in five (83%) expats feel at home there, and seven in 10 (68%) find it easy to make friends.
Four in five expats are satisfied with their financial situation. Additionally, more than two in three said housing is affordable, and four in five rated the cost of living in general positively.
However, it comes just 39th in the Urban Work Life Index with 44% of expats rating their local career opportunities negatively. They also rated public transportation as bad.
However, nine in 10 are satisfied with healthcare, local climate, and weather.
Lisbon performs well across the board. In particular, the Portuguese capital is easy to settle in, with four in five expats saying they feel at home there (82%) and are happy with their social life (79%).
Meanwhile, nine in 10 (89%) are satisfied with the local leisure options, and nearly all (96%) are happy with Lisbon's weather and climate. Expats in Lisbon are also very happy with their jobs and personal work-life balance.
However, two in five are unhappy with the local career opportunities, and a fifth with the state of the local economy.
The Panamanian capital ranks highly due to its sixth ranking in Finance & Housing, and 14th in Getting Settled.
Expats in Panama City are more than satisfied with their financial situation, with 72% viewing it positively.
They also consider it easy to find housing, and more than half (55%) describe the available housing as generally affordable. In addition, a quarter (76%) also feel at home in Panama City.
However, Panama City does just slightly worse in the Urban Work Life Index, coming it at 18th. Seven in 10 are satisfied with their jobs, but it ranks 41st for local career opportunities.
Expats are particularly dissatisfied with public transportation and the urban environment.
Singapore scores high in nearly all areas. It comes in ninth in the Quality of Urban Living Index largely due to its excellent results in safety and politics.
Nearly all expats in Singapore rate the political stability positively (90%) and feel personally safe there (97%).
Singapore comes in 1th in Finance and Housing Index, with 63% saying their disposable household income is more than enough to cover their expenses.
This is despite three in five (58%) rating the cost of living negatively.
This is also true when it comes to housing – while four in five say it is easy to find, a fifth (21%) say it is unaffordable.
However, it is easy to get settled in Singapore. Three in five (58%) are particularly happy with the ease of making new friends, and seven in 10 find it easy to get used to the local culture.
This Spanish coastal city is easy to settle in. Nearly nine in 10 expats feeling at home there (87%) and finding the local population friendly (88%). Meanwhile, three-quarters (77%) are happy with their social life.
The city comes in third in the Local Cost of Living and the Finance and Housing indices. Nine in 10 expats are happy with the local cost of living, and four in five are happy with their financial situation. Over half of the respondents describe housing as affordable.
Málaga lands 14th in the Quality of Urban Life Index. All expats are happy with the climate and weather in Málaga, and nine in 10 are satisfied with healthcare.
However, just one in 10 expats are happy with the local career options.
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7. Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires ranks highly despite coming in 47th in the Urban Work Life Index, mainly due to two in three (65%) expats rating the economy negatively.
In addition, it comes just 38th in the Quality of Urban Living Index. Three in five are unhappy with the city's the political stability, and a fifth feel personally unsafe.
However, expats rate Buenos Aires 11th in Finance and Housing and 15th in the Local Cost of Living.
Getting settled in Buenos Aires is not a problem, either. Seven in 10 agree it is easy to make new friends. Nine in 10 expats said they are pleased with the city's leisure options.
8. Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur comes first in the Finance & Housing Index. Seven in 10 expats said housing is affordable (vs 41% globally), and over four in five (84%) said it is easy to find.
It's also easy to get settled in the city. More than nine in ten said it is easy to live in Kuala Lumpur without speaking the local language. Seven in 10 are happy with their social life, and six in 10 find it easy to make new friends
But, Kuala Lumpur ranks just 51st in the Quality of Urban Living Index. Just seven in 10 expats rated their personal safety positively.
The Spanish capital comes sixth in the Quality of Urban Living Index. Nine in ten (92%) expats are happy with its leisure options (92%), and local climate and weather (89%).
Madrid also comes ninth in the Local Cost of Living Index, with nearly two-thirds rating it positively.
However, Madrid ranks just 34th in the Finance and Housing Index. In fact, three in 10 said their disposable household income is not enough to cover all expenses.
