Kuala Lumpur is the best Asian city – and the fourth best city in the world – for expats in 2017, according to InterNations’ latest survey.
This is the fourth year the annual Expat Insider survey was conducted, and respondents were invited to share their opinions on their current resident city. The survey is based on the responses of 7,985 expats across 40 countries who were asked to rate more than 25 aspects of urban life abroad. Apart from offering an in-depth analysis of expat life, the survey ranks them by a variety of factors from the following areas: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, and Finance & Housing.
Settle down into the local lifestyle
Kuala Lumpur’s high levels of general friendliness which facilitates expatriates in getting settled and enjoying a great work life placed the city fourth out of 51 cities in the latest Expat City Ranking 2017. The Malaysian capital joins Manama (1), Prague (2), Madrid (3), and Amsterdam (5) as one of the top five cities for expats. One in four expats found it very easy to make new friends in Malaysia, while only 18% said the same in 2016. One survey respondent from South Africa valued “the easygoing temperaments and friendliness of the local people, weather and good travel options“, so it is not a surprise that many of the survey participants (71%) felt at home in Malaysia. 78% generally found it easy to settle down in Malaysia, and seven out of nine agreed that it was easy to get used to the local culture.
In the overall country rankings, Malaysia placed 15th this year, jumping 23 spots from 38th in 2016.
A warm welcome with no language barriers
Just like Bahrain in the country ranking (from 19th to 1st), its capital Manama also makes it to the top of the overall ranking in 2017. The majority of respondents said they appreciate how easy it is to live in Manama without knowing the local language (an impressive 92% of respondents agree that living there without speaking Arabic is not hard), and agreed that locals are welcoming and friendly towards foreign residents. Respondents in Manama are also significantly more likely than the global average to agree that there’s a friendly attitude towards foreign residents (84% vs. 67%), and close to two-thirds (65%) have few problems finding new friends abroad (vs. 48% worldwide).
Lacking that je ne sais quoi
Somewhat surprisingly, the French capital, Paris, ranks third from the bottom in the Expat City Ranking 2017, and has the worst ranking out of all European cities in the survey. While respondents report a slightly above-average quality of life — ranking it 24th out of 51 cities in the respective index — Paris is last when it comes to getting settled. Over two in five expats in Paris (43%) consider the local population unfriendly towards foreign residents, and more than double the global average of respondents (31% vs. 15%) think it is very hard to live in the city without speaking the local language, for instance. Apart from the cold welcome, it is also difficult for many expats to find and afford housing in Paris: 62% and 71% respectively give these factors a negative rating.
You can read or download the Expat Insider 2017 full report here.