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Mexico Is the Top Spot in the World for Expats

Credits: Jose Luis | Adobe Stock images

Online expat community giant InterNations releases its annual global survey on the planet’s best countries for expats today and finds Mexico is the top spot in the world for expats to live….again. Mexico also led all countries in InterNation’s 2019 survey.

Mexico, a perennial top five place for expats to live in the nine years InterNations has been conducting its survey, this year beat out Indonesia for the #1 spot, followed by Taiwan, last year’s winner. Kuwait was at the bottom of the barrel, ranking lowest at 52nd out of the 52 countries studied. InterNations this year surveyed nearly 12,000 expats for their research.

A women from Mariachi band in Tlaquepaque, Mexico
Credit: Sarah Johnson

Mexico ranks highest among all countries surveyed in Ease of Settling In, its key strength, which means expats think Mexico has very friendly people. The country comes in 1st in Local Friendliness, Finding Friends and Culture & Welcome subcategories. In fact, 90 percent of expats in Mexico describe local residents as friendly versus 66 percent globally. About three-fourths of expats find it easy to make friends compared with 42 percent globally. Interestingly, 28 percent of expats in Mexico have mainly local friends, which is 11 percentage points more than the global average of just 17 percent. And, unlike just 62 percent globally, a whopping 86 percent truly feel at home in Mexico.

Expats also say that Mexico is easy to afford, a finding that was the highlight of our Expats In Mexico Survey 2022: Mexico is an inexpensive place to live.

Highlighting that finding, Mexico ranks second worldwide in the InterNation’s Personal Finance Index, just behind Vietnam. More than three-quarters of expats in Mexico are happy with their financial situation versus. 60 percent globally and very satisfied with the general cost of living, which ranks 2nd in the world. A big part of that is affordability of housing, where Mexico ranks 4th in the world.

The Housing sub-category is just one of the topics covered in InterNation’s new Expat Essentials Index. Here are a few more findings in this sub-category:

  • While 64 percent find it easy to get a visa in order to move to Mexico, versus 56 percent globally, they struggle with local bureaucracy.
  • Over 50 percent are unhappy with Mexico’s bureaucracy (53 percent) compared with just 39 percent globally.
  • Frustration in opening a bank account also seems to be a problem.  One-third of expats in Mexico are unhappy with the process versus 21 percent globally.
  • 16 percent of expats say it’s hard to pay without cash in Mexico vs.16 percent globally.
  • Even worse, Mexico does not perform well in the Digital Life subcategory, ranking just 47th out of the 52 countries surveyed. About one-third of the expats say they are dissatisfied with the availability of administrative services online in Mexico versus just 21 percent globally.
Mexico is the most welcoming country in the world for expats
Credits: carlosrojas20 | Adobe Stock images

Expats in Mexico also enjoy the second-best work-life balance worldwide, right after #1 Denmark. Over three-fourths of Expats in Mexico say they are satisfied with their work-life balance compared with just over 60 percent globally. Expats working in Mexico work about nearly three hours a week less than their counterparts in the rest of the world. Expats also think Mexico’s local business culture encourages creativity (59 percent versus 51percent globally), supports flexibility (61percent vs. 60 percent globally) and promotes independent work (50 percent vs. 45 percent globally).

When it comes to the Quality of Life Index, Mexico ranks just above average, 24th out of 52, but Expats rate Leisure Options in Mexico outstanding, 2nd worldwide. Here are a few other rankings that fall under the Quality of Life Index:

  • Culinary variety and dining options (92 percent happy versus 77 percent globally).
  • Culture and nightlife (84 percent happy versus 67 percent globally).
  • Opportunities for recreational sports (81 percent happy versus 75 percent globally).
  • Climate and weather (91 percent happy versus 62 percent globally).
  • Natural environment (90 percent happy versus. 83 percent globally).

But not all is roses in this category. Expats in Mexico are unhappy with their:

  • Urban environment (22 percent unhappy versus 17 percent globally).
  • Local air quality (36 percent unhappy versus 19 percent globally).
  • 37 percent believe the government of Mexico does not support policies to protect the environment, compared with 18 percent globally.

The InterNations study also includes a Travel & Transit subcategory, which ranks Mexico again in the middle of the pack at 24th. Here is what they found:

  • Expats in Mexico find it neither easy nor safe to get around on foot and/or by bicycle (22 percent unhappy versus 13 percent globally).
  • They are also not that pleased with the country’s infrastructure for cars (26 percent unhappy versus 13 percent globally.
  • While the availability of public transportation is rated just about average (75 percent happy vs. 73 percent globally), 85 percent find it easy to afford versus 70 percent globally.

Lastly, the Safety & Security subcategory, where Mexico ranks just 41st, continues to be a concern for the country from the view of expats in Mexico. Just over 40 percent believe it is a major issue:

  • 28 percent rate Mexico’s political stability negatively versus 15 percent globally.
  • One-in-five expats also feel unsafe versus just 9 percent globally, which ranks Mexico 49th for personal safety. Only expats in Kenya (50th), Brazil (51st) and South Africa (52nd) fare worse.

In addition to top-rated Mexico this year, Indonesia, Taiwan, Portugal, Spain, the UAE, Vietnam, Thailand, Australia and Singapore round out the top 10 best places in the world for expats.

The bottom 10 – beginning with #52 – are Kuwait, New Zealand (now that’s a surprise), Hong Kong, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Japan, South Africa, Turkey, Italy (ouch) and Malta.

You may be interested to know that Spain ranks #1 in the Quality of Life category and overall, 83 percent of expats living there are happy with their lives.

The InterNations study is based on interviews with nearly 12,000 expats from 52 countries this year who were asked to rate 56 different aspects of their life abroad on a scale of one to seven. The five major categories are: Quality of Life, Ease of Settling In, Working Abroad, Personal Finance and Expat Essentials.