“The Best Countries for Expats: Insights from Residents”

Valencia has a mild climate with more than 300 days of sunshine per year (Credit: Gonzalo Azumendi/Getty Images)

Whether it’s navigating a new culture, exploring local haunts, or building new friendships, living abroad presents a unique set of joys and challenges. Expats often find different countries more conducive to their lifestyles and preferences. The Expat Insider report by Internations, the world’s largest expat network, ranks countries based on 56 aspects of expat life, offering a diverse list that appeals to various tastes. We’ve spoken to residents in some of the top-ranked countries to understand what makes them cherish their new homes.

“The Best Countries for Expats: Insights from Residents”

Expats are drawn to Panama by affordable housing, warm weather and ease of getting a visa (Credit: Bogdan Lazar/Alamy)


Mexico, consistently a top performer since 2014, claimed the number one spot this year. The country excels in the Ease of Settling In index and local friendliness, with 75% of expats finding it easy to make local friends, a stark contrast to the global average of 43%. Dutch expat Aemilius Dost praises the friendliness of the people and the simplicity of the lifestyle. While Mexico has some bureaucratic challenges, maintaining residency is relatively straightforward, and learning Spanish can significantly enhance the expat experience.

Expats also value Mexico’s rich culture and history, fostering a deep connection. Mexico offers a wide range of cities and landscapes, allowing residents to find their perfect place. Elizabeth Lemos, a Uruguayan expat, highlights the country’s diversity and the warmth of its people.

“The Best Countries for Expats: Insights from Residents”

Manama is Bahrain’s largest city and its national capital (Credit: Mekdet/Getty Images)


Spain consistently ranks in the top 10 for its quality of life, thanks to its culture, nightlife, recreational opportunities, moderate climate, and picturesque landscapes. Resident Patricia Palacios emphasizes the pleasant climate and the Mediterranean cuisine, influenced by various cultures over the years. Spain boasts a relatively lower cost of living compared to other European countries, but local salaries tend to be lower as well.

Expats in Spain appreciate the friendly locals who are patient with foreigners learning the language. Learning Spanish is not only practical but also a sign of respect for the local culture. Approximately 80% of expats feel at home in Spain, well above the global average.


Panama ranks third overall, excelling in ease of settling in, ease of making friends, and culture and welcome categories. The introduction of a digital nomad visa program with low fees has made Panama attractive for remote workers. The country’s climate, with temperatures ranging from 75°F to 85°F all year, is a significant draw. The US-dollar-based economy simplifies financial management.

Affordable housing and a favorable financial situation contribute to expat satisfaction, with 80% reporting contentment. Panama offers an enticing blend of economic and personal safety, along with beautiful beachfront properties. The country has a diverse culture, welcoming locals, and a thriving expat community.


Bahrain, the sole Middle Eastern country in the top 10, holds the ninth spot and showed the most improvement from 2022 to 2023, climbing 19 places. Its strong performance in the Personal Finance index is driven by expat satisfaction with the cost of living and financial situations. Bahrain also tops the Expat Essentials category, offering ease in administration, housing, digital access, and language.

The country is known for its warm and culturally friendly environment, where expats are welcomed with open arms. The work environment is both welcoming and competitive, fostering career growth. Expats often end up staying longer than planned, purchasing property, and enjoying a work-life balance.

“The Best Countries for Expats: Insights from Residents”

Malaysia has an astonishing variety of landscapes, cultures, cities and cuisines (Credit: Bloodua/Getty Images)


Malaysia secured the fourth spot in the overall index and stands out in the Quality of Life subindex, particularly in travel opportunities. Its strategic location allows easy access to Southeast Asia, making it an ideal base for frequent travelers. The cost of living is manageable, and the prevalence of English eases communication.

Malaysia’s diverse landscapes, cultures, and cuisines offer a rich experience for expats. The Malay culture places a high value on education, and expats appreciate the respect shown to educators. Making friends is initially easy in Malaysia, but building lasting connections may require effort.

In these countries, expats find a combination of factors that enhance their living experiences, from culture and climate to affordability and friendliness. Each place offers unique opportunities and challenges, appealing to a wide range of individuals seeking a new home abroad.

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