Where is Vietnam in the list of best and worst destinations for expats 2021?
tranthuy02 18-05-2021, 09:13
Where is Vietnam in the list of best and worst destinations for expats 2021?
  • According to the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Taiwan, Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, Canada, and Vietnam are the best destinations for expats worldwide: all of them attract expats with their ease of settling in and good personal finances.
  • On the other hand, the bottom Ten countries, Kuwait (59th), Italy, South Africa, Russia, Egypt, Japan, Cyprus, Turkey, India, and Malta (50th), all perform poorly in the Working Abroad Index. Additionally, Kuwait is the hardest country for expats to feel at home in, Italy is the worst for personal finances, and expats in South Africa do not feel safe.
  • Visit Vietnam Insider’s homepage for more stories.

For the seventh time, InterNations, the world’s largest expat community with around 4 million members, has published its Expat Insider survey. With more than 12,000 respondents, it is one of the most extensive surveys about living and working abroad, sharing insights into expat life in 59 destinations. The survey offers in-depth information on expats’ satisfaction with the quality of life, ease of settling in, working life, personal finance, and the cost of living in their respective country of residence. Additionally, the respondents share how they have been experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic and how it has impacted their life.

10. Vietnam ranked among top 10 destinations for expats in 2021

Coming in 10th place out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Vietnam ranks first in both the Personal Finance and Cost of Living Indices. The majority of expats (85%) rates the cost of living positively (vs. 48% globally), and 78% are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally).

Vietnam has a dynamic economy and growth

Vietnam also does well in the Working Abroad Index (9th), with the vast majority of expats (86%) expressing overall job satisfaction (vs. 68% globally). Placing 25th in the Ease of Settling In Index, Vietnam does especially well in the Finding Friends subcategory (9th). According to 63% of expats, making local friends is easy (vs. 44% globally), and another 67% find it easy to make new friends in general (vs. 48% globally). What is more, the majority (81%) considers the local residents generally friendly (vs. 69% globally).

Despite its great performance in the overall ranking, Vietnam ends up among the bottom 10 in the Quality of Life Index (53rd). More than three in five expats (63%) rate the air quality in Vietnam negatively (vs. 20% globally), and 42% are unhappy with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 12% globally). A Swiss expat shares: “Plastic pollution is a major problem, especially along the coast.” However, 85% of expats in Vietnam are still generally happy with their life (vs. 75% globally).

9. Canada

Making it into the top 10 out of 59 destinations, Canada (9th overall) performs well in most indices of the Expat Insider 2021 survey. The country ranks best in the Quality of Life Index (5th), with the majority of expats finding it easy to get high speed internet at home (92% vs. 79% globally) and to pay without cash (96% vs. 83% globally). Additionally, 86% are happy with the availability of government services online, compared to 63% globally. Most expats are also satisfied with the affordability of healthcare in Canada (85% vs. 61% globally) and the country’s political stability (90% vs. 64% globally). “Healthcare is a basic right, and the quality of life is very good in Canada,” says a US American expat.

Canada also performs well in the Working Abroad and Ease of Settling In Indices (12th for both). It even lands in the top 10 of the Feeling at Home subcategory (7th), with 73% of survey respondents feeling at home in the local culture (vs. 63% globally). In terms of work, close to two out of three expats (64%) rate the career opportunities positively (vs. 45% globally).

On the other hand, Canada ends up among the bottom 10 of the Personal Finance Index (50th). Nearly a third of expats (32%) say their disposable income is not enough to cover all their living expenses (vs. 23% globally). An expat from Mexico shares that “the best cities are really expensive. It is hard to become a homeowner with an average income.”

8. Ecuador

Coming in 8th place out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Ecuador performs best in the Personal Finance Index (5th). Close to three in four expats (73%) are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally). Moreover, 91% describe their disposable household income as enough or more than enough to cover their expenses (vs. 77% globally). This places the country third for this factor, just behind India (2nd) and Vietnam (1st). Ecuador also lands among the top 10 in the Cost of Living Index (7th), with 78% of expats rating this aspect of life abroad positively (vs. 48% globally).

In the Ease of Settling In Index (10th), the country ranks sixth in the Feeling at Home subcategory. The majority of expats (82%) finds it easy to settle down in Ecuador (vs. 62% globally), 80% feel at home in the local culture (vs. 63% globally), and 68% find it easy to make new friends in general (vs. 48% globally).

Ecuador shows a slightly weaker performance in the Quality of Life Index (24th). Still, nearly all expats (96%) rate the country’s natural environment positively (vs. 84% globally), and 85% are satisfied with their socializing and leisure activities (vs. 67% globally). “The nature and scenery are great,” shares a Venezuelan expat. However, in the Digital Life subcategory (45th), Ecuador comes last worldwide (59th) for cashless payment options, with 37% rating this factor negatively (vs. 9% globally).

