[dropcap size=big]A[/dropcap] report from InterNations, the world’s largest network for people who live and work abroad, has revealed rankings of the friendliest countries in the world for expats, based on the insights of almost 13,000 foreign workers from 188 countries and territories.

Not ranking in the top ten – or even top 20 – are Ireland and the UK, which are in 30th and 56th place, respectively, reflecting how unwelcome people from abroad can feel in these countries. On the other hand, Portugal has been ranked number one, followed by Taiwan, Mexico, Cambodia and Bahrain.

Ireland

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 76%
  • Ease of making local friends: 59%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 49%
United Kingdom

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 50%
  • Ease of making local friends: 38%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 28%

InterNations says that in 2014, Ireland (23rd) and the UK (19th) still ranked fairly close to each other in terms of friendliness towards foreign residents, but they have been drifting apart ever since.

Expats find the British distant (42%) and reserved (58%), while only 11% and 26%, respectively, say the same about the Irish. An Italian expat values the “genuine friendliness” of the Irish, but a Portuguese national in the UK states that recently, I get the sense that foreigners are not as welcome as I thought before the referendum”. 

When asked how they would describe their social circles, 22% of expats in Ireland say they are mainly friends with other expats, while another 37% are mostly friends with local residents.

A Swedish expat living in Ireland describes the locals as sociable, friendly people who know how to have a laugh and enjoy themselves”. In the UK, 32% of expats are mainly friends with other expats, while just 20% are mainly friends with locals.

In Ireland, 70% of expats say they feel at home in the local culture, while 57% feel the same way about the UK.

Top 10 most welcoming countries for expats

1. Portugal

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 94%
  • Ease of making local friends: 58%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 47%

Climbing nine places since 2016, Portugal claims the title of the most welcoming country for expats.The local population is friendly and helpful,” states an Australian, while a Dutch expat values that people look after each other here. In fact, close to four in five expats (79%) describe the Portuguese as welcoming, and about three in ten (29%) state that locals make up most of their social circles (vs 19% globally).

2. Taiwan

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 86%
  • Ease of making local friends: 61%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 30%

Close to three-quarters of expats living in Taiwan agree that the Taiwanese are welcoming (73%) rather than distant (8%). The people are wonderfully friendly and welcoming to foreigners,” states a US American expat. Maybe it is this friendly attitude that makes it easy for the majority of expats to settle down in the country (74%) and feel at home in the local culture (69%).

3. Mexico

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 87%
  • Ease of making local friends: 73%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 39%

Considering how easy expats find it to make local friends in Mexico, it comes as no surprise that 30% say their friends are mainly locals. Moreover, four in five expats find it easy to settle down in the country (81%) and to get used to the local culture (80%). A US American expat especially likes how easy it is to adapt, and the people are incredibly friendly.

4. Cambodia

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 92%
  • Ease of making local friends: 59%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 23%

More than four in five expats find Cambodians welcoming (85%) and think that it is easy to settle down here (83%). This might be one of the reasons why 39% felt at home nearly straight away, which is the highest share across all surveyed countries and more than twice the global average (19%).

5. Bahrain

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 86%
  • Ease of making local friends: 55%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 11%

Close to seven in ten (69%) find the Bahrainis welcoming, and another 73% feel at home in the local culture. This might be thanks to the lack of a significant language barrier: 91% find it easy to live here without speaking the local language. Bahrain is a beautiful melting pot of many different cultures,” states an expat from the USA. In fact, only 1% believe that they will never feel at home here.

6. Costa Rica

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 87%
  • Ease of making local friends: 78%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 48%

Out of 65 countries, Costa Rica is the number-one destination when it comes to making local friends. This might be due to the fact that 85% of expats describe Costa Ricans as welcoming rather than distant (9%), which is 30 percentage points above the global average (55%). Moreover, it might have contributed to more than four in five expats saying they feel at home in the local culture (81%), compared to a global average of 60%.

7. Oman

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 86%
  • Ease of making local friends: 60%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 12%

“Oman is very expat friendly. The locals are warm and welcoming,” says an Indian living in Oman, and most expats in the country seem to agree: close to three-quarters describe the locals as welcoming (73%). Despite that positive attitude, only 3% state to be mainly friends with locals — however, the majority (58%) is part of a quite mixed social circle.

8. Colombia

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 87%
  • Ease of making local friends: 62%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 33%

Out of the top 10 most welcoming countries, expats in Colombia are the most likely to be mainly friends with locals (34%). In fact, more than four in five expats describe the Colombians as welcoming (86%) and find it easy to settle down in the country (81%). A US American finds the Colombians “open, warm, and friendly, and an expat from the Netherlands adds that they “are always willing to help.

9. Vietnam

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 83%
  • Ease of making local friends: 56%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 16%

More than four in five expats describe the Vietnamese as welcoming (81%), and 73% find it easy to settle down in the country. “I love the friendly vibe in the city,” states an expat from South Korea about life in Ho Chi Minh, “people are mostly nice and gentle”. Despite that welcoming attitude, more than half the expats in Vietnam (51%) plan to stay up to five years at most, which is quite above the global average (35%).

10. Canada

  • Friendly attitude towards expats: 81%
  • Ease of making local friends: 43%
  • Expats likely to stay forever: 45%

Canadians are perceived as welcoming by 62% of expats in the country, or as a French expat puts it: they are “open-minded, tolerant, and benevolent”. In fact, close to three in ten expats state to be mainly friends with locals (27%), which might contribute to their ease of settling down in the country (70%). Although many expats (45%) find it likely that they will stay forever, the share of expats not yet feeling at home in the country (15%) is the highest out of the top-10 destinations.

Most welcoming countries for expats infographic

For travel trends delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for the Globetrender newsletter.