The 5 best cities for expats to live in

12 January 2017

One person’s dream destination is another’s holiday in hell. It’s the same with professional expats – no one can say with confidence which are the best cities to work in because there is such variety, and every international assignee will have his or her own opinions. 

However, FIDI members are involved in helping expats get to and settle in virtually every location in the world, so we felt we had to comment. And we thought we would be as even-handed as possible by factoring in the major surveys conducted by others – and add our own reasons why these should be the most popular city destinations. 

We have read with interest the surveys conducted by Mercer, the Nomad List, and Internations, and combined their findings with our own views. These are therefore FIDI’s combined choice of the 5 best cities for expats.

Singapore city

Singapore is seen as a very politically stable country that offers a very safe environment for expats. It has excellent travel infrastructure and offers great scope for further travel to expats based there, although this comes at a price with the cost of living significantly higher than many countries. Nonetheless, Singapore is rated 5th in Internations list of best expat cities, and 8th by The Nomad List.

Singapore in the evening | FIDI blog

Munich, Germany

The venue for the Oktoberfest, one of the world’s biggest parties, is also home to a lot of serious business. With the strongest economy and lowest unemployment rate of any German city, Munich attracts a lot of expats – and delivers an excellent quality of life. Expats enjoy the job security as well as the ambience of an historic and beautiful city situated at the foot of the German Alps. Munich is Mercer’s 4th best city for expats, while Internations and the Nomad List put it in 7th and 13th place respectively.

A map of Munich | FIDI blog

Sydney, Australia

With one of the world’s most iconic skylines, and situated around the world’s largest natural harbor, Sydney is Australia’s most diverse and cosmopolitan city. While it’s expensive to live in, job security is good in the city that is home to many multi-national corporations and is promoted as Asia-Pacific’s leading financial hub. Internations considers Sydney the world’s 8th best city destination for expats, while Mercer puts it in 10th place.

The iconic opera house | FIDI blog

Madrid, Spain

One of the world’s few capital cities situated inland, Madrid is a beautiful place, but perhaps a surprise inclusion given Spain’s recent economic problems. However, while job opportunities may be more scarce, the weather and the relaxed lifestyle make it a favourite expat destination – according to Internations 92% of expats say they are happy there. The Nomad List rates Madrid at No.6 on its list, while Internations places it proudly in third place.

Sunny Madrid is excellent for expats | FIDI blog

Vienna, Austria

One of the most culturally celebrated cites in the world is also one of the most popular for expats. The Austrian capital rates well for affordability, the clean environment, local transport infrastructure, and the travel opportunities it affords expats, situated as it is in the heart of Europe. Internations places Vienna in 6th place in its poll, while Mercer makes it a resounding No.1. 

Vienna Christmas market | FIDI blog

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