Bangkok has suffered a significant fall in popularity amongst expats who live there, compared to one year ago, according to a new report.
Released this week, the Expat Insider: The Best & Worst Cities for Expats in 2019 by InterNations ranks the best and worst cities in the world for expats to live.
The report is based on a ranking of up to 82 cities worldwide.
To identify the best and worst cities for expats, 20,000 survey respondents living in 187 countries and territories worldwide were asked to rate more than 25 different aspects of urban life abroad on a scale of one to seven.
The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects and considered both emotional topics as well as more factual aspects with equal weight. The respondents’ ratings of the individual factors were then bundled in various combinations for a total of 13 subcategories, and their mean values were used to draw up four topical indices: Quality of Urban Living, Getting Settled, Urban Work Life, and Finance & Housing.
The report ranked Thailand in 20th place overall, a significant fall from the 5th place it ranked in 2018 and its 8th place ranking in 2017.
Expats said they regarded the Thai capital as one of the worst in the world for the quality of the environment (79th), while it ranked 74th for political stability.
Visa bureaucracy was another complaint amongst working expats.
“Visa regulations and the amount of paperwork needed to get a work permit makes it very difficult for expats to stay for a long period of time,” a Bulgarian expat said.
But it wasn’t all bad, with expats generally still finding Bangkok to be safe and affordable, especially when it comes to finding reasonably priced housing.
Bangkok ranked in 5th place out of the Asian cities that featured in the survey and ranked third overall in the Finance & Housing Index.
More than four in seven expats (58%) say that housing in Bangkok is affordable (vs. 36% globally), and 80% of respondents state that it is easy to find (vs. 50% globally). While Bangkok also ranks high for the local cost of living (9th).
The vast majority are satisfied with the availability of healthcare (83% vs. 73% globally) and feels safe (89% vs. 81% globally). “It is a much safer place for my son to grow up in,” said a German expat.
For the second year in a row Taipei was found to be the best city to live in as an expat.
“The cost of living in Taiwan is cheaper compared to Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong, for example,” says an expat from India. “And Taiwan’s health insurance and safety are what make it attractive to me.” In fact, 96% of expats state to feel safe in Taipei, compared to 81% globally.
Kuala Lumpur came second overall and was voted the world’s easiest city to get settled as an expat. Three in four expats (75%) feel at home in Kuala Lumpur (vs. 64% globally), and 69% are happy with their social life (vs. 55% globally). Language also does not seem to be a problem, as 92% find it easy to live in the city without speaking the local language (vs. 47% globally). “It is easy to blend in with the culture, the food, and the people,” explains an expat from India, “and the language is not a problem if one can speak English.”
Ho Chi Minh City was voted third overall, with close to nine in ten expats (87%) saying that it is easy to find housing (vs. 50% globally), and 77% being happy with their financial situation (vs. 57% globally), the city tops the ranking in the Finance & Housing Index for the second year running. The same is true for the Local Cost of Living Index (1st). Ho Chi Minh City is also popular for its thriving work life (3rd).
Expats are particularly happy with their jobs in general (79% vs. 64% globally), the local career opportunities (68% vs. 51% globally), and their working hours (75% vs. 62% globally). What is more, Ho Chi Minh City comes in third worldwide for both the Local Friendliness and Friends & Socializing subcategories.
When asked what they like about Ho Chi Minh City, a Philippine respondent replies: “It is easy to deal and work with the people here, and the cost of living is good.”
The results of the survey echoes the findings of a similar survey by InterNations released in September, which found that Thailand overall had also fallen in popularity amongst expats.