Best and Worst Places for Expats

By - April 21, 2009 (Updated: November 27, 2014)

Since the sale of Andrew’s company, we’ve been talking about the possibility of having (or wanting) to move somewhere else. It’s a topic we’ve discussed a lot in theoretical terms but suddenly it’s become a real possibility. We’d love to move somewhere with a better climate (but not too hot says Andrew). We’ve talked about trying island life (but not too isolated says Alison). We’ve even talked about trying somewhere else in Canada (ugh winter we say in unison). We learned a lot of hard lessons about how NOT to do an expat move, so if/when the situation arises again, hopefully we won’t make the same mistakes.

This morning, while taking a break from editing through piles of garden photos, I googled the best and worst places to live as an expat. There were tonnes of articles, and it was hilarious that many places were listed on BOTH lists, for different reasons, the two most notable of these being India and China.

Business Weekly had an interesting looks at The Hardest Hardship Posts. They include a slide show with more detail on each location.

Forbes looks at World’s Best Places To Be An Expat, again with a detailed slide show.

Irony Alert: Canada makes the Best list at 6th place (tied with The Netherlands and Germany). Belgium? # 4! Seriously?!

“Capital city Brussels, home of the European Union headquarters, tends to attract expats for long periods of time, while decent accommodations just a few metro stops from the city center is available and affordable.”

Truuuue… but obviously weather wasn’t one of the critera.

In Second place, The US and the UAE are tied – neither being a country I have a particular desire to live in, unless of course San Francisco could become it’s own republic. And the top spot? Singapore. Hmmm… Good food, hot, no chewing gum and it’s an island. I could live with that.

If you like this, you might like:

Alison Cornford-Matheson is a Canadian freelance writer and travel photographer and the founder of She is the author of The Foodie Guide to Brussels: Local Tips for Restaurants, Shops, Hotels, and Activities. Alison landed in Belgium in 2005 and, over the years, has become passionate about slow and sustainable travel, in Europe and beyond. She loves to discover hidden gems - be they museums, shops, restaurants, castles, gardens or landscapes, and share them through her words and photos. She has visited 45 countries and is currently slow travelling through North America in an RV, with her husband, Andrew, and two well-travelled cats. You can also follow her work on Google+
- 2 days ago


  1. Comment by Breigh (Canadutch)

    Breigh (Canadutch) April 22, 2009 at 09:41

    Move back to NL!!! 🙂

  2. Comment by Danielle Barkhouse

    Danielle Barkhouse April 22, 2009 at 11:41

    Fascinating stuff. I may need to recycle this info!

  3. Comment by Alison

    Alison April 22, 2009 at 09:44

    Haha! Love to Tammy! I’d be in A’dam in a second if I could. Just need to find the boy a job or convince his new company to send us there 🙂

  4. Comment by Alison

    Alison April 22, 2009 at 12:37

    Danie – Be my guest! Of course the lists are very subjective depending what criteria are used in the ratings, still I found it interesting that some of the ‘best’ were also the ‘worst’ which I guess is true of any expat posting.

  5. Comment by Shannon

    Shannon April 22, 2009 at 15:05

    Obviously I would love it if you moved to Amsterdam, but in all honestly, wouldn’t you want to live somewhere completely new if you were going to do another big relocation? I’d imagine that you must be getting tired of Benelux by now 🙂

  6. Comment by Alison

    Alison April 22, 2009 at 15:13

    Shan – You know, I’m back and forth on that. Of course there is an element of excitement about some place totally new and different, but there is also the risk of it sucking big time, to put it delicately 🙂 There is also the chaos factor. I’m comfortable with The Netherlands and France and could see myself in either place… even possibly Spain except there’s the whole not speaking Spanish issue 🙂 But someplace new would require a total shift of pace again. I guess at this point I’m open to considering just about anything.

  7. Comment by pugwash pops

    pugwash pops April 23, 2009 at 17:03

    PUGWASH!!!!!!! …. W00T-W00T-W00T!!!! … PP

  8. Comment by Alison

    Alison April 23, 2009 at 17:12

    lol What are the stats on expats in Pugwash PP. I’d think the percentage would be higher in Englewood 🙂

  9. Comment by Lydia

    Lydia May 12, 2009 at 13:17

    How difficult it is to choose a new place to live before ever actually living there. It took a lot of spreadsheets before we decided that Belgium was best for us. So far, we are very happy with our decision.
    Although today is pretty crummy, the Belgian Spring has been quite lovely really. Plenty of blue skies and temperate weather.

  10. Comment by sara

    sara March 25, 2010 at 21:36

    I live in Ecuador and it is a wonderful country.Its people are so nice and kind, they will give you the most warming welcome. I have put together a helpful fact sheet, and also an article on Ecuadorian manners and ustoms

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