Top 3 places to start a new life abroad, according to expats

Traveling abroad is one thing, but starting a new life overseas is another.

Expats who’ve moved abroad say Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Singapore are the top three places where it’s relatively easy to settle in, according to a 2022 Internations survey of nearly 12,000 expats around the world.

Internations, the expat community group with 4.5 million members in 420 cities around the world, ranked locations based on what it calls the Expat Essentials Index, which considers newcomers’ assessments of their digital life (like access to administrative services online), housing (affordability and ease of finding housing for expats in particular), administrative topics (like the ease of opening a local bank account or getting a visa) and language (like being able to get around without needing to learn a new language, or the ease of learning the local language).

Bahrain ranked No. 1 out of 52 locations, according to Internations. Newcomers say it’s easy to get a visa, find housing, access government services online and get around without speaking the local language.

The top 10 places where expats say it’s easy to settle in include:

  1. Bahrain
  2. United Arab Emirates
  3. Singapore
  4. Estonia
  5. Oman
  6. Indonesia
  7. Saudi Arabia
  8. Qatar
  9. Kenya
  10. Canada

Overall, Internations says its top three destinations — Bahrain, the UAE and Singapore — all offer easy communication without big language barriers and also pose minimal bureaucratic issues.

A spokesperson for Internations tells CNBC Make It all three locations are well known as popular expat destinations, and because of this, they may have adapted to make things easier for new arrivals from abroad. They also note that English is widely spoken in these places, which can make it easier for foreigners to deal with bureaucratic and administrative to-dos when moving.

Most expats moving to Bahrain, the UAE and Singapore are coming from India, Internations says, and are moving for work-related reasons (to find a job on their own, for a foreign assignment, because they’re an international recruit, or they’re starting their own business). These expats are most likely to work in finance or banking, Internations says, and the countries aren’t big spots for retirees.

The top North American country, Canada, rounds out the top 10. New residents there say it’s easy to deal with local authorities, open a new bank account and access a robust digital infrastructure. Expats do say it’s relatively difficult to find affordable housing, though.

Meanwhile, the bottom three countries where expats struggle to get settled in include Germany, Japan and China due to difficult language barriers and a challenging digital infrastructure, Internations says.

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