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Friendliest Countries For Expatriates

Forbes recently polled expats from around the world in order to rate the top countries. These are the top six that are the friendliest to international travellers, workers and students.

Culture & Lifestyle

Whether you have moved abroad as an expat already, or have ever thought about it, we can all agree that one of the most challenging parts of this exciting experience is fitting in, making friends and not feeling isolated. Forbes details areas of the world where expats have voted on the countries friendly attitude towards expats, the ease of making local friends, and their likelihood to stay forever. 

Who do you expect to be at the top of this list?

With number of expats heading to areas such as the United Arab Emirates have soared in recent years, perhaps here? Or how about Australia, or New Zealand, where many head for a different pace of life, where do you think they end up on this list? Well, not as high as you might have thought. These are the best expats destinations.

6. Costa Rica

  • Locals’ attitude towards expatriates 87%
  • Ease of making local friends: 78%
  • Expats likelihood to stay in the country in the long term 48%

Costa Rica, the land of ‘pura vida’ or ‘quality of life.’ This country moves at a slower pace, with picturesque views of natural beauty. The cost of living here is low, especially compared to the US, and the standard of living is one of the highest in Latin America.

5. Bahrain

  • Locals’ attitude towards expatriates 86%
  • Ease of making local friends: 55%
  • Expats likelihood to stay in the country in the long term 11%

Think the cost of living in Bahrain is extremely high? Think again. On average, people living in Bahrain pay more than seven per cent less than residents of Britain for everyday essentials. Forty-five per cent of Bahrain’s population are international expats giving the state a wonderfully mixed culture, allowing you to enjoy cuisines from the world over.

4. Cambodia

  • Locals’ attitude towards expatriates 92%
  • Ease of making local friends: 59%
  • Expats likelihood to stay in the country in the long term 23%

Cambodia came out with the highest score for friendly attitude towards expats, higher than the #1 country overall. The positive attitude is well known, and expats speak warmly of being greeted and treated as special guests. Most Cambodians speak English as their second language, especially in major cities thanks to the increasing number of international companies that are entering the market. Nicknamed as the ‘Kingdom of Wonder’, the cost of living here is low, so many retire overseas as it is regarded as one of the best countries for expats to retire to allowing for a higher standard of living, for less.

3. Mexico

  • Locals’ attitude towards expatriates 87%
  • Ease of making local friends: 73%
  • Expats likelihood to stay in the country in the long term 39%

Mexico came out highest for the rating of ‘ease of making local friends’ which is great news for those who want to get out and not feel isolated. Mexico also makes it rather easy to stay for long periods of time. A temporary residence visa lasts up to 4 years. This country is more than its beaches, which are of course stunning, but it is also has Mexico City, a major global metropolitan area with lots of art, culture, and opportunities.

 2. Taiwan 

  • Locals’ attitude towards expatriates 86%
  • Ease of making local friends: 61%
  • Expats likelihood to stay in the country in the long term 30%

Taiwan accommodation is often cheaper, and larger, than that found in Japan or the west, which come as great news to expats looking to move to Asia. The activities here are also endless and include hiking, biking, paragliding, surfing, exploring stunning waterfalls, to name a few. Many people here also speak decent English, which bumps up that figure for making local friends.

1. Portugal

  • Locals’ attitude towards expatriates 94%
  • Ease of making local friends: 58%
  • Expats likelihood to stay in the country in the long term 47%

At the very top of the top ranked countries to live in and scoring the highest for the ‘friendliest country for expats’ is Portugal, which was previously positioned as #9 on this list back in 2016. This top spot makes Portugal one of the best countries for expats to live and work. Portugal almost makes a clean sweep in their friendliness towards expats, with over half of those survey saying they easily made friends, with almost as many stating that they would likely stay forever. Those are some incredible stats! Portugal is a modern country with state-of-the-art technology. Pair this with a fun, easy, laidback lifestyle and affordable living, you are on to a winning destination for expats.