Choosing an expat relocation destination if friendship is important

Choosing an expat relocation destination if friendship is important

Choosing an expat relocation destination if friendship is important

Especially if you’re planning to retire as an expat, finding new friends is an important aspect when choosing a destination.

Whilst those moving overseas for work reasons will have a ready-made set of acquaintances in the work environment, at least some of whom will become friends over a period of time, retirees need to choose more carefully, taking into account the established expat community as well as the English language capabilities of local people at least until they’ve grasped the basics of the new language.

Another important aspect is the prevailing culture, often totally different from the norm in the home country. Results of a recent Expat Insider survey revealed just under half of respondents found making new friends amongst the indigenous community was easy, but this positive response also indicated some 55 per cent were struggling to make contact with local people and near neighbours. Given that online communication with family and friends in the home country can be a blessing, there’s no substitute for face to face friendships, especially when things aren’t going too well and loneliness strikes.

According to the survey, Mexico is the place for US expatriates, with 82 per cent of respondents giving the country a positive score ranking 25 per cent higher than that of any other country in the study. Somewhat of a surprise was Bahrain’s ranking, with 77 per cent saying making friends was straightforward as there’s a lack of language barriers in the country, making it easy to create a network of local friends. Serbia doesn’t crop up in surveys very often, but could well be a good destination if making friends is an important part of the retirement plan. For a high 73 per cent, making new friends was straightforward, and 71 per cent were happy with their new lives.

Costa Rica was another highly ranked destination, with 89 per cent of respondents finding local people open to friendship, a marked increase on the average across the countries surveyed. Expats who’d chosen Ecuador as their forever home from home were more than happy with their new friends, with 77 per cent saying they’d found it easy to get to know and like local people. Also ranking in the top ten countries for friendship was Uganda, clearly a good place to make new friends, and expat respondents living in Columbia said the majority of their recently-formed friendships were with locals.

Taiwan’s great choice of social activities may be the reason behind its high ranking, with 76 percent of those surveyed saying it’s easy to get to know and like the locals. Israel is also well-regarded in the friendship stakes, and Portugal rounds off the top ten, with positive results from three-quarters of the expat residents who took part in the survey. As with the majority of expat surveys, the worst are listed along with the best, with Germany, the Scandinavian states, Saudi and Switzerland not the destinations to choose if friendship is an important aspect of relocation.

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