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Where to move: The best countries for expats

  • 21 min read

Hundreds of thousands of Germans and people living in Germany emigrate yearly, either to neighboring countries or often outside Europe. People have been considering relocating since the beginning of the pandemic, inflation, the Ukraine war, and even more. If you want to know the most popular destination countries and the most common reasons for emigration, I recommend our article on this topic: Reasons why people leave Germany

In this article, we want to deal with the countries where expatriates feel comfortable and welcome worldwide. Because this is one of the essential aspects, we have separated this article by continent. We want to list the countries on each continent where German & international emigrants can feel right at home.

Key Points

  • The high cost of living and housing shortages drive people to leave Germany.
  • Better job opportunities and higher salaries abroad attract emigrants.
  • Desire for a different lifestyle or climate motivates relocation.
  • Family reasons, such as joining relatives abroad, influence decisions.
  • Bureaucratic hurdles and tax burdens in Germany are also factors

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What country is most friendly to expats?

Where to move

This question is very individual because everyone feels comfortable and welcome due to different circumstances. For some, the quality of life and cost of living plays a role; for others, it is the climate, professional opportunities, or perhaps tax exemptions in some countries. But what everyone has in common when emigrating is the desire to be quickly accepted by the locals and to make friends. Social contacts, new friends, and friendly locals – this often seems like a big hurdle and task. But in which countries is social connection easier than in others?

On this topic, the expat community InterNations 2022 has again conducted its annual survey called “Expat Insider 2022”. We’ll be reevaluating the results throughout this article. In the survey, circa 1200 expats, with about 177 different nationalities, who have emigrated to 181 different countries, were interviewed. The participants had to answer questions about personal finances, working abroad, quality of life, and settling in and arriving. 52 countries made it into the ranking.

What is the best European country for expats?

moving to france

Many are very happy to move to one of their neighboring countries. It is due, for example, to the low language barrier and the fact that no residence permit is required within the EU. For Germans, for example, most people move to Switzerland and Austria. It is easy to make connections and find work. But what about other European countries?

Portugal, Spain, and France are top-rated emigration destinations within the EU. All three of these European countries are becoming increasingly popular with expatriates yearly, which is not only due to the job situation. Cities like Paris, Lisbon, and Madrid offer a multicultural and international environment. Even if you might not speak French, Spanish, or Portuguese yet, you can get along well with English and sometimes even German initially. Spain was Europe’s 3rd most popular destination country last year (2021), France was 4th, and expat communities are constantly growing.



#4: Moving to Portugal

According to InterNations’ survey, in 2022, Portugal is the most hospitable country in the world but ends up in 4th place out of 52 due to various criticism. Expats enjoy a high quality of life and find it easy to settle in. Portugal is in the top 10 of the settling in and arriving category. 82% of expats surveyed describe the Portuguese as friendly and open, and 80% consider them particularly friendly toward foreign residents. They also find it easy to make local friends and are satisfied with their social lives. Conclusion: In Europe, Portugal is the best and most expat-friendly city.

#5: Moving to Spain

moving to spain

Spain also performs well in the international rankings, landing at #5 out of 52. Expats are very satisfied with the quality of life and find it easy to settle in. Spain does exceptionally well in the settling in and arriving category and ranks in the top 10, internationally, in the subcategories of culture, being welcome & making friends. More than two out of three emigrants surveyed (67%) are satisfied with their social life.

