aaron2

The best 24 countries?

NEW articles daily! Subscribe below to receive daily updates with our new articles!

Please enter your name.
Please enter a valid email address.
Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.

This morning I was working on a series of post that I have planned for here on Expat Island when I came across a blog post on the Huffington Post site.  The blog post is entitled “The Best Countries for Expats“.  It was written based on a survey that was conducted by HSBC bank in 2013.  So, it is about a year old, but that is still relatively fresh in terms of things.

Basically, through this survey, they came up with the top 24 countries in the world for people to move to and become expats.

Visa Assistance

As I looked the list over, I must admit that I was a bit surprised at most of the countries on the list.  As I thought it over, though, I think I came up with the reason why those particular countries are listed.

Let’s have a look at the top countries for expats, as posted.  The countries are listed in the order of their popularity.

Top 24 Expat DestinationsTop 24 Countries for Expats

  1. China
  2. Germany
  3. Singapore
  4. Cayman Islands
  5. Australia
  6. Canada
  7. Russia
  8. Belgium
  9. United Arab Emirates
  10. Hong Kong
  11. Turkey
  12. United States of America
  13. Qatar
  14. New Zealand
  15. South Africa
  16. Mexico
  17. France
  18. Netherlands
  19. Saudi Arabia
  20. Spain
  21. Kuwait
  22. United Kingdom
  23. Italy
  24. Ireland

Huh?

What do you think?  Frankly, I was shocked at this list, because out of the 24 top countries listed, I can’t imagine going to live as an expat in many of those places.  Let’s have a look at some of the places on the list.

Places I would not want to live as an expat

Germany – High cost of living.  For most people who are going out to retire and live as an expat, they are looking for a place where the cost of living is more reasonable.  Now, please understand that I know that not all people who expatriate themselves are going to retire.  In fact, when I became an expat in 2000 and moved from the United States to the Philippines, I was only 38 years old.  Still, Germany does not seem that it would be a natural place for a person to move as an expat.  Another strike against Germany is that it experiences cold weather, which is not something that I personally don’t associate with the expat lifestyle!

Singapore – We are getting a little better now.  Singapore is a warm climate, and I like Asia as an expat destination.  The downside, though, is the cost of living is still quite high.

Canada – Again, high cost of living combined with some extremely cold weather.  It’s not the place for me.

Belgium – Here we go again.  We’re staying with the same reasons, high cost of living combined with cold weather.  That’s not on my list.

United States of America – Well, I admit that I may be biased because I am an American and I left the USA to become an expat, so how could I even consider it as an expat destination?  Still, though, that combination of (mostly) cold weather, except in the southern part of the country, high cost of living, and add another – lots of government regulation, and you have another expat loser in my book.

France – Not the place for me.  Weather, cost of living and Government are all strikes against it.  Hey, those are 3 strikes, which generally means “you’re out!”

Netherlands – Just take a look one line up at France.  Get the story?

United Kingdom – Ditto, ditto, ditto.  The story is getting old already!

Italy – I would say that this is getting a little better now, but only slightly.  It’s still not on the radar for me if I am looking for a place to move to.

Ireland – Yes, I am American, but I am of Irish descent.  I’ve not been to Ireland (yet), but again we have those same factors, weather, cost of living (although I believe not quite as much as some of the other places on this list).  No, it’s not the destination that I’d be looking for.

Places I would consider

Cayman Islands – Weather-wise, now we’re talking.  However the Caymans are known for more of an upper class lifestyle, so you can bet that the cost of living would be up there.  If you have a nice wad of cash, this would be a good destination.  If you are a “working guy” though, this one is probably not a consideration.

Australia – Generally much better weather, unless you go too far south, particularly to Tasmania.  My impression is that the government is still not overly regulatory.  Cost of living is still generally high, though.  There are possibilities in my mind in Australia, but I still think we could do better.

Russia – Yeah, we have cold weather here for sure.  Still, something appeals to me about the possibility of being an expat in Russia.  I guess the adventure of the whole thing, and the “Wild West” feeling of the whole thing.  I would have to think long and hard about doing it, but I would not dismiss it out of hand.

