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Looking to improve your quality of life in 2023? Here are the top countries for expats in Europe

By quizzing over 12,000 expats, the organisation has generated a ranking of 53 countries across the world.
By quizzing over 12,000 expats, the organisation has generated a ranking of 53 countries across the world. Copyright Sam Williams
Copyright Sam Williams
By Rebecca Ann Hughes
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A survey of over 12,000 expats reveals the best places to live in Europe if you're looking for a good work-life balance.

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Thinking of moving to another country in Europe but not sure where’s best for you? This survey might help.

With remote working remaining popular and dozens of countries launching targeted ‘digital nomad’ visas, relocating abroad has never been easier.

But it’s important to choose a country that provides the best for your career and suits your lifestyle.

Each year, InterNations - a global community for people who live and work abroad - carries out an Expat Insider survey.

By quizzing over 12,000 expats, the organisation has generated a ranking of 53 countries across the world.

Here are the best (and worst) European countries for expats right now according to their findings.

Where are the best European countries to live in right now?

The Expat Insider 2023 report analysed 53 expat destinations around the world and ranked them according to quality of life.

The survey asked expats to evaluate the ease of settling in, working abroad and leisure activities in the country where they lived.

The ranking also includes an Expat Essentials index, which looks at digital services, bureaucracy, housing, and language.

This year, two European countries made it into the top ten.

Spain’s expats feel happy and at home

Spain was voted the best country in Europe and the second in the world for expats in 2023.

Since the first InterNations survey in 2014, Spain has always ranked in the top ten for quality of life.

The country has consistently featured among the best in the world for its leisure options and this year it claimed the top spot.

The majority of expats (88 per cent) say they feel happy with the culture and nightlife in Spain, compared to 68 per cent globally.

Additionally, more than nine out of ten enjoy the opportunities for recreational sports.

Spain’s climate and weather ranked third globally, which also makes it easier for expats to get out and enjoy leisure activities.

The country does not perform so well when it comes to working abroad. Less than half the expats surveyed said that moving there has improved their career prospects and 36 per cent are unhappy with the local job market.

That said, nearly three-quarters of expats expressed satisfaction with their work-life balance.

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Portugal offers expats excellent quality of life but poor job opportunities

Portugal makes it to the tenth spot - the only other European country included in the top ten for 2023.

The ease of settling in is one of the major highlights for expats in Portugal. Over three-quarters feel at home and over 80 per cent feel welcome in the country.

The majority of those surveyed also report that the population is generally friendly

to foreign residents.

For quality of life, Portugal ranks 7th worldwide. Some of the country’s advantages include its climate, weather and air quality.

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The country performs much worse when it comes to local bureaucracy, with over half of expats finding it hard to deal with.

One in four say they are unhappy with the availability of government services online compared to 21 per cent globally.

Portugal narrowly escapes the bottom ten for working abroad. The country performs worst in the career prospects subcategory, where it ranked 49 out of 53.

Expats vote it 45th for local career opportunities, and more than one in three are unhappy with the job market.

But while the country does badly for fair pay at work (42nd), 78 per cent of expats still agree that their household income is enough or more than enough to lead a comfortable life.

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Expats struggle with quality of life in Malta

Turning to the bottom 10, Malta comes in 46th place out of 53.

One of the biggest issues for expats is quality of life, with 32 per cent unhappy about opportunities for recreational sports compared to 10 per cent globally.

Over 60 per cent expressed frustration with the country’s infrastructure for cars versus just 13 per cent worldwide.

Another lowlight is Malta’s environment and climate. The country ranks second to last for both its natural and urban environment.

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Nearly half of expats find it easy to make local friends in Malta, which is more than the global average, and 64 per cent feel at home there.Calin Stan

The results in the working abroad index are not much better - 24 per cent do not

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feel paid fairly for their job and 17 per cent do not see any purpose in their work.

On the other hand, more than half of expats feel satisfied with their financial situation, on par with the global average.

Malta performs slightly better when it comes to settling in, where it ranks 26th in the world.

Nearly half of expats find it easy to make local friends, which is more than the global average, and 64 per cent feel at home there.

Turkey’s expats complain about long working hours and low job satisfaction

Turkey comes in 51st in the overall rankings and last worldwide for the working abroad index.

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Just under a third of expats are unhappy with their working hours - about twice the global average. Expats do not feel much better about their job security or their personal career opportunities.

The country ends up among the bottom 10 for the expat essentials index with 16 per cent rating online services negatively and 15 per cent finding it difficult to get high-speed internet access at home.

In terms of quality of life, Turkey ranks second to last for safety and security.

Less than half of expats are satisfied with their financial situation compared to 58 per cent globally, and 44 per cent are happy with the general cost of living.

The country performs best in the ease of settling in index with 45 per cent finding it easy to make local friends, slightly more than the global average.

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Overall, however, 60 per cent of expats are happy with their life in Turkey, compared to 72 per cent globally.

Norway is unfriendly and expensive for expats

Norway was voted the worst country in Europe for expats and comes in 52nd overall.

More than three in five expats rate the local cost of living negatively, compared to 35 per cent globally. And 37 per cent say that their disposable household income is not enough to lead a comfortable life.

Norway does not perform well in the ease of settling in index either and close to a third of expats describe the locals as unfriendly towards foreign residents, compared to 18 per cent globally.

Expats also find it hard to make local friends and are unhappy with their social life. Overall, 37 per cent do not feel at home in Norway versus 20 per cent globally.

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Norway ranks poorly in the quality of life index, too. This is mainly due to expats being unhappy with the affordability of public transportation and the opportunities for travel.

The Nordic country also ranks last worldwide for its culinary variety and dining options.

On the plus side, expats in Norway do value political stability, high air quality and the natural environment.

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