International ranking of other European countries

  • #11 – Estonia: In Estonia, emigrants are very satisfied with modern working life and the high level of digitalization, but they need help getting in touch with locals. In an international comparison, Estonia lands in 11th place.
  • #22 – The Netherlands: our neighboring country lands in 22nd place in an international comparison. The country ranks 5th when it comes to working abroad. Expats love their working life but are deterred by high living expenses and difficulties settling in.
  • #30 – Denmark: Denmark offers the best work-life but also some unfriendly residents. The country’s good results for working abroad and quality of life are negated by the high cost of living and difficulties settling in. Denmark lands in 30th place in the ranking. 
  • #32 – Finland: The perfect expat destination for nature lovers lands in 32nd place. Expats can enjoy a pristine environment, a high level of digitalization, and a good work-life balance, but often need help settling in.
  • #34 – Norway: Expats love their work life and the exceptionally high quality of life in Norway. Unfortunately, connecting and making local friends in this country is also rather difficult. Norway is ranked #34.
  • #37 – United Kingdom: Expats like working in the UK, but are often unhappy with their financial situation. Moreover, settling in and arriving is often difficult despite the low language barrier. The United Kingdom lands in 37th place.

Relocating to North America

moving to USA

North America is a trendy destination for German expatriates. Canada offers endless plains, forests, and beautiful untouched nature. Besides its extraordinary nature, Canada offers attractive metropolises with an international population and a stable economy. Canada is one of the countries with the highest quality of life and attracts all who want adventure and security. You can find a low unemployment rate and many jobs in the well-known cities of Toronto, Vancouver, and Toronto.
The USA is also a very popular country to move to. Many appreciate the USA because of its job opportunities and the realization of their individual American Dream. Immigrants from different countries characterize the United States. The original natives, the Indians, comprise less than 1% of the American population today.

#3: Relocating to the USA

In the global ranking of the most popular destination countries for German emigrants, the US landed in third place in 2021.(1)

moving to USA

Last year, approximately 8,400 German citizens emigrated to the United States and Hawaii. The island state is a top-rated relocation destination within the United States. However, the same immigration regulations (green card) apply to the rest of the states. The lovely beaches and breathtaking nature are great attractions to foreigners and natives alike. English is the national language, so settling in is relatively easy for many, as long as you know some English. Especially in tourism, expats can find good jobs here. If you are looking for a community, I recommend you contact the expat community in Honolulu through InterNations: Community Honululu

In the InterNations ranking, the USA lands in 14th place overall. The US performs best in the “working abroad” category and shines in the career prospect subcategory. 70% of respondents rate the local job market positively, and 72% are satisfied with their career opportunities. One shortcoming is concern about healthcare affordability. In the settling in and arriving category, the US ranks 19th out of 52.



Moving to Canada

Last year (2021), approximately 1580 Germans emigrated to Canada. Several reasons make this country one of the best countries for emigrants. German Canadians represent Canada’s third-largest population group, with many families living in Canada for several generations and no longer speaking German. Canada is generally a typical immigration country, with a 21.5% foreign-born population (as of 2017). Due to the two official languages, French and English, many people from Great Britain/Ireland and France are also attracted to the country. (2)

In 2022, however, Canada did not enter the InterNations ranking. The year before, however, the country ranked in the top 10 and received excellent ratings in terms of quality of life, working life, and ease and speed of settling in. (3)

Moving to South America and Central America

moving to south america

This continent is very popular among German and also international emigrants.

According to the Federal Statistical Office, more than 3,800 Germans officially emigrated to South America in 2021. Germans preferred to move to Paraguay, Brazil, Colombia, Bolivia, and Chile. But Central America is also very popular with German emigrants. More than 1,000 Germans emigrated to Mexico alone in 2021. Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and Panama are also popular destinations. No wonder Central and South America are very diverse in terms of culture, landscape, climate, and lifestyle. (4)

#1: Moving to Mexico

moving to mexico

Mexico is the most expat-friendly country in the world in 2022. And the only Central & South American country to make it into the ranking. That’s what the statistics from InterNations say. Expatriates are amazed by the friendliness of the inhabitants and residents. It ranks first in the subcategories of “friendliness of locals”, “making friends,” and “culture & welcome”. Exactly nine out of ten expats (90%) describe locals as friendly, and 75% find it easy to make friends among them. In fact, 28% have mainly local friends, eleven percentage points higher than the global average (17%).