7. Australia

In the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Australia (7th out of 59) lands among the top 10 destinations worldwide. While it ranks sixth in the Quality of Life Index overall, it comes first worldwide for its local leisure activities (87% positive ratings vs. 72% globally). An impressive 97% of respondents also praise the natural environment (vs. 84% globally). “Living in close proximity to nature — close to the beach and the rainforest — is so amazing!”, says a US expat. Lastly, it ranks very well in the Digital Life subcategory (8th) as, for instance, 89% of expats appreciate the availability of government services online (vs. 63% worldwide). However, opinions are divided on the topic of healthcare in Australia: while 88% of expats are satisfied with its quality (vs. 71% globally), just 68% consider it affordable (vs. 61% globally).

Australia does well in the Working Abroad Index (10th). Expats are especially satisfied with their local career opportunities (60% positive ratings vs. 45% globally) and their work-life balance (76% positive responses vs. 66% globally). Even Australia’s somewhat worse results in the Ease of Settling In Index (18th) still place it in the top 20. Expats find it especially easy to get used to the local culture (76% positive responses vs. 65% globally) and to settle down in Australia (74% vs. 62% worldwide). However, only a slightly above-average 54% find it easy to make new friends there (vs. 48% globally).

6. New Zealand

New Zealand almost makes it into the global top 5 of the Expat Insider 2021 ranking, coming 6th out of 59 countries. It performs particularly well for working abroad (2nd): 81% of expats consider their job secure (vs. 61% globally), and 64% feel optimistic about local career options (vs. 45% globally). At the same time, expats enjoy a great work-life balance (83% satisfied vs. 66% globally).


The country comes in 11th place in the Quality of Life Index, doing especially well in the Digital Life subcategory (5th): 98% are happy with the cashless payment options (vs. 83% globally), and 89% rate the availability of government services online favorably (vs. 63% globally). What is more, New Zealand has the best ratings worldwide for its natural environment (100% positive vs. 84% globally), coming in 6th place in the Quality of Environment subcategory. Last but not least, it is a very safe and stable country to settle down in: 95% of expats describe New Zealand as peaceful (vs. 80% globally), and not one single respondent rates its political stability negatively, compared to about one in six (16%) globally. “I love my peaceful, calm, and safe existence in New Zealand,” a US expat comments.

The results for the ease of settling in are only slightly worse (16th). Expats find it easy to settle down in New Zealand (77% positive ratings vs. 62% globally), and 82% describe the local residents as friendly (vs. 69% globally).

5. Portugal

Portugal ranks 5th out of 59 destinations in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, performing best in the Quality of Life Index (3rd) — just behind Taiwan (1st) and Austria (2nd). The country ranks third in the Personal Happiness subcategory of this index, with 84% of expats being happy with their life in general (vs. 75% globally). What is more, 87% of expats are satisfied with the local leisure options (vs. 72% globally), and 90% say the same about the climate and weather (vs. 66% globally). “I like the weather and the laid-back lifestyle,” says a French expat.

With one of the best climates in Europe, Lisbon boasts an awesome restaurant scene, decent cost of living and great culture making an expat dream for living abroad.

Portugal also makes it into the top 10 of the Ease of Settling In Index (9th), coming sixth in the Friendliness subcategory. In fact, 87% of expats find the local residents generally friendly, compared to just 69% globally. Portugal even ranks second worldwide in the Feeling at Home subcategory, where just Mexico (1st) performs better. The majority of expats feels at home in the local culture (83% vs. 63% globally) and finds it easy to settle down in the country (84% vs. 62% globally).

Portugal receives its worst — but still fairly average — results in the Working Abroad Index (36th). The destination places 44th in the Career Prospects & Satisfaction subcategory, though, with more than half the expats (51%) unsatisfied with the local career opportunities (vs. 33% globally). However, 70% of expats are at least happy with their work-life balance (vs. 66% globally).

4. Malaysia

Ranking 4th out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey, Malaysia ranks above the global average in every index. The country does particularly well in the Ease of Settling In Index (2nd) — as a US American expat puts it: “It is easy to live here, and the people are wonderful.” In fact, most expats find it easy to settle down in Malaysia (77% vs. 62% globally) and to make new friends there (66% vs. 48% globally). It might help that Malaysia ranks first in the Language subcategory: 92% of expats find it easy to live there without speaking the local language (vs. 54% globally), while 45% also consider it easy to learn (vs. 39% globally).


Malaysia has declared an ’emergency’ as millions of people in Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere in the country prepare for another lockdown [Lim Huey Teng/Reuters]

The country also does exceedingly well in the Cost of Living Index (2nd), where just Vietnam (1st) performs better. In fact, 82% of expats rate the cost of living in Malaysia positively (vs. 48% globally). With the destination ranking 9th in the Personal Finance Index, 73% of expats are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally), and 85% say their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to cover their expenses (vs. 77% globally).

