More of us than ever are living and working abroad. From the US to Europe, people are taking the opportunity to up sticks and leave in record numbers. But when we’re thinking about our destination, there’s a lot to consider before making the jump.
Expats will want to be sure that their new host country is a good fit, not least in terms of its education systems, healthcare provisions, and career opportunities. All this not to mention the logistics of the moving process, including the transfer of assets and compliance with new tax regimes.
Our list of the top countries for expats to live in is a great starting point for those thinking about going abroad to live and work. So, let’s get straight into it!
The Scandinavian country of Denmark is the best country in the world for expats, according to the Working Abroad Index. Its most recent survey of expats from 50 cities across the world saw Denmark take the top spot!
The expat community in the Danish capital city of Copenhagen say they have a better work-life balance than anywhere else in the world. More than eight in ten survey respondents reported being happy with their working hours, compared to an average of six in ten global expats who were asked.
Although an overwhelming 98% of respondents reported being happy with the economy, the country is rated below average for career prospects, where the language is said to be a barrier. As one poll respondent said: “It is difficult to get work without the language, even after working in an industry for longer than most.”
Denmark levies steeper taxes on higher earners than the UK and other major economies, with its top rate of tax standing at 56%. However, Danes, and many expats, are happy to pay into a system that appears to give back as much as it takes.
The Danish also see lower crime rates, higher standards of living, and stronger public services than most other European countries. The country regularly ranks high, if not first, for quality of living. The 2023 World Population Review saw Denmark narrowly miss out on the title of ‘World’s Happiest Country’ after it was pipped to the post by Finland! However, the runner-up still took the top spot for GDP per capita, generosity, and lack of corruption.
Western, and non-Western expats and their descendants are comprising a larger block of Denmark’s population than ever before. That population demonstrates a high level of trust and commits low levels of crime. They enjoy consistent political stability and enviably low levels of corruption. It’s for these reasons and more that more and more are choosing to make a new life in Denmark.
The city of Hong Kong, in China, is a vibrant financial hub where expats comprise as much as 10% of the population. It is a gateway into financial and technology markets across Asia and the world, which welcomes top talent to relocate to its shores. The city is one of the best in the world to pursue a career in finance. Ranked the fifth best in the world by Investopedia, Hong Kong is a growing economy bustling with traders, advisers, and brokers.
Despite some gloomy forecasts about the peninsula’s economy, traders remain highly optimistic about its continued prosperity and competitiveness. Integration into the Chinese mainland could transpire to boost Hong Kong’s economy, some analysts say, where the country’s status as the largest offshore RMB business hub is forecast to pay dividends as more of the world’s sovereign reserves are held in yuan.
Hong Kong’s status as a bustling economic hub is reflected in its lifestyle, as one of the most densely populated cities in the world. This also means a higher cost of living, with a three-bedroom apartment setting a tenant back around $5,000 a month. Expats will also face annual fees of around $10,000 for primary education and up to 17% in income tax.
However, Hong Kong does operate a healthcare system that is subsidised by the authorities. ID card-holding expats are able to receive medical treatment for a nominal fee, if not entirely free of charge. Expats will also enjoy a range of educational options for their children, with a range of international schooling options on offer:
The UAE is home to the first and second largest financial sectors in the Middle East, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
The flourishing Arabian economy has grown exponentially over the past two decades, from a small fishing port to a world-class financial services hub. Its meteoric rise has seen millions flock to live and work in the country.
Amongst the myriad of reasons driving immigration to the Emirate state is its tax policy, which does not impose an income tax on citizens or residents. Corporate taxes have so far only been levied on foreign banks and oil companies, though from June 2023 some firms will face a flat 9 per cent rate. This new flat tax would represent a corporate tax level far lower than is in place in any G20 country.
The UAE also enjoys a reputation for being one of the safest countries in the world, with Abu Dhabi and Dubai regularly judged as the safest cities globally. The country’s crime rate is very low, with significantly lower rates than many industrialised economies in the West, making it an attractive prospect for expats and their families.
Over 200 schools for international students operate across the cities of Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and Ras Al-Khaimah. In addition, there are schools teaching German, Canadian, Indian and Swiss curriculums, amongst many others. Both the public and private schools in the UAE are fee-charging, with costs ranging from around 3000 USD to 17,000 USD per year, making education planning worthy of consideration.
Accommodation is likely to represent the highest single cost to expats, according to HSBC’s Expat Survey. That said, the quality of housing in the UAE is high, with a thriving market owing to the coming and going of expat workers vacating and occupying properties.
Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, has become a popular destination for expats, with its rich culture and low living costs serving to attract talent from the USA and around the world. The average cost of an apartment in the centre of Mexico City is 495 USD per month – just ten per cent of the price of a Manhattan apartment. A trip on the subway is as cheap as 16 cents American, and monthly utilities will set you back an average of 43 USD per month.
Expats have cited the cheap cost of living as amongst the chief reasons for their move, data from InterNations shows in its Expat City Ranking Survey, which ranked Mexico City as the third best to move to. Mexican public schools can vary in terms of quality, with most expats schooling their children at private schools. Mexico City is home to a selection of international private schools, catering to a large number of foreign curriculums, with fees ranging from 3000 USD to 10,000 per year.
Expats in Mexico enjoy the benefit of the country’s universal healthcare, which treats patients free or cheaply at the point of service. Once enrolled in a state medical insurance scheme, expats will be entitled to medical care. The capital is also home to a thriving financial sector and is home to one of Latin America’s most developed banking systems, in addition to burgeoning technology and fintech sectors. The city of Guadalajara has attracted technology investment from across the globe, with IBM, Oracle, and Intel having made massive investments in recent years. Mexico’s prospects as a growing economy and its cheap living costs see it continue to attract business and workers from around the world.
Making the move
Moving to another country can be fraught with complications, from complying with new rules on tax to transferring your assets into a new domain. If you’re thinking about moving to a new country to live and work, deVere is on hand to help you through every step of the process.
As one of the world’s leading financial services companies, deVere’s advisors are well-positioned to give expert advice to make your move as hassle-free as possible.