Berlin and Hamburg expats are among the unhappiest in the world in 2023

Berlin and Hamburg expats are among the unhappiest in the world in 2023

While Spain stole the show in the top three spots, the 2023 InterNations City Ranking has revealed just how fed up expats in Berlin and Hamburg are with Germany’s affordable housing crisis.

InterNations Expat City Ranking 2023

12.065 respondents around the world took part in InterNations’ Expat Insider survey, which is used each year to compile the “Expat City Ranking”, a list of the best and worst cities to move to. With the respondents representing 171 nationalities and living in 172 countries and territories, it is one of the largest surveys of its kind. 

Participants are asked to rate up to 56 different aspects of urban life in their city on a scale of one to seven. The scores from these subcategories are then grouped to provide an overall value for five different areas:

For a city to be included in the Expat City Ranking 2023, a sample size of at least 50 survey participants per city was required. This year, 49 cities met those requirements and were included in the ranking.

Spanish cities take top three spots in expat ranking

Spain knocked it out of the park this year when it came to the Expat Cities ranking, taking all three of the top spots. Málaga was crowned as expats’ favourite city of the 49 included in the ranking, a title which is largely based on the friendliness of Malagueños and Malagueñas.

The second Spanish coastal city to make the top three in the ranking was Alicante, which proved particularly good at settling in newcomers, but ranked the worst when it came to the Working Abroad category, with respondents reporting that the Costa Blanca city does not promote creativity or flexibility.

Valencia came in as the last in the top three cities for expats in 2023. According to the ranking, it was expats' appreciation of healthcare in Valencia that won the city third place. The healthcare system in Spain works much like that of Germany, with the statutory system providing free basic healthcare to those who make social security payments. Friendliness was praised too, and overall, 91 percent of respondents said they were happy in Valencia.

Berlin and Hamburg expats are among the unhappiest worldwide

While the rest are out there enjoying the Spanish sunshine, expats in Berlin refresh WG-Gesucht for the 25th time in 15 minutes. Of the 49 cities included in the 2023 expat cities ranking, the German capital made it in at a hot 45th.

Unsurprisingly, expats in Berlin are particularly fed up with not being able to find anywhere to live thanks to the city’s affordable housing crisis, which doesn’t look like it will brighten up any time soon. A depressing 78 percent said that it’s difficult for expats to find a house, versus 31 percent globally. Since they are unlikely to have a registered address for the first years of living in the city, it’s no wonder that 39 percent said that they don’t feel at home in Berlin.

So why do they stay? 90 percent said the city’s cultural scene was the nugget of joy keeping their hopes alive.

There were similarly unhappy scenes in Hamburg, which actually did worse than Berlin, coming in at 46 out of 49 in the ranking. Respondents reported similar problems to rankings from previous years, with many saying that it was hard to have a good social life and especially hard to find local friends.

As in almost all German cities at the moment, the short supply of affordable housing was another major stress. The redeeming feature for those choosing to stay in the port city? The job security - which ranked fourth best. But while Hamburgers feel secure in their jobs, they don’t exactly like them, with the city ranked in the bottom 10 for overall job satisfaction.

Best and worst cities in the world for expats in 2023

Overall, these are the 10 best cities for expats, according to InterNations:

  1. Málaga, Spain 
  2. Alicante, Spain
  3. Valencia, Spain 
  4. Ras Al Khaimah, United Arab Emirates
  5. Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
  6. Madrid, Spain
  7. Mexico City
  8. Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  9. Bangkok, Thailand
  10. Muscat, Oman

By contrast, these are the 10 worst cities for expats:

  1. Milan, Italy
  2. Rome, Italy
  3. Vancouver, Canada
  4. Hamburg, Germany
  5. Berlin, Germany
  6. Dublin, Ireland
  7. Istanbul, Turkey
  8. London, United Kingdom
  9. Paris, France
  10. Seoul, South Korea

For more information, check out the official report.

Thumb image credit: Merlot Levert /

Olivia Logan


Olivia Logan

Editor for Germany at IamExpat Media. Olivia first came to Germany in 2013 to work as an Au Pair. Since studying English Literature and German in Scotland, Freiburg and Berlin...

Read more



Leave a comment