2nd June 2021
With travel restrictions easing across the EU, its member states and indeed the globe, opportunities for international contractors, are continuing to open up. But which are the countries that can offer a combination of cost of living and lifestyle that might appeal to contractors on the move? And as individuals begin to once again travel for work with fewer restrictions, that are the best destinations globally for expats to live and work in, COVID permitting of course?
The Expat Insider 2021 survey, conducted by global expat network, InterNations, sampled over 12,000 expats from 174 nationalities living in 186 countries around the world. ‘How satisfied are you with life abroad in general?’ was the question asked to discover overall life and job satisfaction and whether professionals were happy with their professional life and working hours in the country in which they are based. Four main factors were taken into consideration:
1) ‘quality of life’, including wellbeing and quality of healthcare
2) ‘ease of settling in’, so whether locals were friendly and difficulties learning the language
3) ‘personal finances’, the money aspect of an individual’s situation
4) ‘working abroad’ which covers job prospects in the country, leisure activities and job security.
So, what did the survey findings reveal? Perhaps rather interestingly, the top four destinations in the rankings were outside Europe, with the top spot going to Taiwan, an economy that is extremely advanced and well known for its tech prowess and the manufacturing of semi-conductors. It’s a great place to live and work for global expats and IT contractors, coming first in the friendliness of its people category. The combination of job security, quality of medical care and affordability make it an extremely attractive destination.
Mexico and Costa Rica take second and third places respectively, two countries of great natural beauty that offer an enviable quality of life, especially for those who enjoy outdoor pursuits. The locals are friendly and it’s easy to settle in and adapt to their cultures. The second highest Asian country in fourth place was Malaysia, which also has some stunning landscapes coupled with a strong economy, which has rebounded well post-COVID. It also came as high as second in the ease of settling index, which is one of the reasons why it made it into the top five overall.
Leading the European charge is Portugal, the only EU member state to make it into the top five and indeed the top 10. A country known for its stunning landscapes and beaches, it too offers a great work life balance. This was another economy that has recovered well since the easing of restrictions. Although it ranks 36th in the working abroad index, it scores very highly in quality of life, for which it ranked third.
New Zealand, Australia and Canada feature in sixth, seventh and ninth places respectively – these three countries have long been popular destinations for their quality of life, especially for UK and English speaking contractors. All the Commonwealth countries are renowned for offering the perfect blend of work opportunities and extra-curricular activities. Seemingly the only negatives for the Antipodean neighbours are living expenses and limited travel opportunities. Ecuador (8th) and Vietnam (10th) round up the top 10 with the latter taking first place in personal finance, job satisfaction and cost of living (although the latter was not included in the overall rankings).
Best and worst countries for contractors to live and work in
Kuwait finished last (59th) in the rankings once again and, incredibly, took the bottom spot for the seventh time in eight years. Despite its obvious wealth as an oil rich country, if you look at global averages, the Gulf state comes last in the quality of life and ease of settling in and in no fewer than three sub-categories: leisure options, personal happiness and travel and transportation. It’s a difficult country to make friends in, making it a hard place to settle and adapt to the local culture and customs. Just under a third were dissatisfied with their jobs (31%) while just over one in three (34%) were unhappy with their work-life balance.
If we look at other least popular destinations in the bottom teen, Italy was in penultimate position (58th) mainly due to its poor score in personal finance, the lowest out of all 59 countries in the rankings, well below the global average. Issues around disposable income and the difficulty in finding jobs did the country no favours either. It wasn’t a good showing for Mediterranean countries with Malta (50th), Turkey (52nd) and Cyprus (53rd) all in the bottom ten. Ease of settling in was the most cited issue.
South Africa, despite its many attractions as a tourist destination, only fared one place better (57th) with the two main reasons putting people off being attributed to safety concerns, the economy and lack of job security.
While travel will still impact the ability for professionals to experience an overseas adventure, the lifting of restrictions and improving economic conditions around the world mean that international contractors can start to achieve the quality of life and work life balance that they have always dreamt of. And as the survey reveals, there are plenty of destinations that tick many boxes globally for expats. 2021 could yet be a bumper year for international contractors!
If you’re considering working or living in any of these countries and require guidance on local tax and compliance matters, our experts are able to help.
Contact 6CATS International today.