United Arab Emirates – Going to the Middle East to me is not an ideal situation.  Mostly, I say this and feel this way because most countries in the region are fairly authoritarian.  Repressive.  Gotta watch the things you say, opinions you express, etc.  Certainly we have warm weather here. 😉  Warm?  Hey, we’re talking HOT.  It might be a bit too hot, but I prefer that to cold weather.  I would be fairly iffy about moving to this region, but it is not an instant “NO” from me.

Hong Kong – I love living in Asia, so Hong Kong would be a possibility in my mind.  It is not a perfect destination in my mind, but, hey, no place is perfect.  The upside is that it is in Asia, also it is really a bastion of free market capitalism, which I like (although now that it is under China, who knows where that could head).  Downsides?  It’s big (not large in terms of area, but a big city, very big), it’s crowded, etc.  Certainly a strong contender, though.

Qatar – My feelings on this one are pretty much the same as on the United Arab Emirates above.  It’s a possibility in my mind.

New Zealand – Of course you would have to make the comparison to Australia, since they are closely tied together.  I like the idea of living in New Zealand.  Only two downsides in my mind.  The weather is a bit cooler than I would probably want, and the cost of living is a bit higher than I would be looking for.  Still, though, on both factors only marginally so.  It’s still a contender to me.

South Africa – I have lived in South Africa, but it was when I was a child, and the country has changed a lot since then.  I feel that this would be contender for me, though.  A decade ago, crime was a problem, but the reports that I’ve seen indicate that it is something that is improving vastly.  If I was looking to move, I’d give it a strong look.

Saudi Arabia – Hello, UAE and Qatar?  Same situation in my book.  Yeah, it’s a possibility, but I tend to be negative.  Worth consideration, though.

Kuwait – All of these Middle Eastern destinations stack up the same for me.  Consider it, but think hard.

These places look good

China – Some parts of the country are cold weather, some areas have terrible smog problems.  But, those issues can be worked around.  But, hey, we are talking about a place that is currently the world’s economic powerhouse.  I am a strong free market guy (yes, China is communist, but economically they are fairly liberal), and spending some time in China just to see the system at work appeals to me.  Imagine the possibilities for somebody who fancies himself as a business minded person, which I do.  If for nothing else, it would be a huge learning experience, which I would enjoy.

Turkey – I have never been to Turkey, but I have studied up on the place a fair amount.  It has a lot of beautiful scenery, and a fascinating culture.  Turkey is part of both Europe and Asia, and that in itself makes it a fascinating place for me.  I would love to spend time there, so it’s a GO for me.

Mexico – I have spent considerable time in Mexico, and I like the culture.  Weather is great.  Mexican food is also a real plus!  Of course, there are the drug wars going on there these days, but I still feel that you could scout out the right spot where it would be safe and enjoyable.  Hola!

Spain – I like the idea of spending time living in Spain, so this would be a certain “do” for me!  Cost of living is much less than most of the rest of Europe, and I see a lot to like.

Why this list may be skewed

I mentioned earlier that this list may be skewed in a way, and said I would explain why.

In my mind, an expat destination is more geared toward retirement, and a laid back lifestyle.  But, that truly is not the real destination of an expat.  An expat could be a job assignment, a place where you go to get work, or a place where your company sends you.

Given that this list was compiled from a survey done by HSBC bank, it is likely that those interviewed or who filled out the survey are businessmen, and those who become an expat based on work, and certainly not retirement.  Nothing wrong with that, and those people are certainly within the definition of an expat, so I can’t argue at all.  I am just saying that in my mind, an expat is different from what others may have in their minds.

What do you think?  Are there places in the top 24 that you would like to check out?  Are there some on the list that would be a “no-go” for you?

Posted in

Bob Martin

Bob Martin is the Publisher & Editor in Chief of the Live in the Philippines Web Magazine. Bob is an Internet Entrepreneur. Bob is an American who lived in Mindanao from 2000 until 2019. Bob has now relocated back to the USA.

