Valencia ranked BEST CITY for expats despite ranking bottom for career prospects

Data analysed by reveals Valencia to be the best city for those starting a new chapter of life abroad, with the Spanish city shining thanks to the high quality of life offered to its people.

With 85% of people appreciating their affordable public transport, 80% happy with their affordable healthcare, and a whopping 94% loving the climate and weather, it’s easy to see why the birthplace of paella and the home of some of Spain’s most beautiful beaches is so popular.

Valencia beat Dubai in second and Mexico City in third, with both cities offering their own unique benefits for expats. However Dubai tops the world charts on the Expat Essentials Index, which judges cities based on digital life, admin topics, housing and language. Whilst Mexico ranks number one for ease of settling in, which factors in ratings for culture and welcome, local friendliness and finding friends.

Interestingly, Dubai has climbed a spot from 3rd to 2nd from its ranking in 2021’s index, while Mexico City has also risen from 8th to its current position in 3rd. Valencia, however, did not even come in the top ten in 2021, showing a huge improvement for expats and potential expats this year.

Johannesburg declared worst for expats after landing in bottom ten third year in a row

On the other side of the scale, Johannesburg has been ranked as the worst city in the world for expats, and also comes bottom in the Quality of Life index. With a quarter of respondents unhappy with the cost of public transport, over a third seeing the local job market negatively, and a whopping 62% feeling unsafe (compared to 9% globally), the city has continued to slide down the bottom ten since 2019.

Frankfurt and Paris make up the bottom three, with the French capital particularly lacking in affordability - 71% of respondents say housing costs are too high, compared to 43% globally, and 62% said the general cost of living was too high, compared to 35% around the world.

Mexico the best country for expats, and Kuwait the worst

Looking at how overall countries rank for expats in 2022, Mexico lands the top spot - with nods to its friendly population as the country comes first for local friendliness, finding friends, and culture and welcome. Indonesia and Taiwan make up the top three, while Kuwait, New Zealand and Hong Kong together complete the bottom three.

Mexico, Indonesia and Taiwan all rank well for personal finance in expats’ eyes, contributing to their high overall positions, while New Zealand - a popular destination for tourists - ranks poorly, with three in four respondents unhappy with the cost of living.

This shows how important personal finances are for those starting a new life abroad. However, it was revealed that less than one in ten expats have had help from a financial advisor.

Taking the leap and beginning a new journey in another country is exciting, with so much to look forward to - from making new friends to discovering a different culture, cuisine, and lifestyle. But it’s so important to do your groundwork and ensure you’ll be able to cope financially, as being an expat isn’t always easy. Getting your personal finances in order is key to enjoying life abroad - that way you can focus on the finer things.
Jonathan Merry, CEO of
Mehdi Punjwani
Mehdi Punjwani
Mehdi is a writer and editor with over five years of experience in personal finance, writing for brands including MoneySuperMarket, Equifax and The AA. He graduated from Brunel University with a BA and MA, and likes to spend his free time hiking, travelling, and reading.