According to expats, what’s the best city to live abroad?

Photo credit: Visions of Victoria



Melbourne tops the list of the best cities to live abroad according to previously unreleased data from the third annual InterNations Expat Insider 2016 survey. With more than 14,000 respondents, it is one of the most extensive studies ever conducted to explore the general living situation of expatriates. This year, Melbourne ranks as the top expat city, with Sydney also making it into the top 10 in eighth place. The latest InterNations survey found that despite negative feelings about affordability, the warm weather and the friendly attitude of the local residents, combined with a great work-life balance, make Melbourne and Sydney top destinations for moving abroad.

Melbourne, Houston, Madrid: top scorers for expats

As part of the Expat Insider 2016 survey, InterNations takes a closer look at cities around the world and ranks them according to such factors as the quality of life, personal finance, working abroad and settling in. Melbourne takes the top spot for expat life out of the 35 cities analysed. Expats in Australia’s second-most populous city are particularly pleased with their work-life balance: 79 per cent of respondents rate this positively, which is notably higher than the global average of 60 per cent. Overall job satisfaction in Melbourne is also above average, with 71 per cent rating this factor positively. This city down under also excels when it comes to the availability of leisure activities: an astounding 91 per cent rate this aspect positively, 19 percentage points higher than the global average of 72 per cent.

Houston, Texas, finds itself in second place overall and for general satisfaction among expats. The USA’s fourth-biggest city also excels when it comes to the cost of living and personal finance, ranking fifth and seventh, respectively, in both of these categories. Houston comes in first place in the Ease of Settling In Index, too. However, the data was collected before the US presidential elections: it is yet to be seen if the election results will have an impact on such ranking categories as “friendliness” or “feeling welcome”, which the “ease of settling in” index is based on.

Madrid ranks third overall, mainly due to expats feeling welcome there and finding it easy to make friends: the Spanish capital takes the top spot in both of these categories. Madrid is also appreciated for its comparatively low cost of living: 72 per cent of expats rate this factor positively, in comparison to the 49 per cent global average. Duesseldorf, Germany and Singapore round out the top five best cities for living abroad.

A satisfying work-life balance

Overall, expats in Australia rank the country as the 10th-best destination out of 67 in the Working Abroad Index. The majority of expats feels happy with their work-life balance, as 71 per cent say they are content with this aspect of life abroad. So it is no surprise that both Melbourne and Sydney do well for work-life balance. Melbourne takes first position out of 35 cities worldwide, with 79 per cent of respondents saying that they are satisfied with their work-life balance. While the respective figure for Sydney is significantly lower at 69 per cent, this result is still noticeably above the global average of 60 per cent. Expats also find that there is an abundance of leisure options for their time off from work — Sydney and Melbourne rank third and fourth respectively in the “leisure” options subcategory of the “quality of life” index.

Warm weather and a warm welcome

The satisfaction of work-life balance in these two cities and the great leisure options are accompanied by glorious weather: 75 per cent of the expats living in Melbourne rate the weather positively, and an astoundingly high 91 per cent of respondents in Sydney are happy with the local weather. Both Sydney and Melbourne rank highly in the “ease of settling in” index, too, placing ninth and fifth respectively. Melbourne also ranks fifth for feeling welcome and fourth for friendliness; Sydney follows not far behind, ranking seventh in both subcategories.

The warm welcome in these cities is not surprising as more than seven out of 10 of expats living in Australia (71 per cent) say they are happy with the friendly attitude towards foreign residents. The local figure for Sydney is exactly the same while Melbourne even tops it with an impressive 83 per cent. In fact, 30 per cent of all respondents in Australia are so happy with their lives that they have obtained the citizenship of their destination, noticeably more than the global average of 11 per cent.

Expats happier in Melbourne

Sydney and Melbourne differ most significantly in two key areas; personal happiness and personal finance. Melbourne ranks fifth for personal happiness in stark contrast to Sydney, which ranks much lower on 15th place out of 35. In Melbourne 19 per cent of respondent’s rate their overall happiness as “very happy” and only five per cent respond negatively. In contrast only nine per cent of respondents in Sydney say they are “very happy” while seven per cent respond negatively.

Not only are expats apparently happier in Melbourne, but they are more satisfied with their personal finances, too. Melbourne comes in on an average 14th place in the Personal Finance Index, whereas Sydney does far worse: ranking 30th out of 35 cities, it appears in the bottom five. In Sydney, only 53 per cent of respondents feel positive about their financial situation, which is considerably lower than the global average of 64 per cent.

Find more InterNations Expat Insider 2016 rankings, reports and infographics on here.



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