Where are the world’s best cities for expats to live and work?

According to InterNations, Dubai and Abu Dhabi were ranked the second and ninth best places for expatriates to live and work based on the high standard of life they provide.

last year, the survey placed Dubai in third position and Abu Dhabi 16th.

In its annual Expat City Ranking 2002 report, InterNations claims that Valencia, Spain , topped the global rankings for the best place for foreign workers. Madrid was fourth, Lisbon fourth, and Madrid fifth.

The top 10 were completed by Bangkok (6th), Basel (7th), Melbourne (8th) and Singapore (10th).

InterNations surveyed 11,970 respondents in 50 cities. They asked questions about five categories: Quality, Ease to Settling In and Working Abroad. Personal Finance was also included. The Expat Essentials Index covers digital life, housing, language, and administration topics.

InterNations has over 4.5 million members and says that Abu Dhabi and Dubai claim the top two spots on the Expat Essentials Index. Both also rank in the top 10 quality of life rankings.

According to Cigna, the UAE was ranked #1 in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia for September. It also ranked among the top 10 countries for expatriates looking to relocate.

The UAE is a destination that four percent of expats worldwide want to move to because of its progressive policies, recent Visa reforms and economic rebound following Covid-19. This was evident in the 360deg Global Well-Being Survey.

UAE is the second-largest Arab economy. In recent years, it has made many economic, legal, and social reforms to improve its business environment, increase foreign direct investment, attract skilled workers, and offer incentives for companies to expand or set up new operations.

To simplify eligibility criteria and increase the number of beneficiaries, amendments to the golden visa initiative were made in 2019.

The 10-year visa is granted for investors, entrepreneurs, skilled professional who earn more than Dh30,000 ($8,167) per month, exceptional talents, scientists, professionals, outstanding students, graduates, property investors and humanitarian pioneers as well as front-line heroes.

The green visa is a five year residency permit for skilled workers without the need of a sponsor or employer. A bachelor’s degree is required or an equivalent, and the minimum salary should not exceed Dh15,000.

In March 2021, the UAE launched a one year digital nomad visa that allows citizens to reside in the Emirates and work in their home country. For expatriates over 55, Dubai offers a five year retirement visa.

In its State Of Global Hiring Report 2022, Deel stated that the UAE has emerged as an attractive location for remote cross-border employment. Companies in Canada, the US and Israel have all tapped into the “pool of quality jobseekers” seeking full-time remote positions.

The Deel report states that remote hires from UAE have increased by more than double in the first half of the year compared to the same period in 2021. However, it does not give exact numbers.

According to InterNations, Dubai was ranked sixth in the Working Abroad category. This covers things like career prospects, salary, job security and job satisfaction.

Dubai and Abu Dhabi are doing “fairly well”, in the Ease of Settling In section, but the Personal Finance Index is their weakest link.

Dubai was first in the Expat Essentials Index. 66% of UAE respondents said it was easy to deal with local authorities, as opposed to 40% globally.

InterNations adds that this is partly due to the fact that 88% of expatriates like the online availability of government and administrative services compared to 61% globally.

According to one Indian expatriate living in Dubai, “The most basic needs can be taken care off. You don’t have to struggle for them.”

Dubai expatriates are happy with their social life, and 81% feel welcomed.

InterNations states that Dubai is fifth in both the Travel & Transit Subcategories and the Leisure Options Subcategories.

Nearly all expats (95 percent) are satisfied with the infrastructure of cars. Dubai is ranked fifth in culture, nightlife, and third for variety and choices in dining.

According to InterNations, Dubai ranked sixth in the Working Abroad Index. This is in addition to “great leisure opportunities”.

It is ranked fifth in the Work Culture & Satisfaction category, as 71% of expats report being happy at work and 78% say that local business culture fosters creativity.

InterNations also reported that Abu Dhabi came second in the Expat Essentials Index to Dubai.

The survey found that 74% of Abu Dhabi-based respondents find it easy to open local bank accounts, and 53% say dealing with local bureaucracy has been a positive experience. This compares with 40% globally.

75% of foreign workers believe that moving to Abu Dhabi has helped their career prospects.

Seventy-two percent also consider the local population friendly to foreigners, compared to 65 per cent around the world.

One Abu Dhabi-based British expat said that the Emiratis were friendly, helpful, and welcoming.

Abu Dhabi was also ranked first in terms of the availability and quality of medical care within the Health & Well-Being category.

The survey also found that Mexico City and Valencia are good for personal finances, and provide a high quality of life. Lisbon, however, has a “mazing climate” but limited work opportunities.

Madrid offers good leisure activities and a welcoming cultural environment. Expats feel at home in Bangkok, while foreign workers are satisfied with their financial, job and quality of life in Basel, according to InterNations.

However, the worst places for expatriates in 2022 were Frankfurt (49th), Johannesburg (50th) and Paris (48th).

InterNations reports that Johannesburg expats are especially disappointed by the quality of their lives and work life. Frankfurt and Paris, however, do well in the Ease to Settling in and Expat Essentials indexes.

“Additionally, all three cities have a lot of financial difficulties for expats.”

  1. Valencia, Spain
  2. Dubai, UAE
  3. Mexico City, Mexico
  4. Lisbon, Portugal
  5. Madrid, Spain
  6. Bangkok, Thailand
  7. Basel, Switzerland
  8. Melbourne, Australia
  9. Abu Dhabi, UAE
  10. Singapore


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