Relocating to Paraguay

In the global ranking of InterNations, Paraguay was not listed in 2022. But the fact is that this South American country has become a trendy relocation destination, especially in times of pandemic. Among Germans, it was also the most popular South American emigration country in 2021, with almost 1300 emigrants. In addition to hardly any Corona measures, low real estate prices, and a great climate, the government offers fairly straightforward immigration. Did you know that 7% of the population in Paraguay has German roots?(5)

Moving to Costa Rica

Auswandern Costa Rica

Costa Rica is a popular tourist destination between Panama and Nicaragua in Central America. It convinces its visitors & immigrants with its fascinating beaches and lush tropical forests, symbolizing Costa Rica’s wealth. They are home to an incomparable variety of flora and fauna. But the inhabitants are also amicable. In 2021, 418 Germans officially left their home country to make a new start in Costa Rica.(6)

However, the country did not make it into the international ranking of InterNations. However, the platform offers a contact to a multinational expat community in Costa Rica: Click here for the community

Relocate to Asia

Many people love it sunny and warm, and so do Germans. That may be why the continent of Asia attracts and fascinates so many German emigrants. In total, just under 10,000 Germans decided to move to an Asian country in 2021.(7) The United Arab Emirates, Thailand, and China were particularly popular. However, Indonesia is also very popular among international emigrants, followed by Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore, according to InterNations’ expat survey.

#2: Relocate to Indonesia

moving to indonesia

Indonesia is a beautiful country in Southeast Asia. With over 17,000 islands, it is the largest archipelago in the world. It is also home to various cultures and languages. With its tropical climate, abundant natural resources, relatively cheap cost of living, and vibrant cities, Indonesia is an attractive destination for people looking to emigrate.

According to the survey, the country lands second in InterNations’ international rankings, and expats find it easy to settle in. 90% of respondents describe the Indonesian people as generally friendly and especially friendly to foreign residents. In fact, nearly half (46%) believe Indonesians could not be nicer to expats. Thanks to a strong personal support network and great social life, 80% of expats feel at home in Indonesia.

#3: Moving to Taiwan

moving toTaiwan

Taiwan also scores highly in terms of overall expat satisfaction. Expats are particularly satisfied with the high quality of life, ease of settling in, and personal finances. In addition, Taiwan ranks first in the world for personal safety.

Taiwan is one of the most democratic and free countries in Asia. It has an advanced economy and excellent infrastructure in many places. The cost of living is also low. Taiwan’s capital, Taipei, is a bustling metropolis with much to offer people who want to live a modern lifestyle. Taiwan’s healthcare system is also one of the best in Asia.

As a result, expats enjoy not only low-cost medical treatments but also high-quality care.

#6: Relocate to Dubai and the UAE

moving to Dubai

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a safe and modern destination for expatriates. In 2021, they were the most popular Asian emigration destination with about 1500 emigrants, especially Dubai, which seems very attractive to settle permanently. (8)

Dubai is a world-renowned metropolis that has attracted people from all over the world for decades. It is a tourist hotspot and a financial center that has established itself as a tax haven. The Dubai government actively encourages immigration and offers many incentives to people who want to move there.

In general, expats love the quality of life and your work life in the UAE. Expats are particularly satisfied with the ease of dealing with administrative issues in the UAE. For starters, 83% of respondents found obtaining a visa to emigrate easy, ranking the UAE first in the world. Upon arrival, over three out of five expats (61%) have no problems with local bureaucracy/authorities.

It may help that administrative/government services are widely available online and that it is easy to live in the UAE without speaking the local language. One criticism of expats is the economy and salary, and job security. Some international expats regret that they are underpaid.



#8: Relocate to Thailand

Auswandern Thailand

The country offers a low cost of living, a good climate, and a relaxed lifestyle, making it an attractive destination, especially for retirees. Last year, over 1300 Germans moved to Thailand. (10) Internationally, Thailand is also considered an affordable and friendly destination for emigration.