In 41st place, the Urban Work Life Index looks similarly grim: Madrid only ranks 46th in job security, and 17% of expats are dissatisfied with the state of the local economy. A third are also dissatisfied with local career opportunities.
On the bright side, it's easy to get settled in Madrid. Four in five feel at home and find it easy to get used to the local culture.
10. Abu Dhabi
Abu Dhabi is easy to get settled in. Nine in 10 (93%) find it easy to live there without speaking the local language, and three in five (57%) find it easy to make new friends.
The city comes in 23rd in The Finance & Housing Index. However, while seven in 10 say it is easy to find housing, less than a third find it affordable.
It comes 33rd in Quality of Urban Living and 36th in Urban Work Life, benefiting from the easy availability of healthcare and the high degree of personal safety. However, only 50% are happy with the local climate and weather.
Expats are also dissatisfied with their job security, working hours, and their work-life balance, for which the city was ranked 51st, 51st and 52nd, respectively.
Pictures of the week: November 22 - 28
Pictures of the week: November 22 - 28
Artist Sian Bliss poses inside her installation named 'Aurora Arbour', towering above her is London's tallest LED Christmas tree featuring 100,000 lights, at the launch of Wembley Park's Christmas display, 'United in Light', Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. Bliss has based the design on the movements of a winter night's sky. (David Parry/PA via AP)
Fans stand atop a car to look over the boundary wall, watching the action during the English FA Cup first round match Barrow against Wimbledon, at the Progression Solicitors Stadium in Barrow, England, Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. (Zac Goodwin/PA via AP)
A plaque showing Argentina's Diego Maradona outside the National Football Museum in Manchester, England, Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. Tens of thousands of fans were lining up to say goodbye to Diego Maradona on Thursday at the Argentine presidential mansion staging the funeral of one of football's greatest stars. Maradona died on Wednesday of a heart attack where he recovered from a brain operation on Nov. 3. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
People gather to look out as the sun sets, by Chesterton Windmill, England, Thursday Nov. 26, 2020. The 17th-century cylindric stone tower Chesterton Windmill forms a striking landmark in the plain landscape. (Jacob King/PA via AP)
A man walks past a Stay Alert Save lives Rainbow sign in Soho during the second lockdown.
London will be placed in tier 2 restrictions when England�s national lockdown comes to an end as all not essential shops will be closed until 2nd December. (Photo by Pietro Recchia / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
A Christmas lights sculpture stands backdropped by Tower Bridge, during England's second coronavirus lockdown, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. The visual effects in blue and white are to thank National Health Service (NHS) and key workers for all they did during this year's coronavirus outbreak. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Supporters of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange take part in a protest outside Westminster Magistrates Court in London, to support him in a administrative hearing for his extradition case, Thursday, Nov. 26, 2020. Assange was unable to attend or appear by video link today due to a COVID-19 outbreak at Belmarsh prison where he is being held. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Two 16ft illuminated Marmots, 'Marmite' (left) and 'Meribel', which have been erected outside the Assembly Rooms in Alton, Hampshire, as part of the town's MarmART trail. (Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pro EU campaigners during a protest against a Brexit no deal near Parliament in London, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. The European Union has committed to be "creative" in the final stages of the Brexit trade negotiations but warned that whatever deal emerges, the United Kingdom will be reduced to "just a valued partner," far removed from its former membership status. (AP Photo/Kirsty Wigglesworth)
London taxi driver Michael Harris, dressed as Santa Claus, who said he was in hospital with coronavirus for three weeks earlier in the year, poses for photographs in his cab parked outside Burlington Arcade, during England's second coronavirus lockdown in London, Wednesday, Nov. 25, 2020. With major COVID-19 vaccines showing high levels of protection, British officials are cautiously — and they stress cautiously — optimistic that life may start returning to normal by early April. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Christmas lights are lit up at the Ritz London.
