Covering housing, language, digital life, and admin topics, the Expat Essentials Index focuses on some of the most important elements of getting life started abroad.
Bahrain (1st), the UAE, Singapore, Estonia, Oman, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kenya, and Canada (10th) are the destinations that make this especially easy for expats.
On the other hand, expats struggle most with getting started in Germany (52nd), Japan, China, Kuwait, Italy, Greece, Vietnam, Czechia, France, and Malta (43
The Expat Essentials Index reveals the 52 destinations that make life abroad easiest and those that make life most challenging for foreign residents. The index is based on data from the Expat Insider 2022 survey by InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with over 4.5 million members.
All top three destinations, Bahrain (1st), the UAE (2nd), and Singapore (3rd), offer easy communication with the lack of a language barrier, while also posing minimal bureaucratic issues. On the other hand, expats struggle the most with getting started in Germany (52nd), Japan (51st), and China (50th). Expats in all three countries struggle with the local language and a lack of modern digitalization.
Vietnam lags behind in policies that would make it easy for expats to work and live in the country?
With a poor performance in the overall index (46th), Vietnam narrowly misses out on landing in last place in the Admin Topics Subcategory (51st out of 52 destinations). About half of expats (48%) report that they had difficulties obtaining a visa to move there, double the global average of 24%.
Almost two in three (66%) also say it is challenging to deal with the local bureaucracy (vs. 39% globally), and 41% find it difficult to open a local bank account (vs. 21% globally). “The bureaucracy makes simple tasks quite difficult,” explains a British expat living in Vietnam.
It is perhaps unsurprising then that the country ranks last for the availability of government services online (52nd) in the Digital Life Subcategory (49th). About one in four expats (23%) also describe it as difficult to pay without cash, compared to only 8% globally.
The country also falls in the bottom 10 of the Language Subcategory (47th), ranking last worldwide for the ease of learning the local language (52nd). But this may not be such a big problem, as 65% report that it is easy to live there without speaking the local language(s) (vs. 51% globally). On the positive side, the country excels in the Housing Subcategory (5th). Nearly seven in ten expats (69%) consider housing in Vietnam affordable (vs. 39% globally), and 76% say that it is easy to find (vs. 54% globally).
As an expat, starting a new life in Germany can be a challenging experience
The Germany ranks last in the Expat Essentials Index, coming in at 52nd place. It also falls in the bottom 10 for three of the four subcategories: Housing (47th), Digital Life (48th), and Language (49th).
Finding affordable and suitable housing can be difficult, with 59% of expats expressing dissatisfaction (compared to 43% globally). Additionally, it may take up to three months to find even temporary accommodations. Language is another barrier, with 46% of expats finding it difficult to live in Germany without speaking the local language (compared to 32% globally). While 60% of expats speak German fairly or very well, 55% describe it as hard to learn.
Germany’s lack of digitalization is also a major issue, with 24% of expats finding it hard to get high-speed internet access at home and 27% bothered by the lack of cashless payment options. This also affects the availability of government services online, with about one in three expats rating this factor negatively.
While Germany performs slightly better in Admin Topics (36th), dealing with local authorities can still be difficult for 52% of expats. The bureaucracy, especially the lack of digitization, can make it time-consuming and frustrating to obtain residence permits and other necessary documents.