Personal finances are a breeze for most expats in Thailand; all that is needed is a small amount of start-up capital. In fact, most expats (85%) feel that their disposable household income is sufficient or more than enough to live a comfortable life. Therefore, it is no surprise that 70% of respondents are satisfied with their financial situation. There are also no problems with the housing situation, and Thailand also ranks first in this subcategory. Expats describe it as affordable and relatively easy to find. One point that expats criticize is the local economy, work culture, and salary and job security.(11)

#10: Emigrating to Singapore

Auswandern Singapore

Singapore is a modern and very safe country with a high standard of living. It offers excellent education, healthcare, and infrastructure and is already advanced in digitalization. Many people living in Singapore speak English and have numerous job opportunities for foreigners.

According to InterNations’ survey, Singapore is the 10th most satisfying relocation destination overall. Expats find the bureaucracy in Singapore straightforward to manage, and they also deal with administrative issues easily and quickly. For example, many expats cite that it is easy to open a bank account. Digital life is another highlight. The vast majority (91%) are satisfied with the availability of online administrative services. The country ranks first when it comes to access to high-speed Internet at home and fourth when it comes to cashless payments.

Relocating to Africa

Even though Africa is probably not one of the most popular places to emigrate to for many, 3770 Germans were officially drawn to a newly adopted home on this diverse continent last year. (12) Only about 100 more people decided to move to South America. So is Africa an attractive destination for emigrants after all? Reasons to emigrate to Africa include:

  • Low cost of living
  • Lots of sun and untouched nature
  • An enormous variety of species and exciting wildlife
  • Uncomplicated immigration regulations
  • People who want to contribute there are welcome
  • Hardly any Corona regulations

The most popular destination countries for emigration to Africa are South Africa, followed by Egypt, Morocco, Kenya, and Tunisia.

Relocating to South Africa

moving to south africa

South Africa is an attractive destination for those willing to emigrate. It has a stable economy, excellent health care, and education, and the crime rate is comparatively low. South Africa is a country of diverse cultures, languages, and religions. It has beautiful coastlines, mountains, deserts, forests, and impressive wildlife. In 2021, about 550 Germans emigrated to South Africa. International emigrants are also welcome here. Here you can find an expat community in South Africa: Here you can find the community

On average, the cost of living in South Africa is about 20 to 30 percent lower than in Germany. However, it depends on the area. For example, Cape Town is significantly pricier than Johannesburg regarding food and rent. Prioritizing your comfort when selecting a neighborhood rather than relying solely on low rental costs is crucial. Choosing a place where you feel at ease is essential.
Crime rates significantly impact daily life in both major cities and surrounding areas. Therefore, considering safety is crucial when deciding on a neighborhood.

Emigrating to Tanzania

moving to Tanzania

Tanzania is not one of the African countries where most Germans move, but it is charming. Tanzania is one of the most peaceful regions in the world, and the country is even put on par with Germany by the Global Peace Index.

Tanzania is located near the equator, on the Indian Ocean, and is almost three times the size of Germany but has only about 60 million people. There are more than a hundred languages in the country; Swahili and English are used to communicate between locals and foreigners. Those who emigrate to Tanzania can enjoy a 1,400 km coastline and a tropical climate. Those considering relocating can easily apply for a tourist visa valid for 90 days and get an idea of the country. On the government visa page, one can apply for an e-visa in just a few steps. The application takes up to 10 days, and you need a passport valid for at least 6 months, and you have to pay 50€.

Relocate to Oceania

moving to australia

Many dream of starting a new life on the other side of the world. Australia and New Zealand are two countries where Europeans feel at home rapidly because these two countries offer an incredible nature and a Western lifestyle, similar to the German way of life. The social security agreement between Germany and Australia is also exciting. It determines that your pension rights are still valid after emigrating to Australia, and that you will also get your German pension on the other side of the world.

