For the second year running, Ecuador has topped the list of best places to live abroad in the InterNations Expat Insider survey. With more than 14,000 respondents, this is one of the most extensive studies ever conducted to explore the living conditions of expatriates. 94 per cent of the foreigners in Ecuador are pleased with local leisure options, while 91 per cent are satisfied with the local cost of living. And the weather’s not exactly horrible either.
I’ve lived and worked in the UK for the past eight years and my sentiments are echoed by the survey’s results: the cost of living makes most expats cringe but the job opportunities and the ease of getting off the island (to find some sun, usually) are a definite bonus. A mixed bag of results there for the UK, which puts it in the 31st place in the survey, when the low cost of living and ease of settling in push Mexico and Malta to the top three.
My employer asked if I would consider relocating from Helsinki to London as my skills were required there. Making the decision didn’t take long at all. I had always wanted to live abroad, and my partner didn’t really speak Finnish so it would be easier for him to find employment in an English speaking country. Plus the company would pay for a relocation agent to help us get settled in London as well as the move itself. I even got three return flights ‘on the house’ to go back to see friends and family if (and when) I got homesick. All in all a pretty good deal, right?
In the Expat Insider survey, the UK stands out when it comes to working abroad, ranking 7th out of 64 countries for job satisfaction and career opportunities. Finding a job in the UK on their own or moving for their partner’s job or education are the two most popular reasons that expats gave for moving to the United Kingdom.
Expats who have made the move to the UK are particularly content with their career prospects: over two-thirds gave them a positive rating. In addition, 63 per cent of employed expats are generally satisfied with their jobs in the United Kingdom. Overall job security is also considered favourable here, with the UK ranking 17th out of 64 countries in this category. It is not all work and no play, though: more than eight in ten respondents are generally happy with the available leisure options and about nine in ten rate their opportunity to travel positively. I just need a few more days off, that would make travelling so much easier.
Cost Of Living
The first thing that will hit expats relocating to the UK, myself included, is definitely the cost of living. More than half of the expats surveyed by InterNations in the UK were unhappy with the overall cost of living, with a third finding it difficult to find appropriate housing and 66 per cent rating the affordability of housing negatively. We had expert help in finding accommodation that suited our needs, but the cost of rent, council tax, electricity and travel was definitely more than we were expecting.
Let’s Talk About The Weather
The dreary weather of the United Kingdom has Brits leaving for sunnier shores. Of the British expat respondents, 45 percent stated that the weather and climate of their destination was a consideration for their move abroad. This is significantly higher than the global average of 29 per cent of expats who expressed the same sentiment.
Personally, I do not miss the sleet and snow back in Finland. I’m quite happy with the milder winters of these British Isles. I just wish it didn’t rain quite so often.
About the InterNations Expat Insider 2015 survey
For its annual Expat Insider survey, InterNations asked more than 14,300 expatriates representing 170 nationalities and living in 195 countries or territories to rate and provide information on various aspects of expat life. The ratings of the individual factors were then used to draw up topical indices: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Family Life, Personal Finance, and Cost of Living. These were further averaged in order to rank 64 expatriate destinations around the world.