Pro and cons of using expat surveys to decide on a location

Pro and cons of using expat surveys to decide on a location

Pro and cons of using expat surveys to decide on a location

If you’re checking out a number of worldwide destinations for working, entrepreneurship or even retirement, the latest mega-survey could make interesting reading.

The chore of choosing a preferred destination is one of the disadvantages of becoming an expat, simply because there are so many contrasting studies and surveys as well as local forums, online media outlets and other social media sites based in the countries themselves and run by local expat community leaders. Even so, getting it right is crucial, especially if it’s a career move.

The latest survey, one of the largest online information listings, presents the 30 best world cities for expats arriving in 2020, pulled together by an analysis of replies from some 20,000 already established expatriates in a wide variety of countries. The number one world city is Taiwan’s capital Taipei, represented as having a relatively low cost of living, good career options, a high rating for safety and healthcare quality and friendly locals, although Taiwan’s version of the Chinese language is possibly even more difficult than the mainland’s version.

Malaysia’s Kuala Lumpur is no surprise in second place and English is widely spoken, but career prospects are poor due to a governmental focus on local employment. In third place, coming from almost nowhere but hardly surprising, is Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City with its low living costs including cheap housing and its welcome to expat professionals and entrepreneurs as well as retirees and digital nomads. Prospective expats are fully aware of Singapore’s appeal, giving it fourth place in the study results, but fifth place went to Montreal, with its affordable housing and cost of living coming as somewhat of a surprise.

Barcelona and Lisbon were both well rated, but the Swiss city of Zug seems to have been chosen for its charming lakeside setting rather than for its unfriendly locals. Zipping downwards towards the less popular destinations, Qatar has its defenders, but is fighting for its commercial life against Saudi Arabia and the rest of the region. Passing over Bangkok at number 20 and erroneously classified as inexpensive, curious would-be expats could consider Tokyo at number 26 or land in Miami’s 27th place, but not for long as it’s threatened by rising sea levels.

Unless a career in diplomacy is the expat dream, it seems a good idea to miss out on Brussels in 30th place, mostly due to its expense and its concentration on European politics and other scary issues. Even so, expat lovers of Belgian chocolates and the country’s famous beers might be persuaded to stay for at least a while. Those who wish to know more about all the contenders in this particular race will need to allow at least a week to get it all in perspective, during which time the perfect job will have come and gone.

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