Top Cities for Expats to Move to Post COVID-19

A new study has looked at the factors that are relevant to expats planning to move abroad to identify the best and worst cities for people to move to.  Here we look at the best and the worst according to the study.

With travel restrictions in place for most of the past year, the majority of the population are ready for a change of scenery in 2021. Whilst living and working abroad may seem like a pipe dream right now, in this study MoverDB has revealed the top international locations for expats to move to remotely post-coronavirus, analysing the cities with the best safety, quality of life, cost of living, salary, work-life balance and the percentage of expats.

 

Top 5 Cities

Madrid Revealed as the Best City for Expats, Followed by Reykjavik and Luxembourg.

1. Madrid – Spain’s capital, Madrid, is the top city to relocate to for expats across the globe according to the study on the basis of work opportunities, health, happiness and overall satisfaction. The city is steeped in culture and history and has strong support networks available for new residents as well as a high life expectancy and one of the best healthcare systems in the world.

It has great and affordable transport available for just £1.40 as well as low cost of living and has more top-rated restaurants than anywhere else, with 18 Michelin starred restaurants in a 25 kilometer radius.

2 . Reykjavik – Reykjavik with its rather different climate comes in as the second most popular city for expats, with Iceland’s rich culture, social welfare system, and natural beauty making it a perfect place for expats wanting a good work life balance and close proximity to other places in Europe. Icelanders have a life expectancy of 82.4 years, approximately 2 years more than the OECD average.

Like other Scandinavian countries, Iceland also has a modern welfare system, with free healthcare, free education, and a good pension. Iceland is also ranked highest in terms of gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap. In terms of climate, the average summer temperature in Reykjavik is 24.7ᵒ C while winter temperature drops to approximately 0ᵒ C.

3. Luxembourg – Luxembourg is one of the safest countries in the world with a diverse and friendly population. The capital is rich in culture, history and heritage with a range of castles and spectacular landscapes. With expats accounting for 44% of the population, it is one of the most picturesque and popular choices for expats in 2021!

4. Helsinki – Helsinki is home to some of the cleanest air in the world and saturated with spectacular landscapes and thousands of lakes and forests. Finland’s capital is a design and architecture hub, with vibrant neighbourhoods making it one of the top choices for Expats wanting a fresh start abroad. Helsinki is also one of the safest cities, with 85% of people feeling safe when walking alone at night.

5. Geneva – Geneva with an average salary of £60,592 (by far the highest in the study) and a life expectancy of more than 83 years. It is the largest city on the French side of Switzerland, situated on the shores of Lake Geneva and surrounded by the breathtaking Alps and the Jura Mountains. The city is a financial and worldwide centre for diplomacy in Europe, as well as home to a litany of museums, galleries and monuments. With 29% of the population accumulating of international expats, and 85% of people feeling safe in the city, it’s a popular choice for those wishing to move abroad in 2021.

 

Top 25

Here are full details of the results for the top 25 cities:

Rank City Expats (%) Average Salary Life Expectancy (Years) Food + Drink Cost Transport Cost Bill + Wifi Cost Rent Price Reported Employee Overtime (%)
1 Madrid 12.70% £17,718 83.1 £13.60 £1.40 £159 £895 4.00%
2 Reykjavik 11.50% £27,892 82.4 £21.50 £2.70 £123 £1,149 15.10%
3 Luxembourg 44% £41,535 82.4 £19.90 £1.60 £252 £1,410 4%
4 Helsinki 5.70% £28,776 81.4 £16.90 £2.50 £95 £907 3.80%
5 Geneva 29.40% £60,592 83.3 £28.00 £2.60 £236 £1,712 0.40%
6 Rome 9.70% £16,143 82.8 £18.10 £1.40 £179 £858 4.10%
7 Ljubljana 11.40% £13,461 80.9 £9.70 £1.20 £211 £535 4.40%
8 Stockholm 16.80% £28,518 82.4 £16.50 £3.50 £90 £1,137 1.10%
9 Lisbon 8.10% £10,999 81.5 £9.00 £1.40 £128 £808 8.30%
10 Vienna 17.50% £24,089 81.9 £12.60 £2.20 £196 £793 6.70%
11 Belfast 13.20% £20,979 81.4 £16.20 £2.10 £105 £634 12.20%
12 Edinburgh 13.20% £22,657 81.4 £19.00 £1.70 £178 £801 12.20%
13 Oslo 14.20% £31,594 82.5 £22.50 £3.00 £160 £1,094 2.90%
14 Berlin 14.90% £27,457 81 £11.30 £2.60 £238 £822 4.30%
15 Prague 3.80% £12,553 79.2 £6.40 £0.80 £172 £698 5.70%
16 Tallinn 15.40% £13,202 77.8 £11.30 £1.80 £180 £490 2.40%
17 Copenhagen 10.10% £34,961 81.2 £20.60 £2.90 £212 £1,209 2.30%
18 London 13.20% £33,515 81.4 £20.00 £2.90 £207 £1,762 12.20%
19 Vilnius 4.70% £10,800 75 £9.70 £0.90 £117 £467 0.50%
20 Paris 12.10% £27,264 82.9 £19.90 £1.70 £178 £1,065 7.70%
21 Amsterdam 11.70% £32,130 81.6 £19.00 £2.90 £195 £1,453 0.40%
22 Brussels 12.30% £26,323 81.2 £17.20 £1.90 £165 £776 4.80%
23 Bratislava 3.30% £12,763 77.4 £7.20 £0.80 £186 £559 4.10%
24 Dublin 15.90% £27,546 81.5 £19.20 2.7 £204 £1,546 5.30%
25 Monaco 55.80% £57,255 82.9 £30.70 £1.80 £227 £3,499 7.70%