People are getting ready to go back to the 3 tiers system when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week. (Photo by Pietro Recchia / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Larry the Cat sits in Downing Street, London. (Photo by Kirsty O'Connor/PA Images via Getty Images)
A person takes a photo of the skyline with the Shard building in the center, at sunset, from Greenwich Park in London, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. (Yui Mok/PA via AP)
Christmas lights are lit up on New Bond Street in Mayfair, London, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
GREAT MISSENDEN, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: A weather vane on a farm building close to the HS2 line on November 24, 2020 in Great Missenden, England. HS2 protesters continue to occupy key infrastructure sites along the proposed HS2 route claiming that the project is 'the most carbon-intensive and environmentally destructive project in UK history.' (Photo by Jim Dyson/Getty Images)
PRESTON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 24: Tyrhys Dolan of Blackburn Rovers celebrates after scoring their sides third goal during the Sky Bet Championship match between Preston North End and Blackburn Rovers at Deepdale on November 24, 2020 in Preston, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by Nathan Stirk/Getty Images)
The Elizabeth Tower, which contains the bell known as the Big Ben, emerges from the trees in Westminster, in London, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2020. Haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. (AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
BURNLEY, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 23: Burnley gnomes are seen in a house outside Turf Moor ahead of the Premier League match between Burnley and Crystal Palace at Turf Moor on November 23, 2020 in Burnley, England. Sporting stadiums around the UK remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by James Gill - Danehouse/Getty Images)
The 'Terrarium Tree' in Coal Drops Yard, which forms part of the King's Cross neighbourhood of London's unconventional 'traditionally untraditional' Christmas tree installations, stands illuminated during England's second coronavirus lockdown, Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. Haircuts, shopping trips and visits to the pub will be back on the agenda for millions of people when a four-week lockdown in England comes to an end next week, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said Monday. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
Kelly Brook seen departing The Heart Radio Studios In London while holding flowers on her 41st Birthday dressed with an Emily in Paris theme. (Photo by Brett Cove / SOPA Images/Sipa USA)
Christmas trees adorn the Churchill Arms pub in Kensington, London, which is closed as England continues a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus. (Photo by Yui Mok/PA Images via Getty Images)
A woman wearing a mask because of the coronavirus pandemic walks past masks displayed on mannequins in the window of a closed shop in Canterbury, southern England on November 23, 2020. - British Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to announce on Monday a major testing programme in areas with the highest coronavirus infection rates as the country re-enters a system of tiered restrictions. (Photo by Ben STANSALL / AFP) (Photo by BEN STANSALL/AFP via Getty Images)
New cars in a compound near Sheerness in Kent, negotiations between the UK and European Union on a post-Brexit trade deal have resumed, but ÒfundamentalÓ differences remain between the two sides. (Photo by Gareth Fuller/PA Images via Getty Images)
Pedestrians wearing face masks due to the COVID-19 pandemic, walk past Christmas-themed window displays inside Burlington Arcade in central London, on November 23, 2020. - Prime Minister Boris Johnson's latest plan is to roll out mass testing to the hardest-hit areas, hoping to make enough inroads to be able to relax social restrictions in time for Christmas. (Photo by Tolga Akmen / AFP) (Photo by TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
CARDIFF, WALES, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 23, 2020 - The Christmas market in Cardiff city centre as Welsh Government announces that tighter coronavirus restrictions could be implemented in Wales in the run-up to Christmas, aligning Wales with other parts of the UK. PHOTOGRAPH BY Mark Hawkins / Barcroft Studios / Future Publishing (Photo credit should read Mark Hawkins/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
Magpies and crows surround a resting stag on the Ashton Court Estate, Bristol, England, Monday Nov. 23, 2020, during cold, crisp autumnal weather. (Ben Birchall/PA via AP)
Daniil Medvedev of Russia holds up the winners trophy as confetti falls after defeating Dominic Thiem of Austria in the final of the ATP World Finals tennis match at the ATP World Finals tennis tournament at the O2 arena in London, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
A pallet of changing colours as the sky lights up before sunrise at St Mary's Lighthouse in Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear on the North East coast. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 22: In this image released on November 22, Dua Lipa performs onstage for the 2020 American Music Awards, broadcast on November 22, 2020 London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images for dcp)
People walking on Tynemouth beach, as England continues a four week national lockdown to curb the spread of coronavirus, in Tyne and Wear, England, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2020. (Owen Humphreys/PA via AP)