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Tops list of best cities for expatriates in 2021

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According to a recent survey, Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia, is the most preferred destination by expatriates to live and work abroad in 2021. The port cities of Malaga and Dubai in southern Spain are in second and third place. These three cities are geographically diverse and that is probably the reason why expatriates prefer them.

The survey conducted by Internationales, an online expatriate community with more than 4 million global members, placed cities like New York, Moscow and Paris at the bottom of the list of 57 cities to live and work in.

More than 1,200 people, representing 174 nationalities and living in 186 countries or territories, took part in the survey, which was conducted in January this year but released in September. To identify the best and worst cities for expatriates, respondents were asked to rate their satisfaction in four main categories – quality of life, ease of settling, personal finances and working abroad.

The quality of life category included aspects such as a healthy environment and strong WiFi infrastructure. For ease of settling, respondents had to consider language barriers and adaptability to local residents. Personal finance tackled aspects such as access to affordable health care, a major consideration due to the pandemic. And, working abroad included job security and a stable local economy.

In choosing the top cities, most expats said those places are easy to settle in and the locals are friendly. Some appreciate the high quality of life in Dubai and Malaga, while others find the cost of living in Kuala Lumpur and Malaga affordable.

A massive 85 percent of respondents said they are happy with life in general in Kuala Lumpur. The figure was 86 percent for Malaga and 72 percent for Dubai.

Other cities that made the top 10 were: Sydney, Australia (4th); Singapore (5th); Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam (6th); Prague, Czech Republic (7th); Mexico City, Mexico (8th); Basel, Switzerland (9th); Madrid, Spain (10th).

At the other end of the list were Italian cities – Milan and Rome – and South Africa’s Johannesburg. Rome was declared “unfriendly”, with 31 percent of expatriates believing that locals do not like foreigners. Migrants in Milan said they were not satisfied with their work-life balance.

Similarly, most migrants rated the public transport system in Johannesburg very poorly and said they were concerned about personal safety. New York is ranked 48th, Moscow 49th and Paris 51st.

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