Over the years, the U.S. has slowly slid in the rankings as a top place for expats to live and work abroad. In 2021, it came in the bottom half as No. 34 out of 59 countries, according to the latest Expat Insider survey of more than 12,000 people conducted by the global expat community group Internations.
By contrast, in 2014, the U.S. ranked No. 5 out of 61 countries where expats reported how satisfied they felt about various lifestyle, career, financial and cultural factors of their host country.
The most recent survey, conducted in January 2021, asked expats to rate their satisfaction across four main categories, including quality of life (like a healthy environment and robust WiFi infrastructure), ease of settling in (such as language barriers and friendliness of local residents), personal finance (such as access to affordable health care) and working abroad (such as job security and a stable local economy).
For career-oriented expats, the U.S. ranked highly for its job opportunities and career satisfaction — 65% of expat workers in the U.S. rated their job prospects favorably, compared with 45% of expats around the world. The only other country to beat out these career satisfaction rates was Ireland.
But ample jobs are just one part of the experience of working abroad. The U.S. ranked lower than the global average for other work culture factors, with people citing poor work-life balance, working hours and job security.
On the plus side, expats in the U.S. also said they were satisfied with their digital life, such as access to WiFi and cashless payments, as well as settling into their new American lifestyles by making friends with local residents and getting by without many language barriers.
But the country stands out negatively in one major way: a poor health-care system. The U.S. performed the worst in the health and wellbeing category, coming in last at No. 59, with just 20% of expats saying they were satisfied with the affordability of health care in the country, compared with a global average of 61%.
By contrast, many of the locations ranked in the top 10 best places for expats in 2021 were recognized for quality health care and showed strong leadership to minimize the coronavirus pandemic over the last year, such as in Taiwan, New Zealand, Australia and Vietnam.
Meanwhile, just half of expats in the U.S. were satisfied with official communication regarding Covid-19 throughout the year, either at a national or local levels, compared with 66% of expats worldwide.
Here's how expats in the U.S. felt about living in their host country in the last year across work, financial and lifestyle factors.
- 71% are happy with their job in general
- 54% are happy with their work-life balance
- 41% are happy with the cost of living
- 64% are happy with the quality of medical care
- 47% say making new friends is easy
- 74% are happy with their life in general
- 75% are happy with their job
- 74% are happy with their work-life balance
- 78% are happy with the cost of living
- 96% are happy with the quality of medical care
- 62% say making new friends is easy
- 80% are happy with life in general
- 68% are happy with their job
- 66% are happy with their work-life balance
- 48% are happy with the cost of living
- 71% are happy with the quality of medical care
- 48% say making new friends is easy
- 75% are happy with life in general
If you moved abroad during the coronavirus pandemic and are interested in sharing your story, email work reporter Jennifer Liu at firstname.lastname@example.org.