#9: Relocating to Australia

Australia is an excellent place for many to move to. Its warm climate, beautiful beaches, and friendly people offer a wonderful lifestyle. The economy is strong, the job market is thriving, and excellent education and healthcare exist. However, Australia is very restrictive in granting visa applications. The entry and immigration rules are stringent. If you are a German and want to move to Australia, you must apply for a work visa. Since Australia has a significant shortage of skilled workers, you have a good chance if you bring the desired qualifications or a company approaches you directly.

moving to australia

In 2021, 1180 Germans will venture to the other side of the world. Australia is one of the top destinations for European expatriates, making it a multicultural country. Did you know that 92% of the population is of European descent? – Most of them are British and Irish. But also many emigrants from Italy, Germany, Greece, Poland, and Croatia start a new life Down Under. (13)

In the Expats Insider survey, Australia ranked 9th in 2022. Expats love the environment, business culture, and employment prospects in Australia. Expats are particularly satisfied with their career prospects. 62% are happy with the local job market, and 64% rate their personal career opportunities positively. What expats also find unique about Australia is that they work comparatively fewer hours per week than the global average (35.9 hours versus 40.2 hours globally), which may explain why 70% are satisfied with their work-life balance.(14)

In summary: It may not be that easy to emigrate to Australia and find a job, but it’s definitely worth the effort!

Moving to New Zealand

moving to new zealand

New Zealand stands out as a popular destination for several compelling reasons. With a population of approximately 4.7 million, it is among the most sparsely populated countries globally, offering a tranquil and serene environment. This island nation boasts breathtaking natural beauty, encompassing majestic mountains, picturesque lakes, enchanting forests, captivating coastlines, and diverse wildlife. Consequently, many individuals harbor dreams of immigrating to New Zealand.

One attractive aspect is its low unemployment rate, which is among the lowest in the world. However, it’s important to note that immigrating to New Zealand requires individuals to possess the necessary capital or valuable skills. The country’s immigration policy is known to be more stringent compared to Australia. In 2021, 440 Germans officially emigrated to New Zealand, indicating the country’s appeal.

For those considering relocation, obtaining a permanent visa is a prerequisite, alongside having an excellent command of the English language. Additionally, meeting one of the sought-after qualifications is essential in fulfilling the immigration requirements.

Visas can be applied for on the NZeTA website.

Conclusion: Where to move

The answer to this question is not definitive, as it depends on your individual circumstances and needs. While some countries may statistically be more welcoming to settlers than others, I firmly believe that with dedication and effort, you can settle in and feel comfortable in any country. Initially, it may require significant work to navigate a new country and environment, establish connections, and adapt to a different language or culture. However, the journey can be easier than anticipated if you genuinely desire to pursue this path.

Emigrating can be an incredibly enriching experience you should seize in your lifetime. Trust your instincts and select the country that captivates you the most and where you can quickly establish a sense of comfort.

And so that you don’t have too much stress before you emigrate, we will gladly help you with your deregistration from Germany, with the cancellation of essential contracts, with the forwarding of mail to your new address, and with the deregistration of your car. So what are you waiting for 😉

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Sources:

(1) https://auswandern-info.com/auswanderung-deutsche-2021-top-50
(2) https://auswandern-info.com/kanada
(3) https://www.internations.org/expat-insider/2021/canada-40125
(4) https://auswandern-info.com/suedamerika
(5) https://auswandern-info.com/paraguay-2
(6) https://auswandern-info.com/costa-rica-2
(7) https://auswandern-info.com/asien
(8) https://auswandern-info.com/dubai
(9) https://www.internations.org/expat-insider/2022/uae-40271
(10) https://auswandern-info.com/thailand
(11) https://www.internations.org/expat-insider/2022/thailand-40270
(12) https://auswandern-info.com/afrika
(13) https://auswandern-info.com/australien
(14) https://www.internations.org/expat-insider/2022/australia-40248

Louisa Anger

Louisa Anger

Louisa is responsible for written content creation and adoption on our website. Content curation and Webdesign lie in her responsibility.