 

Riga, Santiago and Bratislava Are the Worst Cities for Expats

While Santiago is a great place for young people due to its vibrant culture, nightlife and creative scene, it is the least attractive option for expats looking to move post Covid-19. It is one of the more dangerous options with only 16% of people feeling safe when walking at night and it is significantly lower on the life satisfaction index than other cities. Although it has relatively low cost of living, the average salary is only £6,186 and offers a poor work life balance, an undesirable option for a long term career.

Bogota and Cape Town were the next least desirable options for expats moving abroad. Bogota’s population only contains 0.3% of expats making it a relatively untouched option for those moving abroad. However, the city offers a very lower average salary of just £3,005 annually and is one of the more dangerous countries with only 10% of people feeling safe when walking at night. While Cape Town is much higher on life satisfaction index, it has a very low life expectancy of just 63 years and disproportionately higher average rent of £506 on average.

 

Top 10 Worst Cities for Expats to Move to Post COVID-19

Rank City Expats (%) Average Salary Life Expectancy (Years) Food + Drink Cost Transport Cost Bill + Wifi Cost Rent Price Reported Employee Overtime (%)
1 Santiago 2.60% £6,186 79.5 £8.70 0.8 £120 £340 18.20%
2 Bogota 0.30% £3,005 75.1 £4.40 0.53 £84 £299 18.10%
3 Cape Town 5.80% £10,767 63.6 £6.90 £0.80 £97 £506 18.10%
4 Mexico 0.90% £5,566 76.6 £7.80 0.2 £45 £473 18.00%
5 Brasilia 0.30% £5,616 75.1 £5.90 0.7 £57 £232 7.10%
6 Athens 11.30% £8,652 81.2 £12.70 £1.30 £165 £377 6.40%
7 Budapest 4.60% £8,136 76 £6.50 £0.90 £144 £417 3.00%
8 Riga 13.40% £5,566 75 £9.90 £1.00 £181 £380 1.30%
9 Warsaw 1.60% £10,110 77.8 £7.10 £0.90 £154 £589 6.00%
10 Moscow 8.10% £8,708 71.9 £9.30 £0.60 £107 £722 0.10%

 

 

Safety for Expats

Norway is the safest country for expats to move to in 2020 with low crime in major cities such like Oslo, Bergen, Trondheim, and Stavanger. 87% of Norwegians are confident in their local police, and 90% feel safe when walking home alone at night, making it a great option for first time movers.

Brazil on the other hand is one of the least safest options for expats with only 36% of residents feeling safe when walking at night and a significantly higher crime rate than the top European countries.

 

Top 10 Safest Cities for Expats

Rank Country Night Safety (%)
1 Norway 90%
2 Slovenia 86%
3 Iceland 86%
4 Switzerland 85%
5 Finland 85%
6 Denmark 84%
7 Canada 82%
8 Spain 82%
9 Netherlands 82%
10 Austria 81%

 

The United Arab Emirates Has the Highest Percentage of International Expats at 88.4%

In terms of expats, the United Arab Emirates has the highest percentage of international migrants at 88.4% making it one of the most popular choices for people seeking a range of diverse cultures and backgrounds. Similarly, Qatar and Kuwait are popular destinations for migrants looking for a strong international population.

On the other hand, for people who hate to follow the status quo, countries like Colombia, Morocco, Peru and Cuba have the lowest percentage of expats with less than 0.3% of the population international migrants.

 

Top 10 Countries With the Highest Percentage of Expats

Rank Country International migrants (% of population)
1 United Arab Emirates 88.4
2 Qatar 75.5
3 Kuwait 73.6
4 Sint Maarten 70.4
5 Liechtenstein 62.6
6 Andorra 59.7
7 Macao, China 58.3
8 British Virgin Islands 57.5
9 Monaco 55.8
10 Virgin Islands (U.S.) 53.4

 

Summary

While the prospect of moving to a new city or country in this climate can be daunting, it’s more important now than ever to look towards the future. Use 2021 as an opportunity to plan experiencing a new culture and way of life in a city you’ve always dreamed of.

All the cities the study has revealed are great options when it comes to quality of life and new experiences. Whether you choose the rich culture and delicious foods of Madrid or the vibrant nightlife and breathtaking beaches of Cape Town, there’s a city that caters to every expat lifestyle preference.