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Top 10 countries for expats

Hong KongHong Kong
Hong KongPhotograph by Bobby Yip — Reuters

Given that business is truly global these days—opportunities to live abroad are ever-increasing. In an annual survey of expats around the globe, some 9,000 workers in over 100 countries were asked to score 43 aspects of their lives abroad, from commuting and ease of setting up utilities to the cost of education and the ease of making friends — for both expats and their children. (Two countries not appearing in the Top 10: the U.S. and the U.K., which are ranked 30th and 33rd, respectively.) If you are looking to uproot, here are the top-rated countries to consider.

1. Switzerland

Otherwise famous for watches, chocolate, and neutrality, Switzerland also turns out to be the best place to be an expat. Foreign workers report a happy work-life balance and like the country’s clean air and scenic terrain. Plus, expats do well there—25% earn more than $200,000 per year (perhaps not coincidentally, the same percentage of the country’s expats work in finance).

2. Singapore

Diners make food orders as pedestrians walk along Chinatown Food Street in the area of Chinatown in Singapore, on Saturday, Aug. 23, 2014. Singapore is scheduled to release consumer price index (CPI) figures on Aug. 25. Photographer: Bryan van der Beek/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Gum chewing is forbidden and caning a risk, but the tiny island nation wins high marks from expats for ease of living, pleasant weather and safe, affordable street food. It’s also a good, but pricey place to raise a child according to the survey.

3. China

I see no bubble. Do you see a bubble?

It’s all about the money in China—almost a quarter of expats earn more than $300,000 per year there, more than in any other country. Meanwhile, things are cheap in China; roughly three-quarters of foreign workers report having more spending money than they would at home. Expats in China, 25% of whom work in education, also tend to have more active social lives than those in other locales.

4. Germany

A young boy, dressed up in traditional costume, participates in the parade at the second day of the 181st Oktoberfest beer festival in Munich, southern Germany, Sunday, Sept. 21, 2014. The world’s largest beer festival will be held from Sept. 20 to Oct. 5, 2014. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

The place to be for the expat seeking stability rather than adventure abroad, Germany scores points for its solid economy and for being a safe, easy place to raise children. German expats are also far more likely to speak the local language than those in other countries.

5. Bahrain

A night view of anti-government demonstrators at Pearl square in Manama February 22, 2011. Bahrain has freed 23 people accused of trying to topple the island’s Sunni Muslim monarchy, along with other prisoners and people detained in last week’s protests, a Shi’ite opposition lawmaker said on Wednesday. REUTERS/James Lawler Duggan (BAHRAIN – Tags: POLITICS CIVIL UNREST CITYSCAPE) – RTR2IZ9E

Despite bouts of political unrest in recent years, expats living on the island kingdom give it good reviews for the local food and culture. The expat crowd— 77% of the country’s workforce—is dominated by Indians and bankers who move to Bahrain for better job prospects. 92% report keeping strong cultural ties with their homeland.

6. New Zealand

Sheep graze on a hill in Purakaunui, near Dunedin September 7, 2011. REUTERS/Marcos Brindicci (NEW ZEALAND – Tags: ENVIRONMENT ANIMALS) – RTR2QWDK

Three-quarters of New Zealand’s expats are Britons and they flock to the former colony for its stunning landscape and welcoming culture. Expats reported feeling healthier and sportier in New Zealand than in their home countries. It also rated as the most child-friendly of the nations surveyed.

7. Thailand

A woman takes a “selfie” at a sunflower field in Lopburi province, north of Bangkok November 2, 2014. REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND – Tags: SOCIETY ENVIRONMENT TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) – RTR4CHKV

Like tourists, expats love the Land of Smiles for its food, weather and easy, affordable travel opportunities (mountains in the north, beaches in the south, the rest of Asia just a quick flight from Bangkok). Nearly half of expats also reported finding a life partner there.

8. Taiwan

People fly Kongming Lanterns during the Pingxi Sky Lantern Festival on February 17, 2013 in New Taipei, Taiwan. The Chinese Lunar New Year also known as the Spring Festival, which is based on the Lunisolar Chinese calendar, is celebrated from the first day of the first month of the lunar year and ends with Lantern Festival on the Fifteenth day.

Expats adjust easily to life in Taiwan where they find the population friendly and the healthcare among the most excellent and affordable in the world. They also enjoy taking in local customs like the Lunar New Year and local delicacies like bubble tea. A quarter of the island’s expats work in education, while 35% of the total expat community are American.

9. India

Festive lights illuminate traffic and pedestrians in the Brigade Road shopping area in central Bangalore, India, on Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2014. India’s consumer price index (CPI) figures for December are scheduled to be released on Jan. 13. Photographer: Vivek Prakash/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Affordability, particularly of childcare and education, lands India on the list. While working on the subcontinent is often a considerable cultural adjustment, expats in India reported having a more active social life—44% reported meeting a mate— and a better work-life balance than those elsewhere.

10. Hong Kong

A property development employer admires the open view of Victoria
Harbour at a new flat on sale for HK$14 million (US$1.8 million) in
Hong Kong October 3, 2003. Propelled by historically low mortgage
rates, reasonable prices and a recent rise in the stock market, buyers
are snapping up properties at the luxury end of the market. REUTERS/Kin
Cheung

KC/TW – RTR4682

It’s expensive, but Hong Kong, whose expat community is dominated by bankers, is considered a great place to get ahead. Expats in the city-state tend to be high-earners and they enjoy a jet-set lifestyle traveling around the region.