Malaysia does worst in the Working Abroad Index, but it still lands in a slightly above-average 25th place: 72% of expats are satisfied with their working hours (vs. 66% globally), and 69% are happy with their job in general (vs. 68% globally).

3. Costa Rica

Costa Rica places 3rd out of 59 countries in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. It ranks among the top 5 in the Ease of Settling In Index (3rd), with 91% of expats describing the population as generally friendly (vs. 69% globally). Another 87% describe the local residents as generally friendly towards foreign ones (vs. 67% globally), and 70% find it easy to make local friends (vs. 44% globally). “I love the social life and culture,” shares a US American expat. Maybe this is why most survey respondents find it easy to get used to the local culture (82% vs. 65% globally) and feel at home in it too (80% vs. 63% globally).

Costa Rica performs well in the Quality of Life Index (14th), coming in second place worldwide for personal happiness — just behind Mexico (1st). All things considered, 88% of expats in Costa Rica are happy with their life (vs. 75% globally). The country comes 10th in the Quality of the Environment subcategory, with the majority of expats rating the natural environment (96% vs. 84% globally) and the air quality (91% vs. 66% globally) positively. However, Costa Rica lands in the bottom 10 of the Travel & Transportation subcategory (52nd): 29% of expats are unhappy with the public transportation system (vs. 15% globally). A Canadian expat shares: “Traffic is terrible because of poor drivers, bad roads, and insufficient infrastructure.”

On the upside, Costa Rica makes it into the top 10 of the Personal Finance Index (7th), with 84% of expats considering their disposable household income enough or more than enough to cover all expenses (vs. 77% globally).

2. Mexico

Mexico ranks 2nd out of 59 destinations worldwide. It is even rated the best country for expats in the Ease of Settling In Index (1st): 85% find it easy to settle down in Mexico (vs. 62% globally), and 78% say it is easy to make local friends (vs. 44% globally). A US American expat says that “the culture and friendliness of the local people” is their favorite thing about living in Mexico.

Mexico also does well in the Personal Finance (2nd) and Cost of Living (4th) Indices. In fact, four in five expats (80%) are satisfied with their financial situation (vs. 64% globally), and 90% say their disposable household income is enough or more than enough to cover their living expenses (vs. 77% globally).

In the foothills of the Sierra Madre Occidental mountain range, this university town gets a bad rap in the press but still offers great value for expats willing to look a bit outside the box. Photocredit: Getty GETTY

Mexico performs slightly below average in the Quality of Life Index (31st). It comes in 42nd place in the Quality of the Environment subcategory, with 27% of expats being unhappy with the water and sanitation infrastructure (vs. 12% globally). Additionally, Mexico even ends up among the bottom 10 of the Safety & Security subcategory (51st), with 20% of expats concerned about their personal safety (vs. 8% globally). Despite that, 89% of expats in Mexico are happy with their life in general (vs. 75% globally), placing the country first worldwide for personal happiness.

1. Taiwan

Taiwan ranks 1st out of 59 destinations for the third year in a row in the Expat Insider 2021 survey. It also comes first in the Quality of Life and Working Abroad Indices: Most expats are satisfied with their job security (83% vs. 61% globally) and the state of the local economy (85% vs. 62% globally). Additionally, the majority is happy with their job (75% vs. 68% globally) and their life in general (80% vs. 75% globally). Furthermore, 96% of expats rate the quality of medical care positively (vs. 71% globally), and another 94% are satisfied with its affordability (vs. 61% globally). An expat from Chile shares: “The Taiwanese healthcare system truly considers people as human beings instead of mere numbers.” Moreover, not a single expat (0%) feels personally unsafe in Taiwan (vs. 8% globally). An expat from Canada shares: “I can live independently. I feel safe wherever I go, and everything is convenient.”

Taiwan | Getty Images

Although Taiwan places slightly lower in the Ease of Settling In Index (13th), it is the best-ranking country worldwide in the Friendliness subcategory (1st). Most expats find it easy to make friends there (62% vs. 48% globally) and describe the Taiwanese population as friendly towards foreign residents (96% vs. 67% globally).

About InterNations

With around 4 million members in 420 cities around the world, InterNations is the largest global community and a source of information for people who live and work abroad. InterNations offers global and local networking and socializing, both online and face to face. At around 6,000 events and activities per month, expatriates have the opportunity to meet other global minds. Online services include discussion forums and helpful articles with personal expat experiences, tips, and information about life abroad. Membership is by approval only to ensure we remain a community of trust. InterNations is part of the New Work SE, a group of brands that offer products and services for a better working life.


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