Choosing Where in The World to Live

Choosing where in the world to live can be very difficult. People make international moves for many reasons. They may have been offered relocation through the company they work for, may have made a decision to start a business in a new country or maybe considering retiring abroad. As a potential expatriate, you may already know where you are relocating to or could have the luxury of being able to choose where in the world to live.

We have collated research from a number of independent surveys and sources in order to compile our own summary of the top expat locations. Using subjects that many expatriates will hold in high regard when considering a relocation, we have assessed the countries against one another in to produce our own ranking of the top expat destinations so that, whatever your situation, you can see how popular expat destinations stack up against one another. Hopefully, you will find this information useful when choosing where in the world to live.

Choosing Where in The World to Live

In order to compile our rating we have generated a set of decision criteria that consists of the areas that expats most commonly base their decision on. These are as follows.

Cost of living

One of the biggest, and most important concerns for many expatriates when choosing where in the world to live is the cost of living and many people are concerned about how the new location will compare to the location that they currently live in. For our ranking, we have used the results of a survey conducted by Mercer Consulting in 2012. For the purpose of our survey, the results of the capital city in each country have been used to produce the rankings. The Mercer survey ranks countries according to the cost of a unique basket of goods and services that is believed to reflect the realistic spending habits of expatriates.

Healthcare provisions

The quality of healthcare available in a destination is something that expatriates will always concern themselves with. For the purpose of our ranking, we utilized World Healthcare Organization research into government expenditure on health as a % of total government expenditure. It is important to note, however, that public healthcare may not always be available to expats within these countries and it is therefore important that you consult the comprehensive information available within the relocation guide to learn more about the specifics of any country you are considering relocating to.


The taxes that are applied in each destination will have a significant impact upon your quality of life and ability to save. The tax figures we have used for our survey have been based upon personal income tax rates and thresholds in OECD countries during the period 1981-2008 and have been extracted from OECD. Rankings have been based upon the upper tax limit and where countries have an equal upper tax limit the lower tax limit has been used to produce the ranking.


A further significant consideration of any expatriate considering a move abroad is safety and, in particular, the levels of crime in a country to which they are considering relocating. Crime figures used here have been based upon “Total crimes (per capita) by country” report compiled by NationMaster – World Statistics, Country Comparisons.

Choosing Where in The World to Live: Our Results

Country Cost of Living Healthcare provisions Taxes Crime/Personal Safety Overall Ranking
Mexico 4 2 0-28%: Rank=3 6 15 1
Canada 1 1 15-29%: Rank= 4 11 17 2
India 2 10 10-30%: Rank=11 3 20 3
Greece 6 5 0-40%: Rank=7 4 22 4
Australia 3 11 17-45%: Rank=11 2 27 5
Singapore 11 13 3.5-20%: Rank = 2 1 27 5
Spain 5 8 24-43%: Rank=10 7 30 7
France 9 4 5.5%-40%: Rank =8 10 31 8
HK 13 12 2-17%: Rank=1 5 31 8
USA 12 3 15-35%: Rank=6 12 33 10
Israel 7 6 10-46%: Rank=12 9 34 11
Italy 10 7 23-43%: Rank=9 8 34 11
UK 8 9 0-40%: Rank=7 13 37 12

An explanation of the ranking

We have ranked countries according to their performance against each criteria using a basic numbering system which rises from low for good performance to high for poor performance. The overall ranking is based upon the total score of each country across the criteria. For this ranking the categories have been given equal weighting.

Crime figures based upon “Total crimes (per capita) by country” report compiled by NationMaster – World Statistics, Country Comparisons.

Expat City Specific Information

For city specific information please see the Expat Info Desk destination guides. They contain hard facts and figures about what it is really like to live in a city as written by the people who live there. We do not give you the “official version”, we give you the “real version” and that’s exactly what you will need to have the best possible start to your new life abroad.

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