UAE scores high for expats on quality of life, low on cost of living: InterNations

The UAE ranks 18th among countries expats want to move to

Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE. Image used for illustrative purpose.

Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai, UAE. Image used for illustrative purpose.

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The UAE has been ranked as one of the top 20 best expat destinations for 2021 in the latest Expat Insider survey by InterNations, a global community of people who work abroad. 

The study, which is based on the feedback of more than 12,000 respondents worldwide, measures expats’ satisfaction in terms of quality of life, as well as how easy or difficult it is for them to feel at home, work or earn sufficient income in their respective host country. 

The UAE came in the 18th position overall out of the 59 destinations included in the survey. Expats in the country said they are happy with the quality of life and ease of settling in (ranked 17th for both).  

Cost of living, personal finance 

The UAE, however, was rated poorly in terms of cost of living (44th), as well as in the area of personal finance (56th). Almost half (42 percent) of expats said they are unhappy with the cost of living in the UAE, compared to 34 percent globally. One German expat who participated in the survey even claimed that “the cost of living is impossibly high” in the UAE. 

Nearly three in ten expats (28 percent) said they were dissatisfied with their financial situation, compared to 19 percent globally

Another 32 percent said their disposable household income is not enough to cover their daily living expenses.

Among the expats polled for the survey, 21 percent said they have a disposable income of less than $12,000 per year, 6 percentage points more than the global average of 15 percent. 

While they might not be happy with their income, expats in the UAE are optimistic about the state of the UAE economy. About 75 percent rated the UAE economy positively, compared to 62 percent globally, while 47 percent said they are happy with the job opportunities   available. 

When it comes to safety and security, the UAE also did very well, ranking third in the subcategory. When it comes to language, the UAE also earned good scores, placing fourth overall, with 93 percent of expats saying it is easy to live in the country without speaking Arabic, compared to 54 percent globally. 

About a quarter (25 percent) of expats said they have been impacted by the pandemic significantly, compared to 15 percent of the global respondents who shared the same sentiment. In particular, the crisis has affected expats’ personal travel, according to 18 percent, while 16 percent said the outbreak has hurt their personal finances. 

In the long run, 25 percent of expats also believe that their personal finances will be impacted the most, compared to 11 percent globally. 

Global rankings 

Overall, Taiwan emerged as the number one destination for expats, followed by Mexico, Costa Rica, Malaysia, Portugal, New Zealand, Australia, Ecuador, Canada and Vietnam. 

Many of these countries in the top ten stood out in various categories, including ease of settling and personal finance. 

At the other end of the scale are Kuwait, which ranked 59th, Italy, South Africa, Russia, Egypt, Japan, Cyprus, Turkey, India and Malta. Besides Japan, which landed in the 21st position, all these countries ranked far below the global average in terms of quality of life. 

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria) 

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© ZAWYA 2021

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