Valencia is the best place for expats to live and work

by Lorraine Williamson
expats live and work in Valencia

According to a new Expat City Ranking of InterNations, Valencia on Spain’s east coast is the best place for expats to live and work. The online community for expats polled close to 12,000 expats on what it’s like living and working abroad. 

Furthermore, two other Spanish cities made it to the top ten of the Expat City Ranking 2022. The Spanish capital Madrid ended on fifth place. On the other end of the list, Johannesburg in South Africa came in last place. The respondents were asked questions about how they’d settled in, how they’d found the quality of life in their new city and what the job prospects were like. The only other Spanish city which made the ranking is Barcelona at position 14.  

A year ago Malaga was second in the top ten and Madrid 10th. 

The top ten in full: 

  • Valencia, Spain 
  • Dubai, UAE 
  • Mexico City, Mexico 
  • Lisbon, Portugal 
  • Madrid, Spain 
  • Bangkok, Thailand 
  • Basel, Switzerland 
  • Melbourne, Australia 
  • Abu Dhabi, UAE 
  • Singapore 

Here are the 3 best and worst cities to move to as an expat

Valencia, ‘livable, friendly and affordable’

Valencia places 1st out of 50 in the Expat City Ranking 2022, as well as 1st in the Quality of Life Index. Expats describe public transportation as affordable and love the great opportunities for recreational sports. And a vast majority of expats feel safe in Valencia. Expats feel at home there and are happy with their social life. The city also ranks third in the Personal Finance Index, even placing first for cost of living. However 50% of expats rate the local job market negatively and 30% judge their own career opportunities unfavourably. 

Also read: Valencia full of history, culture and architecture

Dubai, ‘great for both work and leisure’

Dubai expats report that it is easy to deal with the local authorities, and are happy with the availability of government services online. However, 18% are unhappy with the access they have to online services. The Ease of Settling In Index (8th) — expats are happy with their social life and feel welcome in Dubai — and the Quality of Life Index (6th) are two more highlights. Nearly all expats (95%) are satisfied with the infrastructure for cars, and they rank both the culture and nightlife (5th) and the culinary variety and dining options (3rd) highly. Dubai comes sixth in the Working Abroad Index. Expats are happy with their job and report that the local business culture encourages creativity.  

Mexico City, ‘friendly and affordable, but unsafe’ 

Expats feel at home and welcome in Mexico City, and 87% describe the local residents as generally friendly (vs. 66% globally). The city performs equally well in the Personal Finance Index (1st). Expats there are the most satisfied with their financial situation. Despite its average performance in the Working Abroad Index (24th), expats are happy with both their personal career opportunities and their jobs overall. In the Expat Essentials Index (30th), Admin Topics (44th) are an issue, but housing is both easy to find (9th) and to afford (6th). Lastly, Mexico City ends up in the bottom 10 of the Quality of Life Index (44th). Expats are especially disappointed with the Environment & Climate (41st) and the Safety & Security (47th) Subcategories. Over one in three (35%) are unhappy with their personal  

The cities with the lowest ranking 

Here are the bottom 10 cities for expats from the 50 included in the report. 

  • Rome, Italy 
  • Tokyo, Japan 
  • Vancouver, Canada 
  • Milan, Italy 
  • Hamburg, Germany 
  • Hong Kong 
  • Istanbul, Turkey 
  • Paris, France 
  • Frankfurt am Main, Germany 
  • Johannesburg, South Africa 
Johannesburg, the world’s worst expat destination 

The expats surveyed by InterNations ranked Johannesburg as the worst place to live and work as an expat from the 50 cities included in the report. It came last in the Quality of Life Index, with expats complaining about its high prices, lack of public transport, and poor jobs prospects. Sixty-two percent of respondents also said they feel unsafe, compared to 9% globally. “Not being able to walk around on the streets is heartbreaking,” an expat from Mexico told InterNations. The city did, however, rank reasonably well for its climate, natural environment, and dining options. 

Click here for the full survey 

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