Malaga has emerged top of this year’s Expat City Rankings, produced by the InterNations network of five million expatriates working in more than 400 towns and cities throughout the world.
Based on returns from more than 12,000 members who took part in the 2023 Expat Insider survey, the city rankings cover five categories: the quality of life, ease of settling in, advantages of working abroad, personal finances and ‘expat essentials’, such as housing and local administrations.
This year, the top three spots in the rankings of 49 cities are all Spanish, with Alicante and Valencia in second and third spots behind Malaga. Ras Al Khaimah, Abu Dhabi, Madrid, Mexico City, Kuala Lumpur, Bangkok, and Muscat round off the top ten.
Milan, on the other hand, comes in at 49th, at the foot of a bottom ten comprising Rome, Vancouver, Hamburg, Berlin, Dublin, Istanbul, London, Paris, and Seoul.
On the trio of Spanish cities atop the list, InterNations said: “What these three Spanish cities have in common are top 10 ratings in the indices Ease of Settling In, Quality of Life, and Personal Finance. This translates into welcoming cultures that allow for an enjoyable and affordable life.”Overall, 88 per cent of expats based in Malaga are happy with their lives, compared to the global average of 72 per cent. The city emerged as the best-rated city worldwide for local friendliness and came second globally in the Quality of Life Index, mainly thanks to its climate, natural environment and leisure opportunities.
Accommodation is also easy for expats to find in Malaga and is affordable. “Indeed,” reported InterNations, “the city seems to be a good destination for expats on a budget. It ranks first in the Personal Finance Index, where it also tops the list for general cost of living.”At the other end of the table, Milan emerges as the least favoured expat city, with 63 per cent of respondents (versus the global average of 31 per cent) saying housing is hard to find. Expats also complain of problems dealing with local bureaucracy, opening a bank account, and securing a visa.”The city doesn’t perform much better in the Working Abroad Index, where it also ranks in the bottom five,” said InterNations. “Regarding job security and feeling paid fairly for their work, Milan even comes in last. About one-third of expats aren’t satisfied with their personal career opportunities in Milan.”Surprisingly, perhaps, London only comes in at 42nd, mainly because almost three-quarters of expats cite the high cost of living. “Unfortunately, local salaries don’t seem to make up for the high living expenses,” says the report.
On the other hand, 75 per cent of expats in the survey say that moving to London has improved their career prospects, compared to a global average of 59 per cent. The city also ranks highly for a business culture that encourages creativity and flexibility.
European cities generally are over-represented in the bottom ten of this year’s rankings. Expats in 48th-placed Rome reportedly find life “a real struggle”; those in Hamburg (46th) are mostly unhappy with their social life; Berlin (45th) presents “the hardest start worldwide”; and 42nd-placed Paris is adjudged to be unfriendly and expensive.
In 44th spot, Dublin comes last in the Quality of Life Index, with expats facing affordability problems and unhappiness over the climate “despite the beautiful natural environment”.
However, two-thirds of respondents in the Irish capital are happy with their career opportunities, although the city comes last globally when it comes to expats finding a purpose in their work.
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