Germany ranked hardest country to start a new life as an expat
Of the 52 countries assessed in the new InterNations Expat Essentials Index 2023, Germany has been ranked as the hardest country for expats to start a new life. The Gulf states dominated the top 10 in the international ranking.
InterNations Expat Essentials Index
Moving to a new country comes with what can feel like an endless list of urgent and official administrative tasks before you can enjoy learning more about the nuances of everyday life. In some countries, access to affordable housing, well-organised administrative bodies, good public transport and advanced digitisation make this process easier - but not everywhere.
Surveying 52 destinations, the InterNations Expat Essentials Index has ranked which countries make it easiest for expats to set up their new lives away from home, and where this process comes with the most hurdles. Four subcategories were assessed to create the ranking:
- Digital Life (availability of administrative services online, high-speed internet, cashless payment services and unrestricted access to online services e.g. social media)
- Housing (access to affordable housing, ease of finding somewhere to live)
- Admin Topics (ease of local bureaucracy, opening a bank account and getting a visa)
- Language (ease of living without speaking the language, ease of learning the language)
Gulf states top Expat Essentials Index
According to the survey, Bahrain is the country where expats can set up their new lives with the most ease. 67 percent of Bahrain-based expats said that local authorities were easy to interact with, and 70 percent said obtaining a visa was relatively easy and accessing government services online was not a problem. When it comes to unrestricted social media access, however, the Gulf state ranks below the global average.
A high number of expats in Bahrain (82 percent) said that it was easy to live in the country without speaking Arabic, the same goes for the UAE, which came in second place in the overall ranking. Dealing with administrative bodies was again considered relatively easy but access to social media was similarly restricted, with 19 percent of UAE expats reporting that they felt restricted when using the internet.
Further afield, Singapore and Estonia came in respective third and fourth place in the ranking, with both countries being rated highly when it came to administrative process and digitisation.
Expats in Germany face frustrating barriers
All the way down at the bottom of the list in 52nd place, the love-hate relationship that expats in Germany have with their adopted home made itself unforgivably apparent. Germany also ranked in the bottom 10 in three of the index’s four subcategories; housing, digital life and language.
59 percent of respondents reported that housing in Germany is both hard to find and unaffordable, a sentiment which reflects the country’s current and worsening housing crisis. One Polish expat told InterNations, “It may take up to three months to find even temporary accommodation” in Germany.
When it comes to speaking the language, 60 percent of survey respondents rated their own German skills somewhere between fairly good and very good. Despite this, over half said that learning German is hard and just under half said that it is hard to live in the federal republic without speaking German.
Natives and expats in Germany are unquestionably united in their continuous criticism of two topics in particular: the country’s prolonged digital Dark Ages and snail’s-pace internet - a sentiment which was reflected in survey responses. A third of respondents said that online government services were insufficient and 52 percent that it was difficult to deal with local authorities. “I really hate German bureaucracy,” said one UK expat, “nothing is digitised! It takes forever to get in touch with any local government offices to discuss residence permits and the like."
Easiest and hardest countries for expats to get started in
According to the InterNations Expat Essentials Index, the easiest international countries for expats to start a new life in are:
- Saudi Arabia
Meanwhile, the countries where it's the most difficult for expats to set up their new lives are:
To find more information about the Expat Essentials Index, visit the InterNations website.
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