The top countries where expats adjust quickest are Bahrain, Malaysia and Mexico, according to newly-released data.
Two thirds of those (66 per cent) moving to Bahrain feel at home within a year, making it the most welcoming place in the world according to a survey by HSBC Expat.
Although the Foreign Office warns Britons in Bahrain to be aware of regular demonstrations and protests that can turn violent – and a high threat of terror – it remains a welcoming place, according to British expat Georgie Bradley.
“Bahrain isn’t a pretentious place because there’s humbleness. Perhaps because it is a small island, you just don’t feel overwhelmed”
“Bahrain is easy to settle in because it’s so much more open than people think. The local/expat interaction is stronger than in neighbouring states, which allows newcomers to feel more relaxed and welcomed,” said Ms Bradley, a journalist.
“I have so much time for the locals’ generosity of spirit and good humour – they so easily take you under their wing. Although there are glossy buildings and high end shopping malls, Bahrain isn’t a pretentious place because there’s humbleness. Perhaps because it is a small island, you just don’t feel overwhelmed.”
The next most welcoming place in the world is India where 63 per cent of expats feel settled within 12 months. This compares with 48 per cent of all expats surveyed globally.
Sarah Bladen, a Briton who moved there from Dubai last year, reported a warm welcome when she arrived in Delhi.
“No matter what your socio-economic background, Delhiites pride themselves on being fervently hospitable,” she observed.
“Denizens of Delhi will happily take you on a tour of their city and invite you to come home for some chai”
Third on the list of countries that roll out the welcome mat is Malaysia. More than six in ten (61 per cent) feel settled quickly.
Top 10 countries where expats feel at home in less than a year (global average: 48 per cent)
1.Bahrain 66 per cent
2.India 63 per cent
3.Malaysia 61 per cent
4.Mexico 61 per cent
5.Taiwan 57 per cent
6.Oman 57 per cent
7.Russia 57 per cent
8.Spain 56 per cent
9.Indonesia 56 per cent
10.Vietnam 56 per cent
Flo Simpson, who arrived in Kuala Lumpur in September 2015 said: “I was not surprised to read that Malaysia is listed as one of the top countries in which expats settle fast: the people are friendly, it is easy to navigate, and it is a beautiful place to live.”
Ms Simpson, who is from the UK and runs an art agency, added: “Feeling a strong connection to Malaysia can certainly be attributed to the development of my social life and friendship group, but it was also down to more practical aspects of life, like knowing my favourite places to go and eat, road names, and how to get around. This made me feel much safer, an important part, if not a requisite, for feeling settled, wherever you are in the world.”
The eighth easiest to settle in country is Spain, according to the HSBC research. Anna Nicholas, a British writer who lives in Majorca, said: “Aside from the ease of transport links back to the UK, a mere two hour flight away, the Spanish as a people are hugely welcoming and friendly.
“Although initially some expats might find Spanish bureaucracy daunting, the wonderful culture, sunny weather, food, joie de vivre and superb health care and amenities make up for it. The country feels so safe too.”
In tenth place is Vietnam. Barbara Adam, an Australian mother-of-two who works as a writer and street food tour operator, has lived in Vietnam for six years.
“I’m surprised Vietnam ranks so highly in the list because it can be challenging here and I know some trailing spouses really struggle”
“Having said that – I love it here. I wasn’t sent here by an employer, I chose to live here, and since I’ve been here, I’ve settled down and had two kids, worked for several different local companies and started a business with my Vietnamese husband.”
She added: “Since I’ve been living in Ho Chi Minh City, the formal and informal support services for expats have expanded enormously. When I first came, the expat options were mostly aimed at men, things like sports clubs and events put on by the various chambers of commerce. It was all very blokey, but things have become a lot more balanced.
“New technology has helped improve the quality of expat life here over the past few years. There are many Facebook and Meetup groups to help people make friends and just work out how things work, like where to buy various things, where and when mothers’ groups meet, whether people are being stiffed on their power bill and how to organise water delivery.
“I think the expat community here in Vietnam is very welcoming, so once you tap in, you can find `your’ people fast, and build a support network.”
HSBC released the data, from its 2015 Expat Explorer survey, as it opened up this year’s survey. Last year, nearly 22,000 people around the world took part and this year they’d like even more to share their experiences via an online questionnaire run by YouGov, an independent market research company.