“Isolating and uptight”: Germany receives worst ranking yet in Expat Insider survey

“Isolating and uptight”: Germany receives worst ranking yet in Expat Insider survey

Germany never fares well when internationals speak their minds in the InterNations Expat Insider survey each year, but in 2024, new lows have been reached. The federal republic has been named the worst country for digital life, administration, housing and languages.

InterNations Expat Insider 2024 Survey

The Expat Insider Survey, put together every year by the expat network InterNations, looks at how more than 12.000 expats from 175 different countries around the world view their adopted homes. This year, 53 different expat destinations were included in the survey and ranked according to their quality of life. 

The ranking brings together insights across elements of expat life, from safety and security to the ease of settling in. As ever, the 56 factors assessed in the survey were split into five key indexes, with the results then brought together to form the overall ranking. The five indexes are: 

  • Quality of Life Index (which looks at leisure options, travel, healthcare, security and environment)
  • Ease of Settling in Index (culture, friendliness and ease of making friends)
  • Working Abroad Index (career prospects, salary and job security, and culture and satisfaction at work)
  • Personal Finance Index (cost of living, satisfaction with financial situation)
  • Expat Essentials Index (digital life, housing and local language)

In 2024 Panama unseated Mexico to take the top spot in the ranking, with Mexico slipping down to second. The top five was rounded out by Indonesia, Spain and Colombia, places where expats all report being satisfied with their lives. 

Interestingly, countries like Norway and Finland, which are regularly praised for their quality of life, are to be found in the bottom 10, ranking 48th and 51st, respectively. But still, that was all before a mention of Germany, which came in 50th place, beating only Finland, Kuwait and Turkey in the overall ranking.

Germany ranked worst country for digital life in new expat survey

“I find the culture super isolating and uptight. It’s almost impossible to make friends, and I’m always scared I’m breaking some rule,” one Ghanaian expat added to a chorus.

Of the 10 years that the Expat Insider Survey has been running, Germany saw its worst ranking in 2024, particularly in the area “Expat Essentials”. Expats' assessment of digital life in Germany made it the worst country for digital infrastructure. 

Closely associated with poor digital infrastructure, Germany came 45th out of 53 for “admin topics” and, in the midst of the worst housing shortage in 20 years, 51st for housing. For many, all of these processes are complicated by a lack of information in English and limited access to German courses, which are oversubscribed or often unaffordable. 67 percent of respondents said they find German difficult to learn (versus 40 percent globally) and 51 percent agreed that it’s not easy to live here without speaking the language (versus 33 percent globally).

And where infrastructure fell short, charisma did not step in. Expats in Germany ranked the country 49th out of 51st for local friendliness, 50th for making friends and second-last for how welcoming - or unwelcoming - its culture is.

The one area where the country fared well was, interestingly, Germans’ favourite gripe - Deutsche Bahn, or more generally, Germany’s travel and transit, which expats assessed as the 18th best of the 53 countries included.

Expat Insider’s best and worst countries for internationals in 2024

According to the Expat Insider Survey 2024, these are the top five expat destinations in the world: 

  1. Panama
  2. Mexico
  3. Indonesia
  4. Spain
  5. Colombia

The expat destinations that performed worst in the 2024 ranking are: 

  • 49. Canada
  • 50. Germany
  • 51. Finland
  • 52. Turkey
  • 53. Kuwait

For more information about the Expat Insider Survey, visit the InterNations website.

Thumb image credit: Jasmin lit /

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...

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