Most Shared Posts

114 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Byron Watts
6 years ago

For me, Expat includes the potential of a lower cost of living (if you choose it), laid back atmosphere (again, if you choose it) and economic potential. Being able to exist indefinitely on the income streams available, or being developed. Being location independent so you can choose which place you will be in at any time. In a simple phrase, the life style of my design is important to me.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Byron Watts

Hi Byron – Yep! Lower cost of living… good weather! Top considerations for me too!

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago

Amazing that Philippines is not on that list !!

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Hi Malcolm. Good morning, my friend. Yeah, kind of surprising to me as well. The Philippines has gotten a lot more popular as an expat location over the past 5 or 6 years, so it surprised me not to see it there!

Mark Rowell
Mark Rowell
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

If weather, cost of living, and government regulations are your prime considerations then I don’t know of any place that can beat Philippines (I may be biased though, not quite sure lol).

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Mark Rowell

Hi Mark – Yep… you are obviously kind of preaching to the choir here… as I have lived in the Philippines for 16 years. If I didn’t think it was a good place to live, I would have never come, or would have left long ago! My only disagreement with you would be that I am not so sure that government regulations are a big plus here… there are many policies and laws that are not really beneficial to the expat. I still love it though.

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob,

Are you talking about business laws that aren’t beneficial to X pats? I say that because your a businessman. Which ones are you referring to?

Please know I am not questioning you. You’d know and I am just wondering.

Rusty

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Bowers

No, I am not taling about business laws. I am talking about things like that as foreigners we cannot own land. If we speak out about political matters we can be deported. Things like that. These are true even for long term residents and husbands of Philippine nationals.

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago

Who the hell would want to go and live in Russia or Saudi Arabia ! (:-))

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

I have some friends in Russia, and would find it interesting to check the place out. The political climate would not seem too friendly, though.

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Nothing wrong with a holiday there ..living there is something different lol, its not just the political climate that is cold ..also the actual climate ! (:-))

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Ha ha.. yeah.. that too! 😉

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Tell you where is a beautiful place to live Bob…I had a holiday there a few years ago…Hawaii

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Sky high living expenses in Hawaii. Probably among the most expensive places in the world.

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Yes but we both have loads of money so no problem there ! (:-))

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Ha ha… shhh… Malcolm, remember we agreed not to share that information!

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Oh yea…I forgot …lol…Anyway , all these exotic places fade into insignificance when you compare them to Davao City ! yea ..!

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

I fell the same, Malcolm. I have found the right place for me!

Malcolm Mac
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Night night to you and your lady…gonna sleep now …

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Have a good sleep, Malcolm!

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
6 years ago
Reply to  Malcolm Mac

Snowden, right?

Well, he went there because he had to, right? Even though it looks like he was right to do what he did. Still they’ll blame him for security reason. Or whatever reason they can think of.

Lou Zola
6 years ago

You can tell I was not part of the survey. There are only three of the twenty four listed I would even consider haha and as Malcom just posted Philippines is not even listed

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Lou Zola

Ha ha… Yeah, they didn’t ask me either!

Dennis Palmer
6 years ago

Thank god that the Philippines is not listed,keep them all out and we can have it all to ourselves. 🙂

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Palmer

Hi Dennis – I don’t know… why keep it a secret? It is not like millions would rush here. Getting a few more expats, in my view, would be good for the country.

Michael
Michael
6 years ago
Reply to  Bob Martin

Love the beard lol. New look Bob?

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Michael

Thanks, Michael. Yep new look, but probably temporary only. 🙂

Dennis Palmer
6 years ago
Reply to  Dennis Palmer

I agree, 🙂

Jerome Gilbert
6 years ago

As a Navy vet I have actually been to (and know people who either work there or have spent considerable time in many of these places) quite a few of these places, and whoever wrote this is crazy. First, the Middle East: If you are going to live in ANY of these countries Kuwait would be teh only choice. Saudi Arabia and the rest are VERY restrictive. About 50% of the Internet is blocked, it is usually 100+ degrees most of the year, and of course you cannot buy alcohol. Also, if you are Christian you have to be careful… Read more »

Bob Martin
6 years ago
Reply to  Jerome Gilbert

Thank you for your service to the country, Jerome. Seeing the world like you have offers many rewards to you, but had a cost as well. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this.

