Considering a Move Abroad in 2024? Here Are The Best Countries For Expats

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In a world increasingly defined by global mobility, pursuing the ideal location for work and life balance has led many to explore living the expat life. According to InterNation's 2023 Expat Insider report, 35% of expats plan to live abroad forever, with most expats surveyed coming from the US. But with 193 countries spanning the globe, it might seem like it'll be a tough choice to decide where you'd like to move to. But, certain nations definitely stand out for their vibrant cultures, robust economies and, of course, expat-friendly policies.

Identifying the perfect expat destination involves weighing various factors, including the cost of living, ease of settling in, work-life balance and the quality of healthcare and education. It's a decision that can significantly impact your personal and professional life, turning the dream of living abroad into a reality filled with enriching experiences and growth opportunities. If you're on the hunt for an international adventure that aligns with your lifestyle and career goals, here are the best countries for you to consider.


1. Mexico 🇲🇽

A top destination for expats year-on-year, Mexico is a captivating destination for expats from all corners of the globe. Many expats choose to settle in Mexico because they love her capital, Mexico City, with a population of about 22 million.

This country offers affordable living for those earning in strong currencies like the USD, GBP or EUR, rich culture, world-renowned cuisine and famously warm locals. To put numbers into perspective, rents in Mexico City are about 70% lower compared to San Fransisco, while groceries in Mexico City are 47% lower. According to InterNations' Expat Report, expats also rave about the Mexican work-life balance and the ease of settling in.

However, like any country, Mexico has its share of downsides. Safety concerns do require thoughtful consideration, particularly when exploring certain areas of the country. Some expats have also reported a pushback from the locals due to the influx of Americans entering the country.

To move to Mexico, you'll primarily be looking at one of two types of visas: the Temporary Resident Visa — suitable for those who want to stay longer than six months but less than four years — and the Permanent Resident Visa for those wanting to make Mexico their forever home.


2. Spain 🇪🇸

One of the best expat countries is the European country of Spain. Expats are spread far and wide throughout the country, but many love the Spanish capital of Madrid, with a population of 3.3 million, and her cultural centre, Barcelona, with 1.6 million inhabitants.

Spain beckons with its warm climate, high quality of life and the kind of vibrant expat communities where everyone might not know your name yet, but give it a week or two. This country is a top choice for expats who seek a laid-back lifestyle, beautiful climate and affordable cost of living. For context, rental prices in Madrid are 62% lower than in San Francisco and over 60% lower in Barcelona.

Yet, Spain isn't without her hurdles. The high unemployment rate in certain regions can be a stark contrast to the otherwise idyllic setting, making job hunting for locals and expats alike more challenging. Also, for those seeking employment with a Spanish company might find that pay is on the lower end, with an average of €32,520 per year, and you might pay up to 47% in taxes. Plus, the residency process can be a headache for those not fluent in Spanish. It goes without saying that if you want to call Spain your new home, learning Spanish will go a long way — or the Catalan dialect, if you'd like to live in Barcelona.

For those looking to move to Spain, the non-lucrative visa offers a pathway for those who can afford to live without a locally-based job, requiring proof of sufficient funds and a comprehensive health insurance possibility. On the other hand, if you've managed to find a job in Spain, a work visa will be your key. But be sure to seek out jobs with relocation assistance so that you can enjoy a much smoother move to Spain!


Find a job in Spain with relocation assistance here →


3. Thailand 🇹🇭

Often referred to as the land of smiles, Thailand is a breathtaking tropical paradise that's the top expat destination for those looking towards Southeast Asia. With vibrant cities like Bangkok to tranquil retreats like Chiang Mai, expats in Thailand are spread wide, enjoying her diverse experiences.

Sitting closer to the Equator, Thailand offers a temperate climate among lush jungles and pristine beaches. The country's cuisine is famous across the globe, and its street food culture is top-tier. Life is a lot more affordable there, too, with rent prices in Bangkok being a whopping 80% lower than in San Francisco and groceries in Bangkok are 53% cheaper.

However, Thailand isn't the easiest country for expats to settle into — mainly because a long-term visa is so hard to get. Plus, for all its serenity, the political landscape of Thailand is unstable and ranks pretty poorly in terms of its democracy index.

If you're still keen on making Thailand your new home, there are a few visa options you could consider. To dip your feet into Thai culture, there is the Non-Immigrant Education Visa that requires you to enroll in a Thai educational institution and take at least 15 hours of lessons per week — whether that's learning the Thai language or Muay Thai. But, if you're looking for a more long-term solution, there's also the SMART Visa, aimed at tech entrepreneurs who want to contribute to the Thai economy.


