Digital nomads have several choices in Europe, but the Iberian countries might be the best bet, Source: Unsplash

The 3 best cities for expats in the EU… (and the 3 worst)

The 3 best cities for expats in the EU… (and the 3 worst)

The insight comes from an annual survey done by the InterNations community platform

Europe as a continent is a popular destination for expats, digital nomads and the whole variety of professionals who would like to experience a version of life a bit different from the one at home. But with so many cities and countries, how do you choose where to settle?

Fortunately, InterNations, a popular global expat platform that organizes social events, can offer some clues. Its team does annual surveys among its members in order to determine the livability of the myriad of cool localities on our planet.

And here, we’ll have a look at the top 3 cities in the European Union to settle in. But also, keep on reading as we’ll also reveal the three cities to likely avoid in the bloc in terms of long-term prospects.

The Iberian Peninsula is where it’s at

The best city for 2022, and not only in Europe but in the whole world, as judged by the InterNations members is Valencia. It was deemed as providing the best quality of life overall. It was ranked third in the ease of settling in the index and three-quarters of expats said they feel at home and happy with their social life.

Right on the opposite side of the Iberian Peninsula is where we find the second-best city for expats – Lisbon. The Portuguese capital has been praised for its marvellous weather and climate – so much so that it is also 4th overall on a global scale. Likewise, the people who have settled there love the cultural and nightlife options, plus it feels quite safe, with 91% of responders describing it as safe.

And if somehow, coastal life isn’t your thing, then you don’t have to look far. The next-door capital of Madrid is pretty much on par with Lisbon. Third in the EU, (and 5th overall globally), the Spanish capital actually offers a better quality of life to expats than Lisbon does. However, like the other Iberian cities, it suffers somewhat in guaranteeing job security.

And if you're curious which are the top 10 cities in the world, here they are:

  1. Valencia
  2. Dubai
  3. Mexico City
  4. Lisbon
  5. Madrid
  6. Bangkok
  7. Basel
  8. Melbourne
  9. Abu Dhabi
  10. Singapore

The most unwelcoming cities for expats

There’s more variety when it comes to the worst-ranked European cities for expats. Frankfurt, in Germany, is 49th overall (out of 50 global cities). Unsurprisingly perhaps, it is only highly esteemed for its car infrastructure. However, expats are generally unhappy about the cost of living and housing and the difficulty of making local friends. Surprisingly, digital services are not considered advanced enough, such as cashless payment.

Just one spot higher, we find Paris. The French capital has long been suffering from bad optics when it comes to its welcoming image, plus it has slid a lot in its safety rankings. What is appreciated there is its cultural and gastronomic offer – the same things that bring in short-term tourists, though.

Expats in Milan (44th overall) said they were not satisfied with the working hours and work-life balance in the economic capital of Italy.

The bottom 10 cities globally (41st to 50th place) are as follows:

  • Rome
  • Tokyo
  • Vancouver
  • Milan
  • Hamburg
  • Hong Kong
  • Istanbul
  • Paris
  • Frankfurt am Main
  • Johannesburg

The 2022 Expat Insider survey asked close to 12,000 expats living in 181 countries and territories for information on various aspects of expat life, as well as their gender, age, and nationality. Participants were asked to rate up to 56 different aspects of life abroad. The rating process emphasized the respondents’ personal satisfaction with these aspects, considering both emotional topics and more factual aspects with equal weight. 



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