Paul J. Carney
6 years ago
Reply to  Jerome Gilbert

After spending 8 years in the Middle East as a government contractor Kuwait was the worse and I refused contracts in Saudi Arabia. The best places to live and work are Bahrain and Qatar as they are more liberal. I was not restricted in any way I was legally buy alcohol and I was able to attend catholic church services in both countries.but the only restriction I had was no pork, I was able to buy pork at the U.S.military bases. I have many filapina friends who do not have the hair issues your told about. Sorry to burst your… Read more »

Rusty Bowers
Rusty Bowers
6 years ago

I would hope X Pats go to places that they like. If buying an RV, and traveling throughout the States is your thing, than do that. Go to Peru if you’ve married a Peruvian woman, Bolivia if you married a Bolivian woman. No, you don’t have to be married.

I agree with one poster it is good the Philippines didn’t make the list. Too many foreigners here already.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Rusty Bowers

Yep! I think that is pretty much the case… everybody chooses where they like and goes there! Wherever that may be. Most Americans never leave, which I suppose is also their choice.

AussieLee
AussieLee
6 years ago

The Middle East? Did they put a “LOL” after those countries on the list?
They have to be joking.
Maybe they were following the current trend of political correctness and catering for the Islamic people out there.

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  AussieLee

Hi Lee – Nice to hear from you! Hope you are doing well.

As I said toward the end of the article, I believe that the poll is skewed toward expat working locations. Almost all of the workers in some Middle East countries are expats, and so if you look at a good foreign country to work in, not retire, the Middle East is a great place for that, just based on the numbers.

Tito Joe
Tito Joe
6 years ago

If I had unlimited or perhaps just a larger stream of cash/income etc…..I would move to Italy. It’s kind of neck and neck with the Philippines as far as how I feel about them both sometimes. Having been to both many many times over the years and lived in both, but Philippines longer. I can speak to those issues. Tilted comparisons on lifestyle though. Italy hands down is better in categories such as food, arts, history, climate etc. (the categories not involving direct cost.) However, I love the Philippines mostly because home is where the heart is and while I… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Tito Joe

Hi Joe – Ha ha.. as soon as you mentioned Italy the thought that came to my mind: “The food would be much better!” and sure enough you addressed that quickly. Italy would be good in many ways, but I enjoy life here in the Philippines. I am sure it is a tougher life, but I like it.

Gerald Glatt
Gerald Glatt
6 years ago

Perhaps a list of the 24 best countries to retire in. Some people like cold so Lavia and Greenland/Denmark may be considered. For about 39 seconds then dropped. Italy is warm as stated and the Pope visits more. any South American countries have both warm and cold weather, you can get seasonal rentals on the beach and the mountain. SE Asia has many places that are warm. So Bob what are your top five retirement places?

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  Gerald Glatt

Hi Gerald – Yep, of course! The criteria would be different for each person. I like the nice warm weather here, but, for example, my Mother does not like a warm climate. So, we would be different in what is right for us! Just like in my case, I am not so sure that the Pope would be an attraction that would draw me to live in a certain place! 🙂 My personal top 5? 1. Philippines 2. Vietnam. I have always thought it would be a great place to live, but I can’t be sure until I would try… Read more »

John Miele
6 years ago
Reply to  MindanaoBob

Bob: Indonesia and Vietnam are both close and inexpensive to visit… You and Feyma really should take a holiday to both countries, especially with the kids old enough to sort of fend for themselves. I would also note that Vietnam has a distinct coffee culture and coffee is very trendy there now. I also consider Hanoi one of the best foodie cities in the world. Holler at me and I can hook you up in both places with local people. I know people in American Samoa…. The cost of living is extremely high there (everything needs to be shipped in)…… Read more »

MindanaoBob
6 years ago
Reply to  John Miele

Thanks, John. Maybe one of these days!

I did not realize that American Samoa was so expensive!

SIGN UP TO JOIN OUR GIVEAWAYS & INFO NEWSLETTER

Make sure you've signed up to our newsletter to get exclusive newsletter only content! Also be updated about all our important events and other important info that our readers rely on.

SIGNUP FORM


Something went wrong. Please check your entries and try again.