4. Germany 🇩🇪

Standing as Europe's biggest economy, Germany has become a top destination for expats looking to embrace European culture. The German capital, Berlin, is a well-known tech hub, and the medieval city of Cologne is home to a massive video games conference, Gamescom. With the right preparation and a willingness to learn, Germany can offer a fulfilling, high-quality lifestyle that combines the best of tradition and innovation.

This European country offers expats a robust economy, exceptional public services, a deep history and cultural depth. Although the cost of living isn't as low as the first few countries on this list, living in Germany is a unique blend of modern efficiency and nature, with her cities offering vibrant cultural scenes and green spaces. Rent prices in Berlin are 58% lower than in San Francisco, and groceries in Munich cost 37% lower than in San Francisco, which is a boon to enjoy as the average salary in Germany is around €47,700. Plus, Germans are known for their impeccable work-life balance, which could be a breath of fresh air for Americans.

Unfortunately, Germany's weather can be as unpredictable as it gets — one day, you could be enjoying a lovely picnic in the local park and the next, you're seeking shelter from a chilling wind. Moreover, around 56% of Germans speak English. But unless you're living in a big multicultural hub like Berlin or Munich, chances are that you'll need to pick up a fair amount of German to get by. And, unless you have a friend who's fluent in German, navigating the infamous German bureaucracy will be absolutely daunting. Moreover, for those looking to work in Germany—regardless of whether you're a freelancer or employed at a German company—you should expect to pay up to 45% in taxes.

For those looking to migrate to Germany, there are a few pathways. The easiest and most straightforward would be to find and land a job at a German company so that you'll automatically be qualified for the General Work Visa. Otherwise, there's also the EU Blue Card, a highly-skilled talent visa, offering a streamlined path to residency for those with a job offer in a specified field, like tech, that meets the salary requirements. But regardless of which way you go, always be sure to find a job that offers relocation assistance, which can make the moving process much less stressful!


Browse software engineer jobs in Berlin with relocation assistance →


5. Malaysia 🇲🇾

Another favourite Southeast Asian country among expats, Malaysia offers an interesting blend of modern amenities and natural, tropical beauty — from the dynamic skyline of Kuala Lumpur to the serene beaches of Kota Kinabalu. With a total population of almost 34 million and a rich history of trade, this country is truly a cultural melting pot.

This Southeast Asian nation shares its tropical climate and provides expats with a high standard of living for an affordable price. Rental prices in Kuala Lumpur are over 80% lower than in New York, while groceries cost around 60% less. A great benefit of expats moving to Malaysia is that a significant number of the population speak English as a second language, although picking up a few key phrases in Malay will make you instantly popular.

However, Malaysia's humidity is something that's difficult to get used to, making air conditioning less of a luxury there and more of a necessity. Plus, the country ranks quite low on the freedom index as the government is known to censor and ban any aspect of the internet that goes against those in power.

On the bright side, one of the most appealing aspects of moving to Malaysia is the Malaysia My Second Home (MM2H) programme. This government initiative was designed to allow foreigners to live in Malaysia long-term, which was previously very difficult to do unless you married a local. Another path to long-term residency in Malaysia is to land a job with a local company, allowing you to apply for the Employment Pass.


6. The Netherlands 🇳🇱

Another great European country favoured by expats is the Netherlands. With a population of around 2.5 million in the capital of Amsterdam, expats love how living in this Western European country can lead to a new, fulfilling chapter of life.

The Netherlands, with its unparalleled work-life balance, innovative job market, and reputation for being exceptionally welcoming to internationals, is like a breath of fresh air for those seeking a new home abroad. It's a country where the pace of life seems just right, blending productivity with plenty of time for relaxation and enjoyment. Moreover, with over 90% of the Dutch population speaking fluent English, it's a great place for those who aren't great at learning a new language but are keen on discovering a new culture.

But, much like the majority of Europe, the weather in the Netherlands can be a mix of splendidly sunny and grey, gloomy days — often unpredictable and leaning more towards the cooler, wetter side. On top of that, the Dutch aren't known for being immediately open to friendships, so social integration in the Netherlands is about finding your place within a society that values individuality, tolerance, and directness.

For those looking to make the move, the Netherlands offers attractive pathways such as the EU Blue Card. Then there's the orientation year visa for graduates, an excellent option for recent international graduates of Dutch universities or top global institutions, offering a one-year window to find a job or start a business. Otherwise, there's always the option to find a job in the Netherlands and qualify for the General Work Visa. If you feel like the Netherlands is the place for you, be sure to seek jobs with relocation assistance to make the moving process much smoother.


Search for tech jobs with relocation assistance in Amsterdam here


Regardless of where in the world you might want to move to, there's always a better chance to stay long-term if you have a stable, local job. Find tech jobs abroad here.

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