SA ranks among the worst places to live for expats in 2022


JToday, InterNations publish his Expat Insider 2022 investigationone of the world’s most comprehensive surveys on living and working abroad with nearly 12,000 respondents.

Overall, the investigation report analyzes 52 destinations worldwideranking the best and worst countries for expats and offering detailed information on expat satisfaction with the Quality of life, ease of installation, work abroadand Personal finance in their respective country of residence.

For the first time, the ranking also includes the new Expat Database Indexwhich covers digital life, administration topics, housing and language

Safety and security are top concerns for expats in South Africa

South Africa ranks 46th out of 52 destinations in the Expat Insider 2022 survey, ranking among the lowest rated in the world in the Working Abroad (46th) and Quality of Life (43rd) indices. While the country doesn’t do much better for personal finance (42nd), it ranks in the middle of the Expat Essentials (28th) and Ease of Settling In (26th) indices. Overall, 61% of expats are satisfied with their life in South Africa, compared to 71% globally.

Mexico (1st), Indonesia (2nd) and Taiwan (3rd) make up the top 3 destinations, and they all rank highly in the ease of settling and personal finance indices. On the other hand, the last 3 destinations, Kuwait (52nd), New Zealand and Hong Kong, all score poorly in terms of personal finances for expats. While Kuwait ranks among the worst destinations in the world on all factors, expats in New Zealand struggle with their careers and those in Hong Kong are unhappy with the local environment.

Dangerous and difficult to move

South Africa comes in 46th place out of 52 destinations in the Expat Insider 2022 survey. It ranks particularly low in the Quality of Life Index (43rd), which is mainly due to its poor performance in the sub -Travel and transportation (49th) and Safety and security (51st) categories. It is even ranked the worst destination in the world for personal safety. Almost half of expats in South Africa (48%) do not feel safe, compared to just 9% globally.

The country also ranks in the bottom 3 for political stability (51st), with 43% of expats rating this factor negatively, compared to just 15% globally. Only expats in Hong Kong (52nd) are less satisfied with the political stability there. Many expatriates express their fear of crime and the lack of political stability in South Africa.

‘Security is the biggest issue,’ says Iranian expat, and Irish expat shares
“crime, security, inequality and poverty” are his biggest concerns.

Almost half of expats (48%) also find it difficult to get around on foot and/or by bike (compared to 13% globally), ranking South Africa last in the world for this factor (52nd). It probably doesn’t help that they’re also unhappy with the affordability (25% vs. 15% globally) and availability (42% vs. 17% globally) of public transport.

A fantastic natural environment

However, South Africa does well in the Environment and Climate (15th) and Recreational Options (11th) subcategories, offering a variety of culinary choices (8th) and plenty of opportunities for recreational sports (16th).

More than four out of five expats (84%) are satisfied with the culinary variety and meals
options, compared to 77% worldwide. Additionally, more than nine in ten expats (91%) rate the natural environment positively (vs. 83% globally), and 78% are satisfied with the climate and weather (vs. 62% globally).

“Great climate, great natural environment and very good food,” summarizes an Italian expatriate.

A worrying job market

The Working Abroad Index (46th) is another low point on expat life in South Africa. The country ranks in the bottom 3 in the Salary and Job Security (51st) and Career Prospects (49th) sub-categories. It is even ranked last for job security, with 36% of expats unhappy with this factor (compared to 20% globally).

“The employment situation is difficult. I don’t work in my profession and the monthly income is not enough, but we survive,” says a German expat. In fact, nearly half of expats (47%) aren’t happy with the local job market (vs. 27% globally), and 28% feel they aren’t paid fairly for their work (vs. 20% in the world).

On the bright side, South Africa ranks much higher in the Culture and Job Satisfaction sub-category (21st). The majority of expats (80%) see purpose in their work (vs. 78% globally), and 59% agree that the local business culture encourages creativity (vs. 51% globally). However, this is not enough to make them happy: one in four expats (25%) are generally unhappy with their job, compared to 16% globally.

Affordable housing, but tough bureaucracy

In the Expat Essentials Index, South Africa occupy the midfield (28th). It comes in 15th place in the Accommodation subcategory: 46% of expats are satisfied with its affordability (compared to 39% globally) and 66% describe it as easy-to-find accommodation (compared to 52% globally) . However, the country ranks 45th in the administrative subjects subcategory. Expats struggled to get a visa when moving to South Africa (45% unhappy vs. 24% globally), and more than half (54%) find it difficult to deal with bureaucracy/ authorities in the country (vs. 39% globally). .

Expats enjoy their social life

Finally, South Africa obtains the best results in the ease of installation index (26th). Expats are happy with their social life (59% vs. 56% globally) and find it easy to make local friends (46% vs. 42% globally). More than a quarter of expats (26%) are primarily friends with local residents (vs. 17% globally), and 56% describe their social circle as a fairly mixed group (vs. 49% globally). However, it seems that this is not the case for all: nearly three in ten expats (29%) describe local residents as unfriendly towards foreign residents (compared to 18% globally).

According to the results of the Expat Insider 2022 survey, Mexico (1st), Indonesia, Taiwan, Portugal, Spain, United Arab Emirates, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and Singapore (10th) are the best destinations for expats. The top 5 destinations stand out in terms of Ease of Installation and Personal Finances. They also tend to perform well in the Expat Essentials Index.

Although they are all right in the middle of the Foreign Work Index rankings, their results in the Quality of Life Index are somewhat mixed. Spain (1st), Taiwan and Portugal make up the world’s top 3, but expats in Mexico (24th) and Indonesia (41st) are unhappy with the local quality of life.

The worst destinations for expats are Kuwait (52nd), New Zealand, Hong Kong, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Italy and Malta (43rd). Kuwait is among the worst destinations in the world in each individual index as well as in the overall ranking. In addition, the last 5 destinations all have average to poor performance in the Working Abroad and Personal Finance indices. While Italy is an exception in terms of Personal Finance (33rd), it only ranks 48th in the Expat Essentials Index.

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