Get out of town! The top countries to be an expat

Greg Keraghosian

Is it all that adaptation on the Galapagos Islands that help people adjust so well to Ecuador? Probably not, but the country won top marks in a comprehensive survey that ranks the best and worst countries in the world for expatriates.

The 2014 Expat Insider, run by InterNations, based its report on responses from 14,000 expats in 160 countries. Categories included quality of life, ease of settling in, working abroad, family life, personal finance, and overall satisfaction living abroad.

Guayaquil, Ecuador. Photo: Thinkstock

Among 61 countries that received enough responses to qualify in the rankings, the U.S. was named the fifth most favorite country among expats, and scored as follows: 16th in general quality of life, fourth in ease of settling in, 20th in working abroad, 12th in family life, 31st in personal finance, and 22nd in cost of living. The top three reasons for moving to the U.S. were for study (16 percent), work (16 percent), and love (12 percent).

Ecuador ranked high across the board in the survey, with 91 percent of respondents saying they were satisfied with their new lives there. It ranked first in personal finance, as well as for ease in making friends. While 37 percent of expats there said it was difficult to live in Ecuador without speaking Spanish, 30 percent said that learning Spanish is very easy.

Luxembourg ranked second, mainly for short-term employment reasons. Two out of three expats there listed a job as their reason for moving there. Only 28 percent said they wanted to stay in the country for the long run.

Third-place Mexico, however, is more popular as a long-term home – 44 percent of expats said they want to stay there forever. It also earns high marks for ease of settling in, and the country must be romantic for a lot of people, because 19% moved there for love.

Kuwait was the least favorite for living abroad. Photo: Thinkstock

Which countries are least popular amount expats? Kuwait brings up the rear in 61st place, with Saudi Arabia and Greece rounding out the bottom three. Economic problems in Greece played a large role, as the country scored very low in the working abroad index. Saudi Arabia took a big hit in the quality of life index, coming in last for leisure activities. Kuwait scored at the bottom for personal happiness and ease of settling in.

As for why people around the world are expatriating, this graphic breaks it down:

You can find the full Expat Insider Report here.